Indigenous Science Network Bulletin

August 2003
(Volume 6, Number 4)

Editor: Michael Michie

Tiwi designs by Jennifer Coombs, Munupi Arts & Crafts Association, Pirlangimpi, Melville Island, NT






Aboriginal 'knowledge centre' to protect sacred objects(06:41:49AEST)
A centre aiming to preserve Aboriginal culture for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people will open in the remote east Arnhem community of Galiwinku today.

dimensions_people - Birth Smoking (25June2003)
The birth of a child inspires rituals and ceremonies across all religions and cultures.

Indigenous Culture and Cutting Edge Technology Combine At International Astronomers’ Conference in GeraldtonMedia Release - ATSIC, Message Stick News (23July2003,AEST)
THE extraordinary talents of local indigenous people will be celebrated as part of an international conference of astronomers starting in Geraldton on July 27.

INDIGENOUS SCIENCE SHOWS A LEAD (Co-operative Research Centres Association Media Release - CRCA 22, June 10, 2003)

Indigenous Australians and scientists are teaming up in three remarkable partnerships that are pioneering new ways to look after Australia and its people.

FIRE has become a vital tool in restoring the Northern Australian landscape, building new hope for Indigenous youth and curbing the greenhouse effect.

In what is literally a trail-blazing experiment, young Aboriginal people, under the guidance of senior elders, are helping to bring under control the savage wildfires that regularly devastate up to two thirds of the west Arnhem plateau.

The approach is a unique combination of an ancient technology - aboriginal fire management - and space-age technology in the form of state-of-the-art satellite imaging and global positioning systems (GPS).

"Huge areas in western and central Arnhem Land are now largely depopulated, and massive wildfires pose a real threat to sensitive vegetation like rainforest, heathlands and other elements of the biodiversity," explains Professor Gordon Duff, director of the CRC for Tropical Savannas Management. "Our research shows that by strategic burning around the edges of the plateau you can cut the burnt area from over 60 per cent to less than 25 per cent."

As well as senior land owners the project involves the Northern Land Council, the Bushfires Council of the NT and the CSIRO. Using young volunteers from local communities and careful planning with satellite imagery and GPS, the team is developing a pattern of low intensity burns that tames the wildfires and gives the landscape the mottled mosaic of vegetation that favours the survival of Australian native plants and animals.

"These are kids who might otherwise get themselves in trouble - but now they are learning all about their land and how to manage it. They're living in it, understanding it, caring for it and being paid for it - instead of just living in their communities." 

In another major benefit, the reintroduction of fire management also encourages vegetation that locks up more greenhouse gas.  Professor Duff says there is a real possibility major overseas companies may invest in the program to earn carbon credits - and at the same time benefit Australia's landscape and Indigenous people.

More information: Professor Gordon Duff, CRC TSM, 08 8946 6834, Peter Jacklyn, CRC TSM, 08 8946 6285,

ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES across the continent are pioneering a healthcare approach that may one day help indigenous communities world wide combat a universal problem - middle ear infection in children.

Australia's remote communities have the worst rates of Otitis media (middle ear infection) in the world, with almost every child suffering an average of 32 weeks of infection between 2 and 20 years, compared with 2 weeks for non-indigenous Australians. The condition causes deafness, often with significant loss of education and social consequences. 

Working with Indigenous communities, researchers from the CRC for Aboriginal and Tropical Health (CRC ATH) have developed a training package that helps Aboriginal nurses, doctors and healthcare workers diagnose the four kinds of Otitis media, apply the right treatment, and also helps parents to understand what is happening to their kids.

"The real challenge was lack of awareness.  Many children suffer from this condition, both Indigenous and non-indigenous, but it is frequently overlooked and can have a devastating effect on the child's development," explains CRC acting director Ms Terry Dunbar.

A CRC technology breakthrough - use of a video camera coupled with an otoscope (ear microscope) - enabled the team to get shots of the different forms of the disease which are used to train healthcare workers what to look for, and parents to understand what is going on in their children's heads.

The training packing, including a video, was developed with advice from Indigenous communities, and is now being offered to communities across the nation, to see if they can reduce their incidence of the disease - and so give their children better prospects at school and in the community.

"Otitis media affects youngsters all over the world, and is particularly bad in many indigenous communities.  There has already been real interest in this project from North American indigenous healthcare workers, so we're hoping that this package, developed through our Aboriginal people, will bring global benefits," Ms Dunbar says.

