Indigenous STEM Initiative – SID School – Wins Consult Australia Gold Award for Excellence

The Science and Infrastructure Development (SID) School, an initiative established by WSP in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Oodgeroo Unit, has won the Consult Australia Gold Award for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility.

To address the under representation of Indigenous Australians in STEM industries, WSP and QUT established the SID School in 2012 – a free, fully-supervised, five-day, residential program held in Brisbane. This was in response to the gap in enrolments in STEM education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and in school attendance, literacy and Year 12 completion school levels. The broader challenge that the SID School targets is the well documented gaps that reconciliation addresses in line with the Closing the Gap initiative.


This year, the SID School was hosted in partnership with the QUT Oodgeroo Unit and WSP and supported by corporate sponsors including: Bryan Family Foundation; Department of Transport Main Roads; Commonwealth Bank; Australian Army and Career Trackers. Together, we welcomed 25 Indigenous Australian high school students from across Queensland who participated in a five-day residential camp over the July school holidays. They had the opportunity to get a glimpse of tertiary education pathways, STEM careers and workplaces whilst maintaining a strong connection to Indigenous culture. Also, returning as SID school ambassadors, were 10 alumni with close ties to the program, to help mentor current students.


Charlie Jewkes, Casey Dwyer, Anita Lee Hong, Gerard Ryan and Josh Loyd celebrating their Consult Australia award win

L-R: Charlie Jewkes (WSP), Casey Dwyer (WSP), Anita Lee Hong (QUT), Gerard Ryan (WSP), Josh Loyd (WSP)


Professor Anita Lee Hong, Director of QUT’s Oodgeroo Unit said, “Through the SID School, we are committed to increasing Indigenous participation at university. Support of young students is one of the most impactful ways of building positive relationships with the Indigenous community.”


The SID School and other STEM camps are part of WSP’s commitment to closing the gap and aligns with the objectives laid out in our Reconciliation Action Plan. “As engineers, planners, designers and influencers, we are in a unique position to affect change working with QUT’s Oodgeroo Unit and our industry partners,” said Gerard Ryan, WSP’s Regional Director for QLD. “Supporting the young leaders of tomorrow in STEM education and careers, particularly those from Indigenous backgrounds, helps us lay strong foundations in designing the integrated, inclusive and diverse communities of the future.”


Through partnerships with university and corporate sponsors, the SID School provides high school students, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, with insight and guidance into the various options for tertiary education and work experience available to them in STEM fields where Indigenous communities are currently under-represented.


This year's camp included site visits to the Queens Wharf Redevelopment, Gallipoli Barracks, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, QUT Gardens Point Campus and WSP's Brisbane office. It also involved interactive workshops centred around the program's enduring theme of future cities: connected living including clean energy, community centric infrastructure, Aboriginal Design Principles and more. Click here to view this video of this year’s camp.


Student comments which highlight the school’s value include: “The SID camp has provided many opportunities, and now I am considering joining the UAV Division of the Defence Force” said a Year 12 student, and, “I have learnt a lot and the experience is worth travelling for. It really sets you up for uni and connections are formed which will help us in the long run,” said a Year 10 student.


The Corporate Social Responsibility Gold Award recognises firms that have implemented and delivered outstanding initiatives that benefit society.


Click here for more information on the SID School.


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