Science and Indigenous Australia

Media releases, National Science Week

Sci-fi and the sounds of the Universe in Gingin, WA

Gula Guri mayin: Aboriginal art exploring parasites and your health, Ballarat

Music meets Indigenous astronomy in Perth, Canberra and Sydney

Dozens of Indigenous science stories, people and events around Australia for National Science Week starting 11 August, including:

  • How Indigenous knowedge can help with urban planning, saving species and fighting climate change, Canberra
  • HealthLAB clinic on wheels tours the Territory
  • The wisdom of Elders and knowledge of contemporary Indigenous scientists, Wagga Wagga and Redfern
  • Koori youth become science communicators in Bendigo
  • 60,000 years of technological advancement and eco-sustainable practices at the MAAS Indigenous Science Symposium, Sydney

More on these highlights below, and others at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists and event organisers are available for interview throughout Science Week. Read on for contact details for each event, or call:

Tanya Ha: tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0404 083 863
Niall Byrne: niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0417 131 977

About National Science Week

National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw 1.2 million people participate in more than 2,100 events and activities.

In 2018, National Science Week celebrates its 21st birthday, with events held throughout Australia—from Corals in the Outback in western Queensland to TAStroFest astronomy in the Apple Isle, and from STEM meets dance in Perth to The Innovation Games at Sydney Olympic Park —with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

National Science Week 2018 will run from 11 to 19 August. Media kit at www.scienceinpublic.com.au, public event listings at www.scienceweek.net.au.

More on the highlights…

Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern and Wagga Wagga

What can Aboriginal astronomy tell us about the night sky? How is our native flora used in bush medicine? What can we learn about sustainable living from 60,000+ years of Indigenous culture?

The Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern is a celebration of Indigenous and Western science, and Indigenous youth and Elder achievements. Part of the Sydney Science Festival and National Science Week, the four-day event at the Redfern Community Centre will demonstrate the value of traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge in science and technology, and the relevance of science to our everyday lives.

Wagga Wagga: Mon 13 August. Event details

Family Science Fun Day: Sunday 19 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Joanne Jamie, joanne.jamie@mq.edu.au, 02 98508283, or 0439 170 683

Parasite Paradise at the Art Gallery of Ballarat

What role do parasites play in human health? Find out through the research of parasitologists, and the digital art and animation in the work Gula Guri mayin (which means ‘heal the body’) by Indigenous artist Bernard Lee Singleton.

This event involves science-art workshops and brings together scientists, artists and the public to explore the science of parasites and its relation to human health. The program also includes the ‘Parasite Paradise’ interactive display with microscopes and other activities, a Café Scientifique event with science talks over drinks, and a science-art movie making workshop.

Saturday 11 to Sunday 19 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Lisa Jones, Lisa.Jones1@jcu.edu.au or 0405 620 747

Walbrininy: Sounds of the Universe, Past and Present—Gingin, WA

The science of gravity and cosmology will be explored through film, live music and Indigenous storytelling at the Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory in Gingin, WA.

‘Walbrininy’ is a new original musical production, bringing together gravitational research, sci-fi film sequences, live music, Aboriginal Astronomy and Indigenous storytelling.

In the Noongar language the concept of ‘walbrininy’ means total wellbeing, all encompassing, everything connected and right. In the show Walbrininy is reimagined as a fictional planet, existing 130 million years ago, in a far flung galaxy, bound by the harmonic gravitational pull of two spiralling neutron stars. This immersive science and art experience dramatises how Earth-bound scientists are now ‘listening to the Universe’.

Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Tracy Routledge, tracy@trpr.com.au or 0412 223 221

HealthLAB Goes Remote, with health checks from Darwin to the Gulf of Carpentaria—Northern Territory

How good is your health? And how do your lifestyle choices affect the health of your body now, in the future and for the future generations of your family? HealthLAB is a health education clinic on wheels—offering an interactive science education experience that helps people answer these questions. Participants assess their own health in a ‘pop-up’ laboratory, learn about healthy lifestyle choices, and find out about careers in health science-related fields.

