A nation where the traditional knowledge and cultures of Australia’s First Peoples are highly valued and respected by all Australians is the vision for the Australian Academy of Science’s Reconciliation Action Plan, launched today.
Australian Academy of Science President, Professor John Shine, said reconciliation is a journey the Academy is proudly committed to taking.
“Our nation’s future, based on a knowledge economy, will be driven by embracing skills, knowledge and experience from a diverse range of people,” Professor Shine said.
“It is important that this includes and recognises that for tens of thousands of years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have had a strong connection to and knowledge of this land, its waterways, oceans and abundant flora and fauna.
“It is crucial that we create opportunities to work respectfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to address issues that impact them and to support their participation in the Academy’s scientific, policy, international and communication activities.
“The Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan commences a journey where, as one, we can use science to create a better nation and a better world.
“This, our first Reconciliation Action Plan, outlines the practical steps we will take to support positive change and facilitate reconciliation. In adopting better practices within the Academy, we hope that the Academy can model, encourage and influence greater diversity and inclusion across the STEM sector nationally,” Professor Shine said.
Kamilaroi Water Scientist Bradley Moggridge from the University of Canberra said it had been great to watch a group of committed people and an organisation grow, accept, question itself, develop and hopefully thrive in a space outside of the normal science box.
“With RA’s support this RAP is a perfect start to change,” said Mr Moggridge, who was part of the Academy’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group.
The Academy’s Reconciliation Action Plan acknowledges work already underway including:
- an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scientist award launched in 2018 to support emerging scientists
- continued support of the Douglas and Lola Douglas Scholarship in Medical Science; awarded to a top-ranked PhD candidate in Indigenous health research
- the Academy’s school education programs, which have provided professional learning to hundreds of teachers around Australia and have reached many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers and students.
Future actions and opportunities outlined in the plan include:
- investigating how the Academy’s national reach and influence may be able to support the involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in science, though initiatives such as a professional mentoring program that involves Fellows and National Committee members
- exploring different perspectives of science with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures
- implementing policies to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment, including developing and implementing a policy to attract, develop, and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to the Academy, incorporating the Indigenous Traineeship Program.