You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Traditional owners make digital storybook

AAP logoAAP 22/11/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Aboriginal rangers in Australia's central desert have overcome the digital divide to create a world first app that speaks their language.

Fed up with the wordy and complex Indigenous Protected Area management plan, the Warlpiri speakers of the Southern Tanami Desert have replaced it with an innovative and engaging digital storybook that puts them in charge.

Traditional owners responsible for looking after the vast and fragile country near the border of the Northern Territory and West Australia can now use the interactive web application that requires neither literacy nor English skills.

It replaces the text with short videos, audio and animation in Warlpiri, allowing viewers to move through the management plan by following voice navigation prompts and icons.

More than two years in the making, the storybook can also be accessed through a desktop application in community learning centres and home computers, as well as through USB sticks for TVs and game consoles.

"It doesn't even require an internet connection. Who said innovation and agility are only for cities?" Central Land Council director David Ross said.

"And because so many locals were involved in filming, directing, editing, translating, designing and scripting the storybook it has built community pride and ownership before it's even launched."

Mr Ross hopes the app can inspire young Tanami people to become more involved in ranger group activities such as seasonal burning, feral animal management and the protection of threatened species.

Traditional owners now want to roll out their innovation to other indigenous groups both at home and abroad.

"Already, people in Lajamanu have put aside a quarter of a million dollars of their compensation money from the Granites Mine to create another digital storybook for the Northern Tanami IPA. We expect the idea will take off from here because it fulfills a real need," Mr Ross said.

The world's largest gold miner, Newmont, co-funded the project because it recognised the concept's global potential.

"I hope the storybook will become a valuable tool for empowering indigenous people everywhere, no matter how remotely they live," Mr Ross said.

The creators will present the storybook at the Natural Resource Management Conference in Darwin on Wednesday, followed by launches in the remote communities of Yuendumu, Nyirrpi and Willowra from November 28.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon