In early December, 17 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people joined the ranks of professional drone flyers, thanks to the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) Initiative.
IDX assisted the 13 IDX Community Champions as well as four of its staff to get their CASA-certified Remote Pilots Licence (RePL), as part of the annual Flint Facilitator camp at the NCIE.
The intensive 5-day course conducted by FVP Australia included both a practical and theory component. Which all participants were tested on at the conclusion of the course.
Those who successfully completed their training came from right around the country, from communities like, Grafton, Bamaga, Tamworth, Murray Bridge, Broome, Robinvale, Lake Macquarie, Birdsville, Roebourne, Walgett and Woorabinda.
The qualification certifies all participants as commercial drone pilots and ensures they have the knowledge and skills to safely fly drones up to 9 kilograms on country.
For the past two years the IDX team have incorporated the use of drones in their Flint program workshops.
IDX Operations Manager Grant Cameron completed his drone licence two years ago and said the opportunity to offer this certification to program participants has been something the team has been working towards for a while now.
“To be able to invite the sites that are using or interested in using the drone to Sydney to complete their remote pilot’s licence has been such a great experience for everyone.” Grant said.
The Flint Program provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in rural and remote communities across Australia access to new technologies and the opportunity to participate and explore the digital world. Through the train-the-trainer approach, local facilitators are empowered to deliver digital workshops and build new skills in local educators and leaders, creating learning experiences that deepen pride in, and connection to culture.
“When we go out and show participants at each site the capabilities of the drone, they are blown away. The possibilities for this type of tech for our people is endless. It also opens doors to employment opportunities as a Remote Pilots Licence is fast becoming a demanding qualification across a range of industries,” Grant said.
The new drone pilots – aged from their early 20’s to mid 70’s– will use the drones for a wide variety of applications such as, monitoring country, mapping of sites, ranger programs, tourism operations, mustering, checking wet season road conditions, and for filming, videoing and photography.
Vincent Carter from Goolari Media in Broome, WA was one of the participants to complete the certification. The new drone pilot and IDX Champion is passionate about using technology to record stories of country and culture. He is excited about the potential of drones and can’t wait to share his new skills with other young people in and around Broome.