Science & Eng_CN

Awards validate Indigenous STEM champions

“CSIRO’s a big name. To be recognised by CSIRO, you know you’re going to be put somewhere so that people are going to see it…”

That’s Felicity (Fifi) Harris, a Wangkatja woman from Leonora, Western Australia who in 2017, received the STEM Champion Award as part of the CSIRO’s Indigenous STEM Awards.

As a Wangkatja Language Teacher at Leonora District High School in the Goldfields region of Western Australia, she’s passionate about sharing and transferring Indigenous knowledges to the next generation and integrating students’ local language and culture alongside Western science into school plans, teaching practice and regular community events. 

This is what’s at the heart of the Indigenous STEM Awards. 

Since 2016, BHP Foundation has proudly supported these Awards which recognise and reward the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM professionals and students, as well as schools, teachers and mentors working in Indigenous STEM Education.

Fifi’s story is part of a series of case study evaluation reports on the impact of the Indigenous STEM Awards. 

Her Indigenous STEM Awards journey is a story of recognition for a lifetime of dedication to sharing Aboriginal knowledges, languages and culture and recognition of her role in promoting two-way science.

The Award provided a sense of validity for her work and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges.

“It’s a validation you actually know something,” says Fifi.  “Everyone’s been talking about doing what we’ve been doing. 

“If CSIRO hadn’t had done that, we wouldn’t have been recognised, nothing that we do out here would have been recognised.”

“It wouldn’t be promoting Aboriginal knowledge, or looking after country, or our schools, or all the good things that we actually do. It wouldn’t be promoting that, and it wouldn’t be making Aboriginal people feel any better out here.”

“It’s good. It’s real, it’s worthwhile.”

Since the Awards were launched, 44 winners and 120 finalists have been recognised for their outstanding contributions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  A total of 12 awards over seven categories cover high school and undergraduate students, STEM professionals, schools, teachers and mentors. 

Applications for the 2021 Indigenous STEM Awards are open until 3rd November 2021.