Samia’s Research Proposal : Stories of Hope and Resilience

Hello : Please see side bars to see new links to Hopevale/ Pelican project page both in Hopevale link and post in pages .

The whole project is hotting up now and we are within days of flying out and joining the crew. Everyone is doing a great Job. SEE the link above for some stories and little history and to follow the journey. We are linking together and so postings will cross reference as well . Here is the Dst Part of my PhD proposal :

RESEARCH PROPOSAL: Samia Goudie (08).

Samia Goudie
Southern Cross University

Stories of Hope and Resilience: Using new media and storytelling to facilitate ‘wellness’ in Indigenous communities

How does producing a co-created product using new media technologies enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous people from a remote community?


The aim of this project is to explore the impact on Indigenous people’s sense of wellness through experiences of storytelling using new media. The project will focus on the link between perceptions of Indigenous wellness and how identity and sense of place (caring for country) is experienced through the telling and creation of digital stories told in the first person. The project is part of a partnership between the Elders of the Hopevale community of North Queensland, Pelican Expeditions and the State Library of Queensland.

Self-determination and social and emotional wellbeing are central to this project and as such the project will work closely with Elders in the design and development of the program, alongside the cultural and country custodians from the Cape York community of Hopevale. Participants will be drawn from young people involved in a larger community camp held at Cape Flattery in North Queensland, organised and run by the Elders.

Specific objectives of the project

1. To develop literacy skills with equipment for young people aged between 7 and 30. Equipment used will include: video and still cameras, computer editing and sound equipment.

2. To introduce storyboard skills and narration techniques such as story circles to share knowledge.

3. To identify themes that the camp participants wish to develop into small digital stories.

4. To build relationships and focus for the project and develop group agreements about how the project will interface with overall camp life.

5. To explore issues that arise for the young people and seek to address them so confidence and ability to carry out the project is affirmed in them.

6. To engage the larger community such as the cultural centre and arts centre of Hopevale, local radio, youth workers and community health workers in supporting and being involved in the project.

7. To target young people who have not yet been involved or who have been at risk or marginalised and include them where possible within the whole camp.

8. To encourage male and female participants across a range of ages to engage at the level appropriate to their ability and skill development as well as invite Elders to share in the process as it develops.


Given the well documented poor health and despair in many Aboriginal communities, it is important, now more than ever, that positive stories of hope and resilience are documented. Negative portrayals in the media of Aboriginal communities need to be replaced with first-person narratives that challenge dominant stereotypes and overturn conventional concepts of the ‘expert knower’ . (Rigney 1997; Smith 2002).

In the context of the contemporary situation facing Indigenous Australians, social and emotional wellbeing and self-determined actions are critical to improving health outcomes in communities. In the report on child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities, Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle (Little Children Are Sacred) the authors, Wild and Anderson (2007) along with Noel Pearson and other Elders speak at length of the importance of programs to develop agency, empower communities and create sustainable futures (Tsey et al. 2205a; Syme 2004; Battye 2005).

Digital story telling offers a contemporary means for youth to engage in the production of living cultural knowledges and encourages empowered community action. The Bama people from the North Queensland community of Hopevale have expressed an interest in developing this project as a means to engage youth and to create a means to collect and archive oral histories, cultural heritage and stories as well as to encourage the building of relationships between youth and Elders. This project seeks to bridge the gap between ‘old ways and new ways’ and develop self-determined cultural safekeeping of Indigenous knowledges within the community.

This project will also create an accessible avenue for ongoing sustainable skill development for young people within this community and will document the process to explore the relevance this method has for encouraging social, emotional and cultural wellbeing for the participants and the extended community.

This is significant, as it will create an avenue within the community for control of representation of cultural knowledges and promote cultural resilience. It allows for the creation of a portable and accessible means of cultural production (outside institutional contexts); bridging the digital divide; and assisting in developing creative ways to engage young people in community life.


