Cunnamulla State School
In response to a shortage of people with the appropriate education who wish to work in environment and biology positions in remote postings, A/Prof Gimme Walter and A/Prof Paul Ebert have developed a project to inspire interest in biology and the environment in school age students in remote communities whilst providing opportunities to gain work experience in the field. With funding from the Commonwealth Higher Education Equity Support Program (HEESP), Faculty of Science and the School of Biological Sciences, they have worked in partnership with Cunnamulla State School (junior and senior school, about 200 students, 86% Aboriginal) located in far-west Queensland. The project has focussed on four key elements: 1) in-school biology workshops for all year levels, 2) biology camp for senior students, 3) community engagement events and 4) helping develop aspects of the biology curriculum. They plan to continue this strong partnership with Cunnamulla State School whilst expanding the project in coming years to: help Cunnamulla focus activities on promoting attendance, incorporate a visit to and work experience at The University of Queensland (School of Biological Sciences and MBRS), and expanding to include more schools. They are also hoping to develop a project to involve students and community members in a scientific research and monitoring program that will allow them to participate in the rebirth of local Great Artesian Basin springs. Their goal is to rehabilitate this threatened ecosystem, whilst enhancing awareness of the cultural heritage and environmental importance associated with Great Artesian Basin springs, provide work experience and connect students with local environmental agencies
Training Indigenous Rangers on Groote Eylandt
Dr Robbie Wilson, Dr Bill Ellis and Dr Sean FitzGibbon have been working together with the Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) over the last two years with the development of a scientific and conservation training program for the Indigenous Rangers of Groote Eylandt. Groote Eylandt is part of an island arc located off the eastern coast of Arnhem Land in remote Northern Territory and the majority of the island and the surrounding archipelago (97%) is part of the Anindilyakwa Indigenous Protected Area. This area is listed as a site of conservation significance. Biodiversity on the island is high with approximately 900 plant species and 330 vertebrate species recorded. The Indigenous Rangers of the ALC are responsible for the conservation of the unique culture and environment of the Groote Eylandt archipelago – as such, the ALC have invested substantial funds in ensuring that the cultural and biological diversity of this area is maintained. A core theme of the project is the involvement of the ALC Indigenous rangers in all scientific research and education programs that are run on the island. The Indigenous rangers are involved in data collection, data entry and planning – and form a collaborative link with the local Indigenous community. The ALC have committed their organisation to a long-term research partnership with UQ and have allocated $400K in funds towards an Australian Research Council Linkage project (Dr Robbie Wilson, Dr Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos, Prof Cindy Shannon UQ Pro-Vice Chancellor Indigenous Education). Finally, UQ is planning an outreach program to improve the scientific education of the school children in the three local Indigenous schools.
Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia
In 2011, Dr Steve Salisbury began working with Indigenous communities of the Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The coastline of this area preserves one of the world's richest dinosaur footprint faunas, constituting almost the entire fossil record of dinosaurs in the western half of the Australian continent. Only minimal research on these tracks has been conducted, and public awareness of their existence is low. Significantly, these tracks also form an important part of the cultural heritage of the Indigenous people of the Dampier Peninsula, being integral to a song-line that extends along the coast for a distance of 450km. In order to raise public awareness of the region's rich dinosaur footprint fauna and its cultural significance, Dr Salisbury has been working closely with Goolarabooloo Traditional Custodians, documenting the track-sites as part of a broader, ongoing research program, and releasing information publically as is considered appropriate. As a result of this and related efforts, the coastline of the Dampier Peninsula was included in the National Heritage Listing for the west Kimberley in August 2011. Dr Salisbury is now working with Goolarabooloo and the Australian Heritage Council to implement a management strategy for the area that draws on the involvement of Indigenous rangers and cultural advisors. Initiatives are now also in place with the broader Broome community to educate local school children about the region's rich prehistoric and cultural heritage, and Broome Shire Council has expressed interest in the establishment of a permanent interpretation centre to highlight the results of UQ's research and Indigenous outreach in the region.
Weatern Cape York Peninsula, Queensland
As part of his research program on estuarine crocodiles, and as Director of Research for the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve, Professor Craig Franklin has developed a long term relationship with the Indigenous communities and traditional owners from western Cape York Peninsula. He regularly gives presentations to the local communities in Weipa and Mapoon and has been involved in the training of Mapoon Rangers, Kaanju Ngaachi Rangers, and Wild River Rangers. Rangers have been trained in crocodile capture and survey methods.