Rural Regional and Remote Regional, rural and remote
Rural Regional and Remote Regional, rural and remote

The stories and photos on this page highlight UWA’s leadership in Regional, Rural and Remote projects across our State. Each year we dedicate more than $50m to regional projects that span agriculture, marine science, archaeology, astronomy, law, medicine, indigenous education and the arts involving research, learning, teaching and community engagement activities.

possum and researher pic

UWA Regional Strategy

The UWA Regional Strategy has been developed through a comprehensive consultation process, commencing in the last half of 2019, which has brought together UWA professional and academic staff, regional stakeholders and students from all over the state.

The staggering scale of opportunity and challenge across Regional WA has been broken down across six pillars that recognise the importance of: working with Aboriginal communities, building industry and stakeholder partnerships, creating a rich student experience and delivering excellence in research and learning. Underpinning these pillars are the imperatives of building digital connectivity and growing awareness of the rich knowledge and experiences the regions have to offer.

For each pillar you will find a more detailed description and a snapshot example of a current UWA project.

UWA Regional Strategy [PDF, 4MB] 

PILLAR ONE

Cultivate innovative regional partnerships and community engagement

Collaborations between UWA and RRR partners will serve as a mechanism for two-way sharing of knowledge, skills and expertise.

We recognise that developing lasting partnerships between UWA, Government (including DPIRD) and RRR communities requires UWA to learn from partners and contribute to them in tangible ways. We have the opportunity to develop ground-breaking, multifaceted partnerships to provide benefits to UWA, generate socio-economic impact for RRR communities, and to tackle some of the ‘Grand Challenges’ facing the world today.

How can UWA better engage or collaborate with your entity to improve outcomes for your community? Tell us here.

 
 

Snapshot: Regional partnership Future Tails

Tailings are a common by-product of the mining process, and their effective management is an issue that impacts communities around the world, including RRR communities across Western Australia. The University of Western Australia, Rio Tinto and BHP have formed a partnership that aims to improve global tailings management.

Future Tails is a five-year initiative to facilitate industry understanding and implementation of best practice tailings management. Over five years, Rio Tinto and BHP, two mining industry leaders, will join forces to invest $4 million ($2 million each) in training, research, education and practice to support tailings and waste management facilities.

The initiative includes leading-edge training programs to build talent and capability; publications that summarise state-of-the-art tailings analysis, design, operation and management; and new research collaborations with industry to drive further innovation. Future Tails will provide education, training, and professional development to senior executives, senior technical personnel, junior engineers and operational staff in Australia and internationally. Program participants will be awarded micro-credentials from UWA and there will be opportunities to follow a postgraduate pathway, which will include a Masters in Tailings Management.

Program Director, Professor Andy Fourie, from UWA’s School of Engineering, said there was a clear imperative to improve tailings management. “Future Tails represents a step change in education, training and accreditation,” Professor Fourie said. “Moreover, it will drive cutting-edge research and innovation that will feed into future training.”

Future Tails will contribute knowledge to specialist areas of research, including static liquefaction, filtered and dry stacked tailing and numerical modelling for dam break studies. This knowledge will lead the practice, technology and process for the next generation of geotechnical engineers. The partnership will also lead the development of a consolidated industry reference book, which will be adapted as a reference for line managers directly responsible for tailings management.

Matt Currie, the Vice President of BHP’s Tailings Taskforce, said there was an increasing demand for tailings expertise, and for qualified people and methods to train these new professionals. “The program will provide essential training and development to people at all levels of their career, and help reinforce the different career paths within the tailings discipline,” Mr Currie said.

Rio Tinto’s head of Group Technical Mining, Santi Pal, said it was clear the industry needed to improve operational management and engineering practices. “We need to enhance this capability right across the industry,” Mr Pal said. “Future Tails will develop and retrain talent needed to safely and sustainably run mining operations of the future. Over time, it will help support improved global tailings management standards, knowledge-sharing and the transfer of best practice.”

