Digital entrepreneurs and changemakers celebrated at inaugural IDX Awards


Seven Indigenous leaders and entrepreneurs from around Australia were recognised as the winners of the inaugural national Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) Awards at a gala event in Redfern on Friday night.

The award winners, whose projects range from a translation app for remote Indigenous communities to a program aimed at encouraging Indigenous young people to pursue careers in STEM, and to an Elder using 3D printing technology, now share in $100,000 worth of prizes and grants. They also join the IDX alumni which includes formal IDX Certification and ongoing professional development and networking opportunities.

The IDX Awards are the centrepiece of the IDX initiative, a $5 million partnership between the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) and Telstra Foundation, which focuses on building digital skills, entrepreneurship and opportunities for Indigenous peoples and communities.

Alison Page, Chairperson of NCIE, said: “Fostering the next generation of Indigenous digital entrepreneurs and building the IDX movement across Australia is what IDX is all about. We’re so excited to be showcasing the potential of digital innovation for Indigenous Australia by celebrating some of our sharpest minds and forward-thinking entrepreneurs.

“IDX is all around us and these awards are all about shining a light on the intersection of digital technology and the world’s oldest living culture. We also want the Australian community, and those in government and the corporate sector, to recognise the huge benefits of investing in and increasing Indigenous participation in the digital economy.”

Jackie Coates, Head of the Telstra Foundation, Co-Founders of the IDX initiative said: “I’m completely blown away by the passion, drive and innovative thinking of our IDX Awards winners. From Ernest Gondarra, the Digital Elder of the Year who is using 3D printing to create culturally significant objects to Entrepreneurship winner Dean Foley who created Australia’s first Indigenous-run accelerator for Indigenous businesses – this is what Indigenous Digital Excellences all about. We at the Telstra Foundation are proud to back this year’s award winning Indigenous innovators and entrepreneurs, and will be watching closely what they do next.”

During the awards, a national, competition for a digital app that addresses the priority area of education was also announced.

Alison Page, Chairperson of NCIE, said: “The national competition is an opportunity to encourage innovation and experimentation with technology from an Indigenous perspective that seeks to encourage our young people to engage with technology to develop the capacity of our aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs.”

The app competition will open in October 2017 and close in February 2018. To find out more about the IDX Awards and the award winners visit and to find out more and to register your interest about the competition head to

Winners of the inaugural IDX Awards

LEARNINGS AND EDUCATION – Sponsored by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Wayne Denning, QLD – Wayne conceived the STEM.I.AM program, designed to promote the study of STEM with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth around Australia.

CULTURE AND COUNTRY – Sponsored by Mirvac

Victor Steffenson, QLD – Victor has developed the Living Knowledge Place, a community driven education site that showcases our culture, our country, and our aspirations for the future of our environment and our wellbeing.

PATHWAYS AND EMPLOYMENT – Sponsored by Microsoft

Luke Briscoe, NSW – Luke Briscoe is the founder of INDIGI LAB, a leader in the Indigenous STEM and sustainable science space which creates projects for social and environmental change through digital culture and Indigenous sciences.


NPY Women’s Council, NT – The NPY Council has developed a customisable language dictionary app that enables communication by providing words in Pitjatjantjara and Ngaanyatjarra and English translations.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP – Sponsored by UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation

Dean Foley, QLD – Dean is the founder of Australia’s first Indigenous Start Up Weekend and Bayaramal (black swan), Australia’s first Indigenous run accelerator for Indigenous businesses.

DIGITAL ELDER OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by Telstra

Ernest Gondarra, NT – Ernest is a digital champion in his community working on ALPA’s Plastic Fantastic program, and skills in design and 3D printing and to create culturally significant objects for the Gatjirrk Cultural Festival.

YOUNG INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by the University of Technology Sydney

Brooke Ottley, NT – Brooke is a talented graphic designer who after almost 10 years’ in her field and a study tour in New York, has become Darwin’s most popular Airbnb host, hosting over 380 travellers in her own home.