Before colonisation, Indigenous culture, spiritual beliefs and practices laid down a web of kinship that was essential to healthy relationships. Colonialism brought with it a different expression of power experienced as a physical, structural and psychosocial violence used to achieve the objective of domination (Atkinson 2002). Atkinson’s research examines literature focusing on the issue of trauma within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context and concludes that intergenerational effects should be seen as a normal human response to traumatic violations and not as isolated incidents of mental illness. Atkinson also found indications of an increased incidence of mental health problems that can be attributed to the impacts of the traumas people have directly or indirectly suffered as a result of colonisation, assimilationist policies, internalised violence and racism, removals and other roll-on effects of trauma as experienced in Indigenous communities.
A decade has passed since the Stolen Generations report was released and very few of its recommendations for change or redress have been implemented (HEREOC 1996). In its campaign to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, Oxfam reported that health outcomes for Indigenous Australians remain amongst the worst in developed countries and the statistics and living conditions are comparable, and in some cases worse than, those found in the third world.
The legacy of trauma is alive today. It permeates all arenas of public policy. Its effects are felt in political and social spheres. Its effects are felt in the land and in the bodies of Indigenous people. Prison systems teem with Aboriginal youth and young men, some of whom see incarceration as a new rite of passage. Hospitals and streets are full of people in pain. In town camps people are pushed out from traditional life and unable to find a place in white society, stuck between two worlds.

A review of the literature suggests that research from an Indigenous perspective exploring the use of emerging new narratives and creative processes, with a focus on what has and is working, would contribute further to understanding how to better design and implement programs and direct service provisions with individuals and communities. It is imperative to adequately consider issues of power imbalances that privilege dominant narratives of appropriate treatments over the lived experiences of survivors.

This research is a response to these issues and the recent call made by Gary Highland of ANTAR:

Perhaps one of the reasons why more people don’t act is that not enough of us are aware of how Indigenous organisations right around the country are tackling and overcoming the poor health of their people. We’ve been conditioned to think of Indigenous health in terms of despair rather than success. We suffer from the misconception that greater investment in Indigenous health won’t achieve a satisfactory return. But there are so many examples around Australia that should end this misconception once and for all. (Highland 2006, p. 4).
I have over 15 years experience working in Aboriginal Health as a community health worker, educator and filmmaker. Many of the projects I have worked on in the past have incorporated arts and media as a means to engage people in self-determined health outcomes. More recently I became involved in working with communities using digital media, specifically digital storytelling (Dst). I was interested in the medium specifically because of its accessibility for users and also because it allows for first person telling of stories.
This research has grown out of my interest in this area as well as the need to identify the experiences and outcomes for participants as a way of documenting the effectiveness of its use in promoting cultural, social and emotional wellbeing for communities.
I was invited by the Hopevale/Pelican project and community Elders to work with them in developing this project and I felt that this provided an opportunity to explore with this community its experiences in relation to questions about representation, agency and social, emotional and cultural wellbeing through the use of this medium.
Mainstream media has often given a negative portrayal of Indigenous communities. Issues of ownership and protocol resulted in complaints from communities and media representations of communities have been contested. Many of the positive stories from communities are not being told or are being told from an outsider perspective. Therefore, communities having the ability to tell their own stories is very important .
The benefits of this research will be in following areas:
• Improvements in social, cultural and emotional wellbeing of the community
• Building links between youth and Elders
• Skills transference and capacity building for the community and participants
• Creating a collection of archival materials and stories owned by the community in the Indigenous knowledges collection of the State Library of Queensland.
• Sustainable project development that will be ongoing and lead to youth becoming mentors and leaders within the community.
• Research funding will enable future support and will lead to refined development of similar projects with recommendations of best practice.
The conceptual framework that informs this work draws from a range of interdisciplinary areas such as arts, media, community development, education and health. This work seeks to work co-creatively, facilitate participant ownership and first-person representation, develop capacity and create sustainable outcomes through the creative practice of digital storytelling (Fiske 2000; Matarasso 1996, 1997; Pope 2000; Williams 1997).

