Shout out to our sisters in STEM on #IWD2018

 

Australia’s first peoples have been innovating for more than 60,000 years. So what happens when digital technology is embraced by the world’s oldest living culture? We like to call it Indigenous Digital Excellence, or IDX for short.

We see it emerging in the communities we visit with the IDX Flint program. From Cape York to Broome and down to the Gippsland; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of all ages are combining the sophistication of traditional knowledge with breakthrough 21st century digital technologies to strengthen cultural identity and improve the wellbeing of their communities.

To celebrate International Women’s Day we're recognising our sisters in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in rural, remote and regional communities, leading change in the digital age and paving the way for the next generation of Indigenous digital makers, innovators and entrepreneurs. Let us introduce you to some of our sisters in STEM.

Kirsten Banks – Aspiring Science Communicator

Kirsten Banks

Kirsten Banks is a proud Wiradjuri woman. Growing up on the Northern Beaches, Kirsten always had a fascination with the sky and after graduating from high school she pursued a Bachelor degree of Science with a major in Physics at UNSW. Within her first year of tertiary study, Kirsten was awarded an Astronomy Educator position at Sydney Observatory where she shares her growing knowledge of space and Aboriginal Astronomy with visitors to the observatory.

"I love Science Communication, or SciComm for short. My ultimate goal in life is to become a famous Science Communicator like Brian Cox or Neil deGrasse Tyson. I love to share my passion for space and astronomy and I want to do that on a large scale."

Tamina Pitt - Google Summer Intern

Tamina Pitt was born in Sydney, and has family ties to North Queensland, Aboriginal (Wuthathi) and Torres Strait Islander (Meriam/Mir). She is studying computer engineering at UNSW and recenlty completed a summer internship with Google in software engineering. She is passionate about STEM and is an active member of Indigitek, a community for Indigenous people with an in interest for tech. 

"I'm excited about the future of engineering. I have an opportunity to be a part of something big. I have the potential to create something that could change the world and improve people's quality of life. I hope to see more Indigenous people join me and do engineering."

Mikaela Jade – Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO InDigital

Mikaela Jade is a proud Cabrogal woman, entrepreneur and founder of Indigital. Indigital uses drones, 4D mapping software, image recognition technology and cultural law to bring the world’s cultural sites alive through augmented reality.A mentor to the next generation of Indigenous digital makers, Mikaela believes the greatest opportunity for young Indigenous women in the digital age is the opportunity to belong to and lead in, any sphere from your Country, while being strong in your culture.

“There’s never been a better time to bring culture to any industry, especially science, technology, engineering, mathematics and consumer markets right from where you are. Digital is a platform to do this – use all the channels at your disposal to listen carefully to global conversations, watch for emerging patterns, and seize opportunities to get your story out there through different digital mediums. You can digitally visit places you want to explore and can make connections to people you admire. In a digital world, if you can dream it, you can do it."

Karlie Noon – Scientist and Research Assistant 

Karlie Noon is a Kamilaroi woman from Tamworth and is the first Indigenous person in NSW to attain a double degree in science and mathematics. As a mentor she has made it her life mission to make STEM accessible to people of all different backgrounds.

“If you find it interesting, do it! A career in STEM is one filled with excitement and opportunity. For me, it’s showed me that I can achieve anything. It has also allowed me to help my family and community. I’m in a position where I can support my family with their career goals and give back to my community by assisting in projects that inspire and educate.” 

Julie-Ann Lambourne – CEO enVizion

Julie-Ann Lambourne is a Torres Strait Islander woman descending from Mabiaug and Darnley Island. Julie-Ann is a founding member of enVizion Group and is passionate in the development of Indigenous businesses and leaders; and working with disadvantaged people to overcome adversities. Motivated by her commitment to delivering better and more creative programs, enVizion’s Virtual Reality Experience Project (VREP) provides a safe, state of the art mobile facility which can be taken to all areas across Australia including remote locations delivering cutting edge virtual reality experience.

“To address the barriers of low levels of literacy and education, as well as low levels of participation in employment and economic development, enVizion is using advanced technologies virtual reality environments, to motivate and inspire people in areas of employment by experiencing in virtual reality."

