Indigenous Science

Indigenous Science is an area of emerging interest for cultural and scientific understanding, and a mechanism for empowering Australia’s diverse first nations peoples.  Want to learn more about working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities? Here is a great overview from CSIRO.

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After centuries with little positive attention, the recognition and interest are very welcome for most. However, great care needs to be taken to ensure educational resources are made and shared in consultation with experts in a culturally respectful manner. Central to this is that perspectives and pedagogies of Australia’s first peoples should be respected. All non-Indigenous educators working in this space should actively seek out robust cultural competency training, read and watch material generated by experts with cultural relevance, and work at building relationships with local groups. Almost all universities have an Indigenous Engagement office and it is important to seek out the relevant representatives so they can also guide your work. It is also important to keep in mind the following quote. By adding content alone we risk adding nothing if the content is abstracted from the Indigenous perspective and the complex, interdisciplinary nature of Indigenous knowledges. 

Aboriginal perspectives are not found in Aboriginal content, but in Aboriginal processes. Tyson Yunkaporta

This new ACDS website led by Angela Ziebell (Monash University) and researched by Krystal De Napoli (Monash University), aims to give tertiary science educators a starting resource in their quest to incorporate Indigenous knowledges, pedagogies, and perspectives in their teaching. Initially, this website is a collection of a wide range of resources found publically. For those of you who are already working in the area, we invite you to recommend resources that you find useful or that you have developed yourselves.

We acknowledge and pay respects to the Traditional Owners, and Elders past and present, of all the lands on which all the members of the Australian Council of the Deans of Science work and live. The oldest continuous culture, and the world’s oldest scientific knowledges and perspectives. 

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On the following pages, you will find resources for tertiary educators to inform yourself about how Indigenous knowledge and knowledge systems deepen the value and relevance of science in Australia, view exemplar teaching materials, and find resources for use in your teaching.

You can also hear from Corey Tutt (NSW Young Australian of the year for 2020) as Dr Angela Ziebell talks to him about what Science and Indigenous Science means to him. Corey is the founder of Deadly Science which sends books and science learning materials to remote schools so that children in remote communities have better learning resources to help them engage and succeed at learning. 

Australia’s Indigenous Knowledge and knowledge systems are by their very nature complex and interdisciplinary and cannot be viewed as mere subsets of Australia’s Western knowledge systems. To provide an easy to navigate, central resource that brings together information about Indigenous knowledge and knowledge systems, as well as indigenous studies these pages, have been structured into four areas:

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[Photo: Joey Csunyo on Unsplash]

Cultural competency (preparing the learner/teacher)

In order to best take on concepts of Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous perspectives, an individual must understand their own cultural background and how it impacts them. They also need to understand how history has influenced the position of Indigenous Australians, and their relationships with many major institutions like the medical, legal, and schooling systems.  It is also incredibly important to understand there are a vast range of experiences and personal histories, and therefore (just like in any other situation) there are a vast range of opinions and perspectives. Nothing written herein is meant to replace the rich diversity of these opinions and perspectives.


In this section, we collate resources from a large range of Australian (and occasionally overseas) sources from all types of media. You will notice that the topics are not broken down into the traditional Western subjects of Chemistry, Biology, Physics etc. This is very deliberate. The Indigenous approach does not work in delineated topics/subjects. Instead, learning is context dependant, and interdisciplinary. Never abstracted from what is going on around it.

The content presented here will help you better understand the science used in everyday Indigenous Australian life. Given the large number of different Indigenous peoples within Australia, few if any of these practices were ubiquitous. Some of these practices are still common in some areas of Australia, whereas some are largely or purely historical recounts. However, it is important to note that a lot of work is being put into reviving older practices, including significant research to understand how the former systems worked.

The content that is curated on this website is to help you get a start and to help you understand the type of material and concepts that you might utilise in your classes. It is not meant to be a one-stop-shop, but instead is the start of your journey. If you have additional resources for us to link to our site please contact Dr Angela Ziebell on

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[Photo: Nychols Benaia on Unsplash]

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[Photo: Emma Matthews Content Production on Unsplash]

Teacher resources

In this section, we will include examples of best practice in teaching as we collect them. Our examples will include great ways to include Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander knowledges and perspectives into everyday classes or to make them an additional feature within a class, not as a novelty but as an important addition to our curricular. 

We are also including background readings discussing a number of pedagogies that are useful to consider when planning activities and assessments. Over time we will also add a “lessons learnt” section from people around Australia who are working in this area. If you have a lesson or resource that you want to share please contact Dr Angela Ziebell (