Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Design & Technologies

In May 2017, DATTA Vic's annual conference celebrated the theme of 60,000 Years of Australian Design & Technologies.  

Following this event, DATTA Vic is honoured to work with our partners to collect and develop resources, which can be used by Design & Technologies teachers to deliver the VCAA's cross-curricular priority of Learning about Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures.

If any teachers have ATSI resources that they'd like to share, send them to Laura at pl@datta.vic.edu.au.

Note - some of the following resources and links contain the names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased.


Stories of Indigenous Engineering by EWB

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent 2.5% of the Australian population, but just 0.5% of total engineering students.  Engineers Without Borders have developed Stories of Indigenous Engineering to increase diversity in the engineering profession and open our eyes to different knowledge systems and perspectives.


Marngo Designing Futures from Swinburne University

Marngo Designing Futures is an initiative from Swinburne's Centre for Design Innovation, which promotes and enables Indigenous design and innovation.  In partnership with indigenous designers, the program provides fun, hands-on activities and tools for ATSI students to explore a creative future in design framed from Indigenous prespectives.


The Indigenous Perspectives Tuckerbag

The Indigenous Perspectives Tuckerbag is a comprehensive Australian Curriculum resource guide on Aboriginal History, Culture and Country from the Koorie Heritage Trust. The KHT run a range of education programs for schools.  Click HERE for more information.


Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Bunjilaka at Melbourne Museum offers a diverse range of exhibitions and learning programs celebrating the complexity and diversity of Australia's First Peoples, including their relationship with the land, food, tools and technologies.  Click HERE for an overview of all their workshops and resources.


Remembering David Unaipon - the Man on the Fifty Dollar Note

Known as the Australian Leonardo da Vinci,  Unaipon was a well-known Indigenous Australian of the Ngarrindjeri people, an inventor, preacher and writer.  He took out 19 provisional patents on his inventions, but could never afford to get any of them fully patented.  Amongst his designs are an anti-gravitational device and a sheep shearing handpiece which was the basis of modern sheep shears.  He also drew-up plans for a helicopter based on the principle of the boomerang.  Click HERE for an article about his life and work from NITV.


The Budj Bim Fish Traps

Click HERE to read the story of the Budj Bim eel traps of the Gunditjmara people of South West Victoria, which Australia hopes to have have included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.  Budj Bim demonstrates that, rather than living passively off whatever nature provided, the Gunditjmara actively and deliberatley manipulated local water flows and ecologies to engineer a landscape to provide food in a sustainable manner. Click HERE for guided tours and workshops at Budj Bim.


Australian Indigenous Tools & Technologies

The Australian Government have published a web page on Indigenous Tools and Technologies.The key to understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander technologies is both their intimate understanding of the natural environment as well as their skill in designing artefacts that were flexible and adaptable.  


Aboriginal Inventions - 10 Enduring Innovations

Australian Geographic have published this website which focuses on the technologies developed by Aboriginal Australians, including thermoplastic resins, stone tools, bush foods and medicines and toys.  Click HERE to read about them all.


Ngarara Place by Greenaway Architects

Ngarara Place, an Indigenous landscape designed by Greenaway Architects, has opened at RMIT University's city campus.  It is designed to be a visible presence and recognition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories as connected among the lands of the Kulin Nations.  Click HERE to discover the story behind Jefa Greenaway's beautiful design.


Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

Bruce Pascoe's book Dark Emu argues for a reconsideration of the 'hunter-gatherer' tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. 


Other links

Koorie engagement support officers are employed in each Department of Education and Early Childhood Development regional office and work in partnership with the Koorie education coordinator in each region to support the implementation of the regional plan for the Wannik Education Strategy for Koorie students and early childhood initiatives to improve the health, wellbeing and educational outcomes for Koorie children and young people.  Click HERE for more information


Image credit (Top of page) - YVONNE KOOLMATRIE / Eel traps, 2008 /  installation view, Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide, 2009 / woven sedge / dimensions 235 x 44 x 8 cm and 152 x 39 x 8 cm / Courtesy of the University of South Australia Art Collection, Adelaide / photography: Sam Noonan / Courtesy of the artist and Aboriginal and Pacific Art, Sydney