What’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) got to do with native title?

Thursday, 7 June 2018
Prof Peter Radoll

Australia’s National Innovation and Science Agenda holds that “Extraordinary technological change is transforming how we live, work, communicate and pursue good ideas. We need to embrace new ideas in innovation and science, and harness new sources of growth to deliver the next age of economic prosperity in Australia.” Key to our future prosperity as a ‘smart’ and agile nation is remedying declines in STEM skills. Substantial government investment and policy focus aims to encourage greater STEM engagement, including boosting STEM engagement amongst young women and girls; and Indigenous Australians. For Indigenous Australians building livelihoods and prosperity on Native Title and other lands, often in remote Australia, STEM skills are already underpinning emerging innovative, culturally-robust livelihood developments, such as Caring for Country. CfC is a priority for NTOs, and a preferred career option for many young Indigenous Australians, providing opportunities to encourage school participation, (eg ‘Learning on Country’), and university attendance. Acknowledging CfC as STEM engagement enhances Indigenous access to the vocabulary of ‘prosperity’ and boost existing powerful dialogue around environmental stewardship. Identifying STEM engagement outcomes arising from investment in Native Title based opportunities can deepen current policy thinking and create additional opportunities for Indigenous economic development of lasting national benefit.