"As a full-blooded member of my race I think I may claim to be the first—but I hope, not the last"- David Unaipon


PC: Wikipedia

David Unaipon

Born David Ngunaitponi (28 September 1872 – 7 February 1967) was a well-known Indigenous Australian[2] of the Ngarrindjeri people, a preacher, inventor and writer. Unaipon's contribution to Australian society helped to break many Indigenous Australian stereotypes, and he is featured on the Australian $50 note in commemoration.

Unaipon spent five years trying to create a perpetual motion machine. In the course of his work he developed a number of devices.He was still attempting to design such a device in his seventy-ninth year.

Unaipon took out provisional patents for 19 inventions but was unable to afford to get any of his inventions fully patented, according to some sources. Muecke and Shoemaker say that between ‘1910 and 1944 he made ten applications for inventions as varied as an anti-gravitational device, Read more...


a multi-radial wheel and a sheep-shearing handpiece’.Provisional patent 15,624 which he ratified in 1910, is for an "Improved mechanical motion device" - that converted rotary motion which "is applied, as for instance by an Eccentric", into tangential reciprocating movement, an example application given being sheep shears. The invention, the basis of modern mechanical sheep shears, was introduced without Unaipon receiving any financial return and, apart from a 1910 newspaper report acknowledging him as the inventor, he received no contemporary credit.

Other inventions included a centrifugal motor, a multi-radial wheel and a mechanical propulsion device. He was also known as the Australian Leonardo da Vinci for his mechanical ideas, which included pre World War I drawings for a helicopter design based on the principle of the boomerang and his research into the polarisation of light and also spent much of his life attempting to achieve perpetual motion.

                                     ECU Old Ways New Ways

The Old Ways New Ways (OWNW) team consisting of Mr Jason Barrow, Dr Magdalena Wajrak, Ms Caroline Bishop and Dr Kristina Lemson (newest member, joined the team in 2016), and how they work together is a great example of an inspirational team, which upholds two of the ECU values; respect and personal excellence.

The OWNW program stems from the desire to improve the participation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students in science subjects, and thereby increase employment in science and technology.

Through the use of peer-supported learning and demonstrator training, the programme seeks to enhance confidence, leadership and communication skills; while promoting and providing positive role models who inspire the students to improved education pathways and science career opportunities. Read more...

The program is now in its 3rd year and by the end of 2016, around 2000 primary school and high school students and over 100 teachers, from low socio-economic backgrounds across the State will have taken part in this initiative. The team have already travelled to the South West Region, a number of metropolitan locations, Pilbara, and visited schools in Northern Territory, Katherine and Darwin.

The OWNW program has been recognised as an ambassadorship in science engagement method and as an exemplar of a science outreach programme for engaging and inspiring, in particular, Aboriginal students to consider studying science at tertiary level. This is demonstrated by the fact that on the 3rd of March 2015, when Prof Peter Klinken, Chief Scientist of WA, referenced the OWNW program methodology as one of the strategies to raise the level of interest and spark students’ interest in sciences for the WA State to the WA Premier.

The OWNW program and its team members have been recognised with various awards. In 2014, Mr Jason Barrow received the e-Culture Award, in 2015 the team received the ‘Australian Tertiary Education Management, The Tribal Award for Excellence in Community Engagement’ and in 2016  OWNW team were the finalists of the Premier’s Science Chevron Engagement Award. The program has also been mentioned in the ECU’s 2015 annual report and in the WA parliament as the best exemplar of Aboriginal outreach program and was chosen as an example of a highly successful science engagement programme in the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education Partnerships in Higher Education Publication, NCSEHE, booklet. More recently, the team were interviewed on the Noongar radio station and featured in the Joondalup local newspaper.

The success of the OWNW program is predominantly due to the fact that the four members work so well together as a team, they respect each other, value each other’s skills and opinions and encourage each other to excel. The team pursuit of innovation is exemplified by them seeking to find similarities between their individual areas of expertise and strengths by delivering a program that is innovative in its approach to embed Aboriginal scientific perspectives with contemporary scientific methods.

 Their professionalism, dedication and integrity is evidenced by the high quality and an innovative program that they deliver, which has now received continuous growing support through HEPPP grant for the past 3 years.