The use of cutting edge digital technologies is taking off in regional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the nation with the support of the IDX (Indigenous Digital Excellence) Initiative’s Flint program, leading to tangible positive outcomes for local people.

Co-founded and designed by the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) and the Telstra Foundation, the IDX Initiative seeks to unlock the opportunities the digital world can provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Flint most recently brought opportunities for hands-on experience with digital technologies to the communities of Roebourne WA (April 20–25), and Murray Bridge SA (May 21–25).

Flint has visited 18 communities since early 2016, with a workshop planned in Tamworth, NSW (June 19 – 22).

“Our recent trips to the communities of Roebourne and Murray Bridge have been unique in that the whole community has embraced the technology and become involved.

We have had young people and elders out on country learning to navigate country with the use of a drone while the elders share knowledge and stories significant to the sites,” says IDX Flint Manager Grant Cameron.

During the four-day program participants learn a range of new skills, including MIT Scratch computer programming, robotics and 3D printing, and Virtual Reality.

The Flint program provides $25 000 worth of in-kind support for regional communities through workshops for Indigenous youth, skills development for local facilitators, and the delivery of technology kits and educational resources that remain within the community following each workshop.

A major aspect of Flint’s objective is to plant seeds for future engagement with digital technologies in communities while also leaving behind tools, technology and practical know-how to transfer interest into tangible outcomes and projects. Examples of this already occurring in some of the locations Flint has visited include the use of drones in Robinvale, Victoria, to map and monitor local waterways.

The team is also revisiting communities to strengthen the program’s work further by checking in with how previously installed technologies and projects are going.

The Far North Queensland community of Yarrabah, the site of Flint’s first all-female workshop, has already been revisited with future trips to Birdsville, Lake Macquarie and Broome to occur throughout the year.

“A big part of our work is to ensure the resources we provide, through the kit and workshops, are matched to the community’s needs. By revisiting and reconnecting with local facilitators we can ensure they get the support they need to implement their ideas and continue to use the tech in their community,” IDX Flint Manager Grant Cameron said.