STREAMS Connect Summit

Photo: Moderator Djuro Sen with panellists Prof. Peter Radoll, Bruce Pascoe, Amber Roberts, David Beaumont, Cathy Oke, Dr. Yiheyis Maru and Josh Gilbert.

The Inaugural STREAMS Connect Summit

On 24 October, the inaugural STREAMS Connect Summit took place at the NCIE, organised by INDIGI LAB. Speakers and panellists included Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Bunurong writer Bruce Pascoe, Councillor Cathy Oke (City of Melbourne), Worimi conservationist and advocate Josh Gilbert and Wiradjuri astronomer Kirsten Banks.

The event was an opportunity for leaders in the STEM space to have important conversations about what the vast knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can bring and is bringing to a range of issues, including the Sustainable Development Goals, Indigenous-led sustainability and action on climate change.

The Redfern Dance Company’s Senior Aboriginal Performance Group started the day with a fantastic performance. This was followed by an opening address from Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who highlighted that we have much to learn from First Nations people who have managed the land successfully for over 60,000 years. She also stressed the need to apply this knowledge innovatively when it comes to the future planning of Australia’s cities.

Panel discussions throughout the day were followed by smaller group discussions where participants had the chance to speak with panellists in more depth.

The Redfern Dance Company’s Senior Aboriginal Performance Group beginning the day

Key messages from the summit

Bruce Pascoe, a Bunurong writer, teacher and researcher, shared with the audience his knowledge about the long history of sophisticated food cultivation methods of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. He said “The old people had it worked out- they knew Mother Earth and how to care for Mother Earth”. Bruce emphasised that this story must be better understood and acknowledged by the wider Australian community. He also stated that there is a mood for change in Australia, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ ability to adapt gives him hope for the future of Indigenous participation in the science and agriculture area.

Kirsten Banks, a young Wiradjuri astronomer, talked about the need to have more Indigenous role models in the STEM space. This was cemented by Prof. Peter Radoll who gave a fascinating analysis of the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enrolling to STEM-related courses at university

The work of the NCIE’s Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) team was acknowledged at the summit, with panellist David Beaumont from the City of Sydney stating how positive it is to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children across Australia becoming more engaged with technology as a result of their innovative work.

The resounding message from all discussions was that we need to think creatively about how to create an inclusive STEM community that reflects the diversity of the country. It also became clear that there is a need to establish a First Nations working group to provide guidance and support to government and corporates in aligning cultural frameworks such as The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Bruce Pascoe speaking at the STREAMS Connect Summit

Next steps for STREAMS Connect

When reflecting on the event, Luke Briscoe, founder of INDIGI LAB said “the STREAMS Connect Summit was a much needed event to look at how Indigenous and non-Indigenous scientists, policy makers and educators can work together to combat climate change. This is a good start to our first STREAMS gathering but we know there is a long road ahead for INDIGI LAB and we need a lot of support to continue this important work”.

Luke is a leader in the Indigenous STEM and sustainable science space which creates projects for social and environmental change through digital culture and Indigenous sciences. Luke was also an IDX Awards winner in the category of Pathways and Employment. IDX Manager Delilah MacGillivray, said “IDX is proud to support leaders like Luke in creating a space for such important conversations”.

Check out some more photos of the event on the NCIE Facebook.