Indigenous Newslines is a free magazine on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues which is published quarterly in hard copy and online. It provides information on Australian Government services and programs and includes inspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories from across the nation.
The following article covers the success of the Hope Vale indigenous Knowledge and Technology Centre.
Our own place
An Indigenous Knowledge and Technology Centre is a window to the world for the community of Hope Vale in far north Queensland.
At the Hope Vale centre locals can access library books, magazines and DVDs, and music, games and the Internet thanks to 12 computers. There is an after-high school homework club, reading programs for young children and school holiday programs. Around 50 to 60 community members visit every day and after-school activities engage about 30–50 children at a time.
What sets the centre apart from regular public libraries is the relaxed, friendly space that is ‘owned’ by the community, giving local kids the chance to learn in their own setting.
“We have information on Indigenous people, we have Aboriginal art on the walls, we’re engaging with our people to suit the needs of our people,” centre coordinator Shirley Costello says.
“At school you sit at your desk in a classroom to do your work, but here you can do the same work lying on a cushion, listening to music, and it makes all the difference. That’s what we, the Indigenous people, want.
“It’s an old saying by a lot of our elderly people that Indigenous people are fortunate because we can mix in both worlds – our culture and non-Indigenous culture.”
Kids at the centre have become experts at using the Internet, posting YouTube clips, doing karaoke and researching interests such as fishing or football. Older users meet to record their stories and autobiographies, use Google Earth to spot their place in the world, or chat with friends and family on Skype. Others are making their own digital photo albums, calendars, business cards or CVs. “Having that access is a giant leap for a remote Indigenous community,” Costello says.
“A knowledge centre and the Internet help our kids’ self esteem and our people to be more up-to-date with the wider world – you’re looking through a bigger picture.
“I say to other communities, go for it because it opens up a whole new world to your people. Our motto here is that learning never stops. It started with the message stick – we continue today with the memory stick.”
The Hope Vale centre is one of 18 knowledge centres owned, managed and staffed by local Indigenous councils.
It was established with support from the non-profit company Dot Com Mob (www.dotcommob.org), which is helping to bring the Internet to remote communities, and the State Library of Queensland www.slq.qld.gov.au/about/who/orgchart/ils/ikc
Hope Vale is a Cape York Welfare Reform community.
Visit the FaCH