[ASC-media] Coral CoE media: empowering future Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander marine leaders

Melissa Lyne mlyne_99 at yahoo.com
Tue May 20 18:21:38 PDT 2014





Empowering our future Australian Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander marine scientists
 
This
Thursday, 40 high school students will embark on an exclusive five-day
excursion to Orpheus Island on the Great Barrier Reef as part of the
Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science (ATSIMS) initiative.
 
ATSIMS
Founding Director, Joseph Pollock from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral
Reef Studies (Coral CoE), aims to inspire interest in marine science
amongst Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.
 
ATSIMS
is now in its second year and Mr Pollock says the inaugural program for select
Townsville students was a great success. “Post ATSIMS, one high school reported
nearly 90 percent of participants significantly improved their science grades,”
he said. “And nearly all scholars now express interest in attending university,
which is up from less than fifty percent before the program.”
 
Mrs
Natalie Howard, Community Education Counsellor at William Ross High School, was
involved in last year’s program.
 
“Socially,
emotionally and holistically, ATSIMS provides a fabulous opportunity that is
gratifying on so many levels. Students demonstrated increased self-confidence
and this rolled on into the classroom environment,” Mrs Howard said.
 
“ATSIMS
provided a wonderful opportunity for our students to explore the possibilities
of marine science. They saw not only how it can benefit future generations, but
how it is connected to our cultures.”
 
Mr
Pollock promises this year’s four-week program will be ‘bigger and better’ for
the scholars.
 
“We’ve
doubled our time at Orpheus Island from two-and-a-half days to five. We’ve also
expanded our school catchment beyond Townsville to include four schools from
towns ranging geographically from Ingham to Home Hill. And we’ve added extra
modules.”
 
Sponsored
by Coral CoE, the Orpheus Island field trip is a highlight of the ATSIMS
program. Situated within the traditional sea country of the Manburra people and
boasting a world-class marine research station run by James Cook University
(JCU), Orpheus Island provides the year 9 and 10 students with the unique
opportunity to study coral reefs firsthand, alongside coral reef scientists and
Australian Aboriginal Elders.
 
Mr
Pollock explains this unique initiative is vital for future coral reef research
in bringing about a greater appreciation of traditional ecological knowledge
within the scientific community.
 
“There
is so much to gain from merging western marine science with the traditional
ecological knowledge possessed by the more than 70 traditional owner groups
along the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Pollock said.
 
“The
students selected for this program are all part of cultures that has been here
for a very long time; cultures that possesses immense knowledge of Australia’s
marine environment.”
 
Traditional
elder Jim Gaston spoke to last year’s ATSIMS students about an innovative
turtle-tracking program he founded to monitor the dynamics of local sea turtle
populations. Using the field data collected from this program, veterinarians
and scientists at JCU can now study how disease spreads within these turtle
populations – Mr Gaston himself discovered the potentially fatal turtle
virus fibropapillomatosis in local sea turtle populations.
 
“This
is a perfect example of why we need more traditional owners and marine
scientists sharing knowledge,” Mr Pollock said.
 
Once
on Orpheus Island, the students will not only experience coral reef research
out in the field, but will learn about life on a remote research station.
 
The
ATSIMS program focuses on hands-on learning, including visits to Reef HQ, the
Museum of Tropical QLD, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), a
careers fair at JCU, and interactive lectures from young marine scientists at
Coral CoE, JCU and AIMS.
 
For
more info, please visit: ATSIMS.com
 
(images and video footage are available on request)
 
 
CONTACTS
 
	* Joseph Pollock, ATSIMS/ Coral CoE, 0466 407 141, Joe.Pollock at atsims.com
	* William Ross High School, (07) 4726 7666
	* Jenny Lappin, Coral CoE, (07) 4781 4222, jennifer.lappin at jcu.edu.au 
	* Melissa Lyne, media liaison, 0415 514 328, Melissa.lyne at gmail.com
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