October 2007
(Volume 10, Number 5)
ISSN  1449-2091

Michael Michie

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

Indigenous Science Links






Gunditjmara Country

Theo Read, who's been a member of this network since its inception, has finally had a breakthrough with the publication of Gunditjmara Country. He started working on this project over 10 years ago, looking at the western and indigenous science stories of three different geological landscapes. They were Gunbalanya or Oenpelli near Darwin, a sedimentary landscape; Kintore, west of Alice Springs, a metamorphic/granite area; and the Gunditjmara area near Heyward, Victoria, a volcanic region. Theo's work is especially interesting because of the involvement of the local indigenous people in each of the three areas who've taken him into the field to visit places of interest and told him the local stories relating to the origins of the landscape. All through this time Theo has also been teaching in Victoria, and has had sponsorship from Rio Tinto to do his fieldwork. A few years ago he also won a BHP science teacher's award. He has also written about his research and presented at a number of conferences.

Congratulations to Theo, who hopes that he'll be able to get the other two locations published as well. Details of how you can obtain copies of Gunditjmara Country should be available in the next bulletin.

Top science gong for Arnhem Land spider man (Australia)

An Arnhem Land school teacher whose students have found 45 new species of spider was recognised at this year's Eureka Science Awards in Sydney. Mason Scholes won the Eureka Prize for Science Teaching for developing a program in Maningrida which incorporates Indigenous knowledge with Western science.

Read about it at: Top science gong for Arnhem Land spider man

Eureka Win for West Arnhem Land Fire Project (Australia)

Congratulations to the entire West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project team who on Tuesday night won the inaugural Eureka Prize for Innovative Solutions to Climate Change.

Special congratulations to the project's leaders Jeremy Russell-Smith (Tropical Savannas CRC and Bushfires Council NT), Peter Cooke (Bawinanga Aboriginal Corp) and Traditional Owner Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek, however, the project has involved a host of other people including traditional owners and Indigenous rangers, the NLC, DLNG, CSIRO, AGO, Landgate and DNRETA.

The WALFA team has spent 10 years developing this program which aims to abate West Arnhem Land wildfires. Savanna fires caused 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in the Northern Territory. The fires also accounted for 2-4 % of Australia's total national greenhouse gas emissions.

The WALFA scheme has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 256,000 tonnes of CO2, double its initial target.

The WALFA scheme uses a "Two Tool Kit" approach because it employs ancient Indigenous practice and Western scientific knowledge to reduce wildfires. These techniques include cross-cultural planning and assessment, long cross-country bush walks, burning programs (undertaken increasingly by traditional landowners) and sophisticated fire-mapping technology as seen at

Australian Museum Director Frank Howarth said, "We admire the great cross-cultural collaboration on this project, and applaud the WALFA Two Tool Kit team for their innovation and perseverance."

"We also are thrilled to hear that Indigenous children have an increased interest in science at school, after seeing traditional Rangers and Western scientists working on the scheme. We look forward to a new generation of scientists," Mr Howarth said.

You can read all about the WALFA project on the CRC website:

Read about the Eureka Prize at

(Submitted by Julie Crough, Tropical Savannas Management CRC, Darwin, Australia)

Centre on Traditional Knowledge to be a reality (Australia)

The Northern Territory Government will commit an investment of $2.5 million to help establish a United Nations University Centre on Traditional Knowledge with Charles Darwin University (CDU) as host partner. 

Minister for Employment, Education and Training, Paul Henderson last week visited CDU’s Casuarina campus to announce the NTG’s commitment of $500,000 a year for a period of five years for a centre for Traditional Knowledge to be established at CDU. 

The announcement of the internationally focused research and training facility coincided with the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on 9 August. 

CDU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Helen Garnett said the development of a United Nations University Centre on Traditional Knowledge with CDU as host provided a range of opportunities to promote the recognition of the value of Traditional Knowledge systems in Australia. 

“It will allow us to share the successes of the application of Indigenous knowledge from around the globe with Australia, achieve benefits for Indigenous Australians, support the development of CDU and leverage funding from new sources for Indigenous education and research,” she said. 

“We are looking to grow a major centre for Traditional Knowledge here at CDU and we hope it will attract an entire range of other Traditional Knowledge systems. 

