New Karratha STEM Centre to promote pathways for the jobs of the future

07 June 2019

Rio Tinto, the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation and Western Australia’s Minister for Education and Training, Sue Ellery MLC today officially opened the Karratha STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Centre to enhance training and employment opportunities for Indigenous students in the Pilbara.

The Karratha STEM Centre, at Tambrey Primary School, aims to encourage children to choose science, mathematics and technological pathways required for future jobs. Rio Tinto is the sole partner of the Centre and is investing almost $1 million in the project over five years.

It will be home to a new programme developing STEM skills though activities like robotics, gaming and coding, for primary school students, helping equip them with the skills necessary to equip them for the future jobs of tomorrow. Children will be selected from primary schools in the Karratha area. To be part of the program, students must demonstrate academic aptitude in maths and science, and a commitment to their education.

The programme consists of hands-on, problem-based learning activities where children can link their knowledge and experience to real world issues. Learning will be based inside and outside of the purpose-built STEM laboratory and extends to educational trips and time spent with the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation’s STEM Centre in Wickham and Learning Club in Roebourne (both also partnered by Rio Tinto).

Rio Tinto vice president Corporate Relations Australia, Brad Haynes said "We are committed to supporting community programmes to enhance the educational opportunities and outcomes for young Indigenous people.

"We’re proud to support educational initiatives that encourage learning from early childhood and we’re actively supporting STEM pathways with our education partners. For us, we believe strongly in helping to build capacity in future generations by making STEM accessible for everyone."

Cate Sims, CEO Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation said "For over 23 years the GPFF has striven to empower Aboriginal students through education. Thanks to Rio Tinto's ongoing support, the STEM Centre offers students a rich variety of interactive science and maths resources and activities and equips them to pursue a wide range of science related careers in the future."

Note to editors

Rio Tinto is GPFF’s longest-standing partner and has supported the Foundation since it was launched in 1997 with 23 students from Karratha, Roebourne and Wickham. This program is still going strong today and is currently based in Karratha Senior High School.

Rio Tinto celebrated a 20-year milestone for its partnership with the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation in 2017 and renewed its support with the investment of a further $4.4 million over five years.

The RIC report, a detailed analysis of change in social indicators over a 15 year period (2001 – 2016) for Aboriginal people of the Pilbara, was finalised by Emeritus Professor John Taylor in October 2018 and officially launched by the RIC in November 2018. The RIC is a forum that comprises of eight Pilbara Traditional Owner groups and Rio Tinto with the aim to promote social and economic growth for Pilbara Aboriginal people.

The Karratha STEM Centre, fully funded through Rio Tinto’s partnership with The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, will see the children learn through activities based inside and outside of the purpose built STEM laboratory and extends to educational trips and time spent with the Foundation’s STEM Centre in Wickham and Learning Club in Roebourne (both also partnered by Rio Tinto). 

About the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation

The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation has over 20 years’ experience and success in empowering Aboriginal students in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory to complete school and move into successful post-school pathways, including university, apprenticeships, traineeships, and direct employment. Today, there are over 1800 students enrolled in 46 primary and secondary programs around Australia.