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Indigenous Australia

Our Engineering On Country program works to improve the quality of life of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Population: 649,200
Native Titles determined: 301
Australian Indigenous languages spoken in homes: 150

Despite being one of the world’s oldest civilisations with a rich and proud history and culture, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people remain some of the most disadvantaged. Since Australia was colonised by European settlers, Australia’s Indigeous people have been vulnerable to discrimination, inequality, mis-treatment and cultural disconnection – many Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people continue to experience a poor quality of life and restrictions to self-determination.

years gap in the average life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women compared to non-Indigenous women

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households live in a dwelling with at least one major structural problem

times higher rate of unemployment of Indigenous people compared to non-Indigenous people

times more likely for Indigenous Australians to have severe or profound disability than non-Indigenous Australians 

* Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014-15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ABS Census 2016, Australian Law Reform Commission.

Our Work

EWB Australia works to improve the quality of life of people living in disadvantaged Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities. Since 2015, our Engineering on Country program has aimed to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are able to meet their aspirations through engineering and appropriate enabling infrastructure.

Our work is impact-led, with a focus on positive, sustainable and long-term change. We do this within local communities, to ensure we build the capacity of the people who live and work in them. Through this approach, we have established relationships with local organisations with whom we partner, to ensure the solutions developed are evidence-based, relevant and, importantly, co-designed with each community. 

Outcomes

Our work with Indigenous communities delivers these outcomes through a range of initiatives and activities.

Community Development

 

  • Pro-bono: facilitating pro-bono engineering and professional services for communities
  • Community Partnerships: skilled secondments to support mentoring and capacity building, as well as community visioning and codesign for community-identified projects
  • Research & Technology Development: community-centred research and appropriate technology development

Education

 

  • Professional Skills Development: developing the skills of the engineering professional services sector to engage effectively and facilitate people-centred problem-solving approaches
  • School Outreach “Regioneering”: our program inspires primary and secondary students to become the next generation of engineering and technical professionals, and includes the “Regioneering” program which reaches remote communities in the Torres Strait to deliver STEM workshops.
  • Chapters: our 20+ Chapters throughout Australia build capacity and cultural competency amongst their networks through cultural awareness training, education and partnership activities and events.

Our Partners

We currently work with the below partners to create positive social change for Australia’s Indigenous people.

Stories of Engineering On Country

Grassroots collaboration for Engineering On Country Grassroots collaboration for Engineering On Country 4 September, 2019 - Leaders and representatives of the Engineering on Country (EoC) regional focus groups from nations around Australia gathered on Ngunnawal country, in Canberra, for an immersive weekend of learning and collaboration in January 2019. The aim? Develop the capacity of the EWB Australia EoC Knowledge Hub (KH) volunteers - made up of regional EoC focus groups… read more
EWB Australia enables a volunteer group to focus learning on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, developing knowledge and insights to inform the co-creation and implementation of a range of national and local initiatives. Known as the Engineering on Country Knowledge Hub, it provides a critical contribution to our EoC commitment, with a national group supported by localised EoC focus groups spanning Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, Western Australia and Victoria. At the beginning of 2019, representatives from each focus group travelled to Canberra for the ‘EoC Knowledge Hub Retreat’. Building on the momentum of this deep weekend of reflection, training and planning, the focus groups have been active in facilitating learning opportunities for the broader EWB Australia network. In May, cultural awareness and learning were the key focus. Queensland, New South Wales focus groups organised Cultural Awareness training sessions, facilitated by Tom Kirk, and attended by 40 EWB Chapter executives and volunteers (60 % students, 53 % female identifying). Many of the attendees participated as a pre-requisite to delivering Indigenous-tailored content as part of EWB Australia’s School Outreach program. The training was run as a yarn, with Tom encouraging free flowing of questions and discussion. Conversations explored ‘what is culture?’, an outline of conventional issues, themes and histories in Torres Strait Islander Australia and communities, and an exploration of high and low context ways of thinking and operating. It was incredibly insightful, engaging and eye opening, with quite confronting undertones. QLD Training Attendee After the finale role playing exercise explained above some participants stated they felt "deeply shameful" for the early settelers actions and experienced increased empathy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. QLD Training Attendee The EoC focus groups have also been active in delivering: Cultural walks - a Birrarung Wilam Guided Walk provided an opportunity to learn about history and culture of Aboriginal Peoples of the Kulin Nation and consider the way engineering supports and inhibits cultural expression Cultural competency coursework - Wrap up of NSW Focus Group Aboriginal Sydney MOOC- This course explores some of the key themes and capabilities of cultural competence by exploring Aboriginal experiences and narratives of Sydney. The focus group have been completing this as a team over the last few months. Strategic workshops - with Indigenous Workplace Consultants to provide input into the EWB Australia EoC Strategy Localised contextual analysis – reviewing issues and opportunities relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in local EoC focus group areas, to assist in focusing their local activities and informing EWB’s EoC broader program. The EOC Knowledge Hub and it’s supporting local focus groups are a potent example of how our committed volunteer network collaborates to contribute to meaningful, impactful change. Want to be a part of our EoC commitment? Contact Allan Soo, Secretary, EoC Knowledge Hubs Our local hubs of EOC knowledge 4 September, 2019 - EWB Australia enables a volunteer group to focus learning on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, developing knowledge and insights to inform the co-creation and implementation of a range of national and local initiatives. Known as the Engineering on Country Knowledge Hub, it provides a critical contribution to our EoC commitment, with a national group… read more
NYALIGA COMMUNITY Powering a community’s connection to land, culture and language 4 September, 2019 - NYALIGA COMMUNITY FIND POWER AND WATER SOLUTIONS TO GET THEM CLOSER TO LIVING ON COUNTRY AND KEEPING ALIVE THEIR VISION FOR THE FUTURE AND CONNECTION TO CULTURE. EWB Connect Corporate Partner: Arup Community Partners: Nyaliga Aboriginal Corporation, Community Housing Limited The Nyaliga Aboriginal Corporation has aspirations for its home country. The Nyaliga community is currently… read more