“The support and backing the NTG has provided this initiative has been terrific and demonstrates their commitment to fostering Traditional Knowledge.” 

Minister Henderson said the Northern Territory Government saw the Centre as a pathway to developing new opportunities for Indigenous Territorians. 

"By harnessing the unique knowledge of Indigenous Territorians for practical applications in areas such as science and environmental management, the Centre for Traditional Knowledge will help develop new economic opportunities, particularly in our remote and regional areas," Mr Henderson said. 

"The Northern Territory's knowledge-based industries are continuing to grow, from Desert Knowledge in the Centre to Tropical Knowledge in the Top End. 

"The Government recognises Charles Darwin University as the natural home for a Centre for Traditional Knowledge and is pleased to support this initiative." 

Growing out of the United Nations University’s (UNU) work on Traditional Knowledge, the potential for a UNU Centre on Traditional Knowledge had become apparent. The UNU recognised that it could play an important role in the international debate on Traditional Knowledge and late last year it recommended that CDU was the suitable host institution for the initiative in consideration of its strong leadership capabilities, links with indigenous communities, ability to raise funds and overall interest in the UNU initiative on Traditional Knowledge. 

The Centre will focus on research and training in many aspects of the traditional knowledge of Indigenous communities from a global perspective, develop the capacity of Indigenous communities and provide significant and direct benefits. In particular the Institute will: 

• Promote the use of traditional knowledge in national and local education systems;
• Promote respect and use of traditional knowledge in mainstream science and technology;
• Promote greater self-reliance for Indigenous people;
• Develop greater resilience of traditional knowledge;
• Develop the capacity of Indigenous communities to use their knowledge in a globalised economy. 

“An internationally focused traditional knowledge research and training institution provides unique opportunities to make the linkages necessary to developing innovative and effective approaches that fully recognise the value of Traditional Knowledge and foster the sustainability of communities for whom traditional knowledge is the cornerstone of culture and survival,” Professor Garnett said.

Garma Festival Key Forum (Australia)

This year’s Key Forum at the Garma Festival of Traditional Culture wound up with a re-commitment to the importance of self-determination in all aspects of Indigenous people’s lives. 

The three-day forum is coordinated by Charles Darwin University and operates as part of the annual, five-day Garma Festival held at Gulkula in north-east Arnhem Land. This year the Key Forum attracted a capacity crowd of 400 Indigenous leaders, health professionals, policy-makers, academics, and government and business representatives, who discussed the theme ‘Indigenous health: Real solutions for a chronic problem’. 

Workshops focused on specific areas such as traditional health, maternal and child health, and social and emotional well-being. 

The forum heard from men’s groups who were working to re-empower Indigenous men, strategies that are reinforcing identity in the desert regions, a midwifery program in Samoa which is helping to lower the rate of deaths of women and babies during childbirth, initiatives of the Inuit people of northern Canada who were working to diminish non-physical violence within the community, and the authors of the Little Children are Sacred report, Pat Anderson and Rex Wild QC, who spoke about their report and some of their 97 recommendations. 

Addressing the closing plenary, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma said the main recommendations to emerge from the forum included: 

  • funding of traditional healing centres for Indigenous people
  • establishing a traditional birthing network and support for birthing ‘on country’
  • fluoridation of water in remote areas to address dental health needs
Commissioner Calma said it was essential that in attempting to improve health outcomes for Indigenous people that recognition had to be given to those areas which were working well. 

'We don’t have to recreate the wheel. It’s all there. We only have to rejig it,' he said. 

He also highlighted the need for those present to help 're-orientate the media’s thinking' about and depiction of Indigenous communities. 

Commissioner Calma urged everyone present to be active in changing opinions on Indigenous health once they had left the forum. 

'Be educated about the facts. Ask the hard questions. Talk to relatives; challenge and educate them. Write to local Members (of Parliament). Write to newspapers,' he urged the gathering. 'We are change agents.'

"Lack of respect will not help indigenous children"

Banduk Marika, a Yolngu community leader and artist from eastern Arnhem Land, wrote this article on John Howard's intervention into aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. You can read it at

The Perth Declaration on Science and Technology Education

We, the participants at the 2007 World Conference on Science and Technology Education, held in Perth, Western Australia, 9 - 12 July 2007, and comprising more than 1000 science and technology educators from 50 nations worldwide; believing in the importance of science and technology for sustainable, responsible, global development, and in the need to bridge the gap between science and technology and the public.

