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8 April 2024

Six fellows join National Museum for 2024 Encounters Fellowship Program

Six Indigenous cultural workers will embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at leading cultural institutions in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, as part of the National Museum of Australia’s Encounters Fellowship Program for 2024.

The recipients are from Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, and the Northern Territory and include an historian, curator, cultural heritage practitioner, artist and program manager.

National Museum director Katherine McMahon said the Program has enduring benefits for both the institutions and the individuals involved.

‘Institutions have much to learn from Indigenous custodians who can bring new information to light, including the cultural care and representation of their cultural material. The Fellowship Program is founded on ‘two-way’ learning and exchange, with opportunities for museum and cultural sector professionals to learn from the fellows,’ Ms McMahon said.

‘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 will bring their learnings from the Program back to their own communities, workplaces and projects, to teach others and become leaders in their fields’.

The Encounters Fellowship Program provides participants with an opportunity to explore First Nations museum collections and the role they have in revealing the past and shaping the future, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Fellowships build on the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practitioners by providing opportunities to work with cultural institutions to develop their skills, experience and networks within the cultural sector.

Encounters Fellowship Manager Shona Coyne said one of the aims of the Program is to help participants develop advanced skills in collections, capabilities and connections.

‘Fellows will be able to contribute to important conversations, in Australia and internationally, about how cultural institutions collaborate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and collections,’ Ms Coyne said.

‘Through placements at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and international partner cultural institutions the fellows will strengthen their professional networks, museum practice and leadership skills’.

The recipients’ journey will begin in April with an orientation at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. The intensive program will include a trip to New Zealand to Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, with a particular focus on First Nations-led cultural work and programs.

They will later travel to the United Kingdom to visit leading cultural and collecting institutions where they will conduct research, participate in workshops, undertake individual placements and build networks.

The 12-week Fellowship Program offers an opportunity to build competencies in a range of activities and skills relevant to working in the cultural sector. The fellows will work alongside museum, gallery and cultural sector specialists, gaining behind-the-scenes experience in areas such as collections research and preservation, exhibition planning, digital storytelling, educational programming, Indigenous design thinking, and project management. They will be paid a stipend and receive an allowance for associated travel costs.

This is the third iteration of the Program, made possible through the generosity of supporting partners and the Australian Government. The first Encounters Fellowship Program ran in 2016.

The National Museum developed the Encounters Fellowship Program following recommendations from extensive community consultation conducted for the 2015–2016 Encounters exhibition, featuring rare Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum.

Encounters Fellowship recipients

Natalie Davey

Broadcaster, Wangki Radio, Fitzroy Valley, Kimberley, Western Australia

Natalie has Bunuba, Walmajarri, Scottish and English heritage and identifies as a custodian from Bunuba Danggu Muway. She is a multidisciplinary artist and spends much of her creative time at Mangkaja Arts in Fitzroy Crossing.

Natalie also works at Wangki Radio, the local community radio station in Fitzroy Crossing. She is a producer and broadcaster along with her father, Bullen Rogers. They present a regular language program called ‘Danggujarra’.

From a young age, Natalie has had a love of the natural world and how everything is connected. She enjoys creating through building, art, writing and storytelling. Natalie sees art as a vital life practice, helping her to remember better, work through ideas and/or issues and create understanding and beauty in the world.

Through language, Natalie creates systems of understanding between seasonal observations and collections. She is dedicated to sharing the world around her and bringing people together through cultural understanding.

David Doyle

Senior Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Royal Flying Doctor Service, and self-employed artist and cultural tourism operator, Menindee and the wider Barkindji Nation, New South Wales

David works for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, is a member of Menindee Aboriginal Elders Council, owns and operates Wontanella, a cultural tourism business, and holds numerous positions on advisory councils and boards.

David’s arts practice is tied to cultural connection to Country and to his ancestors, with his main work being sculptural. He spends time with his elders, seeking guidance, gathering oral histories, arranging visits to museum collections to view Barkindji artefacts and photographing their various forms and carved designs. He then incorporates this research into his artworks.

David also teaches cultural practice in his hometown of Menindee, has released a book of poetry and enjoys cooking bush foods in a contemporary style.

Jamie Hampton

Warlpiri Repatriation Officer, South Australian Museum, Yuendumu and Alice Springs, Central Australia

Jamie is a Warlpiri and Arrernte man from Alice Springs, Central Australia. His family comes from Yuendumu, 250 km north-west of Alice. His skin name is Jungarrayi.

Jamie’s work is focused on his Warlpiri family from Yuendumu. His main passion is repatriation; specifically, helping his community return sacred objects and important collections back to Country so that important cultural knowledge can be transferred to younger generations of Warlpiri.

Jamie has worked in the museum and cultural sector for four years and hopes to help his community build the relevant infrastructure to care for, manage and hold their own cultural heritage material on Country in Yuendumu.

Jamie is passionate about his work and has always been closely connected to his culture. He learnt this from his father and grandfathers, who are now guiding him on this journey.

Samara King

The Keeping Place, Broome, Western Australia

Samara is a Karajarri woman from Broome, Western Australia. She is currently living in Perth and completing a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on engagement between museums and First Nations researchers, and how archival photographs are shared and exhibited.

Samara is an aspiring curator with a wealth of experience in the arts sector. She has worked for the Rottnest Island Authority, the Western Australian Museum, and the National Library of Australia. Samara is Board Secretary at exhibition touring company Art on the Move and a guest curator at the Midland Junction Arts Centre in Perth.

Samara is passionate about First Nations cultural heritage management. She is currently employed at The Keeping Place, an Indigenous-owned, not-for-profit software company.

Nerelle Nicol

Independent researcher, Djabugay Country, Cairns, Queensland

Nerelle was born and raised in Far North Queensland on the homelands of the sunrise Kuku Yalanji people. She now lives on Djabugay Country on the northern beaches of Cairns.

After an extensive career in the public service advocating for her people, Nerelle was inspired to explore her creative skills to highlight important issues. Since 2012 she has developed her social history research and curatorial skills to share untold social and political history stories.

Her goal is to use her unique perspective and artistic abilities to create meaningful and inspiring presentations that evoke emotion, spark conversation and leave a lasting impression on those who experience her work.

In addition to working on a significant historical story for a new exhibition, Nerelle is currently building on the success of her recent Lugger Bort exhibition, which she is seeking to present during the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games.

Sammi Snedden

Programs Producer, First Nations, Museums of History NSW, Sydney, New South Wales

Sammi is a Dunghutti and Wiradjuri emerging artist and curator who has grown up on Darug land. Her passion for connecting to culture and community has been passed down to her by her grandparents from an early age.

As a young child, her late grandfather David Wright taught her a weaving technique called stringing. Years later Sammi reignited her passion for weaving by learning to weave baskets, which informs her art practice today.

Sammi is an experienced workshop facilitator, delivering First Nations weaving workshops to schools, galleries and libraries. Sammi recently curated her first show, The Enlightenment, at First Draft Gallery, Sydney, featuring her contemporary woven lampshades, along with art and poetry.

While pursuing her art practice, Sammi has worked as a First Nations Programs Producer at the Museums of History NSW, developing and leading new productions as well as delivering longstanding programs.

Media contact: Diana Streak, 02 6208 5091, 0409 888 976 or

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