We’re working with CSIRO to educate students in remote communities by bringing Western science together with Indigenous ecological knowledge of the country.
A group of Year 8 and 9 students in a remote community school in the Northern Territory had the opportunity to inspect the effects of water pollution on small animals in the springs of Ltyentye Apurte, a few hours south west of Alice Springs.
The activity was part of the Science Pathways for Indigenous Communities program run by CSIRO, which we supported.
The program pairs communities’ Indigenous ecological knowledge with Western science to teach students about the local environment.
Concerned about the impacts of feral animals in the area, the local rangers and traditional owners of the Ltyentye Apurte springs wanted to involve students in understanding the long-term ecological effects.
Over three school terms, students participated in activities that called on their knowledge and understanding of local plants and habitats, local animals including threatened species and introduced plants and animals, and how to manage their impact.
After visiting a number of different pools in the area and collecting samples of native animals and insects, the students gained access to microscopes and preserved specimens at the Alice Springs Desert Park to inspect the degree of pollution in the spring water and its effect on the animals.
CSIRO’s Manager of Education Marian Heard is pleased with the program and its success to date.
“The Science Pathways for Indigienous Communities program is an initiative we’re really proud of. We’ve been building the program over the last few years and have had great feedback from the students and community members on the combination of knowledge it provides.”
The program started in 2011, and has worked with groups of students in different schools, building a model for an alternative approach to teaching science in other remote community schools.
One goal of the program is to provide pathways that lead Indigenous students to further education and employment in science-related fields.
We're proud to support the program as part of our Reconciliation Action Plan which identifies ways for the bank to contribute to closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and other Australians.