More information: Ms Terry Dunbar, CRC ATH 08 8922 7862, Michael Duffy, CRC ATH, 08 8922 8841,

RESPONSIBILITY for managing tropical rainforests, one of Australia's most precious environments, is increasingly being shared by Indigenous communities. A partnership between scientists, environmental management authorities and Aboriginal communities is being formed to look after rainforests from a combined ecological, cultural and economic perspective.

Under the 'Bama' Plan, Indigenous communities can now put forward their own proposals for taking care of their landscape and receive funding to do so, says Dr Sandra Pannell of the Rainforest CRC.

"It's fair to say the Wet Tropics are leading the way in engaging Indigenous Australians in active natural resource management and planning. And they are adding a great deal.

"We are starting to see the Australian landscape in different ways - not just as an ecological landscape, but also as a cultural landscape and a source of income or sustenance.

"This contrasts with the longstanding view that national parks and reserves should be locked up and left alone."

In one case, Indigenous communities are helping with the Queensland National Parks' cassowary recovery program.  As a totemic symbol for some, they have a strong obligation to protect not only the bird itself, but also its cultural significance. The cassowary, in turn, helps spread tree seeds around the rainforest and renew it.

In another program the Jumbun community has proposed integrating an indigenous approach to managing landscape with the western scientific approach currently used in the Murray Falls State Forest, she says.

"It's changing the meaning of 'parks' to embrace cultural and even economic values, as well as ecological ones.

"It's also combining two forms of knowledge - modern science and a traditional understanding of landscape and its meaning.

"We know there will be a challenge in having this new approach publicly accepted because it's very different to what we're used to. But in the end, we feel it will be taken up all over Australia," Dr Pannell says.

More information: Dr Sandra Pannell, Rainforest CRC, 07 4042 1252, Derek Tipper, Rainforest CRC, 07 4042 1253

MEDIA RELEASE A World First, An Australian First, An Indigenous Australian First

Nakkiah Lui, a Torres Strait Islander student from St Mary's High School in NSW, has recently been awarded the first Australian Indigenous Scholarship ever offered to attend a United World College.

Nakkiah will attend the Canadian college near Victoria, British Columbia. Peers in her year at the college will consist of 100 students representing about 80 different nations from Asia, Latin America and Europe. There will also be several indigenous students from Canada and elsewhere in the world.

Nakkiah will be an outstanding ambassador for Australia. She is an excellent scholar with a variety of interests such as drama, singing, and debating, for which she has won several awards. Nakkiah has also been a leader in representing the Australian indigenous community at many indigenous conferences worldwide, including two World Indigenous Conferences on Education.

United World Colleges (UWC) is a global educational movement that brings together students from all over the world to live and study together in an environment designed to foster international understanding, peace and justice. Queen Noor of Jordan is the President of the movement, and Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, serves as an Honorary President. 

The UWC Australian Indigenous Scholarship is worth over A$65,000 and covers all tuition and board for the two-year study program. Students that attend a UWC study for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, a pre-university qualification that is highly regarded around the world. Extensive community service and a wide range of cultural and outdoor activities are also features of a UWC education. Examples of these activities at the Canadian college include TV production, coastwatch, and theatre for the deaf programs.

Attending a United World College will give Nakkiah the opportunity to:

  • exchange, develop, and action ideas for change in an international setting; 
  • bring Australian issues, and an Australian perspective, to the world stage for young people; and 
  • participate in a network of future leaders.

"I am thankful to the United World Colleges for giving me the opportunity to represent Australia. I think it is important that we share with the world an Aboriginal perspective on Australia's indigenous history and culture. I want to experience and gain all the knowledge I possibly can from my peers, mentors, elders, and the College, so that when I come back I can share it with my community, and help make a difference for the future." Nakkiah Lui.

All UWC scholarships are funded by generous donations, and the Australian Committee is always seeking support from the community.

Further information is available on the UWC Australia web site at Alternatively, please contact James Gaden on 0412 927 521, or Duncan Sutherland on (02) 8845 3514.


Indigenous Online Network Updates (ION Updates)

ION Updates are prepared by the Aboriginal Research Institute at the University of South Australia and are forwarded to e-mail members of the Indigenous Science Network regularly (about every two weeks). The following are some highlights since the June Bulletin. ION Updates usually list positions vacant, particularly in universities.

Agreements, Treaties & Negotiated Settlements Project

Publisher: Indigenous Studies Program, The University of Melbourne

This project involves researchers from the University of Melbourne and the University of Technology Sydney, and is supported by ATSIC.

The Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements database (ATNS) is an online gateway which links together current information, historical detail and published material relating to agreements made between indigenous people and others in Australia and overseas. The ATNS database is designed for the use of indigenous and other community organisations, researchers, government and industry bodies.

