Over a decade ago, 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.
To change Indigenous and low socioeconomic status (SES) students’ attitudes towards, engagement with and confidence in education by placing them in positions of leadership. We aim to increase the number of Indigenous students completing their secondary education and going on to enter tertiary education or employment.
NISEP’s core events are its School Science Shows. We value add to these through other university and community events including the Conocophillips Macquarie University Science Experience and the Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern. For more details on our events, visit:
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
Macquarie University Community Engagement Award, Macquarie University: 2008
Macquarie University Innovation in Partnership Award, Macquarie University: 2007
NISEP Partner Universities and Schools:
NISEP is based at Macquarie University, Sydney.
NISEP has partner hubs based at:
Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga Campus.
NISEP partner schools include:
Maclean High School, northern NSW
Casino High School, northern NSW
Lismore High School, northern NSW
Mount Austin High School, Wagga Wagga, NSW
Chifley Colleges – Mt Druit, Dunheved, Shalvey, Senior and Bidwill Campuses
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, Office of Environment and Heritage, Stone and Bones, Fizzics Education, Neural Knitworks, Fred’s Bush Tucker, Birdlife Australia, Barragun Aboriginal Cultural Services, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance, Modfab 3D Printing, Neural Knitworks, Walanga Muru Macquarie University, Numeracy Centre Macquarie University, Department of Physics and Astronomy Macquarie University, and the Department of Chiropractic Macquarie University.
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 @ 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.