When restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 prevented the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) team from hosting their annual Champions Camp on Gadigal country, the team decided to host it virtually instead.

The result was a celebration of Indigenous digital excellence at its best!

The annual camp, which is usually hosted at the NCIE in Redfern, is an opportunity for IDX’s network of community champions to connect, share knowledge, and gain new skills to take back to their communities.

IDX Manager Grant Cameron said the camp is always an event everyone looks forward to, and he was pleased the team were able to offer the program virtually. “The situation as a result of COVID-19 has been difficult, and for many of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities it has had a significant impact.” Grant said.

“Even though the program focuses on technology and digital innovation, we are actually all about the people. And through our work it is important that we (IDX and NCIE) continue to connect our communities and act as a bridge to opportunities for our mob, particularly during these difficult times” Grant said.

IMAGE: In the zoom room: artwork by IDX Team member Tess Reading inspired by the IDX Virtual Gathering.

Over 30 participants across 11 communities took part in the inaugural ‘IDX Virtual Gathering’ that included 15 sessions delivered over 5 days. All sessions were delivered virtually utilising video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Adobe Connect.

The Virtual Gathering gave people the chance to be connected in ways we wouldn’t have imagined a few months ago. Read on for some key highlights from the virtual gathering, and take a look at the recap video of the week here.

Virtual Smoking Ceremony

The inaugural ‘IDX Virtual Gathering’ kicked off on Monday 18 May with a Smoking Ceremony and Welcome streamed live from the NCIE across all participating communities.

Everyone was asked to share something special from country. An opportunity to remind the group that while they were apart, everyone is connected by country.

“The smoking ceremony was awesome – coming together as a family and listening to how others are working in community.”  Participant

Inspiring Innovation and Excellence

The IDX team were fortunate to pull expertise from its network of partners and supporters to help deliver the gathering. A special thanks to the Telstra Foundation, Friends of IDX group, delivery partners and April Phillips from NEO-Learning.

IMAGE: A snapshot of the virtual weaving sessions with Renee Cawthorne from the Australian Museum.

Sessions included; several virtual yarning circles, digital storytelling, 3D printing, coding, business mentoring and even weaving. All sessions were co-facilitated, and grounded in culture and community.

” I loved how we had families sharing this week, that sharing of generations of different knowledge and culture. And Elders present in sessions. The weaving workshop was also so special – because how often do we sit down and do something like that?” Participant

Respected Gamilaroi Elder, educator, mentor and businesswoman Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo took part in the virtual sessions and hadn’t done anything like it before, but she loved it. She co-facilitated the ‘My Big Idea Workshop’ alongside Adelle Laing from Global Sisters offering business advice and mentoring to the participants.

IMAGE: IDX Manager Grant Cameron and Aunty Beryl connect with participants via zoom.

“Coming from the background I am coming from I am so proud of the all of the changes. Modern technology is the way for us to keep going and keep connected,” Aunty Beryl said.

Final Yarning Circle

The week ended with a virtual yarning circle which gave participants an opportunity to reflect on their learnings and share highlights from the week.

IMAGE: Some fun between sessions with Friend of IDX Torres Webb

“I learnt so much, and it wasn’t stuff I couldn’t understand. this has given me a new perspective, that we could develop our own things and have total ownership over that. A big thanks to the IDX team.” Participant