Indigenous Technology is working with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research to pilot an IT and innovation training program.
Called the Mirrinj Indigenous Student Program, it provides development opportunities for Indigenous tertiary students and youth.
Mirrinj means 'stars' in Muriwari language, relating to Indigenous Technology founder and CEO Cheryl Bailey, who is a proud Muriwari woman from the Weilmoringle community in northwest NSW.
It also leans into the metaphor ‘reaching for the stars’ and represents one of the earliest known forms of technology used by First Nation peoples.
Bailey herself has successfully navigated through the UTS Jumbunna Institute as a student with a passionate ambition to continuously support and contribute to it through Mirrinj.
“I want to empower Indigenous businesses and communities while implementing modern technology but also providing employment opportunities and creating pathways for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.
Indigenous Technology project manager Patrick Moloney oversaw the design and delivery of the program during the past year with several international technology firms already committing to providing course modules and student exchange activities.
“The objective of the program is to deliver a range of opportunities for Indigenous students to access technology and innovation - providing enablement, education and work experience that lead to career pathways,” he said.
“Our intention is to drive collaboration opportunities between our Indigenous community and business partners, and create awareness towards employment outcomes within Australian technology, engineering and innovation.”
Moloney explained the program calendar has been designed to provide a series of industry events across the year that students are invited to attend that will be hosted by partners and featuring specific technologies and areas of innovation.
“It’s a really broad mix of IT innovation areas that are applicable to many students, industry and community stakeholders which will be hosted at UTS," he said.
“The program's content is valuable and relevant to a range of vocations. It spans anything from 5G network technology, infrastructure and applications in industry, through to modern workplace computing, cyber security and intelligence, STEM and ITIL training."
Indigenous Technology will work alongside the Jumbunna Galuwa aspiration building program that has been running for more than ten years, aimed at high school students in years 10-12 and introduces them to undergraduate programs at UTS — a critical point in inspiring high school students into technology careers.
Over the coming months, there will be events with select Indigenous students from the Northern Territory and regional NSW to undertake activities for a week relating to areas of engineering, technology and innovation.
“We hope that through this program we can guide businesses and corporations upon the right way to approach Indigenous community engagement and the fulfilment of their longer-term recruitment objectives with a level of integrity and true intent. It is not about 'flower picking',” Moloney said.
“Successful outcomes are achieved by investing in the development role, engaging with the student, sowing the seeds, providing education, mentoring, paid work experience, helping them to establish networks and providing that 'safe space' and bridge into the workforce and career pathways. This is what Indigenous engagement leadership looks like.”
Bailey also has ambitions to grow the program nationally among other universities over time.
Indigenous Technology came to fruition in 2019 as Bailey couldn’t find support in the IT space from an Indigenous business after spending 13 years at Qantas.
In her previous Qantas role, Bailey worked on major projects in migrating 3,000 devices from XP to Windows 7 along with a project with the first Indigenous employment agency Miwatj Employment in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory to implement Office 365 and SharePoint.
She is currently studying part-time in IT business management.
“I had the technology experience, but needed that mentorship and training to keep going,” she said. “Our mission is to be an enabler for Indigenous people to 'close the gap' by providing Indigenous-sourced technology solutions. We’re passionate about being a diverse and inclusive company."
Indigenous Technology is a Supply Nation Certified member with core capabilities involving IT project consultation, hardware and software sales and ITIL training. However, it carries a greater mission to drive a range of benefits back to the Indigenous community.
It is a Microsoft, IBM and Verizon partner, as well as an Apple Authorised reseller and also works with technology delivery partners. In addition, it helps organisations meet Reconciliation Action Plan objectives.
Proceeds from projects undertaken by Indigenous Technology go towards the Mirrinj program along with its annual tree planting initiative - sowing positive project milestones while sustainably ‘giving back to country’.