The National Indigenous Science Education Program

Our History

In 2004, Macquarie University scientists and the Yaegl and Bundjalung communities of northern NSW began working together on bush medicines research and community strengthening projects. The Indigenous community members were highly concerned about the low levels of education attainment and aspiration amongst their children. They saw the partnership with Macquarie University as an opportunity to address these concerns. The Elders asked:

Can you help us help our youth?

During initial discussions the Elders requested that, in extension to the bush medicines research, the Macquarie team visit local schools to demonstrate science activities that engaged their children in education, that Indigenous students be placed in leadership roles as demonstrators of these science activities, and that the students be given opportunities to visit Sydney and Macquarie University so as to engender aspirations towards tertiary education.

This led to the establishment of the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP), a consortium that now encompasses science academics, Indigenous Elders and community members, school staff and students and collaborator STEM organisations.

NISEP aims to increase the number of Indigenous students finishing secondary school and pursuing pathways to tertiary education and/or employment. NISEP uses science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as a tool to realise these aims. The use of STEM has the added benefit of encouraging changes in Indigenous students’ engagement with and aspirations towards STEM education and careers.

Our Mission

We promote engagement with education in Indigenous and low socioeconomic status (SES) students by placing them in leadership roles. We want to see more Indigenous students completing their secondary education and going on to further education or employment.

Our Events

NISEP’s core events are its School Science Shows. We value add to these through other university and community events including the Macquarie University Science Experience and the Indigenous Science Experience at Redfern. For more details on our events, visit:


Awarded the Australian Financial Review (AFR) Higher Education Award for Community Engagement2021

Awarded the Australian Financial Review (AFR) Higher Education Award - Opportunity and Inclusion, 2019

Awarded the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) Citation Award for excellence in research and community engagement with Aboriginal communities,

Awarded the Macquarie University Reconciliation Award for significant contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Communities
, 2019

Awarded the Macquarie University Reconciliation Award received by NISEP Co-Director A/Prof Joanne Jamie, 2019

Narragunnawali Award received by Maclean High School and Yaegl Community for the River of Learning Cultural Immersion Program, Reconciliation Australia, 2019

 the Inaugural Australian Museum Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion, Australian Museum, 2019

Finalist in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) Higher Education Award for Community Engagement, 2017 and 2016

Nanga Mai Award received by Maclean High School and Yaegl Community for the River of Learning Cultural Immersion Program, 2016

PwC Innovator of the Year Award, PwC STEM 21st Century Minds Accelerator Program, PwC, 2016
Australian Learning and Teaching Council Award for programs that enhance learning – educational partnerships and collaborations with other organisations, 2011

Finalist, Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science, Australian Museum, 2007-2009

Awarded the Macquarie University Community Engagement Award, Macquarie University, 2008

Awarded the Macquarie University Innovation in Partnership Award, Macquarie University, 2007

NISEP Collaborator Universities and Schools

NISEP is based at Macquarie University, Sydney.

NISEP events are also delivered by:

  • Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW
  • Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD
  • The University of New England, Armidale, NSW

NISEP schools include:

  • Maclean High School, northern NSW
  • Casino High School, northern NSW
  • Lismore High School, northern NSW
  • Mount Austin High School, Wagga Wagga, NSW
  • Kooringal High School, Wagga Wagga, NSW
  • Chifley Colleges, Western Sydney – Mt Druit, Dunheved, Shalvey, Senior and Bidwill Campuses
  • Armidale Secondary College, Armidale, NSW
  • Loganlea State High School, QLD
  • Park Ridge State High School, QLD
  • Marsden State High School, QLD

Our Collaborators

Over the years a number of individuals, community groups and organisations have provided their support and expertise so as to help NISEP achieve its goals. We’d like to thank:

Yaegl Elders, Bundjalung Elders, Wiradjuri Elders, The Australian Museum, Sydney Olympic Park Authority, Brendan Kerin, Rayma Johnson, South Coast Seaweed, Dolby Laboratories, Stone and Bones, Birdlife Southern NSW, Fizzics Education, Neural Knitworks, Dr Robert Fuller (Australian Indigenous Astronomy), Microscopy Australia (University of Sydney), NewSpec, Burragun Aboriginal Cultural Services, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance, Fred’s Bush Tucker, Modfab 3D Printing, and from Macquarie University: Walanga Muru; School of Natural Sciences; School of Engineering; School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences; Department of Chiropractic; and Indigenous Bioresources Research Group.

We’d like to thank the Redfern Community Centre, Inspiring Australia, the Australian Government, and the City of Sydney for their financial and in-kind support for the running of the annual Indigenous Science Experience at Redfern during National Science Week.

A huge thank you goes to StoryMotive for going above and beyond in providing high quality videos of our events. Your support has been crucial in getting our message out to the world.

We would like to acknowledge that NISEP has been supported through funding from the Australian Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) as allocated by the Macquarie University Widening Participation Unit as part of their Access & Participation Plan for improving outcomes for people from a low SES background.