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First Nations Drone Policy Project

This project is looking to connect with First Nations peoples, communities and organisations to explore the role drones can play in closing the gap targets, and to determine appropriate drone policies to support this.

First Nations Drone Policy Project

The First Nations Drone Policy Project, funded under the APSC Capability Reinvestment Fund, aims to explore the role drones can play in closing the gap targets, and to help determine appropriate drone policy action. 

Project activities consist of facilitated conversations, First Nations-led case studies and a policy design workshop in June 2024. 

The First Nations Drone Policy project aims to explore how drone policy design can improved to help support Closing the Gap targets and government transformation in line with the priority reforms.

First Nations Drone Policy Directions Group

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (the department) has established a First Nations Drone Policy Directions Group. The directions group consists of First Nations individuals and organisations who are sharing their experience and expertise to help shape and design drone policy in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and support Closing the Gap. See the Directions Group’s terms of reference here.

Representatives of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW), the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) are also participants in the project.

Formal project activities began in April 2024 with three initial meetings facilitated by our design and facilitation partner, Relative Creative. See here for summary report.

Drone uplift case studies

The project is also supporting three First Nations organisation-led, in-depth case studies:

  1. Minyerra Borrinyu (Buzz Wing) drone training program on Yorta Yorta country. Wiru Drones Solutions is providing training for five local Indigenous people enabling future potential opportunities in employment and/or in looking after Country. This is a combination of bespoke culturally appropriate training, facilitation and mentoring leading into to the remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate (ReOC) course. 
  2. Mimal-Wardekken Drone Uplift Program. Mimal and Wardekken Land Management are building on their Digital Women Ranger programs by implementing drone uplift project at four ranger stations, allowing greater capability and skills extension. The project will produce reflections and uplift planning that can be shared with other First Nations organisations. 
  3. Gunggandji-Mandingalbay Yidinji Peoples Prescribed Body Corporate (GMYPPBC) Drone Uplift Project. Rangers at GMYPPBC will undertake training and access new technologies allowing more complex and effective use cases of drones in looking after Country.

Gimuy-Cairns Policy Workshop

A Gimuy-Cairns Policy Workshop in June 2024 will feature on-Country observations and discussion at Yarrabah, learning more about GMYPPBC’s case study, as well as workshopping First Nations drone policy. Participants will include the Directions Group and representatives from the department, CASA, DCCEEW, and the CSIRO. 

Project outcomes

Complete project outcomes will be shared with government. Additional learnings will also be shared through the APS Academy to inform cultural responsiveness in technology policy design. The aim is for policy to better support Closing the Gap targets, including for example in relation to:

  • Health outcomes (Target 1) including within regional and remote communities. For example, drones can deliver critical medical supplies between health centres and remote Indigenous communities. 
  • Maintenance of a distinctive cultural, spiritual, physical and economic relationship with land and waters (Target 15). For example, drones can facilitate caring for Country and maintaining connections with land, water and the sky. 
  • Economic participation (Target 8) and Access to information and participation in informed decision making (Target 17). For example, drones can streamline land surveillance and management, assist data collection, increase access to information and enable informed-decision making.

Further information

The directions group runs until June 30 2024, but anyone wishing to hear more about the project can email