Last year, three young Indigenous Australians from Mornington Island, Queensland realised their unique culture was disappearing with each generation and sadly, they could not speak their ancestors' language or tell the dreamtime stories in the way that their parents and grandparents had. They needed a way for their community to share traditions, language, songs and dances without having to rely solely on passing down information orally from generation to generation.

As members of the digital generation, the three young change-makers turned to technology to help solve this problem. Stewart, Pearl and Shakara thought that an app could be one way to collect and hold on to language and stories and help the community to communicate and retain this important information. Aptly named Kanga Merri Nurndine meaning Talk, Hear, Forever the app is designed to act as a central database, holding their history, language and key cultural information, with the ability to store new information when off-line then sync and upload to the database when a compatible device is connected to Wi-Fi.

Kanga Merri Nurndine was one of five winning app ideas in the 2014 Adappt Big Ideas competition. The Adappt program, co-founded by Samsung and the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), is a social-purpose app development program designed to empower young Australians to use technology as a tool for creating positive social change.

At its core, Adappt speaks to Samsung’s goal of investing back into the community by creating innovative learning and education opportunities for young Australians and helping foster new skills for the next generation work force. One of the key themes of Adappt is that participants do not have to be a ‘tech whiz’ to get involved. The program was designed to appeal to all young people, including those who would not necessarily see themselves as ‘techy’ but have an interest in creativity or social good.

Through its Big Ideas competition, Adappt encouraged young Australians to think creatively about how technology has the potential to help solve a social or environmental issue. Hundreds of entries were received from around Australia ranging in topics from mental health, sexuality, sustainability and preservation of culture. In addition to Kanga Merri Nurndine, four other winning entries were selected – Take10, Study Songs, Homegrown Exchange and Better Practice, Better Care – all of which demonstrated how an app could help resolve a social or environmental concern.

The five winning teams were flown to Melbourne for the Adappt Bootcamp, where they received tutorials on app design and development and networked with industry experts who helped refine their ideas and develop them into digital prototypes.

Adappt’s online platform houses seven Adappt Academy tutorials created to take participants through the app design process from ideation to prototype. Adappt Academy helps participants broaden their skill set through teaching creative problem-solving, human-centered design and entrepreneurial, socially-driven thinking.

These online tutorials as well as the Adappt Bootcamp teach young Australians soft-skills in communication, professional networking and pitching ideas.

What is most exciting about the program was the thousands of young Australians reached between September and December 2014 as entrants, online tutorial participants and event attendees. The number of Big Ideas submissions and depth of the issues addressed demonstrates young Australians’ enthusiasm to learn new skills and create meaningful change in their communities if given the right platform and opportunities.

The winning app ideas:
Kanga Merri Nurndine
(Talk, Hear, Forever)
Designed by: Shakara Toby, Pearl Escott and Stewart Escott, QLD
Kanga Merri Nurndine was designed to help provide young Indigenous Australians of Mornington Island (QLD) with continued access to their culture, history, language and dreamtime stories. This app will store language, cultural information, dreamtime stories and songs into an online database making it easy for locals to share anytime, almost anywhere. This app has found a way for community elders and young people to share knowledge together.

Better Practice, Better Care
Designed by: Jacob Thomas and Jamison Parker, VIC
Better Practice, Better Care was designed to assist young LGBTQIA+ community members in locating safe, friendly and supportive General Practitioners around Australia. The idea behind the app is to develop a positive LGBTQIA+ health network Australia-wide. App users would be able to locate their nearest service provider by using a postcode search on the app. Following appointments, users will also be able to rate the service through a brief survey.

Study Songs
Designed by:
Tyra Pederson and Brooke Weekes, NSW
Study Songs is about combatting problems commonly faced by students around exam periods and studying. The app idea aims to help manage stress, promote memory capacity and compress study notes and heavy books into songs. Study Songs will have users record their notes on a compatible smart device before using an inbuilt ‘beat maker’ or a pre-written instrumental to transform their bullet points into original, memorable songs.

Designed by:
Kathy Molla-Abassi, NSW
Take10 aims to help stop people from making rash decisions and prevent feelings of loneliness, isolation, anger or procrastination. Users create albums of 10 photos (or “decas”) with emotional significance. When they go to use the app, the album will play as a 10 second slideshow helping the user relax and re-focus.

HomeGrown Exchange

Designed by: Sonia Testa and James White, NSW

HomeGrown Exchange aims to prevent food wastage on a local level. It is designed to directly benefit garden produce growers and consumers by enabling them to trade produce and create local economies with community members. By hosting a community of home gardeners, Homegrown Exchange aims to support and encourage an appreciation of self-sufficiency and sustainability in the home.