Dhimurru Rangers in northeast Arnhem Land are looking to the sky to monitor land and wildlife alongside Yolngu young people, thanks to specialised tech training provided by the Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) Flint program.

The IDX Flint team met the rangers during a visit to Yirrkala, a small Aboriginal community approximately 700km east of Darwin.

Working in collaboration with Yirrkala Bilingual School, the IDX’s Flint team provided specialised tech training to Yolngu young people and local facilitators including elders, teachers and rangers using drones, robotics and virtual reality. The aim was to add a technology element to broaden existing community programs.

The IDX Flint team trained local facilitators to champion the Flint program in the community. The group included members of the Dhimurru Rangers, as well as teachers and staff from Yirrkala Bilingual School.

The visit to Arnhem Land was a first for IDX Facilitator Abigail David.

“I’ve never been to Arnhem Land before and I was really excited to work with the Dhimurru Rangers and students from Yirrkala,” Abigail said.

Before IDX’s visit, the Flint team worked closely with the Yirrkala Bilingual School to co-design the tech workshops to ensure they met the needs and aspirations of the community. The workshops held over five days included robotics, coding, drone basics, virtual reality and gaming.

“It’s really about the community owning Flint, so they can continue to drive the use of the technology when we leave,” Abigail said.

Caring for Country

Each year Yirrkala Bilingual School work closely with the Dhimurru Rangers to deliver a ‘Caring for Country’ program for students.

Students spend time out on country with Traditional Owners, rangers and teachers to learn maths and other subjects. They map and measure everything from rubbish to turtle numbers.

With the introduction of the Flint program, the group now hope to use the technology as part of the learning experiences.

Tech future for Yirrkala

Senior teacher at Yirrkala, Daniel Yore said that the introduction of Flint into existing curriculum is a great opportunity to connect and explore the potential of these new technologies.

Robots will become a regular feature in the classroom at Yirrkala Bilingual School thanks to the IDX Flint Program, a joint initiative of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and the Telstra Foundation.

“The kids just had an absolute ball,” Daniel said.

Daniel explained that it’s not often that the small community of Yirrkala is the recipient of such programs like Flint and said he really can’t wait to see where the technology takes them in years to come.

“It was such a privilege working with the IDX Flint team. [The] guys are such a professional and passionate outfit and an absolute credit to the organisation represented. We sincerely look forward to having [the team] back up here in Arnhem Land soon,” Daniel said.

As part of the program, each Flint site receives a tailored kit of equipment and educational resources of their choice, to the value of $10,000. The Yirrkala mob have selected a drone and the Lego Mindstorm EV3 starter pack for up to 8 students as part of their kit.