ATSIMS receives Qld reconciliation award for its work in encouraging teens into marine science careers

@JCU ATSIMS receives Qld reconciliation award for its work in encouraging teens into marine science careers

ATSIMS receives Queensland Reconciliation award

group shot with curtis pitt

Back (L-R): Cliff Cobbo, Jennifer Lappin, Wayne Costelloe, Natalie Howard, Joan McKay, Libby Evans-Illidge

Front (L-R): Sean Walsh, Jessica Courtney, Mr Curtis Pitt, Eddie Smallwood, Carolyn Luder.

Photos: Marie Roman, Media For You

The Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science (ATSIMS) program was recognised last night for its achievement in Education as part of the QLD reconciliation awards.

The Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science (ATSIMS) program helps to fill the gap between the potential of young, Indigenous Australians and careers in marine science and management.

The program was founded in 2013 in Townsville by Dr. Joseph Pollock to inspire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to consider careers in marine science and encourage them to follow tertiary pathways at university. It brings together traditional ecological knowledge and western marine science through field-based, hands-on curriculum activities.

Now in its fourth year, ATSIMS has engaged with over 150 Indigenous students from secondary schools spanning from the Burdekin to Ingham in Queensland. Program activities bolster students’ interest in marine science careers, and provide the skills, confidence, experience and knowledge to pursue those careers.

The program is based at the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre at James Cook University. The success of ATSIMS is due to the tremendous partnership support the program attracts. Other key sponsors of the program in 2016 include AIMS, AIMS@JCU, World Wildlife Fund, Gudjuda Reference Group Aboriginal Corporation, Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, Department of Heritage and Environment protection, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Cinematic Science and Glencore. Reef HQ Aquarium, Sea Link and the Museum of Tropical Queensland also provide in-kind support. The program also relies on generous support from supporting schools, teachers and Community Education Counsellors.

The program consists of five modules during Term 2: in-class presentations by local Traditional Owners and scientists, a visit to Reef HQ Aquarium and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, a two night stay at JCU’s Orpheus Island Research Station and a career and awards fair at JCU. On 8 June, the ATSIMS alumni of 2016 will graduate at the JCU careers day.

Carolyn Luder, ATSIMS Program Director said the program is honoured to have received the Queensland Reconciliation Award in the category education.

“We give students the opportunity to experience the Great Barrier Reef up close, most of them for the very first time, and the program provides them with experience and skills needed to initiate and succeed in tertiary studies.”

“We share a belief with local students, teachers, partners and Traditional Owners that the strengthened connections we are helping to build between western science and traditional knowledge will benefit not on the students in our program, but also their communities and ultimately, the Great Barrier Reef.”

“Over 85% of students who participated in the 2013 program (whilst in year 10) graduated from high school last year with over 58% of these, now participating in tertiary studies, mostly at JCU.”

ATSIMS group shot 2


From left: Sean Walsh, Cliff Cobbo, Eddie Smallwood, Natalie Howard, Libby Evans-Illidge, Jessica Hoey, Carolyn Luder, Jessica Courtney, Joan McKay.