Walking in the footsteps of our first inventors

 

Have you ever wondered who the man on the Australian $50 note is? What if you were told he was known as the ‘Australian Leonardo da Vinci?’

Yes, that’s right! Ngarrindjeri man David Unaipon was an inventor, Australia’s first published Indigenous author and a leader in championing Indigenous knowledge and science.

In May this year the Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) team travelled to David Unaipon’s birthplace on the banks of South Australia’s Lake Alexandrina to walk in the footsteps of the noted Australian inventor.

David Unaipon was born in 1872 on the Point McLeay mission in the town of Raukkan, just 80 km southeast of Adelaide.

The visit was part of the team’s trip to Murray Bridge, 75 kms Southeast of Adelaide, to deliver digital making workshops to members of the Murray Bridge community and surrounds.

The week worth of workshops seek to spark young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s interest in making digital technology.

Like their ancestors the local youth and facilitators were quick to see the potential in using the new technology and a way to strengthen connections to culture. Participants built and coded robots to navigate a maze, experienced shark dives and mine shafts in VR, and explored country using a drone.

IDX Flint Manager Grant Cameron shows Tyreech O’Loughlin how to program a Lego robot at a workshop in Murray Bridge.

Ngarrindjeri and Kokatha man Harley Hall is an Aboriginal Wellbeing worker at CAMI-IS NPN in Murray Bridge. Harley and the team at CAMI-IS run cultural programs with school students and disengaged youth in the community. They applied for the Flint program seeing the potential of technology as a tool to positively engage local youth.

“In all the programs we run we use culture as a main focus to help strengthen our young people’s identity. When we heard about the Flint program we were really excited about the potential to incorporate technology in the programs we deliver. We are always looking for new ways to connect with our youth”

As part of the IDX Flint Program the IDX team train local facilitators in how to use the technology. IDX Flint Manager Grant Cameron trains local facilitators how to use the 3D printer.

He said the Flint program was a fantastic opportunity for Murray Bridge youth.

“The workshops are the best thing we’ve done this year. It really bought us together as a community – elders and youth. The IDX team was awesome, they felt like family and we all had a connection straight away. Any youth who were disinterested at the beginning of the workshop were smiling and excited at the end,” Harley said.

Harley said a highlight for him and the other local facilitators was the hands on experience the IDX team took to teaching the technology.

Kalira Miller, Harley Hall, Buddy O'Donnell, Abigail David, Jah-Jah Barnes, Jethro Braico, Tyreece O'Loughlin and Grant Cameron surround Thomas Dodd as he experiences a virtual reality for the first time.

“It was great to actually see the technology in action rather than just talk about in a room. We took the drone out on country and put it to use, taking aerial photos of country to help with land management and map sites.” Harley said.

The trip to Murray Bridge was the first for the newest members of the IDX team Karikii and Abigail who joined the IDX team in May.

"I was extremely happy that Murray Bridge was my first trip. I had an amazing time! The community was beautiful and everyone was so nice and welcoming. I can't wait for the next trip," Karikii said.  

Karikii training one of the local Flint facilitators in Murray Bridge.  

Find out more about the story behind the man on the $50 note here.