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

Zimmermann, Jo An M.; Davidson, Kristy; Cacciattolo, Marcelle; Mahon, Lawrence
October 2007
International Journal of the Humanities;Oct2007, Vol. 5 Issue 2, p223
Academic Journal
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.


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