Renee Cawthorne is a Wiradjuri woman and the Manager of Aboriginal Education and Engagement. Renee has over 6 years’ experience in managing, developing, delivering and evaluating science and cultural education programs aligned with the National and NSW syllabus and pedagogic standards.
Renee leads her team to design, develop and deliver authentic and engaging cultural programs for school groups, children, and the general public. She is responsible for leading projects within the Aboriginal Education and Engagement team and developing partnerships with local First Nations communities and organisations.
What are you striving to achieve? I would like to see the recognition of First Nations Peoples scientific knowledge and relationship to Country in the care for the natural environment that has sustained this landscape for over 65,000 years. I would like to see the incorporation of First Nations People's cultural practices embedded in all aspects and across our sites. I also want to encourage more people to learn about the rich culture of Aboriginal People and the history of Gadigal Country through our programs including the Aboriginal Heritage Tour, Bushfood Experiences and Sunset tours.
What motivates you? I am passionate about First Nations Science and Education and I believe that through our education programs we can educate people about First Nations people and culture. I love working in the Botanic Gardens, in the outdoors, on Country, being able to walk with and connect with Country, through taking the time to pause and listen deeply, learning from Country.
What is your favourite thing about your job? What I enjoy most is being able to share the history and culture of Australia’s First Peoples, in one of the most significant sites in the heart of Sydney. I also like being able to work outside, in the natural environment, being able to connect, teach and learn from Country.
What is your most memorable moment working here? During my second week on the job, I featured in a live cross on weekend breakfast TV promoting Aboriginal experiences at the Garden. It all came together very quickly and was a great experience despite the rain!
How long have you been at the Gardens and what is your history with the organisation? I’m very new to the Gardens, I’ve only been in my role for 6 weeks. However, I‘ve spent a lot of time in the gardens in the past, often catching up with family and friends and enjoying lunch looking over the harbour.
What do you like to do when not at work? I like to spend time with my children, going for bushwalks and getting out in and amongst nature, or taking them for a swim at the beach.