The ATNS database project began in March 2002 and the first phase of the database was launched at the Native Title Conference in Alice Springs in June 2003. To date the ATNS project team has accumulated a significant quantity of data relating to agreements and the organisations, agencies, corporations and legislative frameworks that are involved in the process of agreement making between indigenous people and others in Australia and overseas. (

Research Positions (3 positions)

Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University. Fixed Term, Academic Level(s) A - D.  Reference No.: CCR1814

  • Postdoctoral Fellow (Level A): $42,317 - $51,066 pa* (*A successful applicant holding a PhD will be appointed at $47,721 pa minimum)

  • Research Fellow (Level B): $53,640 - $63,287 pa

  • Fellow (Level C): $65,215 - $74,865 pa

  • Senior Research Fellow (Level D): $78,078 - $85,797 pa

Plus generous superannuation provisions.

The Centre for Cross-Cultural Research is an Australian Research Council Special Research Centre with the objective of enriching the scholarly and public understandings of cross-cultural relations and histories through a variety of academic, outreach and administrative activities. The Centre's key research programs are: Interrogating Concepts of the Cross-Cultural; Postcolonialism, History and Memory; The Cultural Impact of Migration to Australia; Visual Research, New Media and Technology Across Cultures; and Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Contemporary Art and Society.

The Centre is seeking to make three appointments within the range indicated above. It is expected that two of the appointments will be Postdoctoral Fellows (Level A). Within the framework of the Centre's programs, priority in this round will be given to applicants with research proposals in history and memory, contemporary art, migration and/or new media.

All appointments will be for a fixed term of two years. Applicants in tenured positions are encouraged to consider the possibility of secondment from their home institutions and in these circumstances one year appointments will be considered. Successful applicants will be encouraged to take up the appointments late in 2003, and no later than February 2004.

Further particulars, including selection criteria, are available from: Anne-Maree O'Brien, Executive Officer, CCR, phone (+61 2)  6125 3901, e-mail or

If you wish to discuss the position after obtaining the selection documentation, please contact Dr Mandy Thomas, Deputy Director, CCR, phone (+61 2) 6125 9876, e-mail Closing Date: 29/8/2003

Diversion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth from Juvenile Detention

This report, published by the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD), provides a detailed picture of the number and rate of detention of young people and more specifically Indigenous youth, in Australia, up to the end of 2001. The report also details some of the options available across Australia to divert young Indigenous people from the juvenile justice system. The report makes a number of recommendations about future diversion and treatment services for Indigenous young people.

From Slaughter to Abduction: Coming to Terms with the Past in Australia

Working Paper 2003/4, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.

In this paper Janna Thompson concentrates on 'reconciliation' - its adequacy, meaning and requirements. But, because the possibility of reconciliation as acknowledgment and recompense for past wrongs depends on an idea of collective responsibility, she uses the debate about apology to explain why citizens have a responsibility for making recompense for historical injustices committed by past officials of their nation.

2002 Flaxroots Conference Papers 

From a web-site with a 'moto': "Ara ke noa atu nga painga ka puta" - "Making a world of difference." 

A selection of over a dozen papers from Flaxroots 2002 Conference, around three themes: "Starting Out" - why and how new technology can be used to connect people and build strong communities; "Leading Edge" - innovative flaxroots technology initiatives from throughout Aotearoa; and "Keeping IT Going" - creating viable and sustainable community-based technology projects. URL:

34th ASERA Conference, Melbourne - July 2003

The following are some of the papers presented at the recent ASERA conference which might be of interest to members of the network. Abstracts of most papers presented at the conference can be read at

Melbourne University School of Development Studies

Melbourne University Private is pleased to present to you the first issue of Three60 - the Melbourne development forum. Three60 is a new e-bulletin published by the School of Development Studies in collaboration with the School of Anthropology, Geography and Environmental Studies of the University of Melbourne.

Three60 is the Melbourne development forum - a place for discussion of the issues, concepts and practice of development.

Why Three60? - because we aim to encourage people to consider the many dimensions of development practice. We want our readers to experience the observations and views of others who may see things from a different perspective; to think about and discuss the relationships between context, theory and practice; to look from all angles - 360 degrees.

The focus of Three60 is development in practice. Each issue will explore an actual development project - discussing the global problem; examining concepts behind the design; presenting project management issues and solutions - a practitioner tool-kit; and sharing the views of various stakeholders, including grassroots points of view. The feature project for Issue 1 is AusAID's Pacific Media Initiative.