Express concern at the lack of recognition of science education as a vehicle for meeting national educational goals, and social and economic needs;

Observe a widespread lack of student interest in current school science and technology education and of its relevance to them;

Note the shortage in many countries of specialist teachers of science and technology; And consider that the rapid changes taking place in science and technology and their applications must be reflected in the planning, teaching and learning of science and technology. 

Resolved to recommend to Governments:

  • To promote critical awareness of the contribution of science and technology to personal, social, economic and environmental wellbeing through building partnerships with national stakeholders and the media;

  • To initiate revisions of the curriculum for school science and technology that will increase student interest in and recognition of the roles of science and technology in society;

  • To promote from the primary years onwards the career opportunities that stem from the study of science and technology;

  • To recruit graduates into science and technology teaching and to value, support and retain them with appropriate rewards;

  • To resource and promote continuous, effective professional development for science and technology teachers in order to meet changing student needs and societal aspirations;

  • To recognise and support the significant role of teacher associations in building a quality professional learning community for science and technology;

  • To resource the development of relevant and effective assessment processes so that learners achieve essential life skills, meet academic and vocational standards and personal aspirations;

  • To engage in greater international cooperation to ensure the provision of well-trained science and technology teachers to meet current and future challenges;

  • To call on UNESCO to integrate its science and technology education endeavour as fundamental to achieving educational, environmental, cultural, social and sustainable development goals.

We, the participants, are committed to ensuring that students are scientifically and technologically literate and able to contribute to sustainable, responsible, global development in their respective nations.

(Reprinted from Teaching Science, 53(3), p.9, September 2007)


Science Education in Context: An International Perspective of the Influence of Context on Science Curriculum Development, Implementation and the Student-Experienced Curriculum

Editors: Richard K. Coll (University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand) and Neil Taylor (University of New England, Armidale, Australia)

This book to be published by Sense Publishers ( in November 2007 presents an international perspective of the influence of educational context on science education.  The focus is on the interactions between curriculum development and implementation, particularly in non-Western and non-English-speaking contexts (i.e., outside the UK, USA, Australia, NZ, etc.).

An important and distinguishing feature of the book is that it draws upon the experiences and research from local experts from an extremely diverse cohort across the world (25 countries in total).  Each chapter is concerned with some aspect of science (interpreted broadly to include technology, environmental and mathematics) curriculum in a specific educational context.  In some cases the chapter is in the form of a story or narrative, in other case it draws from particular research inquiry conducted by the author and his or her colleagues.  The book addresses topics such as: curriculum development; research or evaluation of an implemented curriculum; discussion of pressures driving curriculum reform or implementation of new curricula (e.g., technology or environmental education); the influence of political, cultural, societal or religious mores on education; governmental or ministerial drives for curriculum reform; economic or other pressures driving curriculum reform; the influence of external assessment regimes on curriculum; and so on.  

The Aboriginal Art & Culture Resources Kit 

Hello, my name is Rick Roser I am an Aboriginal Artist and I have presented literally thousands of art & culture workshops to Schools, TAFE & Universities, my art and artefacts have been collected in the National Gallery of Australia and State museums etc.

I have been encouraged to put some of my artwork and workshops into a collection on CD-rom as a resource especially for people searching for Cultural information. This Resources Kit  has printable files, achievable hands on projects, clipart, images and short movies that provide useable information for the general public and produce genuine outcomes for students. (Reviewed by Library Services Ed.Qld.). I am very proud to say that my Resources Kit is now in use throughout Australia and I am contacting you in the hope that you would like one for your office or department.