Celeste Carnegie – IDX Learning Experience Designer and Facilitator 

 

Celeste Carnegie is a Birrigubba woman from far north Queensland. For the past few years she has worked as a learning experience designer and lead facilitator for the Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) Initiative.

"My goal is to create a space where we can come together, create, learn and experiment with technology as well as connect with our culture and learn from those who have come before us. We have the ability, skills and creativity to flourish within the tech space. Australia’s first peoples have been innovating for more than 60,000 years. Our ability to constantly adapt and transform makes me feel proud that I am a descendant. We are the original innovators."

Brooke Ottley - IDX Young Innovator of the Year 

Brooke Ottley is a young Gunggari, Wuthathi and Torres Strait Islander woman. She is a talented graphic designer who after almost 10 years’ in her field and a study tour in New York, has become Darwin’s most popular Airbnb host, hosting over 380 travellers in her own home. Brooke currently works as a Digital Media Officer for the NT Parks and Wildlife Commission managing the organisations online presence. In 2015 Brooke attended the IDX Digital Entrepreneurship workshop. The workshop was run by muru-D, a startup accelerator, the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) and Pollenizer. Inspired by the possibilities, Brooke continues to follow her passion for digital design.

“Digital technology improves access to educational and employment opportunities for Indigenous people. For example, I was able to complete an Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design, fully online. I would not have had access to this quality of education if it weren’t for digital technology and online learning.”

Dr Sonya Pearce – Entrepreneur, Academic and Consultant 

Dr Sonya Pearce is a Gooreng Gooreng woman from Brisbane and is the first Aboriginal woman to complete a PhD in the study of entrepreneurship in Australia. Dr Pearce hopes that her achievement inspires others and draws attention to the experiences of Indigenous entrepreneurs.

“Through my PhD, I want to hold a light to social and economic issues that impact on our people.” 

NPY Women’s Council’s - Inaugural IDX Wellbeing Award winners  

Head to the centre of Australia where NT, SA and WA intersect and you will meet the women that form the NPY Women’s Council, and recipients of the inaugural IDX Wellbeing Award. The women have developed a customisable language dictionary app that enables communication by providing words in Pitjatjantjara and Ngaanyatjarra and English translations to create a shared understanding of the language used to talk about feelings to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their people. View the app here

“We are a group of people in Central Australia who want to bring emotions, feelings, and issues out in the open and get people talking about mental health.” 

Debbie Hoger - Director Riley Callie Resources

Deborah Hoger is a Dunghutti woman and founder of Riley Callie Resources. Riley Callie Resources is an Indigenous business that specialises in educational resources for early learning environments, with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The resources came about from Debbie's desire to introduce young children to a fun and engaging way of learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) which incorporates Indigenous thinking and contexts. 

"Our vision is to see early learning centres across Australia utilising STEM as a platform upon which to include Indigenous Australia learnings into curriculum." "I feel strongly that embracing digital technologies is very important for Indigenous people and communities; it is our present and it will be the future of the world we live in. We particularly need to ensure we are equipping our children with the digital skills they need to thrive and excel in that world."  

Nickeema Williams - Artist and digital storyteller 

Nickeema Williams is a young Indigenous artist, designer and photographer who works with Hitnet and the Red Cross to record and curate peoples’ stories into positive images and videos. Living and working in Woorabinda Central Queensland, Nickeema combines her art and technology to create opportunities for young people to promote positive change, and increase the digital literacy of community members. Nickeema believes that art is a creative expression that flows through everything, which includes oral storytelling, dance and songs. Digitally recording this information is an adaptation of these oral traditions, and the technology helps people to do it for themselves while also improving their digital skills.

“So many of our young people have incredible creative talents and they’re great with technology. By producing their own content, it becomes more meaningful and it’s more likely to be shared and have an impact. There’s also the opportunity to bridge the generational divide through youth and elders working together to bring their Dreamtime stories to life.”

Are you studying, working or just interested in digital tech or a STEM related field? Tell us what you are doing in your community, and your big ideas for the future by tagging us #IndigenousDX #SistersinSTEM for a mention.