In late October, the IDX team travelled to Grafton, NSW for the final IDX Flint revisit for 2018.

The team’s first visit to the Clarence Valley region was in August 2017, when the team delivered a series of digital making workshops with the mob from Gurehlgam, a local Aboriginal Community service provider based in Grafton.

Gurehlgam were the successful recipients of the IDX Flint program which provides $15,000 of in-kind support for regional and remote communities through two days of hands on workshops for young people, two days of skills development for local facilitators, and a tailored kit of equipment and educational resources to the value of $10,000.

Since the program kicked off in 2016 the team have visited over 20 communities across Australia, and this year the team began revisiting Flint sites, to provide further training and support to local facilitators.

IDX Operations Manager Grant Cameron said he was excited to return to Grafton to reconnect with local facilitators and see what the program had sparked amongst the community.

“A key part of IDX Flint is the program’s specialised tech training for local facilitators, enabling them to deliver digital workshops and build new skills in local educators and leaders. Through our revisits we can ensure our local facilitators have the tools and skills they need to continue the work they are doing,” Grant said.

Since the last visit, Gurehlgam have set up a dedicated youth service, and have big plans to continue their digital journey to inspire the next generation of Indigenous digital makers in Grafton.

Local Gumbaynggirr man Colin Skinner is the co-ordinator of the newly opened Aboriginal Youth Empowerment Service at Gurehlgam. He is also a local Flint facilitator, and recently helped lead the digital making workshops during the team’s visit in October.

In Colin’s role at the centre, he works closely with local schools, New School of Arts Neighbourhood House (NSOANH) as well both youth and Aboriginal services in the region to provide assistance to at risk Indigenous youth aged 12 to 18 years.

Colin Skinner trying the Virtual Reality (VR). He hopes to purchase a VR kit for the centre.

“I work with young people who are at risk of leaving school, are involved in the criminal justice system, or disengaged. They find it difficult to engage and that’s where we can work with them to help them reconnect with culture and empower them to make positive choices in the future,” Colin said.

 He said that the digital making workshops were an excellent opportunity to engage local youth and explore the opportunities the digital world offers.

“It’s something interesting and something they have never seen before,” he explained.

While the new youth service only opened it’s doors in April 2018, Colin said the workshops had already sparked the interest of many kids in the community.

“We had kids from the local high school come and participate in the workshops. They are already asking when the workshops will be happening again and when they can next get their hands on the tech,” he said.

Students from Grafton High School participated in the digital making workshops.

Digital ‘makerspace’ the next step for Grafton

Colin and the mob at Gurehlgam have big plans to further encourage digital excellence among their young people in the Clarence Valley Region, with plans to open a ‘makerspace’ at the centre.

“My vision is to create a space where we have these new technologies available to these kids regularly. A place they can come and learn and explore the technology and spark their interest” Colin said.

“We’ve already had a lot of interest from the community, it’s just a matter of now finding the funding for the space,” he said.

The service is also keen to use the tech as a way to connect their young people back to culture. Colin explained that many of the local Indigenous young people were disconnected to their culture and access to new technologies like the ones available through the Flint program, could help reconnect and empower local mob.

“We can use these technologies in so many ways.  We could use the drone to map cultural sites with the help of our Elders and later create a virtual reality app for our young people to explore.” “The possibilities are limitless!”

Colin hopes to open the doors to a new ‘makerspace’ at Gurehlgam, a local Aboriginal Community service provider in the near future.

Take a look at more photos on our Facebook.