Deadly partnership to bolster First Nations representation in medical research

WEHI has partnered with leading Indigenous not-for-profit, DeadlyScience, to foster the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scientists, in the first partnership of its kind.

At a glance

  • WEHI partners with DeadlyScience to pave the way for upcoming generations of FirstNations scientists.
  • The three-year partnership will draw on each organisation’s strengths in education andtraining to provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to beengaged at the scientific frontier from a young age.
  • The partnership expands WEHI’s long-standing commitment to supporting Aboriginal andTorres Strait Islander scientists

DeadlyScience is a non-profit that provides remote Australian schools with STEM resources and mentoring.

Student from Minyerri in the NT looking at slides

under a microscop

The collaboration with WEHI is the first time DeadlyScience has partnered with a medical research institute and is the first partnership to be created under its DeadlyPathways program.

WEHI director, Professor Doug Hilton AO, said the partnership would build the important momentum needed to inspire and offer opportunities for future First Nations scientists.

“It’s an honour to be able to mark this year’s National Reconciliation Week with a partnership that expands WEHI’s commitment to supporting the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scientists through brave action and a vision for change,” Professor Hilton said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were the world’s first scientists and WEHI embraces and pays respect to this millennia of knowledge.

“Improving First Nations people’s representation in STEM will benefit everyone, and this partnership will draw on our strengths in education and training to support their engagement at the scientific frontier by providing opportunities to make exciting discoveries and decisions about the future of health in this country.”

DeadlyScience founder, Kamilaroi man Corey Tutt, said the partnership with WEHI would build a pipeline for First Nations children at a higher-education level, while also helping to cultivate a passion for STEM learning from a young age.

“Every single child in Australia deserves the opportunity to fall in love with STEM, and grass-roots initiatives like this are the ingredients we need to fuel that passion,” Mr Tutt said

“DeadlyScience is built on relationships and this partnership with WEHI will help us continue our commitment to working with schools to keep children interested in science by providing them with essential resources they may not otherwise have.”

Under the new partnership, WEHI and DeadlyScience will work to co-design and deliver science-based programs and activities for First Nations school students.

WEHI donated books to DeadlyScience to assist

schools that had been impacted by the 2020 bushfire

crisis.

Philanthropic support will also be sought to help fund partnership activities, including a new STEM project aimed at embedding and expanding initiatives at WEHI to build a pipeline for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across different levels and entry points.

DeadlyScience has provided over 16,000 books, 500 telescopes and various other STEMresources to more than 400 schools across Australia since it was founded in 2018 and registered as a charity in 2020.

WEHI formalised its commitment to reconciliation with the institute’s first Reconciliation Action Plan in 2014, with a strong focus on building the next generation of First Nations scientists. In 2021, the institute made a strategic commitment to increasing participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at all levels in the organisation with the publication of its first Indigenous Employment Strategy.

Key initiatives include WEHI’s partnership with the CareerTrackers Indigenous Internship Program, offering multi-year internships to undergraduate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students, and the Chism Indigenous Honours Scholarship program that nurtures budding First Nations researchers.

Professor Hilton said: “We want to inspire and support First Nations people to enter and thrive in the sector across various levels. The DeadlyScience partnership is the latest commitment WEHI has made to make meaningful strides towards achieving this goal.”

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