Bloom Festival

Bernard Higgins

Wagga Wagga based animator, Bernard Higgins, is a Wiradjuri man who graduated from the Charles Sturt University (CSU) Bachelor of Animation and Visual Effects in 2019 and was accepted into the Bachelor of Science (Honours) in 2020. His animations have been displayed in art galleries and museums throughout New South Wales. Bernard also owns and operates Birdyulang Animations, an animation and visual effects business based in Wagga Wagga. In 2020, Bernard received a philanthropic grant from CSU to support his honours research project co-designing educational animations with remote Indigenous communities in northern Queensland and won the Best Honours Presentation prize at the 2020 CSU Faculty of Science HDR Symposium.

Bachelor of Science (Honours) Project

After graduating from Bachelor of Animation and Visual Effects, Professor Eleanor Gates-Stuart (from the School of Communication and Creative Industries) and Associate Professor Jane Quinn (from the School of Animal and Veterinary Science) organised for me to be accepted into the final Honours year of a Bachelor of Science, completing a project within the School of Animal and Veterinary Science. With my team of supervisors: Dr Victoria Brookes, Dr Chris Degeling, Professor Eleanor Gates-Stuart, Associate Professor Jane Quinn and, Andrew Hagan, I am working on a project with the community of Yarrabah in northern Queensland to help the community co-design an educational animation that teaches the community how to manage their horses if there is an occurrence of Hendra virus.

Yarrabah is located near Cairns and they have horses as pets. However, unique to their community they don’t keep them in stables – they allow them to roam freely throughout the community. This led to the local Environmental Health Workers contacting CSU and asking for assistance in educational resources that will help the community manage any infectious diseases.

Co-design is the method of creating a project with a multi-disciplinary team that includes researchers, designers and end users as equal partners. By including the end users from the start and allowing their input to guide the research project, it has been demonstrated that outcomes from the project are more likely to work and solve the problems faced by the end users.

So, for my honours project our aims are to:

  1. Create an animation that will show the community how to manage any horses that are infected with Hendra, or similar infectious diseases, as well as showcase the local area of Yarrabah and the Gunggandji people and their language. We also will be showing them what to expect if such an infection does occur. With the intended audience being ages 10 and up we are also including a section showcasing the different people involved in the health and welfare of animals: a vet, a ranger, an Environmental Health Worker, and an infectious disease scientist, with the aim of showing any viewers interested in these areas that these careers are available to them as well even though they live in a remote area of Australia.
  2. Demonstrate the benefits of co-design for the researchers and the community.
  3. Create a framework for future multi-disciplinary teams to co-design animated resources that combine the skills learned in the creative industries with the research conducted in the sciences.


    I presented my honours project at the CSU Faculty of Science HDR Symposium on the 31st August and was awarded the prize for Best Honours presentation. I was also accepted to present my honours project at OCURA 2020, a nationwide conference for undergraduate research organised by Central Queensland University. I have also been awarded a CSU Philanthropic grant for my honours project.
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