We value your expertise and lived experience in Western Australia’s regions, your input and feedback to UWA’s Regional Strategy will be invaluable.
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.
Thank you for contributing to UWA’s development of an action-oriented approach to achieving outcomes that support stronger, sustainable communities across the State of WA.
UWA Regional Strategy
As UWA responds to emerging local and global contexts, we need to renew and revitalise our partnerships with industry, government, and communities in rural, regional and remote WA. The aim is to share UWA’s knowledge, resources and expertise for the betterment of the Western Australian regions, from the Kimberley to the Great Southern and everywhere in between.
That’s where we need you! We have created a Regional Strategy Green Paper on which we invite your input and feedback. The UWA Regional Strategy consists of 6 pillars.
For each pillar you will find a more detailed description, a snapshot example of a current UWA project and an opportunity to provide feedback on that pillar. Please provide feedback on as many pillars as you think are relevant to you and your community.
Regional partnerships and community engagement
We recognise that developing strong partnerships between UWA and regional, rural and remote communities promotes innovative activity in the regions. We have the opportunity to develop truly innovative, multifaceted partnerships to provide benefits to UWA, generate socio-economic impact for 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 regional 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, represents a step change in education, training and accreditation. It will drive cutting-edge research and innovation that will feed into future training. Professor Andy Fourie, UWA School of Engineering
Over five years, Rio Tinto and BHP will join forces to invest $4 million 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.
Investing in research, development, and training is key to delivering the innovative solutions that will solve the critical environmental challenges posed by mining. A key part of this investment is training the workforce of the future, including upskilling and reskilling. The collaboration 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. With opportunities to follow a postgraduate pathway, which will include a Masters in Tailings Management.
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.
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. This initiative 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
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 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
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 support community development, transformation and aspirations around a focus area of need (e.g. energy neutrality)
1.3. Improve equity and access for RRR communities
1.3.1. Partner with Regional University Centres and other tertiary providers to
- Expand education offerings, including articulation pathways
- Support research
- Utilise physical infrastructure
1.3.2. Partner with RRR schools to
- Nurture aspirations
- Provide clear pathways to tertiary studies
- Support educators through professional development
- Connect schools with experts in regional and metro WA
1.3.3. Extend the Children’s University Western Australian Partnership Program to RRR communities
Experiences of regional, rural and remote WA
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.
How can we promote and provide regional, rural and remote experiences for all young Western Australians? Tell us here.
- Snapshot: Study InBroad
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. Before that, she had never really heard of Albany. The opportunity to complete some of her degree in Albany completely changed 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 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
2.1. Acknowledge and celebrate UWA’s role in RRR Western Australia
2.1.1. Establish and promote regional ‘Beacons of Excellence’ that showcase unique, world-leading expertise in specific locations
2.1.2. Design and feature UWA marketing campaigns that tell the RRR story
2.1.3. 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. Expand the UWA Study InBroad program, facilitating a semester of study in RRR locations for Crawley based students
2.3.2. Establish a program of field trips and intensives in a range of RRR locations
2.3.3. Include RRR experiences in UWA’s flagship programs, such as the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours)
2.3.4. Establish cross-regional networks of expertise for UWA staff and students (e.g. agricultural practices across the regions)
2.3.5. Provide opportunities for researchers to base themselves in RRR facilities
2.3.6. Draw on the expertise and knowledge of regional experts to guest lecture or co- teach into UWA courses, sharing the RRR perspective
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
Enhance digital connectivity
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 regional, rural and remote communities.
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” 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 Kimberley 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.
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. 2020 enrolled undergraduate student
The School of Indigenous Studies continues 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 and initiatives to enhance digital connectivity
3.1. Review and refine institutional policy to support 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 support 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 partners, 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
Strengthen engagement with Aboriginal communities
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
As part of a broader research program funded by the Western Australian Marine Science Institute, the Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science Project (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.
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.
The 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 Knowledge, 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.
It was a very rewarding experience working with the TO’s and Ranger groups, because of the personal connections that developed between us and Indigenous people and the flow on connections to saltwater Country.Researcher, 2016
The reason we share that knowledge is to pass on the responsibility for Country to you too. It is personal.Traditional Owner, 2016
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.
Reference: Collaborative Science on Kimberley Saltwater Country – A Guide for Researchers, prepared by the Kimberley Land Council for KISSP and WAMSI, Broome 2017.
- Strategies and initiatives to embed Indigenous knowledge protocols to strengthen engagement with 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.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
4.1.3.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
Vibrant and inclusive student experience
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.
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
RCSWA is the only collaborative clinical school in WA, working with all three medical schools in the state: The University of Notre Dame Australia, Curtin University and The University of Western Australia. The School 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.
Beginning 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
5.1. Support 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. Deliver transition support programs for RRR students who choose to relocate to Perth
5.1.3. Offer scholarships (monetary and in-kind) for RRR students (e.g. Tertiary Access Payment Program, commencing 2021)
5.2. Support social connection, wellbeing and success for students studying in RRR locations
5.2.1. Deliver a series of social- and cohort-building initiatives
5.2.2. Deliver a program of e-support services for wellbeing and success
5.2.3. Partner with local providers for wellbeing and support services
5.3. Facilitate experiential learning for students in RRR locations
5.3.1. Facilitate RRR internship opportunities
5.3.2. Partner with RRR employers for Work Integrated Learning placements
5.3.3. Expand RRR clinical placements
5.3.4. Embrace Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), including partnership projects with international students
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
Regional education and research
The diversity of regional, rural and remote 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 research programs, new course offerings and tailor existing courses to support the goals of local employers, industries, governments and communities, and to support the development of the next generation of leaders in regional, rural and remote 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
“Bringing Oyster Reefs Back to Oyster Harbour” is a project that aims to recover Australia’s most endangered marine ecosystem. The project firstly focussed 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 Natural Resource Management, Albany Shellfish Hatchery, recreational fishers, local schools, and commercial oyster growers and fishers.
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 Harbour reefs have been lost due to overfishing, inappropriate fishing methods, and deteriorating water quality.
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, are helping to monitor and assess the social, environmental and economic values of the reef.
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.
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
6.1. Tailor course offerings for RRR students and communities
6.1.1. Establish a bachelor degree focussing on regional studies
6.1.2. Expand the flexible and blended online delivery of UWA degrees in a strategic and targeted manner
6.1.3. 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
6.1.4. 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
- Presentations at national and international conferences
- Appropriate social media content
- Regional based conferences and community events
6.2.3. Develop collaborative research partnerships with regional stakeholders including Indigenous stakeholders
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
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.
Boost for brain health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
Wed, 15 Sep 2021
Evolutionary biologist urges us to save what's left of our natural bushland
Tue, 14 Sep 2021
Blueprint for saving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives
Fri, 10 Sep 2021