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The Indigenous STEM Awards were launched in 2016 to 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.

About the Awards

Since its launch, 44 winners and 120 finalists have been recognised for their outstanding contributions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The 2019 Indigenous STEM Awards were announced in February 2020. There are a total of twelve awards over seven categories that cover high school and undergraduate students, STEM professionals, schools, teachers and mentors.

Applications for Indigenous STEM Awards will open again in 2021. 

Award categories

2019 Indigenous STEM Awards

A partnership between the BHP Foundation and CSIRO, the Indigenous STEM Awards recognise the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM professionals and students as well as schools, teachers and mentors working in Indigenous STEM Education.

Meet three of the 2019 Indigenous STEM award winners, Jamie Graham-Blair, Rikki Bruce and Tamia Blackwell.

2019 Indigenous STEM Awards

[Music plays and images move through of a mountainous scrubby area and then the image changes to show Jamie Graham-Blair walking down a footpath towards the camera]

[Image changes to show a close profile view of Jamie and then the image changes to show a close facing view of Jamie looking at the camera and then talking to the camera and text appears: Jamie Graham-Blair, 2019 Indigenous STEM Award Winner]

Jamie Graham-Blair: Hi, my name is Jamie Graham. I’m a third year Marine and Antarctic Science student focusing on conservation and ecology,

[Image changes to show a rear view of Jamie walking down a path through bushland]

and I’m a proud trawlwoolway pakana with ancestry to the north east of Tasmania.

[Image changes to show a rear view of Jamie walking towards a house and then the image changes to show a profile view of Jamie standing on a verandah looking out at the bush]

And I think that really ancient connection to that place informs me quite deeply in my goals of caring for country, and learning about country, and connecting to it.

[Image changes to show a view of Rikki Bruce walking towards the camera under a covered walkway and the camera zooms in on Rikki as she walks]

Rikki Bruce: Hi, my name’s Rikki Bruce.

[Images move through of a close view of a ship on the ocean, a view of the ship near a jetty, and an aerial view of the Ichthys project site and the camera pans around the site]

I’m a Graduate Mechanical Engineer and we are here in the Northern Territory at the Ichthys LNG Project.

[Image changes to show Rikki talking to the camera and text appears: Rikki Bruce, 2019 Indigenous STEM Award Winner]

Identifying as Jawoyn and Waanyi is important to me because it’s my identity and it’s a part of who I am.

[Images move through of a close rear view and then a facing view of Rikki walking through a factory, and then Rikki looking at a piece of equipment]

So, I think the thing that drew me to engineering was my love of mathematics.

[Image changes to show a close view of Rikki looking down and holding a folder of notes]

It was always something that I was good at and it was always my favourite subject.

[Images move through of a rear and then facing view of Tamia Blackwell walking towards a building and text appears: Tamia Blackwell, 2019 Indigenous STEM Award Winner]

Tamia Blackwell: My name is Tamia Blackwell.

[Image changes to show Tamia leaning on her hand as she looks down and the camera zooms in]

I am a Narungga woman from Point Pearce in South Australia.

[Image shows Tamia looking up and then the image changes to show Tamia typing on a laptop]

I’m currently running a workshop for the Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy.

[Images move through to show Tamia talking to the camera, Tamia demonstrating to her dance class, and Tamia and students sitting in a circle grouping dance moves into an algebra equation on paper]

My workshop solely focuses on connecting algebra with traditional dance and yeah, using the patterns and the beats in the dances and the songs that we use and then grouping that up to be represented as an algebra equation.

[Images move through of a facing and then rear view of Jamie walking along a bushland path, Jamie talking to the camera, Jamie walking through ferny bushland, and the sun shining through the trees]

Jamie Graham-Blair: My work with STEM is quite varied, from studying marine and Antarctic science to volunteering with seed, where I run workshops helping the younger generations to understand the science of climate change, I guess to inspire the younger generations to step up and engage with their responsibilities as protectors of Country.

[Images move through of a side view of Tamia, Tamia operating a laptop, Tamia looking up and then Tamia talking to the camera, and then tree leaves shining in the sun]

Tamia Blackwell: You know, STEM is becoming such a big thing in this modern world and it’s like how we can still draw on our traditional knowledge and still keep a strong cultural connection is inspiring.

[Images move through of close views of fungi on a tree trunk, ferny bushland, the sun shining through the trees, and then Jamie looking at the camera]

Jamie Graham-Blair: So it’s a slow process but it’s really beautiful to see the inevitable healing nature of Country and I love to be able to say that I’m a part of that, to help Country heal, to help our people heal.

[Image changes to show Rikki talking to the camera]

Rikki Bruce: So, my biggest challenge was overcoming my self-belief.

