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Community, Indigenous

Deadly innovation: Indigenous communities co-designing sustainable solutions

Monash University 3 mins read

Monash University researchers are co-designing solutions with Indigenous communities to increase Indigenous-led land, sea and water remediation, native fruit offtake, improve manufacturing capabilities, and preserve native plant biodiversity as part of the Indigenous Innovation Challenge.


Today, following a nation-wide call out in July, six Indigenous community organisation participants from across Australia will attend an all-day workshop to pitch their ideas and team up with relevant researchers from the Faculties of Information Technology, Business & Economics, Engineering, Law and Science to begin collaborating on sustainable long-term solutions for specific challenges impacting their communities. 


The six participants and their pitches are: 



Challenge/ Idea

Aboriginal Mining Remediation Australia represented by Founder A/ Prof Donna Odegaard (Larrakia Elder)

Darwin, NT

Seeking Indigenous led-environmental remediation, land, sea and water 

Black Duck Foods represented by General Manager Sean Appoo 

Mallacoota, VIC

To develop a governance structure and strategy for Indigenous-led recovery of ancient agricultural traditions (grasslands etc.)

Bundjalung Tribal Society represented by Adam Joseph

Lismore, NSW

To improve the value of the native fruit offtake through mechanisation

Glow Sky Media Pty Ltd represented by Founder Michael Scarrott (Biripi man)

Central Coast, NSW

To establish sovereign manufacturing and export capability for recyclable eco-friendly premium photoluminescent film / solar panel products

Justyce Manton (Eora and Wiradjuri woman)

Adelaide, SA

To reduce the risk of harm to native plant biodiversity/ extinction

Wunan Foundation represented by Chairman Ian Trust (Gija man)

East Kimberley, WA

To develop a community centric mobile application to address public antisocial behaviour in the East Kimberley region


Futurist, Indigenous Innovation Challenge Program Lead and proud Wadjak/Ballardong Noongar man, Associate Dean (Indigenous) Professor Christopher Lawrence in the Faculty of Information Technology, said the Indigenous Innovation Challenge aims to empower Indigenous communities with some of the best research expertise in Australia. 


“With this program us researchers want to walk and work with Indigenous communities towards a transformative future where traditional knowledge enriches technological solutions resulting in implementable, sustainable and enduring progress,” Professor Lawrence said. 


“It has been a tough few months for Indigenous Australians, but we are resilient and are building strong bridges between First Nations peoples and some of the world leading research expertise in the country, to help lead us towards a much brighter sustainable future.”


Starting with the workshop, multidisciplinary researchers across Monash University whose expertise spans data science, chemical engineering, marketing systems and entrepreneurship, artificial intelligence, organisational behaviour, quantitative genetics and law will lead six teams to work on each of the challenges over the next few months until the desired results or solutions are achieved in each case. 


Monash University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Senior Vice-President Professor Rebekah Brown said the Indigenous Innovation Challenge is an excellent example of the benefits of undertaking research in partnership with communities. 


“I am proud to acknowledge that, led and informed by traditional owners, researchers from faculties across Monash University are genuinely applying their expertise to advance our commitment to the creation of thriving communities,” Professor Brown said. 


Some of the First Nations participants will be granted up to $30,000 dollars of seed funding to progress solutions for their projects; however, the ethos of the Indigenous Innovation Challenge is to build long-term partnerships with each of the Indigenous community organisations and to ensure their goals are achieved while at the same time support meaningful engagement between Indigenous communities, Monash staff and students.


Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology is facilitating and administering the Indigenous Innovation Challenge in partnership with the University’s Faculty of Business and Economics, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Science and Faculty of Law. 


Program Lead Associate Dean (Indigenous) Professor Christopher Lawrence from the Faculty of Information Technology and and of the Indigenous community organisation participants are available for interviews.


To learn more about the National Indigenous Innovation Challenge, please visit: 

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Teju Hari Krishna, Monash University

T: +61 450 501 248 E:

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