Deadly Science founder Corey Tutt receives Queen’s Birthday Honour for service to Indigenous STEM

The founder of the charity Deadly Science has been recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to Indigenous STEM — science, technology, engineering, and maths education. 

Corey Tutt, 29, who runs his charity from his new home in Port Macquarie on the NSW Mid North Coast, said he was humbled by the award.

“To me it’s really a credit to all the people that have supported Deadly Science and supported my crazy idea of packing STEM resources up and sending them to remote communities,” he said.

A smiling, barefoot man stands alongside two other men and a woman, with dozens of plastic bags beside them.
The Deadly Science CEO packs and sends the STEM resources from his Port Macquarie home.(Supplied: Corey Tutt)

“Also an Aboriginal man it’s very rare and I’m not an Olympian or a sports hero … so again it’s triply as rare and that means it’s a responsibility. 

“And it’s a responsibility to use this moment to share and encourage people to nominate other young people that are working in our community that are doing incredible work – and elders as well.”

The Kamilaroi man said what he was doing was not new.

The 2020 NSW Young Australian of the Year hoped the award would inspire others.

“If I can show that young people and also Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can do really good work in the community and these honours can be attached to it and they can be used to promote the good work that they do in community then that’s what I what to use the award for,” he said.

A man sits on a chair reading a book to primary school students, who are sitting cross-legged on the ground in a classroom
Mr Tutt says he feels “incredibly lucky” to do what he does.(Supplied: Corey Tutt)

Mr Tutt said he felt proud “when I see a young person picking up a book that I’ve donated, or I go to a school and I look at the library and I can pinpoint every single book that Deadly Science has donated or the microscope that’s being used in the corner of the classroom that Deadly Science put there”.

Mr Tutt said it was difficult to express the pride he felt with words.

“If you can imagine, I put the first bit of Lego in the Kubin community in the Torres Strait. These kids open up these boxes … you can imagine that feeling,” he said.

Primary school students stand around a small table filled with Lego.
The charity delivers STEM resources to remote communities.(Supplied: Corey Tutt)

Mr Tutt said he had had to learn a lot in a very short period of time.

“I’ve gone from having a charity that I started in this bedroom, working two jobs in a share house, to doing research whilst trying to run this charity to now a national charity that, yes it does pay me, but I’m trying to build it,” he said.

‘Tough decision’ 

A man in a "Deadly Science" T-shirt stands alongside school students wearing T-shirts with the same design.
Mr Tutt wants to empower other people to find their own form of Deadly Science.(Supplied: Corey Tutt)

Mr Tutt said he had put a lot of consideration into whether to accept the award and spoke to a lot of Aboriginal people close to him about it.

He said it was a “really tough decision” but he was glad he chose to accept it.

“I’m sure there’ are some people that won’t like the fact that I got an OAM and I’ve accepted it, but the reality is if I’m not showing young people they can do it and giving them the opportunities to try to do something really positive with their lives then it’s wasted,” he said.

Primary school children hold up books donated by Corey Tutt
Mr Tutt says receiving the honour is an opportunity to inspire others.(Supplied: Corey Tutt)

He said besides the cultural and colonial considerations, he had felt “a bit of  impostor syndrome”.

“I think of all the amazing people like Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo who teaches young single mums how to cook down in Redfern; I think about Aunty Deb Walford who’s cooking for the Koori Knockout. Every funeral she’s cooking meals for them,” he said. 

Mr Tutt said he hoped his award would help other deserving First Nations people receive nominations.

“The only way we make sure these awards include us is by getting them,” he said.

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