As the mining industry responds to concerns about the risks associated with tailings management, and initiatives such as the international Global Tailings Standard, Future Tails looks to influence, inform and, where necessary, adapt to these advancements. The establishment of Future Tails positions Australia as a global leader in tailings management thinking, training, research, education and practice – working towards a global vision of a future with zero catastrophic tailings’ failures.

Strategies and initiatives to cultivate innovative regional partnerships and community engagement

Pillar 1. Cultivate innovative regional partnerships and community engagement to generate long term socio-economic benefits

1.1. Cultivate partnerships to deliver research and education outcomes

1.1.1.    Partner with regional employers to

  •  Support workforce upskilling and specialisation
  • Facilitate experiential learning and career preparation opportunities for UWA students
  •  Apply research, knowledge and expertise to real world problems

1.1.2.    Partner with industry, government, non-governmental organisation (NGOs) and community groups to

  • Apply research, knowledge and expertise to complex challenges facing RRR communities
  • Tailor education opportunities and outcomes to RRR needs
  • Prepare students for working in RRR areas

1.2. Partner with RRR communities to advance prosperity and welfare

1.2.1. Engage with two way representation and advocacy on boards, committees and working groups, including Indigenous community representation
1.2.2. Undertake joint grant and funding applications
1.2.3. Develop multi-faceted ‘living laboratory’ partnerships with RRR communities, to facilitate community development, transformation and aspirations around a focus area of need (e.g. energy neutrality)

1.3. Improve equity and access for RRR communities2

1.3.1.  Partner with Regional University Centres and other tertiary providers to

  • Extend the Children’s University Western Australian Partnership Program
  • Increase recruitment from RRR communities
  • Expand education offerings, including articulation pathways
  • Support research
  • Utilise physical infrastructure
  • Provide timely and accurate recruitment and scholarship information that creates choice for RRR students
  • Provide clear pathways to tertiary studies

1.3.2.  Continue and extend Student Equity partnerships with RRR schools to

  • Nurture aspirations for career development and academic capacity building
  • Facilitate opportunities for students to connect with University students
  • Provide opportunities to visit university campuses and university accommodations
  • Provide clear pathways to tertiary studies
  • Support educators through professional development
  • Connect schools with experts in regional and metro WA

2 This includes building on the partnerships that Student Equity have developed over decades

students around a lake 
 

PILLAR TWO

Experiences of regional, rural and remote WA

UWA will be enriched by opportunities to experience and learn with RRR colleagues and communities, through a range of field, clinical and on-country experiences and knowledge sharing initiatives.

Experiential learning is at the heart of UWA’s education philosophy. Our students develop a depth of knowledge and expertise in their chosen fields, as well as a breadth of experiences and skills that equip them to adapt and grow throughout their varied careers in a changing world. UWA students currently have access to a range of RRR clinical experiences through the WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) and the Rural Clinical School of WA (RSCWA), internships through the McCusker Centre for Citizenship, a number of regionally located field units, and on-country experiences, and extended study in a regional location through Albany’s Study InBroad program There exists a huge opportunity for UWA to extend the range of RRR experiences to enrich and broaden the experience of learning for UWA metropolitan based students.

How can we promote and provide regional, rural and remote experiences for all young Western Australians? Tell us here.

Snapshot: Promoting regional, rural and remote experiences

When Susannah Cramp came to UWA in 2017 for a study abroad year as part of her Master of Science (Biodiversity and Conservation) from University College London, she had never really heard of Albany. She now says that being offered an opportunity to complete some of her degree in Albany completely altered the direction of her life.

Susannah was drawn to the opportunities offered by UWA Albany’s Study InBroad program, including fieldwork, industry connections and working closely with academics and the Traditional Custodians of the land.

Susannah remembers, “I stayed in Middleton Beach with another Crawley based student wanting a regional experience within her degree. On the first afternoon that we arrived, we walked on the beautiful boardwalk overlooking King George Sound and I felt like I had really found my place!”

She describes her Study InBroad experience as a semester of field trips to the Fitzgerald National Forrest, making wonderful friends with fellow students in the student accommodation, and most memorably, learning from Elders - particularly Aunty Lynette Knapp during Biodiversity on- Country - about the beautiful Menang Country. Susannah left Albany determined to come back and do a PhD working with Elders to conserve biodiversity. She explains that this goal spurred her on while she completed her Masters in London, leading her to achieve the marks necessary for a PhD scholarship.