HealthLAB kicks off in Darwin at Parliament House. Local football legends and politicians will compete to see who can jump the highest. They’ll also their upper and lower muscle strength at a special exercise station.

HealthLAB then travels to the Tiwi Islands, and across to Nhulunbuy and the East Arnhem Land community of Yirrkala. HealthLAB will be staffed by a range of scientists and health professionals who will teach participants about the science behind the inner workings of their bodies, ways to reduce their risk of chronic disease, and career pathways in science.

Multiple dates and locations. Event details

Media contacts: Melody Song and Paul Dale, communications@menzies.edu.au

Southern Skies: one sky, many stories—Midland, WA

What do the stars mean to you? Explore Australia’s night skies through music, astronomy and Indigenous science.

The Griffyn Ensemble—bringing together director Michael Sollis, Indigenous song writer Warren H Williams, and Astronomer Fred Watson—has been collecting stories and exploring Western and Indigenous Astronomy through the medium of music.

This collaboration began with The Griffyn Ensemble’s Southern Sky—a piece of music written by Estonian composer Urmas Sisask tracing the constellations that can be seen from Australia. The project recently travelled to Tennant Creek, where community members contributed their own stories, played to a soundtrack of songs written by Warren.

The result is One Sky, Many Stories, reworking Southern Sky alongside the new songs and stories. These performances bring together Western and Indigenous understandings of the night sky, told through music and the spoken word.

Wednesday 15 August. Event details Midland, WA

Saturday 18 August. Event details Belconnen, ACT

Saturday 25 August. Event details Extended play in Sydney, NSW

Media enquiries: Michael Sollis, sollis@tpg.com.au or 0411 113 769

MAAS Indigenous Sciences Symposium—Ultimo, NSW

The MAAS Indigenous Sciences Symposium is dedicated to honouring the next generation of Indigenous scientists and those who are supporting their development. Standing on the shoulders of our Ancestors we celebrate 60,000 years of technological advancement and eco-sustainable practices.

This gathering brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics, theorists, researchers, designers, engineers, educators and students from across the community. It provides an important opportunity to shape future research and investigations that are focused on exploring and sharing the sophistication, richness and leadership of Australia’s First Peoples within the scientific domain.

Presenters include recipients of the CSIRO Indigenous STEM and IDX awards for their exceptional contribution to the advancement of Indigenous sciences and technology—locally, nationally and globally.

The program will feature a range of Yarns (key-note presentations), Yarn-ups (panel discussions) and Yarning Spaces—a series of open-floor responsive and focused discussion sessions throughout.

A final Yarning Circle (plenary session) will work to establish a series of recommendations around actions to advance partnerships, information sharing, research and development, and supporting the on-going developments of Indigenous women in this space.

Saturday 18 to Sunday 19 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Eli Wallis, 02 9217 0564

Indigenous science lessons for climate change, marine management, urban planning and saving threatened species—Canberra

Indigenous researchers and advisors of the National Environmental Science Program are coming to Questacon in Canberra for a conversation on Indigenous scientific knowledge and practice.

Speakers will present approaches to incorporating Indigenous knowledge and values into climate science, biodiversity, threatened species recovery, urban planning, land use and freshwater and marine ecology.

Wednesday 15 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Cathy Oke, cathy.oke@unimelb.edu.au or 03 8344 7727

Koori Youth Communicate Science to the Community—Bendigo

The Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative Youth Group and the Discovery Science and Technology Centre are joining forces to strengthen links between science and the local community, including Indigenous youth. This project will train Koori youth in science communication and presenting so that they can engage with science, grow their confidence, and potentially present workshops exploring electricity, gravity, and forces to their peers and the local Aboriginal community.

Thursday 2 August to Thursday 16 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Jonathan Ridnell, manager@discovery.asn.au, 03 5444 4400 or 0419 461 308