Here in this part of the site we’re building a collection of stories about community development work. These are stories which show the ways in which people have worked together to bring about change in their own communities, in creative and positive ways.
These are all projects with which one or more of us are ‘travelling along’. This means that as well as being familiar with what gets achieved we have seen first hand how the work is being done and what wisdom comes out of the projects. This has also allowed us to write about our observations. Most of the projects have also produced digital content to share part of the ‘backstory’.
This will be an ongoing pursuit, so more stories will appear here over time, and if you think you have a story worth telling, please get in touch with us via the contact page.
The Ngapartji Ngapartji Project was carried out by community development and arts organisation Big hART in Alice Springs town camps, APY Lands in South Australia and other remote communities in Central Australia from 2005 to 2010. This included facilitating creative workshops, community building activities, language maintenance, literacy development, crime prevention, training, producing various arts and music work and culminating in national tours of the stage performance also called Ngapartji Ngapartji. Throughout this work arts-based practice has been used in an attempt to help make a difference to the lives of Indigenous people living in the town camps and remote communities Big hART people visited. < see more >
The Yiriman story comes from the Kimberley region of northwest Western Australia. The Kimberley itself covers a substantial area approximately twice the size of the Australian state of Victoria. It has a relatively small pop;action with just over 30,000 residents living in the region’s six towns and over a hundred remote communities. More than 40% who call the Kimberley home are of Indigenous Australian descent. Across the region, at least fifteen language groups with thirty dialects are spoken.
Since 2000, the Yiriman Project has worked with young people, their Elders and other generations across the southern parts of the Kimberley. It represents attempts by a community dealing with one of the nation’s most pressing social challenges: the future for Indigenous young people living in remote Australia. < see more >
The Drive project involved workshops with young men to develop a series of short films acting as a pre-curser to a major film. The project is shaped by the relationship between young men, motor vehicles and risky practices such as early experiences with alcohol consumption, speeding, experimenting with cars and identify formation associated with ‘rights of passage’ from childhood to manhood.
The film was made by and about young men coming of age on the North West Coast of Tasmania and explores two major rites of passage – obtaining a drivers license and the legal right to consume alcohol. As with other elements of the Lucky Project, young people worked with arts mentors to lead the film making process, taking on roles as film makers, sound recordists, interviewers and interviewees, and as media production workers.
The Belmont ALC was an alternative education project that ran over 3 years in the Belmont area in Western Australia, beginning in 2008. It was an innovative collaboration between the local government secondary school and the City of Belmont, and provided students with academic support, work experience, practical skills, recreational opportunities and pastoral support over their time with the project.
There were many challenging and memorable moments for ALC students and staff, and the end of year graduations were often a highlight. It was notable at these events that quite a number of the young men and women lingered, along with their families. They were not sure it seemed, that they really wanted to go. In the ensuing weeks, some of them returned to get some help and advice – to revisit a place they felt at home. < see more >
The Yijala Yala Project is a long-term, inter-generational cultural arts project based in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The project is created by Big hART for and with the community of Roebourne.
The Yijala Yala Project seeks to highlight cultural heritage as living, continually evolving and in the here and now, rather than of the past, and works with community members to create content and develop skills that assist in communicating their cultural heritage to a wide audience. The name Yijala Yala was chosen to reflect the focus of the project: Yijala means ‘now’ in Ngarluma; Yala means ‘now’ in Yindjibarndi – the two dominant Aboriginal languages spoken in Ieramagadu (Roebourne). < see more >
For five years, Big hART worked with prisoners in Roebourne Regional Prison on writing and recording music that celebrates their life, community and culture. In 2013, Big hART enlisted some talented musicians, singers and songwriters to visit Roebourne and collaborate with the community and prisoners on a compilation album to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the passing of 16-year old John Pat in a Roebourne police cell on September 28, 1983. This album is titled Murru – the nickname used by John’s family when he was a boy.
