Merging modern technology with First Nations knowledge and practices


In recent months, CASA representatives had the opportunity to participate in a First Nations Drone Policy Project workshop in North Queensland. The workshop featured facilitated conversations, First Nations-led case studies, and drone policy design sessions, aiming to integrate modern technology with traditional knowledge and practices.

First Nations Drone Policy Project workshop in North Queensland

Jaclyn Smith, the RPAS Policy and Regulation manager at CASA, shared insights about the workshop's unique setting on Yarrabah and Gimuy Country – the traditional country of the Gunggandji and Yidinji people.

'We met on Yarrabah and Gimuy Country, the traditional lands of the Gunggandji and Yidinji people,' Jaclyn says.

'Yarrabah is Native Title land and is Australia’s largest discrete Aboriginal community.'

The workshop brought together the First Nations Drone Policy Directions Group and various participating agencies on Country to witness firsthand the impactful work being done by the Gunggandji-Mandingalbay Yidinji Peoples Prescribed Body Corporate.

'Their rangers are using drones to survey land and sea to protect the area’s cultural sites and resources such as sea cucumbers, dugong, and turtles, and map sea grass, sand erosion and shifting islands in the region.

'The rangers also monitor crocodiles, keeping community aware and safe, and deliver ranger training and awareness programs for school groups.

'It was a privilege to be invited and welcomed on Country to participate in the discussions, not only on topics such as drone operations and the remote pilot licence, but broader themes such as cultural safety and training, data sovereignty, and accessibility,' Jaclyn said.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts established the First Nations Drone Policy Project and Directions Group. The Group connects with First Nations peoples, communities and organisations to explore the role drones can play in Closing the Gap targets, and to determine appropriate drone policies to support this. Participants also included representatives from the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) and Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW).

For more information, visit First Nations Drone Policy project.

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