Supporting First Nations women in STEM earns award for Southern Cross Education graduate

Published 8 December 2020
Cassandra Diamond, Bachelor of Education honours graduate Delia Muller Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award winner, Cassandra Diamond

Creating opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to succeed in STEM has earned an Education Honours graduate a CSIRO award.

Cassandra Diamond received this year’s CSIRO Delia Muller Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award and plans to use the $6000 prize money to further develop and deliver programs that provide opportunities for more of Australia’s First Nations peoples to take up education and employment in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The award recognises achievement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement, participation, service delivery and research services.

"Since Cassandra joined CSIRO in 2017, she has consistently demonstrated commitment to increasing the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students particularly women in STEM,” said Director of CSIRO Education and Outreach, Mary Mulcahy.

“She has been an integral part of the development and implementation of the $20 million, 10-year Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy program, ensuring that CSIRO is culturally safe for them and that they are supported to be the best they can and to succeed.”

Cassandra completed Southern Cross University’s one-year Bachelor of Education (Honours) degree in early 2020 while working on the Academy program full time. Her Honours research thesis focussed on understanding how to better engage young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in STEM education and careers.

“The award will allow me to keep building my knowledge, and making sure that I maintain my responsibilities to the young women who are coming after me. I want to widen the path and open new opportunities for others,” Cassandra said

“I want to continue to amp up and amplify the voices of First Nations people and to continue the work I have started in learning from my brothers and sisters using that knowledge to indigenise the STEM space for the young people that my program supports.”

Young students in classroom setting

The CSIRO Young Indigenous Women's STEM Academy program has been rolled out to 172 high school and university students in the first two years of operation. Cassandra’s work has included:

  • Informal mentoring at CSIRO leading to staff retention through increased cultural safety of the workplace
  • Leading a team in CSIRO to develop the first external facing online learning program for teachers
  • Providing advice and input into the development of the CSIRO Child Safe Policy – especially cultural considerations
  • Provided coaching to non-Indigenous staff on effective and sensitive consultation and engagement practices to increase their cultural capability and cultural safety of the workplace
  • The ongoing co-design of the Academy and implementation on a national scale

 More information about the Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy can be found here.

Photo: CSIRO

Media contact: Charles Wood 0407 794 744 scumedia@scu.edu.au