Putting First Nations communities in our north on the map

First Nations communities are using traditional knowledge to assist in the mapping of Country in Northern Australia.

The Anindilyakwa Land Council from Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory is mapping its island archipelago with support from Geoscience Australia, the Australian National University and geospatial technology specialists Aerometrex Ltd.

The collaboration is led by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA).

Research partners are working to ensure traditional knowledge and information is integrated into Geographic Information System (GIS) technology in culturally appropriate and inclusive ways.

As part of this process, Traditional Owners will give valuable information about the cultural significance of sites, allowing Geoscience Australia to build that information into datasets for future use.

Geoscience Australia will also explore how data can be more easily accessed in remote locations by Traditional Owners.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King said the project would help the people of the Groote archipelago to access and use information for planning and decision-making.

“This is a fantastic example of what the Australian Government’s funding support for CRCNA can achieve in terms of practical support for Australians in our north,” Minister King said.

“GIS mapping offers opportunities to draw on traditional information and knowledge to directly benefit First Nations communities.

“The research will help overcome practical barriers faced by remote Northern Territory communities in relation to access and use of spatial data for Indigenous businesses.

“I am pleased to see this work investigating how using modern technology can enable informed economic decision-making by communities.”

The project is funded by the CRCNA as part of its $5 million Activating the Indigenous Estate program, which called for projects as part of an open funding call in May 2022.