Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

MAAS Indigenous Sciences Symposium 2018

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The MAAS Indigenous Sciences Symposium 2018 is dedicated to honouring the next generation of Indigenous scientists and those who are supporting their development. Standing on the shoulders of our Ancestors we celebrate 60 000 years of technological advancement and eco-sustainable practices. A key focus for the gathering will revolve around identifying strategies and actions to support our emerging STEAM Leader’s on-going research and development with connections to industry.

This gathering brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics, theorists, researchers, designers, engineers, educators and students from across the community.  It provides an important opportunity to shape future research and investigations that are focused on exploring and sharing the sophistication, richness, and leadership of Australia’s First Peoples within the scientific domain.

  • Saturday 18 August 2018
  • Venue – Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo
  • Registration Booking essential via the MAAS website
  • Delegate Registration: Non-MAAS Member: $90, MAAS Member: $80, Concession: $70
  • A limited number of subsidised registrations are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members – please contact
  • Registration includes morning/afternoon teas. Lunch not included
  • Enquiries:
Program Overview
Times Saturday 18 August
9.00 Registration and Tea/Coffee
10.00 Welcome to Country, Welcome to Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences and Program Overview Day 1
10.15 Key-note Yarn (45 mins) The value of knowledge with Aunty Joanne Selfe
11.00 Morning Tea
11.15 Yarn-1 (45 mins) Inquiry for Indigenous Science Students – science and culture with Cassandra Diamond (Manager – Indigenous Inquiry for Science Students (I2S2), CSIRO Education and Outreach)
12.00 Yarning Place 1 (30 mins)
12.30 Lunch and Soapbox Presentations
1.15 Yarn 2 (45 mins) Microsoft Indigenous Programs with Tianji Dickens (Microsoft Philanthropies)
2.00 Yarning Place 2 (30 mins)
2.30 Afternoon Tea
2.45 Yarn 3 (45 mins) ASTEN (Australasian Science & Technology Exhibitors Network) and Indigenous Programs at MOD with Kristin Alford (Director – MOD, University of South Australia) and Kiah Buckskin-James (Exhibitions Coordinator – MOD, University of South Australia)
3.30 Plenary and Recommendations
4.30 Acknowledgements and Closing
4:45 End 


Yarn presentations

Key Yarn: The value of Knowledge – Aunty Joanne Selfe

Joanne Selfe is an Elder of the Youth Koori Court, a founding member of Warringa Baiya, the Aboriginal Women’s Legal Service, and a member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. She is also a master grass weaver.

Joanne has over 30 years’ experience working in various positions within the public sector, private enterprise, community-based organisations and higher education. She was the first Aboriginal Director of the Indigenous Services Unit in Corrective Services, in the mid-1990’s.

The implementation of the recommendations of The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and The National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families formed a basis and direction for her work that continues to this day.

She was Deputy Chair of the NSW State Reconciliation Committee and Chair of the Reconciliation Events Committee Corroboree 2000. Her knowledge and focus in her various program and policy roles has been dedicated to enhancing cultural understanding of her people and increasing access to programs and services for Aboriginal people by breaking down barriers.

Joanne has worked with the judiciary for many years on cross-cultural awareness and understanding. She was involved in organising the first Aboriginal community visits that the Commission undertook in NSW in the 1990s.


Yarn 1: Inquiry for Indigenous Science Students I2S2 – science and culture

The I2S2 – science and culture presentation will provide an overview of the current program – including the key components of the overarching Indigenous STEM Education Project in CSIRO.

The presentation will provide an in-depth look at the I2S2 program and how the combination of science and culture was achieved and is being maintained and grown across the schools where the program runs.  A look to the future of the program will be included, with a discussion of the transition from face-to-face program delivery to an online platform.

The presenter will also discuss the practicalities of delivering a program across Australia, and how to localise what is essentially a national program to make sure students can see its relevance to their own lives, families, and communities.

Cassandra Diamond is a Torres Strait Islander woman who grew up in Millmerran.  Over many years, Cassandra has worked across central and western Queensland in rural, regional and urban communities.  After completing her secondary education, she completed a Bachelor of Arts in Justice Administration at Griffith University.

Cassandra’s priorities for her current role include planning for the sustainability of the program, piloting an online delivery option and ensuring that best practice is embedded into the work being done with First Nations peoples across her remit within CSIRO.

Prior to taking on the role of Manager in the I2S2 program, Cassandra worked with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services where she was responsible for the management of a team which wrote the Strategy and Action plan to reduce over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection.

Cassandra has expertise in project management, community development, engagement and cultural capability.  She also has extensive experience working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and undertaking program management and service delivery roles.


Yarn 2: Microsoft Indigenous Programs

The Microsoft organisation has a longstanding commitment to the development of First Nations Peoples through its philanthropic and outreach programs.  Many Australian Indigenous researchers and technology developers have been supported through their initiatives including Indigital’s founder Mikaela Jade.  In this presentation, Tianji Dickens (Microsoft Philanthropies) will provide an overview of Microsoft’s activities in this space and discuss options for the ongoing support for Indigenous innovation futures.

This session will be presented by Tianji Dickens (Microsoft Philanthropies).


Yarn 3: ASTEN (Australasian Science & Technology Exhibitors Network) and Indigenous Programs at MOD

ASTEN is a network of science centres and museums throughout Australia and New Zealand.  Its objectives are to encourage cooperation amongst science and technology centres, museums and other organisations which utilise an interactive approach to further the public understanding of science and technology; To act as an advocate for the roles and activities of member organisations; To act as the Australasian focus and clearinghouse for information about the collective activities of member organisations; To encourage and facilitate the exchange of interactive exhibits and exhibitions between member organisations; and To share information on the wide range of activities of member organisations.

It’s most recent gathering was held at MOD – MOD. at the University of South Australia is a futuristic museum of discovery, a place to be and be inspired.

With dynamic, changing exhibition programs, MOD. inspires young adults aged 15+ about science and technology, showcasing how research shapes our understanding of the world to inform the future.

For visitors, MOD. is a free science experience like no other.  A tourist icon bringing together the general public, researchers, students and industry to interact, learn and be inspired – MOD. is Australia’s boldest, and South Australia’s only, interactive public science and creativity space.

MOD. offers seven purpose-built gallery areas over two floors, a cafe, shop, and lecture theatre, housed within the University’s new Health Innovation Building on Adelaide’s cultural boulevard on North Terrace. It features Australia’s first Science on a Sphere, a room-sized display that shows planetary data on a sphere surrounded by touchscreens.

MOD. presents an ambitious annual program including two seasonal exhibitions as well as talks, workshops and special events.

In this presentation, MOD Director and MOD Exhibitions Co-ordinator will provide an overview of ASTEN and the MOD’s approach to the inclusion of Indigenous cultural perspectives and scientific knowledge throughout its programs.

Dr Kristin Alford is a futurist and engineer who is inspired by exploring the possibilities for tomorrow and how they can emerge from today. As the inaugural Director, she leads a team dedicated to bringing MOD.’s vision into reality. A highly creative thinker, with experience in engineering, human resources, strategy and communications, Kristin weaves together strands of multi-disciplinary thinking. Kristin is a skilled facilitator, influencer, and public speaker.

Kiah Buckskin-James holds a degree in communications, media and culture, and has been appointed to the University of South Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Graduate Program for 2018-2019. Kiah is applying her expertise to continuously improve visitor engagement at MOD. including communications, evaluation, reporting and design.  She is a proud Narrunga Kaurna woman,

To learn more about Indigenous Sciences check out The Indigenous Science Experience Family Fun Day at Redfern Community Centre on Sunday 19th August.