“What drew me down to UWA Albany initially was the proximity to wild spaces and close connections to academics and Traditional Custodians,” Susannah says. “It gave me the opportunity to really connect with Country, and once that connection was made there was no looking back. I’m now here for at least the next three or four years, and am feeling so fulfilled, challenged and excited everyday working with Traditional Custodians to learn how to care for this beautiful Noongar Country. Every student should have the opportunity to Study InBroad in order to experience what the regional areas of WA can offer.”

Susannah is now completing her PhD (Cross-cultural conservation of ancient outcrops: A Multiple Evidence Base investigation of lizard traps, an example of Human Niche Construction), and hopes to continue working together with Traditional Custodians to care for Country.

Strategies and initiatives to promote regional rural and remote experiences

Pillar 2. Promote regional, rural and remote experiences

2.1. Acknowledge and celebrate UWA’s role in RRR Western Australia

2.1.1. Increase regional consultation in the development of more carefully articulated course promotion to regional students
2.1.2. Establish and promote regional ‘Examples of Excellence’ that showcase unique, world-leading expertise in specific locations
2.1.3. Design and feature UWA marketing campaigns that tell the RRR story
2.1.4. Commit to representation of RRR colleagues on UWA key governance committees

2.2. Attract international students to experience the regions with targeted experiential programs

2.2.1. Develop intensive course offerings (Summer/Winter Schools) for international students in RRR locations
2.2.2. Establish exchange relationships with international universities
2.2.3. Offer Study Tours and Summer Down Under programs in RRR WA
2.2.4. Develop Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) ‘taster’ courses, allowing international student to experience a virtual regional experience

2.3. Strengthen the connection between the metro and RRR UWA communities

2.3.1. Establish database of UWA graduates living and working in regional communities and contact them to engage them with the regional implementation plan and ongoing UWA activities
2.3.2. Increase UWA community awareness, especially senior administrative and academic staff of regional UWA activity and assets
2.3.3. Increase participation of Albany staff in Research Collaboration Awards and Institute of Advanced Studies visitor schemes.
2.3.4. Expand the UWA Study InBroad program, facilitating a semester of study in RRR locations for Crawley based students
2.3.5. Establish a program of field trips and intensives in a range of RRR locations
2.3.6. Include RRR experiences in UWA’s flagship programs, such as the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours)
2.3.7. Establish cross-regional networks of expertise for UWA staff and students (e.g. agricultural practices across the regions)
2.3.8. Provide opportunities for researchers to base themselves in RRR facilities
2.3.9. Draw on the expertise and knowledge of regional experts to guest lecture or co-teach into UWA courses, sharing the RRR perspective

susannah profile pic 

 

Study InBroad gave me the opportunity to really connect with Country, and once that connection was made there was no looking back. I’m now here for at least the next three or four years, and am feeling so fulfilled, challenged and excited everyday working with Traditional Custodians to learn how to care for this beautiful Noongar Country. Susannah
Postgraduate student

Pillar three 

Enhance digital connectivity

UWA will strive to ensure connections with and between our metropolitan and RRR communities are supported by strong digital infrastructure, policy and practice.

Technology makes it possible for people to connect, collaborate, learn and engage over great distances. The advent of COVID-19 has seen businesses, educators and individuals rapidly adapt to communicating, working and studying in digital environments. Continuing to embrace this shift and finding new and innovative ways to work together virtually, presents rich opportunities to overcome the obstacles distance creates for metro and RRR communities.

Digital connectivity is an underpinning enabler of the UWA Regional Strategy. The University must commit to identifying and working to overcome barriers to digital connectivity, be they based on infrastructure, policy or personal circumstance.

With an enhanced digital potential – what opportunities might open up for your community? Tell us here.

