Deadly Science Getaway - shaping the future for Indigenous girls in science

Published: 31 Oct 2017

Check out this blog from Deadly Science Getaway, a project which aims to illuminate pathways for young Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women, aged 13-18, from remote communities in Cape York, including Wujal Wujal, Coen, Kowanyama, Aurukun, Lockart River, Pompuraaw, Mapoon and Bamaga to pursue careers that inspire them such as a ranger, marine biologist, natural resource manager, doctor, nurse or leading enrichment programs for Indigenous kids. 

Orpheus Island Trip 2016

In 2016 the young women involved in the Deadly Science Getaway went to Orpheus Island. 

The young women involved in the Deadly Science Getaway shared their thoughts and experiences of the trip. Here are some of their strong, smart, inspirational words:

2016 Deadly Science Graduates from Bwgcolman (Palm Island), Wujal Wujal, Kowanyama and Lockart River:

What was it like at the Orpheus Island Deadly Science Getaway?

Many of us had never experienced anything like this before. For many of us, it was our first time snorkelling. It was scary at first and some of us were worried about sharks and stingrays. But once we got in there it was beautiful, amazing and awesome. The corals were gorgeous and amazing. We got to see sharks. We got to see whales.

We saw a lot of traditional food. We got to look at bush food through scientific eyes. There was Burdekin plumb and trochus. We also found pipi shells. We saw mullets, sharks, stingrays too. It reminds us of home.




What were your favourite experiences at the Orpheus Island Deadly Science Getaway?

Snorkelling was amazing for us. Chelsea had never experienced anything like this before. Altricia and Kanisha really loved learning about the different corals. Lashonda really liked the starfish.  We really loved all of the fish too. Leontae got to see fish from under the water for the first time.  Christine liked learning to free dive. Lakeisha liked the lion fish. Lashonda really enjoyed meeting new people and all of the laughter. Everyone loved nibblies at sunset and the laughter. The peace and quiet was nice too.

What was it like making the marine debris sculpture out of ghost nets?

Some of the girls, Altricia, Chelsea and Lashonda, had seen ghost net weaving at the Cairns Indigenous art Fair this year. It was great to experience weaving ourselves at Orpheus, when we were weaving the scales for the turtle shell from the ghost net.

What do you think about science?

More than half of us do not really like science at school. But when we get out here and look and experience science, it’s pretty amazing and magical what we experience. We think it would be awesome if we could come to Orpheus Island to learn about the ocean, marine conservation and marine biology. We learned so much. It’s great to be out of the class room and looking at what we are learning about. We would love to do more science if it was taught like this.

What was it like sharing your stories with the ABC Open Crew?

It was great experience talking in front of the camera and letting the world know about this trip and the experience that we got out of being here. We got to learn how to do the behind the scenes work. We felt nervous when we were doing the TV interviews, but when it was finished, we felt great to have talked about our culture.




What would you like to see in the future?

We loved this trip. In the future, we would like to see more snorkelling and more marine science activities. We would also like to get out in boats and kayaks and explore the island more. We would like to go bush walking at night too. Seeing more starfish, turtles and whales would be great too!

Leontae, Cape York

I learned about the reef and the fish. Seeing the fish was my favourite part of snorkelling. It was cool seeing them from under the water for the first time. There were all different ones. I remember the stripey snapper fish. I would like to become a marine biologist.

Kanisha, Cape York

This is my first time snorkelling. Seeing the corals was awesome. It makes me want to go snorkelling again. I would like to become a ranger and look after the bushland.

Christine, Bwgcolman (Palm Island)

What is Deadly Science Getaway about for you?

We have come to Orpheus Island to learn about marine science. Many of the girls have never experienced being on an island or seen the reef, because many of them are from inland communities. They normally get to see bream and other fish like barramundi, but here they get to see a whole different range of fishes like barracuda, snapper, lemon damsel fish, lion fish, pipefish, painted sweetlip, red emperor and black tip reef sharks.

While we were snorkelling, I saw coloured giant clams. It reminded me of home and my family because there is a different type of clam that is bush food for us.  I have only ever snorkelled around the jetty back home on Bwgcolman until I came here. I got to learn how to free dive on this trip too.

We learned about corals and how they survive and live. I learned about looking after the reef and I want to tell other people. We learned that corals have bleached because it’s getting too hot. I want people to look after the reef and not put rubbish on it, because it is so beautiful and you would not want that to go, or die.

We also got to talk to the ABC Open Crew about our culture and about ourselves and how proud our parents and other family members would be. Having the chance to speak in front of a camera and building my confidence to speak have made me realise how there’s no need to be shame in anything. I know for most of these girls it would have been hard too, but I know that we are strong women and that we are proud of our cultures.   

What do you think Deadly Science Getaway means for the younger kids on this trip?

Being in a different environment makes the girls really happy and excited. Some of us would never be able to experience reef snorkelling on a big reef if it was not for this trip. We also had nibblies while watching the sun go down. There was a lot of laughing with everyone. It was amazing and something to remember.

I think that the girls will go back to school and tell their friends their stories about Orpheus Island and inspire other kids. It was really great for them to meet new people from all over the world because we have people from America, South Africa and the United Kingdom and all of the girls from all of the different communities around Cape York and Bwgcolman.

The people that brought us on this trip, Cathy, Pat, Blanche, Kate, Alana and Tessa, were really supportive and inspiring. I want become a sports and recreation officer and organise programs for young teenagers and help them get into fitness and keep their health well.  I’ve learned here that when you are doing programs with kids you have to build good relationships with them. The kids will get more out of it if you do this.

I would like to see more trips like this to benefit young people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities all around Australia. 

You can see a video about the trip here.

The goal of the Deadly Science Getaway is to ignite a passion for science and illuminate pathways for Indigenous women to pursue careers that inspire them such as a ranger, marine biologist, natural resource manager, doctor, nurse or leading enrichment programs for Indigenous kids.

We achieve this through field science and authentic conversations in stunning, wild places, surrounded by passionate scientists and Indigenous Leaders.

We see women who participate go on to create change through the conversations they have with their communities and other young indigenous women and the careers they choose.

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