Tamworth, NSW, is known for attracting the best in country music, but could it soon be a new hub for young digital makers and innovators?
In June this year, young and old took the plunge and dived head first into the world of technology with hands-on learning experiences using virtual reality, drones, 3D printing and coding.
The workshops delivered by the IDX Initiative seek to spark the interest, ideas and talent of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in making digital technology. And it is exactly what they did, with over 100 facilitators and students taking part in the series of workshops held at the Tamworth Youthie.
Participants experienced swimming with sharks through the use of virtual reality, mapping country with the help of drones and coding robots. Since the program’s inception in 2016, the IDX team have delivered digital making workshops in 20 communities across Australia including Elcho Island, NT, Broome, WA and Bamaga, QLD.
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.
IDX Flint Manager Grant Cameron said the enthusiasm for the program shows a thirst for the grassroots approach to technology in regional areas.
“In every community we visit everyone is really excited about the potential of these new technologies, and how they can be applied to strengthen and preserve our culture,” Grant said.
The trip to Tamworth marked the team’s 20th IDX Flint activation site.
“We were really excited to deliver the program in collaboration with The Tamworth Youthie. Spending the week at The Youthie, you could see just how important the space is to the community and how much of a hub it is, bringing together young people and mentors to share knowledge, culture and ideas,” he said.
The team spent the first part of the week training local facilitators.
“Every trip we train-up local members of the community and from the local organisation and make them confident in running the technology,” Grant explained.
Gomeroi woman, mother and local entrepreneur Tess Reading was one of a group of locals who joined the facilitator training.
“I found out about the IDX Flint program through the organiser at The Youthie. I really enjoyed using the robots but my favourite moment was using the Drones and learning about the possibilities they offer for the future,” she said.
With a range of local facilitators joining the workshops to learn how to harness the technology, Tess is excited to share her knowledge and the opportunities the technology can bring to the community.
“I look forward to passing on the information and knowledge we were taught to the younger generation, which will give them more opportunities in the work force.” Tess said.
While the program is aimed at igniting the participants’ interest in technology, Grant explains it is also about highlighting potential career paths and opportunities.
“They’ll be able use it to engage kids who aren’t engaged in mainstream school and inspire young participants in following a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics),” Grant Cameron said.
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.
The IDX team also revisit communities to strengthen the program’s work further by checking in with how previously installed technologies and projects are going.
“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,” Grant said.
“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. We can’t wait to see what comes from our visit to Tamworth in the weeks, months and years to come!”
The team’s focus now is to head back to each site and build on the skills of participants in each community.