In 2005 and 2006 Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson instituted a National Values Education initiative. The creation of this initiative reflected the view that education, particularly in public schools, had become ‘values neutral’ and that Australians were now expecting teachers to spend more time building the ‘character’ of students. Earlier the Minister had said, “ Kids being able to read, write, count and communicate when they leave school have always been priorities. But increasingly, parents are concerned to know education is being delivered within a values framework with which they feel comfortable”. As part of this national initiative five Western Australian independent schools formed a ‘cluster’ and created a series of projects based around children’s relationships with important local places. This became known as the ‘Children and Mapping Project’. < see more >
From 2002 to 2007 arts and community development organisation Big hART carried out work in Sydney’s Northcott Estate. During this time, Big hART in association with other project partners ran a series of community cultural development projects that culminated in the production of photographic portrait work, music, geo-spatial maps, performance theatre, filmmaking, narrative and writing pieces, and a series of other performance and arts-based activities. The intention of Big hART was to help ‘empower’ and assist tenants of Northcott to tell their stories, help build people’s sense of community, and encourage conditions that decrease violence and isolation. The Northcott Narratives Project is the title used to encompass all the separate but related projects undertaken by Big hART at the Northcott Estate from 2002- 2007. < see more >
In the late 2000s CANWA began an important project in the Eastern Wheatbelt region. They started by carrying out arts-based workshops with Noongar and other Aboriginal people living in towns like Kellerberrin. These workshops led to a range of larger productions and community celebrations. It helped create beautiful photographic books, films, starting up an annual ‘Keela Dreaming’ community celebration. It also produced some wonderful oral histories and radio shows. Perhaps more importantly, it helped support the leadership of the area, create jobs in the arts for local people, bring the community together and give people a sense of hope and achievement. <see more>
This project involved developing an Aboriginal fathering program by Aboriginal men. Over a six month period over 25 men met, started to talk about the features of good fathering, had their stories and insights recorded on film and shaped the design and testing of a workshop series. The workshop includes:
- Stories of Aboriginal men who have acted as strong fathers
- The differences between Aboriginal fathering and non-Aboriginal fathering
- The main challenges and difficulties facing Aboriginal fathers
- Programs, activities and supports that help Aboriginal men become stronger fathers
- The things young Aboriginal men need in order to learn how to become good fathers
- The qualities of a strong Aboriginal father. <see more>
The Noongarpedia Project is a story of present-day efforts to maintain this tradition of cultural resilience through novel, contemporary and globally networked means. It includes stories about a project that took as its dual aims (i) to carry out research concerned with bringing together old Noongar knowledge and new social media, and (ii) to make the social effort to build a digital platform that helps to make information about Noongar culture and ancient traditions available to the public, as well as to Noongar ‘users’ of that language and culture. In this way it is a story about research being used to support attempts at social and cultural development: research as social enterprise, and as ‘creative citizenship’. < see more >
SharingStories Foundation are a not-for-profit organisation led by a passionate Board with equal representation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. They work with Indigenous communities to protect, maintain and grow language, stories and cultural heritage through digital technologies and vibrant artistic art forms for the benefit of all children today and future generations tomorrow.
Their projects are wonderful examples of working across Indigenous communities – Elder and child, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, speaking and listening, traditional and modern, oral storytelling and digital storytelling – and building spaces where learning both ways is real for Indigenous children, Elders and all Australians. Their work with communities takes them back over the long term, supporting ongoing cultural maintenance practices at the same time as inventing, adapting, adopting, continuously finding new and exciting ways to interpret cultural stories using a range of dynamic and evolving media art forms.
Featured are two projects: in SA’s Leigh Creek area and in the small remote community of Jarlmadangah in the Kimberley.
During 2915 the City of Armadale embarked on a project that involved supporting three new community arts and culture initiatives. This is a short documentary film produced for a presentation at the 2016 LGMA Community Development Conference exploring the ‘journey’ of genuine community involvement in the business of cultural development.
The project: ’Building Awareness and Resilience with Community Theatre’ was carried out in the second half of 2012 as a partnership between Halo Leadership Development Agency Inc and Act Out. Erika Jacobson, Director of Act Out led the project and worked with a group of young Aboriginal men who were participants in the Halo Youth Leadership Programme.
The Halo Leadership Development Agency Inc was a peer-mentoring program that provides opportunities for young Aboriginal men to advance their hopes, aspirations and leadership opportunities. This particular project was built around using theatre and performance, present and future Aboriginal young people’s experience to enable healing, positive progress and economic independence for our future Aboriginal and community leaders. < see more >
More articles about Community Development
We have written a number of other articles that relate to community development. Check them out here.