 
 

Snapshot: Virtual On-country Experiences

Students enrolled in the unit “Knowing Country: The Dreaming and Darwin” are taken on a journey across space and time to examine the relationship between human beings and the environment. Two lenses are used to examine these themes: the first is Indigenous perspectives starting from creation in the Dreaming to understandings of the environment; the second lens is the science of natural history.

Connecting in the digital space allows for collaboration with Elders and knowledge holders from around Western Australia, and engagement in meaningful discussion around traditional ecological knowledge. Students have access to a series of synchronous and asynchronous digital learning experiences.

Renowned botanist Dr Steve Hopper and local Elder Lynette Knapp have recorded an interview in Albany on Mineng country. The interview takes place at the local lizard traps that Aboriginal people would use to capture lizards for food, and details exactly how they would go about doing this. Dr Sarah Drummond, Elder Lynette Knapp and daughter Shandell Cummings have recorded a session on working collaboratively with the Indigenous community on projects in Albany, focussing on intellectual property.

Students also participate in a live online discussion panel with Kimberly region-based experts from Bush Heritage Australia, including Wardandi women Chontarle Bellottie, ecologist expert Dr Michelle Hall and Wunambal Gaambera Health Country Manager Tom Vigilante, who are joined by local bush ranger Desmond to talk about the protocols and the ‘right way’ of working with Indigenous communities on their land.

The unit, which usually includes an on-country camp for students, faced particular challenges in 2020 due to COVID-19. Connecting to country through technology proved to be an excellent way for students to have the opportunity to gain on-country experiences while learning from home and on campus.

A student who undertook this unit in 2020 reported that, “Throughout the semester we were provided with an array of digital resources which connected us to different regions all across Western Australia. Recorded interviews on-country in Albany, and live discussion panels to the Kimberley region, provided an opportunity for students to learn Indigenous knowledge in a personal and insightful manner. Digitally, we learnt first-hand from the Elders, educators, and Indigenous communities living in these areas, bringing knowledge and insight which may once have been considered unattainable in our current circumstances, directly within our reach. I found that the opportunity to connect to different regions across Western Australia was what made this educational experience so enriching.”

The School of Indigenous Studies is keen to explore ways that technology can further enhance this unit, including the implementation of real-time virtual on-country experiences. These kinds of technology-rich experiences not only benefit non-Indigenous students’ understanding of connection to country, but also allow Indigenous students to reconnect from afar.

Strategies to enhance digital connectivity

Pillar 3. Enhance digital connectivity

3.1. Review and refine institutional policy to enable flexible and blended learning modes

3.1.1. Adopt a strategic, university-wide position on flexible and blended learning
3.1.2. Develop a set of digital accessibility measures to empower students that may not have access to technology for learning
3.1.3. Review and address access and policy barriers for Indigenous RRR students to undertake studies in their community

3.2. Review IT infrastructure and systems to support RRR connectivity

3.2.1. Establish physical nodes with partners3, and provide access to IT infrastructure
3.2.2. Review current systems for capacity and user experience

3.3. Embrace innovative digital experiences for learning, research and collaboration

3.3.1. Utilise Virtual and Augmented Reality to enhance connection and collaboration between metro and RRR communities

3 Locations will be subject to the implementation plan, but an example includes Infrastructure WA and Infrastructure Australia which has mapped out the priorities needing urgent access to better digital connectivity

  Bardi Jawi ranger Dwayne George and researcher Monique Grol measuring seagrass growth (Copywrite Monique Grol)
 

Pillar four

Embed Indigenous knowledge protocols to strengthen engagement with, and outcomes for, Aboriginal communities

UWA will build trusted, robust and sustainable relationships with Aboriginal communities across all regions of Western Australia.

Recognising and valuing Indigenous peoples’ rights, knowledge, culture and values is a key commitment of UWA. This includes leading the region in a curriculum connected to Indigenous languages, culture and knowledge; embedding Indigenous knowledge as one of the pillars of UWA student life; increasing access and success for Indigenous students; and empowering research growth and capacity in Indigenous communities.

How can we work with Aboriginal communities to build trusted, robust and sustainable relationships? Tell us here.