Three60 can be viewed at: <>

We hope you find Three60 both thought-provoking and engaging, and would welcome your comments and contributions.

Working Paper 5 - 'Peace and Development in Post-War Iraq' by Jon Barnett, Beth Eggleston and Michael Webber - has also been posted to the website today.  It can be viewed at:

The sixth of our Working Papers has recently been posted to the Melbourne University Private website and is available to download if you wish. 

The title of Working Paper 6 is 'Integrated Economic, Social and Environmental Planning in the Pacific Region'. The author is Peter King, a Fellow of the School of Development Studies. The paper can be accessed at:


Issue 27 of the AMUCHMA (African Mathematical Union Commission on the History of Mathematics) newsletter on the history of mathematics in Africa, is available on the web page,

Kay Owens (Charles Sturt University-Dubbo) wrote:

"I have just had the privilege of attending the Saami teachers' workshop in Sweden and hearing about the situation with mathematics education in Saami schools (an interesting paper on some interviews with old people). Bill Barton (NZ) and I were able to share a little too. I spoke about the PNG University of Goroka Glen Lean Ethnomathematics Centre. With some help form PREL, GLEC is setting up a website with the database of 700 counting systems and other papers. It should be ready by the end of the year. I will be also presenting this at the Psychology of Maths Education conference in Hawaii and meeting with some others involved with the PREL (NSF assisted) on-line information on Pacific Indigenous maths and science. Nancy Lane is the lady there with the vision."

Indigenous Knowledge IK Pages

Your gateway to indigenous knowledge -

Alaskan Native Knowledge Network - Sharing our pathways

The summer issue of Sharing our pathways can be downloaded from the ANKN website. It includes articles on a new curriculum resource being developed by ANKN on traditional knowledge of birds in one region, which they hope will become a model for further units, and participation of students in a science fair, focusing on traditional knowledge. You can download the newsletter in pdf or html formats.


The 5th Annual Garma Festival at Gulkula, via Nhulunbuy, is from Friday August 8 - Tuesday August 12, 2003.

Garma is designed to encourage the practice, preservation and maintenance of traditional dance (bunggul), song (manikay), art and ceremony. Each year Garma presents an academic Key Forum, which this year runs from Saturday 9th to Tuesday 12 August. The Key Forum has a specific focus - this year it is - "Dhuni: Indigenous Arts and Culture". Yolngu elders and senior artists have given the name Dhuni for this year's Key Forum. The word Dhuni refers to aspects of ceremonial work, which link Yolngu artists to their land, spirituality and performance.

Garma 2003 will also feature the inaugural Government Leaders Forum, which runs parallel with the Key Forum. The Government Leaders Forum will provide an opportunity for senior government figures to exchange ideas with Indigenous leaders, in keeping with the Festival's position as an event of major cross-cultural exchange and learning.

Other featured activities at Garma include daily bunggul (ceremony) at sunset; the production and display of sand sculpture; field trips for the collection of bush tucker, bush medicine; visual arts workshops; a Yidaki (didjeridu) masterclass; interpretive walks; sessions in men's and women's business and a magnificent display of Indigenous art.

For more information see record on ION under 'News & Events', then 'non-University', and / or contact: Garma Registration Office, Yothu Yindi Foundation, GPO Box 2727 DARWIN NT 0801 AUSTRALIA.  Email: Fax: +61 8 8941 1088,

INDIGENOUS RESEARCHERS FORUM - "Indigenous Research - What's It About?"  


This year's IRF will be hosted by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies. AIATSIS has been invited by the Indigenous Researchers' Forum Organising Committee to host the IRF 2003. AIATSIS will do this in partnership with the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Canberra (UC). 

The IRF has national significance and explores and advocates Indigenous agendas and issues in research, in addition to providing opportunities and encouragement to emerging Indigenous researchers.

Some people have already expressed an interest in presenting at the forum. The format of presentations is open and provides opportunities for people to do poster sessions, formal presentations, talking circles, panel sessions, debates, research-funding sessions, sessions for supervisors of Indigenous researchers etc. ? whatever format presenters are most comfortable with (presenters will be asked to nominate their preferred format). 

Sub-themes will be shaped by the common issues or topics that presentations address. This will result in a good representation of what research is being undertaken and it means that the researchers will effectively be determining the sub-themes of the forum. There will also be practical workshops dealing with issues for post-graduate students. An international speaker will be invited to share their perspective on Indigenous issues. 

