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Old Ways, New Ways Program

The program stems from the desire to improve the participation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students in science subjects.

About the Program

Old Ways, New Ways, now in its fourth year, is a multi-award winning outreach initiative which links Aboriginal cultural competency and the ‘Old Ways’ of Aboriginal science with the current or ‘New Ways’ of scientific knowledge. The program aims to increase students’ confidence in their ability to study science at tertiary level and induce a sense of pride in students by:

  1. Engaging Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students in science and technology-based learning through hands on activities that involve peer supported learning (students teaching students) that enhance confidence and leadership and presentation skills and through activities that teach scientific concepts;
  2. Providing and promoting role models and mentors particularly Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander scientists, science researchers, active community organisations and academics, who can highlight education pathways and science career opportunities; and
  3. Providing training and teaching resources and promoting cultural competence in the area of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander engagement that facilitate the integration of Noongar Knowledge Systems into the teaching of science, that are locally relevant and specific.


Old Ways, New Ways stems from the desire to improve the participation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students in science subjects, and thereby increase their employment in science and technology. It is focused on finding ways to inspire Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander young people to reach their full potential by improving their educational and employment outcomes.


Creative, hands-on science activities are at the core of the program. Students are taken on a journey of scientific exploration, where Traditional methods of Aboriginal toolmaking and ancient techniques for bushland survival are celebrated, shared and linked to practical, current scientific methodology and enquiry. The workshops are adapted to the differing requirements of students’ age, cognition and literacy levels.

Upper level high school students are trained to be demonstrators and provide technical and theoretical expertise in running workshops for younger students.

The practical nature of the workshops strongly engages the students, giving them a fresh vision into educational possibilities for their future. There is an emphasis on capacity-building and raising aspirations for higher education attainment and participation. This hands-on approach seeks to motivate students to study science at high school and beyond, and to improve understanding of Traditional knowledge and its complementary to current scientific methodologies.

Old Ways, New Ways allows young people to see value in the rich heritage of Australia’s first peoples and the significance of their knowledge to contemporary Australia. Celebrating and showcasing traditional aspects of science by Noongar Elders reinforces cross-cultural collaboration and increases respect for traditional knowledge and perspectives.

Meet the Team

The program team comprises both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff, and models strong cross-cultural partnerships. The initiative bring together ECU staff from Kurongkurl Katitjin and the School of Science.

  • Mr Jason Barrow
  • Ms Caroline Bishop
  • Dr Kristina Lemson
  • Dr Magda Wajrak


Please forward all enquiries regarding the Old Ways, New Ways program to:

Caroline Bishop
Community Partnerships Adviser (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)
Kurongkurl Katitjin, Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research
Tel: (61 8) 9370 6771
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