Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) is an evolving entity that was established in 2003 to facilitate research and learning for economic and social development in desert and arid regions of Australia. It is a statutory corporation of the NT, created as part of what was termed the ‘desert knowledge movement’, which represented the increasing conviction by many desert dwellers – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Government, business, research, and services delivery – that the specific conditions of the desert required recognition, research and combined knowledge to make the most of its sparse resources. 

Since 2003, DKA has been instrumental in helping to develop research programs such as the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre (CRC)(2003-2010), which later evolved into the CRC for Remote Economic Participation (2010-2017); co-facilitating major desert knowledge symposiums; facilitating the development of the Alice Springs Solar cities successful bid (2008-2013); developing multi-industry network links sponsored by major organisations such as BHP Billiton; running well-regarded multi-cultural desert leadership programs; and auspicing digital development programs such ‘Broadband for the Bush’ which continues to have influence in remote telecommunications policy development. DKA also tests approaches to engagement and problem solving in complex environments, such as the Collective Impact methodology, trialling them for their appropriateness to our unique desert or cultural complexities.

DKA has managed since inception the Desert Knowledge Precinct, which is underpinned by an Indigenous Land Use Agreement and has been home to the CRCs, CSIRO, Centre for Appropriate Technology, Batchelor Institute, the DKA Solar Centre, and a Stolen Generations Garden of Reflection.

In 2016, DKA has evolved considerably in response to the ever changing socio-economic environment and a review at the 10-year mark. A strategic review of DKA by the NT Government acknowledged the achievements of DKLA but also recommended a renewal of the organisation and a re-setting of its focus. From 2014-16, DKA narrowed down and redeveloped DKA’s strategic focus areas to reflect more current priorities, while fulfilling responsibilities to ongoing programs sponsored by the Commonwealth and NT Governments. This resulted in giving priority to an energy hub to develop more affordable energy supplies for underpinning business in remote Australia, intercultural development and engagement, and expanding the potential of the Precinct.

With the appointment of a new Board in 2016, and a new CEO beginning in early 2017, DKA continues to evolve and renew in response to the changed social, economic and political environments that are having an impact on development in Australia’s desert regions.