Snapshot: The Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science Project

Recognising both the need and benefit of combining Indigenous knowledge and western science for tackling contemporary management and conservation issues of land and sea environments in Australia, the Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science Project (KISSP) sought to improve approaches to collaborations between traditional owners and western scientists.

As part of a broader research program funded by the Western Australian Marine Science Institute, the KISSP was initiated by a group of Kimberley Indigenous leaders representing seven Traditional Owner groups; the Balangarra, Bardi Jawi, Dambimangari, Karajarri, Nyul Nyul, Wunambal Gaambera, and Yawuru peoples.

This working group identified priority research needed for the collaborative management of Kimberley Saltwater Country, and formed partnerships with trusted researchers from the University of Western Australia and Charles Darwin University to address these needs.

Working together on the KISSP, Traditional owners and western scientists focused on developing approaches to share and weave together Indigenous knowledge and western science for collaborative management of the area’s natural and cultural resource values. The team provided tangible outcomes for this aim including a trial of the Multiple Evidence based (MEB) approach as a way to collaboratively mobilise Indigenous Knowledges, Western Scientific Knowledge and other knowledge practices; locally tested draft guidelines translating MEB principles into actions to enhance collaborations between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous partners; a Kimberley Saltwater Country Research Proposal and Collaborative research guide; and a regional saltwater monitoring framework incorporating Indigenous values underpinning Indigenous understanding of Healthy Country.

The KISSP showcases how the development of robust and respectful collaborations can achieve mutually beneficial outcomes for the University, Aboriginal communities and the conservation and management of regionally significant cultural and natural assets.

Strategies and initiatives to embed Indigenous knowledge protocols

Pillar 4. Embed Indigenous knowledge protocols to strengthen engagement with, and outcomes for, Aboriginal communities

4.1. Develop a whole of university approach to engagement with RRR Aboriginal communities

4.1.1.Map UWA’s current activities, presence and engagement with RRR Aboriginal communities and make this information visible and available to Aboriginal communities
4.1.2. Facilitate greater support from the Centre for Indigenous studies for regional research
4.1.3.Develop and implement regional and community specific Aboriginal cultural protocols and guidelines for operating in different RRR areas across UWA’s full range of education, research and engagement activities
4.1.4.Build relationships and partnerships with RRR Aboriginal peak bodies, local organisations and Aboriginal businesses to facilitate greater engagement and increased outcomes for Aboriginal communities

4.2. Build cultural capability of staff and students for respectful and effective engagement with Aboriginal communities

4.2.1.Develop and implement programs that promote cultural capacity and prepare staff and students to engage with diverse RRR Aboriginal communities
4.2.2.Partner with RRR Aboriginal communities to identify and develop online and on- country resources and experiences that enrich teaching, research and student learning

4.3. Partner with Aboriginal communities to increase education and research capacity

4.3.1.Provide enabling programs, education pathways and support for RRR Aboriginal students and community-based learning programs
4.3.2.Empower and lead research growth and capacity for Indigenous communities through recognition of knowledge holders’ skills and expertise, accredited research training and micro-credentialing for Indigenous community researchers engaged in research projects
4.3.3.Establish processes within UWA that enable RRR Aboriginal communities to determine their own research needs and agenda, and match to research expertise at UWA

4 ‘Indigenous Knowledge Protocols’ signals moving beyond cultural protocols to providing a structure for giving respect for the sharing of Indigenous knowledge systems. It can include all types of respect including ensuring indigenous people are paid for their information and services in much the same way a person would pay a western expert for their knowledge and services. See https://www.csiro.au/en/research/indigenous-science/indigenous-knowledge/our-knowledge-our-way for further detail.

Pillar five

Vibrant and inclusive student experience

UWA students will feel a strong sense of connection and belonging to the UWA community and have access to comprehensive support and exceptional co-curricular learning opportunities, regardless of their physical location.

UWA’s commitment to delivering a world-class student experience is demonstrated through our student experience strategy, Experience UWA 2025. The strategies and initiatives outlined in Experience UWA 2025 are designed to support all UWA students through learning opportunities; digital capability and engagement; wellbeing and success; community connection; employability; inclusion and diversity and Indigenous knowledge.

