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On the road to STEM success

[supplied by NIAA]

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Acting Manager Kim Dyball and Participants in the Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy (Photos courtesy of YIWSA)

Helping young Indigenous women study and eventually enter careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is a career Kim Dyball is absolutely loving.

Kim is on staff at CSIRO as the Acting Manager for the Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy and is passionate about working with so many bright Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women.

“I love this job because every day, I feel like I am making a difference. I know by exposing young Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women to the opportunities that STEM can offer, more of them will want to pursue a STEM career,” Kim said.

In 2018, the Academy received 10 years of funding from the National Indigenous Australians Agency. The Academy works in partnership with CareerTrackers, to support up to 600 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women across the life of the program.

It recruits young women from Year 8 and uses culturally-safe, inclusive practice to provide targeted, long-term support with the aim of building a generation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander female leaders, role models, and game-changers in STEM fields.

“I am extremely fortunate to be part of a team of highly skilled and passionate women who make up the Academy and together we get to support and watch the young women pursue and achieve their dreams,” Kim said.

 “This is a real strengths-based approach and something that I would love to see happening more often in other fields too. It really works.”

Kim said the Academy’s program was designed to ensure all the young women involved reached their full potential.

“Each young woman is provided with a dedicated Academic Coordinator, Individual Learning Plan, support to navigate systems and services, information about resources and referrals, information and assistance to access scholarship opportunities and access to a brokerage fund to support their educational success,” Kim said.

“The support is provided to the young women throughout their high school and university years through to commencing their STEM careers.

The Academy provides the young women with a whole range of STEM supports including a grounding in Aboriginal and Torres Strait knowledges, both historical and contemporary.

Kim said it was “so important” to acknowledge, value and honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ cultural knowledges.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been living sustainably and caring for Country for thousands of years. They are Australia’s first scientists,” she said.

“Some examples of their ingenuity include the Brewarrina Fish Traps, or culturally called Baiame’s Ngunnhu, which are estimated to be more than 40,000 years old.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ cultural knowledges are now being used more widely, such as fire management practices.

“Working at CSIRO it is incredibly rewarding to see the respect for this science and the valuing of this ingenuity from thousands of years ago in such a forward-thinking organisation.”

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