Tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley, academic Dr Jakelin Troy and author Alexis Wright are among the “inspirational indigenous voices” sharing their stories via Google Assistant, as part of collaboration with the web giant to mark NAIDOC Week.
Users can simply ask the Google Assistant on their mobile or smart home device ‘What are you doing for NAIDOC Week?’ or to ‘Share some Inspirational indigenous voices’ to hear from one of the six prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women featured.
The beginning of NAIDOC Week – during which Australians celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and communities – on Sunday, saw a Google Australia page ‘Doodle’ in honour of Colleen Shirley Perry Smith. Smith – better known as Mum Shirl was a prominent social worker and humanitarian and activist, committed to the justice and welfare of Aboriginal Australians.
The Doodle was created by artist Cheryl Moggs, a Bigambul woman from Goondiwindi and this year’s national NAIDOC poster competition winner. The image bore the theme slogan for this year’s NAIDOC: “Because of her we can”.
“Australia would not be the rich, diverse country that it is without the many contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. These strong and determined individuals have helped to shape our families, our society, and our shared narrative as a nation,” said Anil Sabharwal, Google’s engineering site lead for Australia in a blog post today.
In May last year, Google Australia launched its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) working with not-for-profit Reconciliation Australia.
Broadly it aims to partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities, and raise awareness of them among Google employees. It also outlines initiatives to improve access to technology for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities and build a “pool of technologists that better reflects Australia's diversity”.
Alongside the RAP, Google is a sponsor of the Clontarf Foundation Partnership which works to inspire young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys to get excited about computer science. In 2015 it established the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience to deliver computer science and coding content to 4,000 Year 7 and 8 Indigenous students.
In a separate effort the Google Cultural Institute is documenting ancient rock art across Australia, in partnership with the Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit at Griffith University.
“We will always seek to build stronger, more respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - and help ensure that all Australians can share in the opportunities created through technology,” Sabharwal added.
The Mum Shirl Doodle is the third Google Doodle to reference Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In 2015 the school Doodle 4 Google competition was won by Ineka Voigt of Canberra High School in ACT for her image Stolen Dreamtime.
In June 2016, the Doodle marked what would have been the 80th birthday of Eddie Mabo. Born on the Australian island of Mer, Mabo is best known as a campaigner for indigenous land rights and the high profile court case which overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius (‘nobody's land’).
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