The UWA Regional Strategy will align with and complement Experience UWA 2025 and draw out some specific strategies and initiatives that will support students from RRR communities to fulfil their ambitions at UWA.

How can we best support student experience for a UWA student in your region? Tell us here.

 
 

Snapshot: The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia

The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia (RCSWA) is the only collaborative clinical school in Western Australia, working with all three medical schools in WA, and having UWA as the pillar partner.  The RCSWA aims to drive a larger presence of doctors into country towns that face health and welfare challenges while giving student doctors the chance to learn from real-life experiences.

Its Commonwealth funding allows 25% of medical students per medical school to live and learn in a rural community for an entire year. The RCSWA offers placements in 15 rural towns between Kununurra and Esperance, and more than 105 students a year are selected to spend their penultimate year of study in these locations.

Students work in small teams with local academic staff, doctors, medical professionals and mentors, and in health services including paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, internal medicine, Indigenous health and general practice. Many students in the program get involved with local sporting teams or volunteer their time at charity organisations and emergency services. The community spirit is strong in rural regions and RCSWA program participants take advantage of these experiences.

Students and communities highly value the unique experience provided by RCSWA. Madeline Gryta, a RCSWA graduate from 2017, says, “I spent my RCSWA year in the Wheatbelt town of Narrogin. I had a wonderful time and found it to be a great clinical experience. Being at a small site meant there was continuity of care. I would see patients in GP, then in ED or the maternity ward and also with visiting specialists, which provided fantastic learning opportunities. The year allowed me to properly explore the role of a country GP and see just how diverse the job can be.

Since inception in 2001, RCSWA has graduated more than 1000 medical alumni, and is nationally regarded for curriculum innovation and excellence in delivery.  Graduates return to rural communities at high rates, with 50% of RCSWA’s rural background medical alumni moving back into rural work. In partnership with WA universities, the RCSWA is successfully accomplishing the Commonwealth funding aim, to improve the distribution of the medical workforce in Australia.

Strategies and initiatives to facilitate a vibrant and inclusive student experience

Pillar 5. Facilitate a vibrant and inclusive student experience

5.1. Enable RRR students to study in their communities, or in Perth metro, as they wish

5.1.1. Strengthen attraction, transition and retention programs for RRR students to study in their communities
5.1.2. Provide access to learning programs that meet the market need in RRR communities through either strong face-to-face, blended or digital experiences
5.1.3. Develop pathways that facilitate entry and preparation programs that increase the likelihood of success
5.1.4. Deliver transition support programs for RRR students who choose to relocate to Perth eg residential colleges
5.1.5. Offer scholarships (monetary and in-kind) for RRR students (e.g. Tertiary Access Payment Program, commencing 2021)

5.2. Facilitate social connection, wellbeing and success for students studying in RRR locations

5.2.1. Create local networks of regionally based students and staff to enhance student/academic experiences and drive connection
5.2.2. Deliver a series of social- and cohort-building initiatives
5.2.3. Deliver a program of e-support services for wellbeing and success
5.2.4. Partner with local providers for wellbeing and support services>br/> 5.2.5. Organise trips/seminars in the region for visiting academics or other relevant stakeholders

5.3. Facilitate experiential learning and career preparation for students in RRR locations

5.3.1. Establish a database for student opportunities in learning, employer placements, experiential learning opportunities and work experience
5.3.2. Facilitate RRR internship opportunities
5.3.3. Partner with RRR employers for Work Integrated Learning placements 5
5.3.4. Expand RRR clinical placements
5.3.5. Embrace Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), including partnership projects with international students

5 https://www.uwa.edu.au/students/My-career/Work-placements-and-internships

 

 

I spent my RCSWA year in the Wheatbelt town of Narrogin. I had a wonderful time and found it to be a great clinical experience. Being at a small site meant there was continuity of care. I would see patients in GP, then in ED or the maternity ward and also with visiting specialists, which provided fantastic learning opportunities. MadelEine
Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) graduate
 
 

Pillar six

Regional education and research

Working with RRR communities to understand their changing needs and aspirations, UWA will deliver tailored education offerings and research programs for the advancement of community prosperity.

