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The National Museum of Australia has welcomed Encounters Fellows from across Australia, since the Program began in 2016. Alumni work across the Australian cultural sector and their input helps shape and inform this year's Program.

Group of men and women standing in the Garden of Australian Dreams at the National Museum of Australia.
2019 Encounters Fellows (from left) Naomi Appleby, Kyra Edwards, John Morseu, Sherika Nulgit, Kyra Kum-Sing, Harold Ludwick


A portrait of Naomi Appleby

I am working on Yawuru’s repatriation project, which we have called Wanggajarli Burugun – We are coming home. A key component of this project is to develop the Gwarinman memorial area within Broome cemetery to repatriate Aboriginal people taken from Yawuru country. We have located over 30 people, including Gwarinman. His engraved skull is in the Natural History Museum, London, and 14 people from the Saxony Ethnographic Collections (SEC) in Germany. Our aim is to bring all our ancestors home and tell the important and challenging story of their removal. This will require sensitive interpretation and negotiation with community, institutions and the Australian Government.

As Yawuru cultural youth ambassador I have a coordinating and curatorial role. In partnership with curators at the SEC we are planning an exhibition and documentary film about their return and their stories.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Yawuru and Karajarri

Community focus: Broome region, Western Australia

Employer: Nyamba Buru Yawuru

A portrait photo of Kyra Edwards

By collecting culturally significant stories, the City of Stirling Aboriginal Digital Mapping project’s purpose is to promote, engage and educate audiences, strengthen the capabilities of local community members, and foster cultural continuity. I want to develop a digital platform that will give the community access to information and self-guided walking tours around significant Mooro Nyoongar locations within the City of Stirling. The project will also include access to oral histories/videos of local elders, history/heritage signs, self-guided walking tour brochures and tours guided by local elders and/or Mooro Nyoongar community members.

I hope to build a more open and stronger partnership between the council, museum and the Aboriginal community within the city. The stories and histories we collect will be accessioned into the museum collection and preserved for future generations.

Visitors to the city will be able to access the digital platform, download brochures for a self-guided walking tour, and/or join a guided tour conducted by a local elder or community member. People who aren’t aware of the platform will be able to learn about Mooro Nyoongar culture through interpretive signage that will be set up around significant locations within the city.

My hope is to make the program self-sustaining and that the community will take over the planning and running of the tours.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Nyikina and Bunuba heritage and working with Mooro Nyoongar peoples

Community focus: Stirling region with Nyoongar peoples and organisations, Western Australia

Employer: Mount Flora Museum, City of Stirling

A portrait photo of Kyra Kum-Sing

My project is a travelling exhibition of art works and artefacts called Women’s Lore – Malera Bandjalan.

The purpose of this project is to highlight and showcase the importance of women’s lore through multimedia, art works and artefacts. This is a project where all female community members play a role. By bringing women together throughout this project, it is envisioned to help empower and revitalise some untold cultural practices, beliefs and stories.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Malera Bandjalan (NSW) and Mitakoodi Queensland

Community focus: Sydney and Northern New South Wales

Employer: Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative, Sydney

A portrait photo of Harold Ludwick

I see a need for my community to catalogue and archive history from their immediate groups and dialects so it will be forever accessible for the community in the future. Our elders are passing away and enough hasn’t been done to preserve their stories.

Education of our Nation has been overdue, advocacy of Indigenous Australians must start by having a platform to speak from! I see an urgent need for a national education platform, whether it be in the education curriculum or with state/federal acknowledgement.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Bulgun Warra, Guugu Yimidhirr & Kuku Yalandji

Community focus: Cooktown and Hopevale region, Queensland

Employer: James Cook Museum, Cooktown

A portrait photo of John Morseu

A community project that I would like to develop is establishing a professional partnership with Gab Titui Cultural Centre staff whereby the Torres Strait Islander Collection material held at AIATSIS can be digitally provided back to the centre to be used in exhibitions and reconnecting back to Islanders to provide metadata about orphaned material and material about which little is known. I would also like to utilise the Kara Buai Torres Strait Islander Corporation, based in the ACT, to develop the cultural artistic and creative expression of dance and regalia, by learning from networks that can be established through this project.

