Our Indigenous outreach programs aim to rehabilitate environments and ecosystems, raise awareness of the environment, and improve education outcomes within local communities.

As a priority and where appropriate, our researchers factor the educational outcomes of the collaborating local communities into project considerations and goals.

Inspiring Cunnamulla's future science stars

In response to a shortage of skilled science applicants willing to apply for remote postings, this project provides field experience and inspires interest in the environment and biology among schoolchildren in far-west Queensland.

Professor Gimme Walter and Associate Professor Paul Ebert work with some 200 junior and senior students at Cunnamulla, 86 per cent of whom are indigenous Australian.

The Commonwealth Higher Education Equity Support Program, UQ’s Faculty of Science and our School co-fund the project.

It focuses on:

  • in-school biology workshops for all year levels
  • biology camp for senior students
  • community engagement events
  • improving aspects of the biology curriculum.

The researchers plan to expand the project to

  • help Cunnamulla focus activities on promoting attendance
  • incorporate work experience at our School, and UQ’s Moreton Bay Research Station
  • include more schools.

Springs rehabilitation program

Our researchers also hope to involve Cunnamulla students and community members in a scientific research and monitoring program that aims to rebirth local Great Artesian Basin springs.

The project aims to rehabilitate this threatened ecosystem while raising awareness of the cultural heritage and environmental importance of Great Artesian Basin springs, and to provide work experience and connect participants with local environmental agencies.

Protecting Arnhem Land’s unique biodiversity

Together with the Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC), Associate Professor Robbie Wilson and School of Agriculture and Food Sciences colleagues Dr Bill Ellis and Dr Sean FitzGibbon  developed a scientific and conservation training program for the Indigenous rangers of Groote Eylandt.

Groote Eylandt lies off the coast of eastern Arnhem Land in remote Northern Territory. The majority (97 per cent) of the island and its surrounding archipelago is part of the Anindilyakwa Indigenous Protected Area, which is listed as a site of conservation significance.

Biodiversity on Groote Eylandt is high, and approximately 900 plant species and 330 vertebrate species have been recorded.

The Indigenous rangers of the ALC are responsible for the conservation of the unique culture and environment of the archipelago. They’re involved in all the scientific research and education programs that are run on the island, and participate in data collection, data entry and planning.

The ALC committed to a long-term research partnership with UQ and allocated $400,000 in funds towards an Australian Research Council Linkage project.

Our researchers are also planning an outreach program to improve the scientific education of pupils at Groote Eylandt’s three Indigenous schools.

Preserving the footprints of giants in the Kimberley

Since 2011, Dr Steven Salisbury has worked with Indigenous communities of the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia's Kimberley region.

This area's coastline, north of Broome, 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.

Minimal research on these tracks was previously conducted, and public awareness of their existence was low.

Significantly, these tracks form an important part of the cultural heritage of the Indigenous people of the Dampier Peninsula, being integral to a songline that extends along the coast for 450 kilometres.

Dr Salisbury works closely with Goolarabooloo traditional custodians to raise awareness of the region's dinosaur footprint fauna and its cultural significance. His project team has documented the track sites as part of a broader, ongoing research program.

The coastline of the Dampier Peninsula is now included in the National Heritage Listing for the west Kimberley.

Dr Salisbury worked with the Goolarabooloo traditional custodians and the Australian Heritage Council to implement a management strategy for the area that draws on the involvement of Indigenous rangers and cultural advisers.

Initiatives are in place with the broader Broome community to educate local schoolchildren about the region's prehistoric and cultural heritage.

Broome Shire Council has also expressed interest in establishing a permanent interpretation centre to highlight the results of UQ's research and Indigenous outreach in the region.

Crocodile capture in Cape York Peninsula

Through his estuarine crocodile research, Professor Craig Franklin has formed long-term relationships with Indigenous communities and traditional owners in western Cape York Peninsula.

Professor Franklin regularly gives presentations about wildlife to local communities in Weipa and Mapoon, and has contributed to the training of Mapoon, Kaanju Ngaachi and Wild River rangers in crocodile capture and survey methods.

He is Director of Research for the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve.