STEM Champion Award
Milton Lawton, On Country Teacher, Woorabinda, QLD
With firm roots in the community, as the son of a Bidjara man and a Ghungalu woman, Milton has conducted On Country class for many years and recently, for Woorabinda State School. The classes Milton has developed include the science of plant growth focusing on the traditional removal of bark, a cultural connection camp for girls and boys, and the history of Indigenous involvement in livestock and horses. All activities tell the story of natural science and First Nations culture, and a demonstration of the value of education in developing strong young people.
Milton is instrumental in the Junior Ranger Program and the Greening Australia Healthy Country Plan for Woorabinda. His next step is to develop the Ranger Program which will implement this plan. Milton is currently authoring a series of books which address the life cycles of various local animals and their connection to place, with people in the community engaged to ensure local readership and support of this knowledge.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM Professional Career Achievement Award
Guy Cameron, Scientific Researcher, Newcastle, NSW
Guy is a proud Wailwan man who aims to make a difference, working to improve the experiences of people in clinical care through cutting edge research. Guy holds a PhD in Immunology and Microbiology and is enrolled in the Joint Medical Program at the University of Newcastle. As an established researcher and the first author on two papers about the activity of the immune system cells involved in the bodies response to kidney damage, Guy is now studying a medical degree with the aim to expand his understanding of health from a clinical perspective.
Guy is a strong advocate for encouraging Indigenous students to engage with STEM projects, working at a strategic level to ensure the positive experiences for students as well as directly with students to reinforce that their studies are achievable. Guy also strives to make the workplace better for his research group, including designing an automated system for custom labelling and creating an accompanying data base for record keeping. With a natural curiosity and interest in STEM, Guy continues to build his knowledge and as an excellent communicator, share complex health information in an accessible way to the wider community.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM Professional Early Career Award
Taylah Griffin, Aerospace Engineer, Brisbane, QLD
Taylah Griffin is a proud Gangulu woman on an exciting STEM journey, as one of only a small group of Flight Test Conductors on Boeing Defence Australia Airpower Teaming System aircraft. Taylah credits her work ethic as a graduate engineer, together with her initiative and drive, as leading to this role. A highlight of her career is being a part of the team that led a first flight of an aircraft. This year, Taylah was accepted onto the Engineering Career Foundation Program with Boeing US.
As an Indigenous Aerospace Engineer, Taylah is driven to share her story as a staunch STEM ambassador for young mob across country. She developed the SOAR with STEM initiative, running workshops with students in Far North Queensland schools and her community. Taylah also supports the Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy, Engineers without Borders and many other individual STEM programs which encourage young people to believe in their abilities.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tertiary STEM Achievement Award
Ben Millar, Advanced Computing Student, Canberra, ACT
Originally inspired by his grandparents who immensely value education, Ben has developed a deep interest in STEM over time. In his earlier years of education, Ben seized every opportunity to engage in STEM learning, whether this be in the classroom, external outreach activities or through applying STEM to everyday life. Ben is now studying a Bachelor of Advanced Computing at the Australian National University and is grateful to be building relationships with students and staff with equal passion for STEM.
Ben has participated in the National Youth Science Forum, the InnovationACT competition and volunteered with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in a program aimed at encouraging Indigenous children in STEM. In the last few years, Ben has provided leadership in the founding of multiple start-ups including the Indigenous tech company Kuaba and has recently accepted a role with Atlassian. In this next step of his journey, Ben aspires to spearhead new opportunities for future generations of Indigenous STEM professionals.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Secondary STEM Achievement Award
Cooper Smith, Year 12 Student, Agnes Water, QLD
Living on Gooreng Gooreng country, Cooper recognises that a commitment to a STEM pathway will require strength in culture, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. Cooper is an enthusiastic student, who enjoys many aspects of STEM learning areas. During physics experiments and assignments, Cooper always chooses extra challenging options, using critical thinking to plan and execute effectively, and has developed good communication skills to share understanding.
Cooper is already studying university subjects in Data Analysis and Engineering Statistics, has participated in the CSIRO Virtual Work Experience program and is an Alumni of the CSIRO Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Science (ASSETS) program. Cooper is planning to complete a degree in Actuarial Science.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Secondary STEM Achievement Award
Catie Nugent, Year 12 Student, Caboolture, QLD
Catie is a proud Gubbi Gubbi woman who has a curious nature, and passion for learning about how things work. With aspirations to study medicine, Catie is driven to improve understanding of culture as a part of identity and life, achieve cultural empowerment and address biases to create a better health care system.
At school, Catie has been recognised as a positive role model both culturally and academically, with teachers noting her skills in resilience, persistence and gratitude, promoting good work-study balance and health wellbeing to peers. Catie’s leadership roles include House Captain, College Ambassador and Student Representative council, as well as previously engaging with the Deadlee Maadars, supporting Indigenous youth through a range of engaging activities. Catie is an Alumni of the CSIRO Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Science (ASSETS) program and member of the Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy and is always looking for opportunities to broaden her understanding of STEM pathways.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Science Award
Jillahkull McInnes, Mareeba, QLD
Jillahkull has a deep interest in science, particularly research and discovery and is a high achiever in both the classroom and extension science class. Jillahkull believes science is like another language and particularly loves learning about biology, physics and chemistry.
Jillahkull likes to be involved in extracurricular activities, including receiving a distinction in the Big Science Competition, and participating in the Drone tournament. Participating in the Distance Ed Grand STEM Challenge, Jillahkull was able to use the science inquiry process learned at school to come up with a solution to a challenge set around FIFO workers and mining. With her family, Jillahkull has also been tackling the invasion of Amazonian Frogbit weed in the local waterway, clearing it, and using it as stock feed.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Maths Award
Holly Parsons, Alice Springs, NT
Holly goes to school in Alice Springs and found her passion for maths in Year 7. Using maths every day at school, home and work, Holly likes that a mathematic formula can be applied in many ways to find an answer. In class, Holly likes to be challenged and extend her understanding. Recently, Holly successfully constructed a clinometer, showing a clear understanding of applying trigonometry to a real-life scenario. Holly has shown great enthusiasm and engagement in classroom discussion, whilst ensuring her peers have a chance to answer too.
With a welcoming presence, positivity and reliability, Holly is a natural leader and welcoming presence. She hopes that her interest in maths will continue to grow, while pursuing higher level maths and physics throughout high school.
George Pantazis, STEM Coordinator, Marble Bar Primary School, WA
George is the Learning and Support, and STEM Coordinator at Marble Bar Primary School. George facilitates collaboration with Wangka Maya's Pilbara Aboriginal Languages Centre and Industry partner Airborne IT to provide enhanced learning experiences for students.
George leads school staff in integrating STEM projects across the learning areas of the curriculum and reinforces local Indigenous customs. George has been recognised for achievements in culturally responsive STEM and creating localised, positive experiences for students. The STEM projects George is working on at the school have also sparked enthusiasm and engagement from all members of the community.
Swan View Primary School, Perth, WA
Swan View Primary School has a student-centred focus on the entire curriculum, which values language, culture, histories and expressions of traditional culture across all STEM areas. To enhance this curriculum, over time the school has formed relationships with individuals and organisations within the community including Derbal, Yerrigan, Yorgum, Ngala and Indigo Junction and Moorditj Noongar Community college.
The school’s Indigenous Studies Program make a range of resources available to students, and financially supports teachers to develop community partnerships which enhance learning. In science, students explore Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous ways of knowing around plants, animals and food, with the integration environmental sustainability and traditional shelters into engineering learning areas. This approach has been extended across maths, art and physical education, and staff have recognised the increase in understanding and respect of Indigenous culture.