#thismymob: A place for Indigenous Australians in the virtual world

29 January 2018

Christopher Lawrence with member of the indigenous community

A UTS-led national project is looking at how technology can help close the gap for Indigenous Australians and reaffirm their connection to the land.

Associate Professor Christopher Lawrence is leading a team of researchers on a national-scale digital project that aims to enhance social, health and wellbeing outcomes and improve the connectedness of Indigenous Australians.

"The app #thismymob is about digital land rights and creating a sense of citizenship," explains Lawrence, from the UTS Faculty of Engineering and IT’s School of Software. "We're looking at how technology can help close the gap for Indigenous Australians, but we're also looking at how we connect Indigenous Australians to each other while reaffirming their connection to the land and to their cultural wellbeing."

The digital platform will be an Indigenous community space for information sharing, with funding issues, job opportunities and cultural events filtered to people in real-time.

The app is also about the future and creating the next generation of Indigenous technology developers and business entrepreneurs. "We'll introduce them to corporates and philanthropists where they can grow their idea and at the same time we're improving digital literacy. The impact of this project is huge."

The project, funded through a $473,000 grant under the Australian Research Council Discovery Indigenous scheme, is matching up health research, software development, technology designers and engineers to bring the app to life.

"We have to remember that Indigenous Australians were the first engineers and technologists of this land."

"It's a good example of a multidisciplinary project that's bringing together all these skills sets and expertise and connecting them with Indigenous knowledge," says Lawrence.

"We have to remember that Indigenous Australians were the first engineers and technologists of this land. That's how they survived for thousands of years – by using innovation and technology. If anyone can pick up a piece of wood, throw it and make it come back, that's pretty genius!

"What we want to pass on through #thismymob is a reaffirmation to young Indigenous Australians that science, engineering and technology has been a big part of our lives. They should be proud of who we are and of what their ancestors achieved to survive in what were very harsh conditions."

To learn more, visit thismymob.org or email Christopher.Lawrence@uts.edu.au.

Check out Associate Professor Christopher Lawrence speaking about #thismymob at last year's research event, The time is now.

Byline: Alex Wise