Welcome to the National Indigenous Engineering Summit, proudly hosted by the Melbourne School of Engineering at the University of Melbourne.
Indigenous Engineers: Partners for Pathways is a Federally funded program whose goal is to achieve parity for Indigenous Australians in engineering graduations by 2030.
A key part of this program is to build knowledge and consensus about how Australian education providers can help Indigenous students to enter and succeed at tertiary study of engineering. This activity began with a forum held in Melbourne in September 2014, attended by a wide range of organisations and individuals working in this and related fields. These participants helped shape questions and plans relevant to meeting the challenge.
The National Indigenous Engineering Summit is the next stage. This event brings together stakeholders from government, industry, universities, TAFEs, and other education providers, professional bodies and not-for-profit organisations to create and support pathways into engineering professions for Indigenous Australians. Recommendations from the Summit will inform ongoing policy and initiatives across the following areas:
- Development of an enabling national policy environment;
- Enabling more flexible pathways and accreditation;
- Improvement in the uptake and outcomes from STEM education;
- Development of secondary school programs that promote engineering;
- Development of processes to assist Indigenous students to study engineering.
There are many separate challenges. The low number of Indigenous students studying maths at senior secondary levels is a major limiting factor in access to science, technology and engineering pathways, as is the low rate of Indigenous secondary completion. The discipline of engineering is not always well understood by the general population, and Indigenous students may incorrectly believe that engineering study is beyond their ability. There are cultural and social obstacles that are particular to Indigenous students. And alternative pathways, such as via TAFE study, are not always well articulated or widely exploited.
However, the examples set by trail-blazing Indigenous engineers, who have successfully tackled University study and entered the profession, show that these challenges can be addressed, and demonstrate the outcomes that Partners for Pathways can achieve for all Indigenous students.