First Nations Earth Observation (Winyama, SmartSat CRC)

Supporting First Nations communities and individuals in the use of Earth Observation data into the future

The Challenge

While the space-borne Earth Observation sector is new, First Nations people have been collecting, adding, and passing down Earth Observation knowledge for thousands of generations. There is significant opportunity to bring the benefits of EO technology to bear on Indigenous land stewardship, and to include Indigenous Australians in the digital geospatial revolution. There are also significant challenges that Indigenous communities face, which must be acknowledged, understood, and accounted for to best serve their needs. The primary outcome of this project was to create a set of recommendations for current use and future EO capabilities and training that could best serve Indigenous communities. The recommendations were informed by thorough consultation with Indigenous communities and were directly tied to use cases identified during the consultation.


This SmartSat CRC project will be led by Winyama, an Australian, Indigenous-owned and operated business with extensive experience facilitating the digital engagement of First Nations people and communities, who will work in collaboration with business partner NGIS Australia and FrontierSI.

The Solution

The project is unique in its extensive and thorough consultation with Indigenous communities. Key to supporting this activity is Winyama, who worked to expand the scope, reach, and participation of Indigenous people in digital and information technology services. Deliverables included a recommendations report, including development of a targeted EO Leadership Committee, and course designs for future delivery at the annual Winyama run Indigenous Mapping Workshop.


This project provides the foundation for closing gaps associated with the current and potential uptake of EO in First Nations communities. It provided a series of actions for the development of an active Indigenous EO sector and realisation of the cultural, environmental and economic benefits that can deliver.

The project also provided case studies of the most valuable EO projects currently being deployed by Indigenous people. The impact is two-way. Not only did it provide a foundation for building Indigenous capacity to use EO technologies, it also benefited the space industry by outlining new EO applications, likely leading to new requirements for space-based EO sensors. It assisted the SmartSat CRC in making evidence-based assessments about any future investments in EO for Indigenous communities. It is also strongly aligned with the Australian Government Closing the Gap initiative, which aims to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.


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