My project will have the opportunity to educate regional and diaspora Torres Strait Islander communities about AIATSIS collection material, as well as provide an opportunity for Islanders to contribute to the informed metadata of collection material.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Tamwoy Reserve (Waiben/ Thursday Island), Badu, Erub, Mer, Mabuiag and Masig islands – Meriam & Mabuyag

Community focus: Torres Strait Islander communities QLD and TSI community members in Canberra, ACT

Employer: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra

A portrait photo of Sherika Nulgit Duckhole

I would like to do a research project relating to Western and Aboriginal approaches to caring for repatriated and donated cultural objects. For this project I would take the cultural objects relating to the three Wandjina language groups, digitise them, store them at Mowanjum Arts correctly according to museum standards, and work out the best way to display them in the soon-to-be-built Mowanjum Museum at Mowanjum Art Centre.

For the cultural side, I would like to take the objects to our old people to look at first to make sure the objects are suitable for public viewing according to cultural protocol (i.e. not men’s business or women’s business). I would research the objects’ meanings, significance and associated stories. I would also research any necessary treatments required.

The information collected will be used in the Mowanjum digital archive and museum to educate members of the three language groups represented by Mowanjum Arts and visiting audiences. It would pass on important knowledge about the cultural treatment of objects to the next generation, and strengthen the knowledge held by younger people in the community. Stakeholders of this project will include community elders, family members relating to the objects and the Mowanjum Arts team.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Ngarinyin

Community focus: Mowanjum community, Derby, Western Australia

Employer: Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre, Derby

Six women pose for the camera outside a building.
2016 Encounters Fellows (from left) Finola Woodley, Nadine Lee, Sheree Blackley, Leitha Assan, Tanya Prizmic-Carter, Kylie Caldwell


Finola Woodley
Finola Woodley

This scholarship provides me with the tools to develop and create a platform for my culture to be shared locally and with the world. My goal at the end of the day is to put back into my community the teaching, so that the next generation will never lose sight of their identity.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Yindjibarndi

Community focus: Roebourne, Western Australia

Employer: Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation

Tanya Prizmic-Carter
Tanya Prizmic-Carter

I want to share with my community and beyond the importance of culture and how it can work in museums to tell our very powerful story.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Bunuba and Goonyandi

Community focus: Kununurra and Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia

Leitha Assan
Leitha Assan

Following the scholarships program, I am developing projects and exhibitions that continue to contribute towards repatriating artefacts and cultural materials, in both virtual and physical forms, back to their homelands and keeping places. I hope that through my work I contribute to filling in the missing pieces from our history and their place in our future.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Badhu yoepkaz

Community focus: Waiben (Thursday Island), Queensland

Employer: Gab Titui Cultural Centre

Sheree Blackley
Sheree Blackley

The staff at the National Museum of Australia have worked so hard to equip us with skills we can take back to our communities, and for me, I would not have had the chance to experience this anywhere else. This scholarship has not only changed my life, but it will also change the lives of the people of north-west Queensland.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Kalkutungu

Community focus: Mount Isa, Queensland

Employer: Educator and artist, Kalkutungu Language and Cultural Connections

Nadine Lee
Nadine Lee

This program gave me much more confidence, knowledge and experience across multiple areas. The ultimate aim is that what I learn will help me and other Larrakia build and run our Larrakia Culture and Traditional Arts Centre. It will need highly capable, well-networked Larrakia professionals.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Larrakia

Community focus: Wardaman and Karajarri, Darwin, Northern Territory

Kylie Caldwell
Kylie Caldwell

The fellowship has opened many doors through growing professional and community networks and confidence. It has helped and encouraged me to just jump into the deep end. The fellowship has made me feel more courageous and willing to step outside my comfort zone. I’m more confident in following my ideas and instincts, learning as I go.

Cultural affiliations/language group: Bundjalung

Community focus: Casino, New South Wales

Employer: New South Wales Department of Education

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