Relationship Building in Remote Indigenous Australian Communities: Case Studies from a Literacy Program

By Jo An M. Zimmermann, Kristy Davidson, Marcelle Cacciattolo and Lawrence Mahon.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

SWIRL (Story Writing in Remote Locations) is a literacy program that has been offered by Victoria University in remote Indigenous communities in central Australia. It has been in operation for the past 11 years. The SWIRL program attempts to achieve a number of goals. One is enhancing literacy engagement with young people, which is inclusive and respectful of the needs of culturally diverse communities. The program consists of a range of stakeholders who work in remote and rural settings for up to 4 weeks at a time. During this time, programs are offered to indigenous communities, which embody a range of innovative activities that centre on the literacy needs of the community. This paper will present the personal experiences of two university lecturers who participated in SWIRL during 2006 and will focus on the importance of relationship building in enhancing the success of the program. The contention of this paper is that the success or failure of SWIRL is completely dependent on the ability of program participants to develop and build trustworthy
and meaningful relationships. This paper not only explores this contention, but also provides insight into community relationships and their impact upon the sustainability of the program.

Keywords: Sustainable and Respectful Partnerships, Remote Educational Settings, Story Writing, Literacy, Learning

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.223-230. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 557.082KB).

Dr. Jo An M. Zimmermann

Lecturer, Bachelor of Recreation Management, , School of Human Movement, Recreation and Performance, Victoria University, Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Jo An M. Zimmermann, CPRP, has a BS in Recreation and Park Administration from Western Illinois University, an MBA from Olivet Nazarene University and a PhD in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management from Clemson University all in the United States. She is currently a lecturer at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. She teaches in advanced recreation programming techniques at both the undergraduate and post-graduate level. Her areas of research interest include service delivery of recreation programs, cultural diversity issues and non-profit governance. Her professional experience includes training and developing training materials as well as recreation program development and management.

Kristy Davidson

Research Officer, Education,, Faculty of Arts, Education and Human Development, Victoria University, Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Kristy Davidson is a research officer in the School of Education at Victoria University. Her research areas include social justice, social diversity, wellbeing, and communication practices. Kristy is currently completing a PhD in communication focussing on the representation of a minority group in contemporary fiction. She has also worked on a number of research projects related to refugee relocation, community building and the role of ICT for young people.

Dr. Marcelle Cacciattolo

Coordinator, Partnerships, School of Education, Victoria University, Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Marcelle Cacciattolo is a sociologist and an experienced lecturer in the School of Education. She teaches in a diverse range of pre-service teacher education courses, conducts a range of research projects and supervises a variety of postgraduate research students. Marcelle’s other major responsibility involves the coordination of the School of Education’s community partnership program. Marcelle’s particular research interests are cross-disciplinary involving health sciences and education-based research. Her research focuses are linked to the following themes- well being, inclusive education, social justice and a desire to address community issues.

Lawrence Mahon

Coordinator, Bachelor of Education, (Nyerna Studies), Faculty of Arts, Education and Human Development, Victoria University, Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Lawry Mahon is a lecturer in Education at Victoria University, and has specialized in the areas of literacy engagement and enhancement, through the use of emerging technologies. He also has a strong interest in Indigenous issues from a social justice perspective, having coordinated the B.Ed (Nyerna Staudies) program at Victoria University for the past four years. He instigated the Story Writing In Remote Locations program (SWIRL) during a visit to a remote Aboriginal community 11 years ago, and, with colleagues, continues to develop its framework. SWIRL’s success has led to national and international success where the program is now being incorporated into a number of Western Australian and Queensland schools and universities.


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