[Images move through of a facing and then rear view of Rikki walking, Rikki working with a colleague on a bank of computers, and a close profile view of Rikki looking at the computer screen]

I had to just work a lot harder and then also being the only indigenous person in the course.

[Image changes to show a close view of Rikki looking at the bank of computer screens]

Also, there were no other females.

[Image changes to show Rikki talking to the camera and then the image changes to show Rikki and a colleague looking at a chart on the wall]

I overcame the challenges by pretty much just really focussing on what I wanted to do. I was determined to get there and I just really made sure that I put everything into it.

[Images move through of a rear view of Rikki walking in a workshop, Rikki and a colleague looking at a wall chart, and then Rikki smiling at the camera]

So, I think STEM is really important so that’s why I always want to be a part of it so I can spread the word to other people like me.

[Image changes to show Tamia talking to the camera]

Tamia Blackwell: I’m extremely proud of my culture and my own personal cultural journey.

[Images move through of Tamia dancing with her students]

I’m still learning every day, every workshop that I present, feeling so strong in my cultural identity that I can then connect it with a form of this new world of STEM and technology.

[Image changes to show Tamia looking at the camera and then the image changes to show a close view of Tamia smiling at the camera]

So, yeah just being that role model there and giving them that opportunity that they may not have had before in the best way I can is inspiring.

[Music plays and the image changes to show the CSIRO logo and text appears: CSIRO, Australia’s innovation catalyst]

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Virtual Indigenous Astronomy Panel event

On 30 June 2020, A special Indigenous Astronomy Panel took place in a virtual event, inspired by and in celebration of Alana Doohley the 2019 Indigenous Student STEM Awards STEM Achievement Winner.
Indigenous STEM Award social video 


[Music plays and an image appears of photographs of Alana Dooley, Kirsten Banks, Dr Stacy Mader and another male and text appears on the left: Indigenous Astronomy Panel inspired by Alana Dooley, 2019 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM Student Achievement Award Winner]

[Image changes to show Alana Dooley talking to the camera and text appears: Alana Dooley, 2019 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student STEM Achievement Award Winner]

Alana Dooley: To CSIRO and the BHP Foundation who do such amazing work in the Indigenous STEM Project which has allowed me to meet other indigenous students from across the country who all have a passion for STEM. Each of you has inspired and encouraged me so much and I’ll be always be grateful for the role you have played and shared in my STEM journey. I’m so excited about the future and honoured to be the recipient of this award.

[Image changes to show Kirsten Banks talking to the camera and text appears: Kirsten Banks, Astrophysicist and science communicator]

Kirsten Banks: I love your passion so much. I see myself in you when I was in Year 12. A very important thing about science is not just doing the science but it is communicating that science to the general public to share that excitement and share why we do what we do as scientists, to share what we’re researching, why we’re researching it, how we’re researching it, inspire the next generation of scientists and astrophysicists just like you Alana.

[Image changes to show Alana talking to the camera again]

Alana Dooley: So, I think it’s really important that people like Kirsten are sharing their scientific ideas and making them really understand more because I’ve only got that high school level of understanding so in order to, you know, evoke that interest it’s really important that people can get that information out there in a really exciting way.

[Image changes to show Djai Hunter talking to the camera and text appears: Djai Hunter, 2019 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Science Award Winner]

Djai Hunter: Considering your experience of studying science as an indigenous student, what do you wish you knew back then as a young high school student that you now know?

[Image changes to show Dr Stacy Mader talking to the camera and text appears: Dr Stacy Mader, Astrophysicist and Senior Experimental Scientist, CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, Parkes Observatory]

Dr Stacy Mader: What is your interests? What is your passion? You need, if you can separate those two it’ll make your pathway to the future a lot better.

[Image changes to show Kirsten talking to the camera again]

Kirsten Banks: There is so much support out there from your indigenous community. It’s a great support network to have and I’m so grateful to have that. 

[Image changes to show Alana talking to the camera again]

Alana Dooley: Take up every opportunity you can to learn because you will not regret it and it will just be amazing, amazing experiences.

[Image changes to show Kirsten talking to the camera again]

Kirsten Banks: So, I think we need to be more diverse with what we portray science as because science is very diverse and we should be showing that to the world.

[Image changes to Stacy talking to the camera]

Dr Stacy Mader: We need more indigenous people out there to spread the word that, you know, we are capable, we can do it, and we are doing it.

[Image changes to show Alana talking to the camera again]

Alana Dooley: It’s all about changing the face of science but also really encouraging people to ask questions. At the end of the day that’s what I think science is. So, keep encouraging kids to ask questions because that’s who’ll make the great scientists of tomorrow.

[Music plays and the CSIRO logo and text appears on a white screen: CSIRO Australia’s National Science Agency]

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