It contains:
Aboriginal Clip Art:
Over 200 Indigenous images in the Clipart  will provide very useful illustrations for years to come and be a major help across a wide range of activities. All the images are my own, from a range of environments and styles. Easy to copy & paste into other documents or print. Copyright free**
Activities& Projects: 
Basket making, Stone axe making, Ochre painting; Boomerang Throwing & Safety Advice.
Use readily available materials with helpful realistic advice about where to get them from - bush, garden or school grounds. Knowledge and skills are gained with artefacts created step by step - a few of my artefacts are in museum collections world wide.
3 Movies:
These 5 min. full colour Movies provide back up for the Basket making, Stone axe making & Ochre painting.
A Colouring-in Book:
To introduce younger students to the wonderful world of Aboriginal Art with over 50 A4 pages of Dreamtime drawings and scenes... and a very brave ant! BLC -Easy print & photocopy for an endless supply of sheets ready to colour-in. A timeless way to entertain & educate children, with a variety of skill levels and interests.
Cultural Information:
Tribal:- Protocol; Kinship; Trade; Games; Hunting & Gathering; Water; Culture Survival; Food; Shelter.....
A mine of information for projects & assignments plus valuable insight into our vast Aboriginal heritage.
Including letterheads, Special Presentations and posters etc to give instant help and support promoting cultural events and information, Plus the potential and inspiration to design your own stationery using the Clip Art.
All the information is printable on A4 paper and is in simple .pdf format with installers and  browsers included in the help file if necessary.

The Aboriginal Art & Culture Resources Kit TOTAL COST is  $139.95 + $6.50 Postage (GST inc) in Australia. To receive goods On Approval with the tax invoice please order by Phone, Fax or email to:

Rick Roser
Aboriginal Events Management  ABN 92283142828
P.O.247 Fortitude Valley  QLD  4006 
Ph: 0422 275 601  Fax 3319 8940  email:
Also available :
DVDs - The Aboriginal Art of Firemaking
                The Aboriginal Art of String Making
                The Aboriginal Art of Ochre Painting
  Book -  The Brave Ant Colouring-in Book
Each is  $39.95 + $6.50 postage


World Universities Forum
Davos, Switzerland, 31 January to 2 February 2008

The World Universities Forum was created in the belief that academe must better engage today's most crucial questions, and that higher education itself must be included as part of the wider discussion of global change.  The Forum encourages the participation of university executives, administrators, scholars and research students, as well as journalists, policy makers, business and political leaders, and others who understand that the importance of the university extends well beyond campus.

All presenters may choose to submit written papers for publication in the fully refereed Journal of the World Universities Forum. If you are unable to attend the Forum in person, virtual registrations are also available which allow you to submit a paper for review and possible publication in the Journal, and provide access to the online edition of the Journal.

To submit your proposal, please visit the Submit Proposal link on the Forum website



This is mostly a summary of upcoming conferences. More details may have been given above or in previous bulletins as shown. A web-based contact is usually included. Inclusion of conferences in this list is not to be read as an endorsement of the conference.


October 2007

31 October: East-Asia Association for Science Education: 2nd Preparatory Meeting and the Founding Assembly of EASE. Seoul, Korea, . (Aug07)

November 2007

1-3 November: 2007 International Conference on Science Education for the Next Society. "Foreseeing the Future". Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea. (Aug07)

13-16 November: Second International Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (CoSMEd) 2007, Penang, Malaysia.  ( (April07)

15-19 November:  IIId International Conference of The Social Capital Foundation, in Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii. (Oct06)

29 November - 1 December: Discourse and Cultural Practice Conference, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW. (Aug07)


January 2008

16-19 January: 5th International Conference on Science, Mathematics and Technology Education. "Science, mathematics and technology education beyond cultural boundaries". Udon Thani Rajabhat University, Udon Thani, Thailand. (Aug07)

31 January - 2 February: The World Universities Forum, Davos, Switzerland, (Oct07)

February 2008

20-23 February: Conference of Asian Science Education. "Science education from an Asian perspective". Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (Aug07)

March 2008

29 March - 3 April: National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) annual meeting, Baltimore, (

July 2008

1-4 July: Australian Association for Environmental Education, "Environmental education up the Track: Hot topics for our community", Darwin NT. (Aug07)

2-5 July: Australasian Science Education Research Association, Brisbane Qld (Aug07)

6-11 July: Australian Science Teachers Association, CONASTA57, Brisbane Qld

Date not set

World Indigenous People's Conference on Education (WIPCE 2008), Victoria, Australia


July 2009

ASERA, Deakin University. Dates and venue to be decided.


July 2010

ASERA, University of Newcastle (NSW). Dates and venue to be decided.

Last updated: 1 October 2007