There is a strong history of media being used within Aboriginal communities to facilitate self-determined representations of community life and also as a way to promote health messages within communities. This has been well documented since the advent of Indigenous-owned media in central Australia in the late 1970s. Media and film in Australian Indigenous communities developed in response to the concerns of Aboriginal people. The importance of providing alternative narratives to contest biased and racially prejudiced portrayals of Indigenous Australians has been one of the key motivations for many of our Aboriginal filmmakers. Film and media have proved to be effective tools in putting forward non-dominant narratives (Michaels 1986; Molnar 1995; Ginsburg; 1991).

These developments in Australia can be viewed in the context of worldwide developments. From the mid 1990s, due to advances in technology and the Internet, new media and new digital technical developments became accessible to the wider community. A movement driven by community arts activism inspired the formation of digital story-telling networks as a means of democratising the media. No longer the domain of the professional expert, digital story telling sought to create a space for first-person telling of stories that described living cultures.

In San Francisco in 1994 Joe Lambert and Dana Atcheley were joined by Nina Mullen to found the San Francisco Digital Media Center (Lambert 2002). Around the same time a project was launched called ‘Capturing Wales’, which came out of a partnership formed in 2001 between Cardiff University and BBC Wales.

Since this time an explosion of the use of this medium has taken place and has become a worldwide movement. Many communities are now using this medium as a form of oral history gathering, and as a means to help construct ‘public histories in locations of place’ (Klaebe 2006; Jenkins 1999).

This movement is now expanding into remote communities in Indigenous Australia and has provided a platform for youth and Elders to build links across traditional and contemporary knowledge bases and create engagement for youth in empowering activities that contribute to the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the community. It is this aspect I am interested in exploring in my thesis and where I hope to make a contribution to building on the work of people such as Ginsburg (2007) and others who are concerned with the production and representation of cultural knowledge and with the debate about the reality of a ‘digital divide’ and cultural production in a digital age.

Christie and Verran (2007) also speak of issues relating to using digital media in the translation and transference of traditional culture and new ways of sharing knowledge. They outline the problems and values important to be considered in such works.

This project will seek to explore the intersection of health and new media and explore the impact of new media on the participants who are involved in the project design and creation of stories while using digital storytelling to promote agency, self determination, resilience and cultural, social and emotional wellbeing.


The core of the methodology used is to model the organic process of developing projects from the inside out with both participants and researcher as co-creators. The guiding principle of this methodology is embodied in the centrality of relationship and deep listening, flexibility and the ownership and returning of materials. The project thus incorporates principles of qualitative and participatory action research (PAR) located within an Indigenous research perspective (Crotty 1998; Denzin & Lincoln 2000; Fontana & Frey 2002; Gubrium & Holstien 2003; Smith 2002).
The project will be designed and implemented within a one-month period at a remote camp (Cape Flattery) on the Cape York Peninsula in North Queensland in partnership with Elders of the Hopevale community, crew of the boat Pelican and the State Library of Queensland. Participants will be young people from the Hopevale community who will engage in a range of workshops at a bush media centre established at the camp, as well as on the Pelican and Cape Melville (see appendix: activity program). They will learn about sound and editing and use of the computer and will work over the 4 weeks to develop and finalise a story that will be shown at the end in a group screening to the whole camp. There will be a focus on leadership and developing healthy lifestyles throughout the program.

The research design involves a qualitative methodological framework, consistent with indigenist research principles (Smith 2002), using semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences and reflections of the participants involved in the process.

Interviews will be conducted with both individuals and groups of young people. Participants will be encouraged to self-select for interview according to their needs and desires to communicate their experiences in keeping with the principles of empowerment and agency.

Interviews will also be held with Elders and the trainer-partners. Elders and other cultural custodians will be selected using a snowball sampling method. Interviews will be recorded using both video and audio equipment.

Questions will be developed in language appropriate to the age group interviewed.

