• Dean Foley, CEO of Barayamal (Marvin Fox) (Marvin Fox Photography)Source: Marvin Fox Photography
In an Australian first, software developers have come together to think up innovative solutions for First Nations charities.
Ella Archibald-Binge

23 May 2017 - 10:56 AM  UPDATED 23 May 2017 - 10:56 AM

More than 100 technology experts, business people and creative thinkers gathered in Brisbane at the weekend for a voluntary two day ‘Give Backathon’.

The brainchild of young Kamilaroi entrepreneur Dean Foley, the event is a twist on the classic hackathon – usually hosted by software giants to bring industry experts together to come up with the next big thing.

“Indigenous charities are doing a lot of great work in the community, (but) some of them don’t get enough publicity, or funding from the government,” says 28-year-old Foley, who grew up in Gunnedah, NSW.

“We’re trying to close that technology gap by bringing together software developers to create tech-based solutions for them.”

On day one, four charities briefed participants on their unique challenges. Hackers then formed teams based on their skill set, with less than 48 hours to come up with solutions.

Charities included the Cairns-based Streets Movement, ecological company SevGen, the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, and financial literacy group First Nations Foundation.

For First Nations Foundation CEO Amanda Young, the Give Backathon was a chance to find new ways to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make informed financial decisions.

Ms Young told participants how Indigenous people were often targeted by scams, citing a case in Yarrabah where the community was paying 48 per cent interest on car loans. 

Across two days, one team had laid the groundwork for a fun and interactive app that would help users make sound financial decisions.

“To have something right there and then to help you make that decision and work out ‘is this a good deal, or a bad deal?’, it will be really helpful for us,” says Ms Young.

“Love this first Indigenous hackathon. Genius ideas, brilliant creativity, just what Indigenous charities need.”

With many volunteering to see the projects through to fruition, the first Give Backathon has certainly lived up to its name.