Indigenous Australian innovator Julie-ann Lambourne recently visited Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bali. There she took part in a series of events and conferences organised by the Australian Embassy in Indonesia.

This visit was part of the celebration of the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week. During this week, Australians celebrate the culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Bali was the final stop of Julie-ann’s tour. There she was one of the speakers at a full-day conference held at Kembali Innovation Hub in Seminyak on July 12. She took this opportunity to share her experiences in social entrepreneurship with local students.

Empowering Indigenous Communities

For years, Julie-ann has worked to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia. A Torres Strait Islander woman herself, descending from Mabiaug and Darnley Island, she aims to help disadvantaged people overcome adversity. She has thus organised many projects aimed at local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

In her experience, these communities all operate on the “man at the top” principle. But even though patriarchy is so prevalent, she noticed a rather curious fact. Namely, the women in these communities are usually doing all the work.

The projects organised by Julie-ann and her colleagues helped give these women a voice and the tools to succeed in life. But it wasn’t just the women that benefited from these projects. “Through the program, a lot of people can start to stand up, starting businesses to raise their life,” Julie-ann said.

Virtual Reality for Equal Opportunity

The event in Bali also included a special workshop for the local women in leadership communities. The workshop focused on creating employment opportunities using virtual reality (VR). As the co-founder and CEO of enVizion Group, Julie-ann knows a lot about this subject.

Her company is one of the most successful businesses in Australia owned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aiming to empower other members of the community, they launched a project called Virtual Reality Training Bus. With it, they have given people in remote parts of Northern Australia easy access to vocational training.

As its name suggests, it is an actual bus. It travels to different parts of the country and offers VR training courses in five employment areas. These include agriculture, mining, construction, aquaponics, and health. The goal is to motivate people to overcome barriers and improve their quality of life.

The Importance of Digital Innovation

Julie-ann also places a lot of value in digital innovation. She is the co-founder of D:HIVE, a Cairns-based digital innovation hub. D:HIVE was also one of the topics for the panel discussion held by Digital Innovation for Social Impact on the same day.

The hub aims to secure digital inclusion of people from disadvantaged backgrounds. According to Julie-ann, it provides people with the knowledge and tools they need to run a successful online business. This includes courses on digital literacy, start-ups, and digital online marketing.

Australian Consul, Drew Boekel, welcomed Julie-ann’s efforts. He said that the digital sector is one of the key areas of cooperation between Indonesia and Australia. That’s why the two countries organised the first Indonesia-Australia Digital Forum.

Held in Jakarta earlier this year, the Forum brought together dozens of digital experts from both countries. According to Boekel, Julie-ann’s two-day visit to Indonesia is just as important. That’s because her work shows us that digital technology can help us overcome inequality. This is enough to give hope to millions of people living in disadvantaged communities.