Examples of possible questions with young participants include:

1. How do you know if you’re well?
2. What gets in the way of you feeling well?
3. What needs to change for you to feel well?
4. How has being involved in this project affected how well you feel?
5. What did you think would happen during this project?
6. And what did happen?
7. What skills did you learn?
8. How did it feel to learn these skills?
9. How did you feel telling your own stories?
10. What was it like hearing from others about your stories?
11. What stands out for you as being important as a result of being part of this process?
12. What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

Possible questions for Elders:

1. How do you see this experience contributing to the social and emotional wellbeing of the community?
2. How does it relate to caring for country?
3. How important is it for the community as a whole to tell its stories?
4. To what extent has the DST project improved relationships between youth and elders?
5. What have you noticed about the impact of this project on the young people?
6. What do you think about combining new and old cultural forms of knowledge?
7. Is there anything else you want to say about this experience?
8. What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

Possible questions for the trainer-partners:

1. How was it for you working with this group of young people?
2. What do you think worked well in this project?
3. What could have been better?
4. How would you assess the level of participation and enthusiasm?
5. To what extent do you think the young people’s skills showed improvement?
6. What was your most significant learning?
7. What future do you see for these kinds of partnerships?

Throughout the data collection period, I will be keeping a journal of my reflections on the process.

Projected Outcomes:

It is hoped that this project will continue and become sustainable (particularly supported by the development of the new cultural centre in Hopevale) after the month long camp and develop over time to include wider stories of the Hopevale community and engage Elders and other participants from the wider community. Some of the work created may be useful material for the local school.

The final longer term aim of the project will be to use the work to seek funding to support a website that invites other Indigenous people from urban and remote areas in Australia to share their stories through digital mediums and to undertake workshops developing these skills within the themes of identity and sense of place and their relationship to wellness.

• Specific outcomes include:

• Ongoing archival site for the community developed.

• Completed stories screened and archived.

• Skills developed in literacy, technology and an understanding of rights to privacy in media.

• Wellness of participants measured and evaluated through the impact of the project.

• Young people supported to be peer educators for future projects.

• The possibility explored of a dedicated media centre for digital story and film being developed in the community.

• Links formed with other Indigenous communities through the medium of digital story as an educational and cultural exchange.

• Exchanges with other Indigenous communities around these themes including, international links such as with the Chumash Native people of the USA who have expressed interest in doing so; other Indigenous groups working with new media; and with Australian urban and coastal groups who wish to have this exchange.


Time Research stage Writing/ Reporting

August to September 2008 Finalise planning for Dst project at Cape Flattery Research proposal
September to October 2008 Conduct project and collect data Record reflections, film and audio recording
October to December 2008 Edit and produce film and work with findings from data collection. Film production

January to May 2009 Data analysis
Methodology and literature review chapters for exegesis
May to August 2009 Write first draft of exegesis
Complete all chapters of exegesis and draft conclusions.
August to December 2009- Revision of exegesis Final edit and re-write to submit


Atkinson, J. 2002, Trauma Trails Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia. Spinifex Press

Battye, K. 2005, Cape York Project: Desktop Analysis of Whole-of-Health Community Plans, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing Canberra.

Crotty, M, 1998, The Foundations of Social Research. Meaning and Perspective in the research process, Allen and Unwin, Australia.

Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (eds), 2000, Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd edn), Sage, Thousand Oaks.

Fiske, E. 2000, Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning. Arts, Education Partnership and President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Fontana, A & Frey, J. 2002, ‘The Interview – from Structured Questions to Negotiated Text’, in N Denzin &Y Lincoln (eds) Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd edn), Sage, Thousand Oaks.

Ginsburg, F. 1993, ‘Aboriginal Media and the Australian Imaginary’. Public Culture 5 (3): 557-78

Ginsburg, F, 2007, ‘Digital Age’, work in progress.

Gubrium, J. & Holstien, J. (eds), 2003, Postmodern Interviewing, Sage, Thousand Oaks.
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) (1996) Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. AGPS: Canberra
Highland, G (2006) ‘These are the killing times: Closing the Indigenous life expectancy gap within a generation’, speech by Gary Highland to Lane Cove Residents for Reconciliation 5 September 2006
Jenkins, L. 1999, Talking Together: A Guide to Community Oral History Projects. Brisbane Oral History Association.