The diversity of RRR communities across WA – ecologically, economically and demographically – is reflected in the range of education and research needs of each region, their local industries, and their communities. By understanding these needs and aspirations, UWA has the opportunity to develop new offerings and tailor existing ones to support the goals of local employers, industries, governments and communities, and to develop the next generation of leaders in RRR Western Australia.

What do we need to develop to best support the needs of your community? Tell us here.

Snapshot: Bring Oyster Reefs Back to Oyster Harbour

Shellfish reefs, dominated by the native Australian flat oyster, Ostrea angasi, were once a key ecological feature of the Southern Australian coastline. Prior to European settlement, Albany was the site of prolific oyster reefs, known as Oyster Harbour. Over time, the Oyster Harbor reefs have been lost due to overfishing, inappropriate fishing methods, and deteriorating water quality.

Bringing Oyster Reefs Back to Oyster Harbour” is a project that aims to recover Australia’s most endangered marine ecosystem. The project is initially focused on restoring at least 800m² of oyster reef in Oyster Harbour. The project is a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and UWA, and is supported by the Government of Western Australia, Recfishwest, Great Southern Development Commission, South Coast NRM, Albany Shellfish Hatchery, recreational fishers, local schools, and commercial oyster growers and fishers.

To date, 1000 tonnes of limestone rocks have been placed on the seafloor to construct reef segments, and these have been seeded with about one million hatchery-reared flat oysters. Researchers from The Nature Conservancy and UWA, together with Citizen Scientists, have contributed to monitoring and assessing the social, environmental and economic values of the reef. After deployment and seeding of the reef, several surveys have been conducted at reef sites and, as a comparison, also at nearby seagrass and sandy seafloor sites.

Results indicate that the newly-constructed reef is on an ecological trajectory consistent with becoming a fully-functioning shellfish reef in the future. In addition to the hatchery-reared oysters that were placed onto the reef, there is evidence that suggests the reef is beginning to act as a site for natural oyster settlement. Marine biodiversity has already increased in the area as a result of construction of the reef.

Reef building in Oyster Harbour is enthusiastically supported by the local community and has enhanced employment in local industries such as maritime construction, transport, and aquaculture. In addition, 184 volunteers have been involved in various project activities including shell cleaning, oyster cleaning and grading, and public consultation meetings. The project has attracted considerable media attention and has also provided a group research project for UWA students undertaking Research Methods in Environmental Science.

The reefs are still in the early phase of colonization and susceptible to events which may alter their long-term ecological success and the ultimate performance of restoration. Continued monitoring is recommended over the next five years to assess the oyster population as it continues to develop and mature to reproductive capacity. Additional monitoring of fish and invertebrate communities is also recommended as biodiversity tracks towards target levels.

It is anticipated that by demonstrating the restoration methodology and social, economic and ecological benefits of restoring Oyster Harbour’s lost oyster reef ecosystem, this project will lead to additional reef deployment in Oyster Harbour and, potentially, a future state-wide initiative to restore Western Australia’s once abundant shellfish reef ecosystems.

Strategies and initiatives to meet regional education and research needs

Pillar 6. Meeting regional education and research needs

6.1. Tailor course offerings for RRR students and communities

6.1.1. Expand the flexible and blended online delivery of UWA degrees in a strategic and targeted manner
6.1.2. Undertake feasibility studies and propose options to sustainably reach unserved markets through new delivery structures
6.1.3. Establish ongoing mechanism to capture and share the voice of specific regional students (future and current) and communities6
6.1.4. Develop course offerings in response to RRR priorities

  • Specialist postgraduate programs
  • Short courses
  • Stackable micro-credentials, with options to convert to credit for UWA courses

6.1.5. Develop course offerings in partnership with RRR employers to upskill their workforce

  • Short courses
  • Stackable micro-credentials, with options to convert to credit for UWA courses

6.2. Conduct high quality research in collaboration with regional partners, focusing on matching research priorities with the needs of RRR communities

