IF THERE’S one thing science can learn from, it’s culture, Gamilaraay women Karlie Noon says.
Ms Noon, formerly of Tamworth, currently studying a Masters degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics in Canberra, has been sharing a few lessons of her own on a visit home.
Culminating in night of stargazing and cultural knowledge-sharing at the botanical gardens, Ms Noon also spent some time talking to local students about making education work for them.
Her own journey through education was an irregular one.
She thought she was done with it at age 14, then navigated through TAFE, back through high school and eventually became the first Indigenous person on the east coast to attain degrees in maths and physics.
Mentoring Tamworth students, she said it was about finding what works for you.
“I really focused on: if school isn’t the best place for you, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on education altogether,” she said.
“If you learn slightly different, or need extra help, it’s finding out what you’re passionate about.”
While technology is playing a more ubiquitous role in our lives, she said it was science that was being empowered by her culture.
“We’ve got the science in traditional stories and I’m a huge advocate for science that has a meaning and has a cultural significance,” she said.
Ms Noon said there was lots of scientific content embedded in traditional knowledge and has taken up research in that realm.
“It’s something that’s becoming more prevalent,” she said.
“It has stayed within cultural circles and with the knowledge-holders, but it’s now becoming more accessible to people.
“It has been a cultural journey for me as well and I’m very supported by community in what I do.”
It was very significant for Ms Noon to host the cultural stargazing event on Gamilaraay country and focus solely on local stories.
Monday marks the start of NAIDOC Week which, this year, has drawn attention to strength and influence of women in Aboriginal communities.
It’s a particularly poignant theme for Ms Noon.
“It made me think about how I got to where I am,” she said.
“I come from a really strong line of really strong women.
“I’m the combination and result of a bunch of support from really strong women.”