REGISTRATION FEES: Registration fees are to be confirmed but as a guide only IRF 2002 rates were $110 for students and $220 for others. Day rates were $55 for students and $110 for others. A small increase is anticipated.

BACKGROUND TO THE IRF: The IRF is an initiative of the six Indigenous Centres of Excellence located at various universities. The inaugural IRF was hosted by the University of Newcastle in 1999. It was hosted by the University of South Australia in 2000, the University of Melbourne in 2001, and in 2002 it was hosted by a consortium of Indigenous units from Curtin University of Technology, Edith Cowan University and the University of Western Australia. The IRF has national significance and explores and advocates Indigenous agendas and issues in research, in addition to providing opportunities and encouragement to emerging Indigenous researchers.

Date: 1/10/2003 to 3/10/2003

Location: University House, ANU, Canberra, ACT.


Contact: For initial updates please contact Mr Michael Whaler in the first instance on 02 62614244 or email To express interest in presenting at the IRF 2003, or for more detailed enquiries, please contact Brett Galt-Smith on 02 62614249 or email

The Challenge of Integrating ICT in Teacher Education: The Need for Dialogue, Change and Innovation

Jönköping, Sweden from 2 to 4 June 2004.  The conference is organised by The School of Education and Communication at Jönköping University (HLK) and is supported by The Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIED).

This conference covers innovative strategies when using ICT in teacher education and focuses on the outlook for future actions in the framework of working with ICT as a tool to enhance global intercultural communication among teachers and students. Emphasis is placed on comparative strategies for using ICT in Teacher Education and implementation in the Asian-Pacific region as well as in Scandinavia.

Key issues to be addressed during the conference are:

    • Innovative learning strategies while using ICT in teacher education
    • Using ICT for the globalisation of teacher education
    • ICT for sharing and collaboration in teacher education

Conference invitation is extended to researchers, educational managers and professors at teacher education. The conference is limited to 100 participants. If you are interested in participating the conference, please submit an abstract with no more than 200 words before August 13, 2003.  Notification of acceptance will be sent by the end of September 2003. Papers will also be selected for a special edition of the Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education and Development.  The working language of the conference is English and the conference fee is USD 200.

For further details about this conference, please contact the Conference coordinator, Lena Winald Möller, at

Centre for Research and International Collaboration
The Hong Kong Institute of Education


This is mostly a summary of upcoming conferences. More details may have been given above, in previous bulletins or circulated by e-mail. A web-based contact is usually included.

August 2003

8-12 August : 5th Annual Garma Festival at Gulkula, via Nhulunbuy NT.

September 2003

8-11 September: Third International Forum on Education Reform,  Thailand: "Education Decentralization Revisited: World Movement towards School- based Management".  For details of the Forum, please refer to the relevant website at

13-14 September: Independent Learning Conference, Melbourne,

October 2003

1-3 October: Indigenous Researchers' Forum 2003 "Indigenous research - what's it about?"

30 October - 1 November: Interculturalism: Exploring Critical Issues, Milan, Italy, 


13-15 November: Native Being, Being Native: Identity and Difference,  Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, Oklahoma, USA. Email:


November 2003

29 November - 3 December: NZARE/AARE Conference 2003 - "Educational Research, Risks & Dilemmas", Hyatt Regency Hotel and University of Auckland, New Zealand,

December 2003

8-9 December: Contemporary approaches to research in mathematics, science, health and environmental education. Centre for Studies in Mathematics, Science and Environmental Education, Deakin University, Melbourne Campus

April 2004

1-4 April: National Association for Research in Science Teaching, 2004 Conference meets in Vancouver,Westin Bayshore Hotel,

11-14 April: Asia Education Foundation's Third Linking Latitudes: Ha Noi, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos international conference for Australian educators,

May 2004

27-29 May: Indigenous Knowledges: Transforming the academy, Pennsylvania State University. Information for submitting proposals is available on the conference Web site:

July 2004

14-17 July 2004: Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA), 35th Annual Conference, University of New England, Armidale NSW

September 2004

26-30 September 2004: CONASTA 53 - Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) National Conference, Canberra ACT. Theme: Excellence in Teaching and Science

July 2005

Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA), 36th Annual Conference, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

Sometime 2005 - World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education, Aotearoa New Zealand

A list of conferences is also maintained by the University of South Australia's Indigenous Online Network, at
ION Updates are released fortnightly and are forwarded to members of this Network. If you wish to receive these Updates directly or you know of other people who would like to receive them, please ask them to send a message to asking that they be included on the distribution lists. 
Anyone with information or resources they would like added to the site can email from the website or to the general ION email address.

Last updated: 1 August 2003

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