App created to bridge gap between indigenous communities and tourism sector

A new app has been created to help the tourism industry and international travellers embrace Australia’s indigenous cultures.

“Imagine you are on the road travelling through Australia’s unique cities, towns and communities when an alert pops up on your smart phone advising you have now entered the boundary of a traditional tribal group. This alert directs you to an informative video, where an Elder or knowledge carrier will warmly welcome you and provide you with important information about their country.”

“International visitors excited to embrace the many facets of Australian culture and learn about the Indigenous people of our land will also love this app. By downloading the Welcome to Country app and scrolling through the locations travellers can pick and choose their destinations.”

Developer and Ngarluma man Tyson Mowarin, says ‘the dream to create this type of technology interface was born about five years ago’ and now there is an app for 37 different groups around Australia.

“I remember people talking about how Kevin Rudd speaks Mandarin and although he could say hello at the foot of the Great Wall of China, our Prime Minister at the time couldn’t say hello at the foot of Uluru,” Tyson said.

“I wanted to teach people how to speak the languages and acknowledge all our different nations.

“I wanted to create an extension of the traditional Welcome to Country, which is a custom that dates back even before settlement. This application is only designed to complement the real thing.”

The app, developed by Mr Mowarin and his team at Weerianna Street Media, is an extensively researched information portal and archive of Welcome to Country videos and messages.

The videos include a welcoming message, details of the boundaries of the tribal area, and messages about cultural safety from the traditional land group.

Weerianna Street Media engaged with local Elders and knowledge carriers, and worked with Indigenous media practitioners to create educational content in an app that seeks to transcend Native Title.

The app, developed as part of WSM’s Digital Dreamtime Project and supported by Woodside and the Australian Government, is proving popular right across Australia after its release last week. Hundreds of people have already downloaded the app.

The app is currently available on iTunes while Weerianna Street Media seeks sponsorship to expand the application to Android and help other tribal groups create their own Welcome to Country videos.

“It would be amazing to see a major airline get on board and then they can use the Welcomes on the plane as they descend into various countries, if the groups would like that,” Tyson says.

To download the app for free, search Welcome to Country on the iTunes app store, and make sure location settings are activated during use. The app recognises where you are as you pass through invisible geofences, and offers the viewing of Welcome to Country before directing you to the relevant tribal page.

Other features include social media links to share the app and offer feedback, as well as a section that allow users to pre-select their destination and add it to their favourites list.

If your tribal group would like to get involved, please contact Weerrianna Street Media at [email protected] so they can help you add your content to the app or advise you how to make a welcome video.


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