Klabe, H. 2006, ‘Sharing stories: Problems and potentials of oral history and digital storytelling and the writer/producer’s role in constructing public history of a developing place’. PhD Thesis: Queensland University of Technology.

Lambert, J. 2006, Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community (2nd edn with updated resources)

Martin-Booran, M. 2001, ‘Ways of knowing, ways of being and ways of doing: Developing a theoretical framework and methods for Indigenous research and Indigenist research’, paper presented at the Power of Knowledge, the Resonance of Traditio-Indigenous Studies conference 2001, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra.

Matarasso, F. 1996, ‘Defining Values: Evaluating Arts Programs’, Social Impact of the Arts: Working Paper 1. Bournes Green, Comedia.

Matarasso, F 1997, ‘Use or Ornament?’ The Social Impact of Participation in the Arts. Stroud, England: Comedia.

Michaels, E. 1986, The Aboriginal Invention of Television in Central Australia, 1982- 1986, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra.

Molnar, H. 1995, ‘Indigenous Media Development in Australia: A product of struggle and Opposition’, Cultural Studies, vol 9 (1): 169-90

Pope, J. 2000, ‘Social Capital and Social Capital Indicators’.

Rigney, L. 1997, ‘Internationalism of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander anti-colonial, cultural critique of research methodologies: a guide to Indigenist research methodology and its principles’, paper presented at the Research and Development in Higher Education: Advancing International Perspectives, HERDSA Annual Conference, Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia.

Smith, L. 2002, Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, Zed Books, London.

Syme, S. 2004, ‘Social Determinants of Health: The Community as an Empowered Partner: Preventing Chronic Disease’ Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy, 1(1): 1-5.

Tsey, K., Travers, H., Gibson, T., Whiteside, M., Cadet-James, Y., Haswell-Elkins, M., McCalman, J. and Wilson, A. 2005, ‘The role of empowerment through life skills development in building comprehensive primary health care systems in Indigenous Australia’, Australian Journal of Primary Health, vol 11(2): 16-25).

Verran, H., and Christie, M. 2007, ‘Using/designing digital technologies of representation in Aboriginal Australian knowledge practices’, Learning Research Group, Charles Darwin University.

Wild, R. and Anderson. 2007, Ampe Akelyrmemane Meke Mekarle Little Children are Sacred, Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, Northern Territory Government, Darwin.

Williams, D. 1997, ‘How the Arts Measure Up: Australian Research into Social Impact Gloustershire’ Comdedia (Social Impact of the Arts Working paper No.8).

Appendix: Draft Activity Program for Cape Flattery Camp

13th – 20th
September Kayaking Expedition (17-30+)
Gender separated leadership workshops (17 – 30+) Cape Flattery – Rocky Islet – North Direction Is – Lizard Island

Digital story telling On Expedition
Possible Memorial Event
21st – 28th
September Possible Memorial Event
Kayak Expedition (12+)
Gender separated leadership workshops
Possible Memorial Event
Digital Story telling
Cape Flattery – Rocky Islet – North Direction Is – Lizard Island
On Expedition

*Weaving with marine debris
*Percussion with found instruments
*Cultural Workshops
(Language, spear making
*Digital Story telling and Media Tent
*Movie nights Cape Flattery Beach Camp
29th – 5th
September – October Day sails
Turtle and Dugong research
Digital storytelling Cape Flattery vicinity
Murdoch Island
*AFL Kids Living Safer Lives Project
*Weaving with marine debris
*Dance Workshop
*Percussion with found instruments
*Cultural Workshops
(Language, spear making
*Digital Story telling and Media Tent
*Movie nights
Cape Flattery Beach Camp
6th -10th
October Coxswain Training and Sailing Skills workshop Offshore Cape Flattery or Cooktown

3 Responses to “Samia’s Research Proposal : Stories of Hope and Resilience”

  1. very interesting and innovative as well as inspiring

  2. Lovely lesson from story

  3. continuously i used to read smaller articles which as
    well clear their motive, and that is also happening with this post which I am reading at
    this time.

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