Author: Aimee Woods
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Aimee Woods is a Wiradjuri girl, who grew up in the remote town of Ceduna. She is currently studying an Honours in IT at the University of Technology Sydney
My journey with technology started when I was young, maybe 9 or 10, guessing my mother’s computer password to go online and play online games with my friends.
We all have a desire to belong, particularly to belong with those who have similar morals and values that we do. For a kid growing up in the remote town of Ceduna, the internet was one of the ways that I was truly able to express myself.
Eventually I moved to Sydney to study at uni, I enrolled in Macquarie University in 2013 with hopes of becoming an palaeontologist. However, one quick semester of geology and I quickly discovered that rocks are not my thing and I needed to find something else to do. After a few course changes and some late teens emotional breakdowns, I ended up in Anthropology and stuck to it, graduating earlier this year with my Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology.
All through this time, I ran online gaming communities, modding games and running servers for teenagers and young adults to come and game and ultimately have a safe place to do so. I believe that communities and belonging are so important for the wellbeing of people and this belief has always followed me through my career.
I never thought I was going to end up in technology, I always thought I would end up working in a dusty office.
I was recruited into the Centre for Indigenous Technology Research and Development to work with with Noongar man, Dr Chris Lawrence and his team to facilitate Indigenous engagement, address diversity and foster inclusiveness for Indigenous people in technology development in Australia. Chris is also passionate about using technology to connect communities and in the Centre, we are working on an Indigenous app that focuses on digital lands rights, social connectivity and digital identity.
The #thismymob project is very exciting to work on because it is a large scale research project that incorporates indigenous people from across Australia. Together, the communities, developers and the research team have made a prototype that facilitates Indigenous connections, self-identity and provides a platform for people to not only express themselves, but keep informed with what is happening across Australia with the other mobs too.
We aim to establish the notion of digital land rights, which asserts the right of Indigenous peoples to a safe online space that they control. Through a project to design and evaluate a mobile app, the study aims to investigate how social technology can enhance wellbeing by connecting Indigenous communities, and how we can design culturally appropriate and sensitive technologies that afford a safe refuge for Indigenous peoples and their communities.
Worldwide, there are Indigenous people working with technology to strengthen ties to culture, reach more young people and connect people together.
In Canada, the First Nations people have some some inspirational work with an app called “Ask Auntie” where they provide emotional and cultural support to young women within their communities. Adult female, community-based leaders act as “mentors for girls aged 10-14, and use activities, a dedicated online resource, and peer group discussions to support girls to learn about health, ceremony, wellness, relationships, safety as well as their own traditional teachings.
The aim is to ground Indigenous girls in their community and culture, enhance wellness, and reduce violence against girls and women by helping foster healthy, safe relationships, strengthening community connections and promoting healthful living. This is incredible and I believe we should be looking further into initiatives like this within Australia. To ensure that our young people and our communities are working together to keep culture strong and our spirits healthy.
Technology is one of these weird and wonderful things that binds us together and we don’t really think about its significance anymore.
It’s become second nature, to tweet, snap, post and reblog. Digital technology has allowed us to communicate in ways we never have before; non-verbally through images, emojis and more. Speaking online has become second nature to us, we can communicate with people we would never ever meet in real life. We can Tweet at presidents, talk directly to academics and we can connect our communities in ways that are beneficial and positive.
Of course, online platforms and apps can do a lot of damage. We see this daily as we are bombarded with media about people who say negative things or let their racist views slip into the online consciousness. I look past all that negativity and focus on the good that people are doing, particularly on Twitter.
What really drew me into Twitter were the Indigenous women who had a voice and were not holding back.
They had a platform to be seen and heard in ways we just haven’t had in the past. Every morning, I flick through my Twitter feed and the first thing that I see, are strong Indigenous women making issues public; talking about discrimination, having conversations about identity and power and our communities.
I am so thankful, that every morning I wake up and the first people I am greeted with are powerful women. Women who have been through trauma, fought for their place and are continuing to fight for their voices to heard, not to benefit themselves but to benefit the community. All of us.
This NAIDOC Week I think of and honour those women who speak loudly and proudly for us in a space that they’re often torn down and vilified.
I thank them for their persistence in ensuring our voices are amplified for generations to come.
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