Monday, December 17, 2018


As a non aboriginal person I won’t have access to this app. I understand why. Whenever the issue of digital connection for remote indigenous is raised there are immediately concerns raised about online safety. By restricting access to members of the indigenous mobs by a registration process this concern is allayed.

The developer group is headed by Christopher Lawrence, an indigenous PhD with very strong background in health issues assisted by other impressive experts at the University of Technology, Sydney, mainly in the fields of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Health. Details here.

The promotion floats the novel idea of digital land rights, which asserts the right of Indigenous peoples to a safe online space that they control.

Indigenous mobs are approached one by one and invited to participate. Currently the app is being tested and trialed with the the following 5 mobs:
  1. Eora – NSW
  2. Jumbunna (UTS) – NSW
  3. Bard – WA
  4. Tiwi Islands – NT
  5. Gunditjamara – VIC
Ngemba and Wankumurra man Michael Mieni, an IT honours student on the team, said actually going out to communities and employing their input has been integral to creating the app.
“The response has been quite amazing. Whenever we’ve been out to communities there's always been a sigh of relief,” he said.

“People say to us, 'we've [been] waiting for something like this!’,” he added.

“We’ve just been taking butchers' paper and markers out there and drawing up plans.

“Then we bring it back to Sydney, and translate it into coding and programming.”
In an interview with NITV, Christopher Lawrence said that the app includes an ‘Elders feature’, for users to contact Elders for advice or support. “A person may not have their Elders anymore, so we’re creating a substitute mob for people who can be Elders for others around the mob”

It is planned to soon create a ‘Deadly Mob’ as a temporary space for people who want to connect on the #thismymob app. The ‘Deadly Mob’ will be used for the mobs currently not listed.  Over the coming months in collaboration with local Indigenous communities they plan to introduce more mobs as their aim is to connect all Indigenous Australians.

Another feature is a digital portal that connects Indigenous users with government, industry and organisational information. Prof Lawrence hopes this feature helps Indigenous users overcome some of the barriers impeding access to important services

On their website, the #Thismymob team also hint at some of their longer term strategic goals, to:
  • inform the development of post-secondary curricula for Indigenous software engineering
  • create pathways towards an environment that supports Indigenous developers, entrepreneurs and start-ups to manage the development and ongoing operation of Indigenous-owned technology
#Thismymob: The first ever app connecting Indigenous people digitally
#thismymob Establishing Digital Land Rights and Reconnecting Indigenous Communities through Emerging Technologies

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