6.2.1. Support the presence of high quality academic staff based in regional areas

  • Maintain a viable research hub in Albany, and rural health clinics more widely
  • Address RRR research priorities in partnership with regional stakeholders
  • Collaborate with other organisations undertaking regionally-based research

6.2.2. Communicate our regional research nationally and globally

  • High quality publications
  • Case studies that demonstrate the impactful research
  • Presentations at national and international conferences
  • Appropriate social media content
  • Regional based conferences and community events

6.2.3 Develop collaborative research partnerships and activities that align with research priorities of state and commonwealth funding organisations
6.2.4 Develop collaborative research partnerships with regional stakeholders including Indigenous stakeholders
6.2.5 Ensure the Office of Research and Innovation and Industry Engagement Directorate assist researchers/Schools/Institutes to engage in funding opportunities, and to work collaboratively with the School of Indigenous Studies

6.3. Nurture research capacity in regional WA

6.3.1. Increase opportunities for honours, masters and higher degree by research (HDR) students to be based in regional Australia, and more generally to work on projects based in RRR Australia
6.3.2. Develop a community research training program designed to enable local communities to undertake research in a way that is most appropriate for their particular community

6 This is particularly important given the significant differences in the positions and perceptions of regional, rural and remote students and families. A land mass that has 1 person per square km across a geography that would be the 10th largest country in the world

UWA organisations contributing to Regional, Rural and Remote WA

Many UWA schools, institutes, centres and other initiatives are connected with regional, rural and remote areas and communities, and contribute to their enhancement. Below are just some of the UWA entities who have a major focus on learning, teaching and / or research in these areas.

Centre for Regional Development

For more than 30 years, the Centre for Regional Development has undertaken research for, and disseminated scholarly and applied academic information to, a range of national and government agencies, private sector and community organisations, and natural resource management groups.

 

Future Farm

The Future Farm 2050 (FF2050) Project facilitates multidisciplinary research on future farming at local, national and international levels, leading to the development of economically viable but better farming systems. UWA Farm Ridgefield is available for UWA staff and students to undertake research projects, field trips and for teaching purposes.

 

Rural Clinical School

The Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) helps rural communities sustain a locally trained and loyal medical workforce by placing penultimate-year medical students in country regions where they gain valuable hands-on experience and enjoy close mentoring, and to where they are more likely to return after they graduate.

 

UN Regional Center for Expertise WA

The UN Regional Center for Expertise WA (UNRCEWA) facilitates learning towards Education for sustainable development through networks of formal, non-formal and informal organisations, aiming to build innovative platforms to share information and experiences and to promote dialogue among regional and local stakeholders through partnerships for sustainable development.

 

School of Indigenous Studies

The School of Indigenous Studies provides a home for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students on campus and fosters social interaction that enables students to develop a sense of Aboriginal identity and community at UWA.

WA Centre for Rural Health

The WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) aims to improve rural, remote and Aboriginal health through education, student placement support, research and community service activities, as well as to facilitate quality allied health, nursing and pharmacy clinical placements for students from all Australian universities.

UWA Albany Campus

UWA Albany fosters higher educational opportunities for regional students. Working in rich, cultural and biodiverse surroundings on the edge of a pristine marine environment helps UWA Albany researchers and students investigate the complex challenges facing our planet. The Albany campus encompasses the Centre of Natural Resource Management (CNRM) and the Wave Energy Research Centre (WERC).

 

News

  • Fairway graduates vowing to come back

    Mon, 28 Nov 2022

    A graduation ceremony has been held at UWA for 74 school leavers who completed the Fairway program, now in its tenth year.

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  • University demystified for aspiring students

    Wed, 23 Nov 2022

    More than 100 students from 24 schools, across some of the State’s most remote regions, will arrive at The University of Western Australia next week to take part in a program aimed at demystifying university education and opening the teenagers’ eyes to study opportunities.

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  • Mustering WA beef producers to participate in UWA research

    Thu, 10 Nov 2022

    Researchers from The University of Western Australia are seeking WA beef producers and pastoral managers to provide feedback on a BeefLinks project aimed to increase adoption of on-farm innovations in livestock management.

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Get in touch with us

Email
regional@uwa.edu.au