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Six fellows on their way to the National Museum for 2019 Encounters Fellowship program

8 July 2019

Six newly awarded fellows will embark on a once-in-a-lifetime international opportunity at leading cultural institutions in Australia and the United Kingdom, as part of the National Museum of Australia’s Encounters Fellowship Program for 2019.

The recipients are from Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, the Torres Strait Islands and the Australian Capital Territory and include historians, curators, cultural heritage practitioners, artists and program managers.

Director of the National Museum of Australia, Dr Mathew Trinca, said the program has enduring benefits for the institutions and individuals involved.

‘Institutions have much to learn from Indigenous custodians who can bring new information to light. As such, the fellowship program is founded on ‘two-way’ learning and exchange, with opportunities for museum and cultural sector professionals to learn from the fellows,' said Dr Trinca.

'For the fellows, access to the resources and collections of partner institutions, both nationally and internationally, will provide invaluable insights into the cultures of First Nations peoples globally. We hope they bring their learnings from the program back to their own communities, workplaces and projects, to teach others and become leaders in their fields.'

As part of the program, each fellow has chosen a project to develop using the skills and knowledge they acquire through their placements.

Encounters Fellowship Manager, Carly Davenport Acker, says one of the goals of the program is to assist in providing the selected participants with the skills to drive their project.

'The program supports fellows to research, design and develop a project plan that reinvigorates culture and cultural practice in their area of interest and within their own community,' said Ms Davenport Acker.

The recipients’ journey will begin in August with a residency at the National Museum of Australia along with placements and cultural study tours at Canberra institutions such as the National Library of Australia and Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). They will later travel to the United Kingdom to complete placements at institutions including the British Museum, Royal Museums Greenwich and the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.

Through tailored programs at the National Museum of Australia and partner institutions in Canberra and the United Kingdom, the fellows will receive mentoring, learn new skills and build networks in the cultural institutions sector. They will be paid a stipend and receive an allowance for all associated travel costs.

The program was developed in response to community consultation for Encounters: Revealing stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum, a collaborative exhibition developed by the National Museum of Australia and the British Museum, displayed in 2016.

This is the second time the program has run and has been made possible through the generosity of supporting partners and the Australian Government. The first Encounters Fellowship Program ran in 2016.

Encounters Fellowship recipients

Naomi Appleby

Project Coordination Officer in the Native Title and Environmental Services unit — Future Acts and Heritage, Nyamba Buru Yawuru Ltd, Broome, Western Australia.

Naomi is a Yawuru and Karajarri woman who is enthusiastic and passionate about Indigenous self-empowerment and the continuity of traditional language and culture. She works closely with elders and law bosses in the Yawuru community to protect country and is working on Mangara, Yawuru’s digital archive project that will bring together Yawuru resources and stories. As Yawuru cultural youth ambassador Naomi has a coordinating and curatorial role on a repatriation project called Wanggajarli-Burugun — We are coming home. The project seeks to bring all Yawuru ancestors back to Australia and tell the challenging story of their removal.

Kyra Edwards

Local History Officer, Mount Flora Regional Museum, City of Stirling, Perth, Western Australia.

Kyra is a Nyikina and Bunuba woman working with Mooro Nyoongar peoples to help build a stronger partnership between the council, museum and the Aboriginal community within the City of Stirling. She helps manage the Flora Regional Museum collection and the city’s local history collection. As the president of the Oral History Western Australia committee, Kyra is interested in developing a digital platform that will give the community access to information and self-guided walking tours around significant Mooro Nyoongar sites within the City of Stirling.

Kyra Kum-Sing

Curator, Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative, Sydney and Northern New South Wales.

Kyra is a Malera Bandjalan Mitakoodi woman and an active exhibition curator with extensive experience working in services for Aboriginal people, including at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal and Yabun Festival. She is a passionate advocate for Aboriginal rights and self-determination and the Aboriginal arts and cultural sector. Kyra’s project involves travelling an exhibition of art works and artefacts called Women’s Lore — Malera Bandjalan to highlight and showcase the importance of women’s lore through multimedia, art works and artefacts.

Harold Ludwick

Indigenous Project Officer and Guide, James Cook Museum, Cooktown and National Trust Australia, Queensland.

Harold is a Bulgun Warra man whose traditional lands lie west of Cooktown. He has been advocating for Indigenous people since his late 20s. His life experience and his passion for Indigenous rights has been the catalyst for his push for Indigenous issues to be taken seriously, taking him to remote communities and overseas. Harold’s ambition is to raise the standards of people in rural areas to the same level enjoyed by Australians in the cities. His project will focus on providing a platform for indigenous advocacy through a national education program.

John Morseu

Access Officer and Reference Librarian, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Studies (AIATSIS), Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

John is a Torres Strait Islander, currently living in Canberra, with family lineage to Badu, Erub, Mer, Mabuiag and Masig Islands. He is heavily involved with the ACT Torres Strait Islander community, namely the Kara Buai Torres Strait Islander Corporation. He is passionate about bringing Torres Strait collection material back into the awareness and practices of Torres Strait peoples living across the country. His project seeks to further this by educating these communities about AIATSIS’s collection material, as well as provide an opportunity for Islanders to contribute to the informed metadata of the collection.

Sherika Nulgit

Digital Media Collection Assistant, Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre, Mowanjum community and Derby, Western Australia.

Sherika belongs to the Ngarinyin tribe and is an emerging visual artist working in photography, painting and printmaking. Sherika is currently part of the media collection team at Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre, helping the community to explore and deepen cultural knowledge through digital media platforms. Sherika is looking to use the fellowship program to drive a research project relating to Western and Aboriginal approaches to caring for repatriated and donated cultural objects. 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.

For more information please contact Diane Morris on 02 6208 5497, 0436 030 741 or

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