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First Nations Drones Policy Partnerships

This project is looking to develop partnerships 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.

Policy Partnerships

We are looking to develop sustainable partnerships with First Nations peoples, communities and organisations who are interested in or impacted by drones and drone use.

Through these partnerships we will seek greater understanding of the opportunities and challenges drones offer identified by First Nations peoples and communities and use this knowledge to improve government policy and practices.

We will maintain a commitment to power sharing and cooperative policy design through these partnerships and will seek policy learnings through community led initiatives.

Partnerships can also be facilitated jointly with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW), the Civil Aviation Safety Authourity (CASA) and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).

Why partnerships?

By engaging in meaningful and sustainable policy partnerships with First Nations peoples, communities and organisations we are seeking several outcomes including:

Progress on Closing the Gap targets and Priority Reforms (see below for more details).

Elevating First Nations expertise and lived experience in policy design by exploring potential interests and concerns around drones and elevating First Nations voices and perspectives in policy design and decision making.

Facilitating community empowerment by identifying potential opportunities and supporting commercial and creative applications of drones by First Nations peoples.

Drones and Closing the Gap

Policy partnerships will progress Closing the Gap targets and priority reforms regarding shared decision making, building community controlled sector, transforming government, and shared access to data at a regional level – and helping support opportunities for drones as a vehicle of empowerment towards targets around connection to land and waters (15), access to information and services (17), economic participation (8) and health (1).

Health outcomes (Target 1) including within regional and remote communities. For example, in Charles Darwin University’s trial of drone service delivery for health-related items between health centres, remote indigenous communities and very remote outstations in the Northern Territory. The project will test and validate the effectiveness, efficiency, community acceptance and costs of integrating uncrewed aircraft into health supply chains.

Maintenance of a distinctive cultural, spiritual, physical and economic relationship with land and waters (Target 15). Drones are proving useful in caring for Country and maintaining connections with land, water and the sky. Healthy Country AI is a good example of this, as a collaboration led by Traditional Owners and Indigenous Rangers across Australia, working with a range of public sector and private partners.

Economic participation (Target 8) and Access to information and participation in informed decision making (Target 17): Aboriginal owned corporations such as Marlee Djinda and Winyama are using drones to provide a range of digital and data services and solutions, including for land surveillance and management, developing data, increasing access to information and informed- decision making.

The drone policy partnerships project aims to progress in line with the Closing the Gap Priority Reforms:

  • Priority Reform 1 on Formal Partnerships and Shared Decision Making
  • Priority Reform 3 on Transforming Government Organisations
  • Priority Reform 4 on Shared Access to Data and Information at a Regional Level

How to get involved

We are welcoming First Nations peoples who are interested to get in touch by emailing so we can have a yarn about the project, any opportunities or challenges drones present in your community or organisation and explore the potential benefits of a policy partnership.

Project Timeline

Now- connecting with potential partners including interested communities, individuals and organisations, to learn more opportunities for drone policy collaboration to contribute to gap outcomes.

Early 2024- progress project partnerships, support planning and implementation of partner activities, record learnings and discussions.

Mid- 2024- host policy forum for interested partners to connect and share project and policy outcomes. Department will develop video detailing the project (project partners will be invited, but not required, to participate).

Ongoing- continue progressing action on identified drone policy, project participants invited to continue collaborative policy relationship.

What can project partners expect?

Project partners can expect a commitment to:

Power sharing- discussions and decisions will be made collaboratively, building policy relationships between policy makers and First Nations communities.

Cooperative policy design- Partnerships are intended to centre First Nations voices in policy design over the long term.

Meaningful and effective engagement- direct engagement with First Nations peoples and communities to learn from lived experiences, engagement extended to all interested communities.

Progress on key issues- as identified by First Nations communities, including, data sovereignty, cultural safety in training or regulation, and development of protocols for drone use on Country.

Connecting cultures and place to drone policy- for example exploring rules for drone use around cultural sites as informed by Traditional Owners, or inequities in access to technology.

Strengths focus- incorporating learnings from existing skills and knowledge of First Nations peoples and communities.

Community- facilitated activities- funding committed to community facilitated activities addressing the needs, opportunities or challenges identified by First Nations project partners.

Uplifting APS cultural competency

Support for this project has been provided as part of the APS Capability reinvestment fund to uplift the cultural competency of the APS when developing regulatory policy for drones. Through building connections with First Nations peoples we will elevate lived experiences and use community-led initiatives to inform drones policy development.

This program will use drones as a case study and all activities and policies developed through this project will relate to drones and drones policy. Learnings from this project can be expanded to inform best- practices for the development of regulatory technology policy.

Further information

If you would like to connect with us as a partner or for more information please send an email to