WA Skills Development Program

First Nations People are the first storytellers who have told stories from generation to generation. This year, SharingStories Foundation commenced a new First Nations mentoring program in partnership with Purnululu Aboriginal Independent Community School and independent First Nations creatives Michael Jalaru Torres and Kimberley  Benjamin. Mentoring is at the heart of how SharingStories supports cultural continuity. Creating opportunities for media training for the next generation provides opportunities to record oral histories and language and, importantly, a pathway for self-representation. Central to the mentoring program, Gija students will also develop their videography skills to strengthen their abilities in digital storytelling.

This year, in July, Michael Jalaru Torres and Kimberley Benjamin travelled with SharingStories’  Foundation’s Program Manager, Brooke Small, to Purnululu School and Purnululu National Park to facilitate photography and filmmaking skills development workshops. Students learned the basics of shooting filming and editing on iPads and produced a series of short video’sfilms about themselves and the trip to Purnulululu National Park. Students at the park also participated in a professional photoshoot at Echidna Chasm and Cathedral Gorge at Purnululu National Park. Under the direction of Michael Torres, the photoshoot produced a series of stunning photographs.

The program is supported through the Department of Local Government Sport and Cultural Industries Creativity for Schools – Collaboration Program, The Australian Government’s Indigenous Language and Arts program, Lotterywest, Australia Council for the Arts and the Wyemando Harper Sisters Aboriginal Bequest. The program has also received pro bono support from Adobe and Simpsons Solicitors.  Overall the Joonba Project will bring together traditional Gija arts and culture with contemporary digital media skills training, supporting the future growth of rich cultural productions.

Community partners Purnululu Aboriginal Independent Community School will continue to lead the project, working with linguists and Elders to ‘wake up’ the Texas Downs Joonba, a Ngarranggarni (Dreaming) song cycle, with significant social & ecological traditional knowledge. Intergenerational sharing of cultural stories and wisdom will recreate Texas Downs Joonba through traditional songs, dances & associated cultural knowledge.

The next stage of this vital project will see SharingStoriesthe foundation revisit Gija Country in November 2023 with Kimberley Benjamin to deliver another round of skills development workshops to strengthen the students’ learning. Through these experiences, students will continue to develop the technical and creative skills to interpret the Texas Downs Joonba, a Ngarranggarni (Dreaming) song cycle, into 2024.