Harnessing creativity in the Red Dust

26 April 2021

Money & Life team

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Red Dust is helping to address isolation and risky behaviour in remote Indigenous communities by providing an opportunity for young people to participate in skills based workshops.

Sadly, generations of Indigenous Australians living in remote communities have endured lives impacted by poor health, impacting whole communities and particularly, young people. Red Dust – a not-for profit organisation – believes that good health and a supportive network are the keys to providing a bright future for Indigenous youth and their families.

For more than 20 years, Red Dust has delivered youth focused health and wellbeing programs with some of Australia’s most remote Aboriginal communities. Its programs are developed with community elders and leaders, and are designed to support a stronger future for youth in those communities.

According to Roberto Pietrobon – director, partnerships and philanthropy at Red Dust – the organisation works closely with youth in remote Indigenous communities, with its objectives aimed at providing access to educational opportunities to improve cross-cultural competency, and to develop the skills and aspirations of Aboriginal youth to assist them gain meaningful employment.

“We achieve this by drawing on the strengths of both western and traditional knowledge to engage and influence young people in the community,” says Roberto.

Digital media skills workshop

With the support of Northern Territory FPA Chapter Chair and Advanced Financial Planning Solutions business owner, Susie Erratt CFP®, Red Dust was successful in receiving a $10,000 Future2 grant for its ‘digital media skills workshop’.

Susie, who is also a Future2 Ambassador, was delighted to endorse Red Dust’s grant application, adding that because Future2 supports grass roots organisations it has been “personally rewarding” to see some “amazing projects” that Future2 has supported over the years for disadvantaged young Australians.

“My involvement with Future2 has provided me with an insight into actual community-based programs and the beneficiaries,” Susie says. “However, we have struggled to get suitable applications in the Northern Territory for some years. And having lived in Alice Springs previously, I am fully aware of the vacuum of positive services available for young people. So, it was marvellous that I could support this worthy organisation with my endorsement for a Future2 grant.”

According to Susie, Red Dust’s digital media skills workshop aims to engage with approximately 10-15 youth, aged between 12 and 25, who are living in the Northern Territory community of Nauiyu – located 230km south west of Darwin. The workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to learn about digital media productions and develop skills in writing, recording and producing digital media, including project planning and budgeting.

Roberto reveals that approximately 60 of Nauiyu’s 300 residents are aged between 12 and 25, with employment opportunities within the region limited due to the remote location of the community.

“And while there are two schools in the region, senior students are required to travel to Darwin to finish their schooling,” he says. “In addition, COVID-19 has increased the isolation factor for the community of Nauiyu, so this workshop is aimed at increasing interest in attending school for the participants, while developing skills and creating opportunities for remote Indigenous youth to gain exposure and participate in new learning experiences.”

Roberto adds that the desired outcomes of the workshop is to make participants more confident in using digital equipment and technology, while exposing them to the skills required to successfully plan and deliver an identified digital media production project – like music video, animation or digital artwork – from concept ideation, to budget planning, to content creation and editing.

To ensure successful delivery of the workshop, participants are mentored through weekly online sessions over a six-week period, which includes completing tasks like developing the story concept, budget planning, filming and editing the digital media production.

“Normally, we would propose delivering this project in a face-to-face environment in its entirety. However, due to COVID-19, some elements of the project will be delivered via videoconferencing with the support of local community members, alongside community visits,” says Roberto.

Making a difference

The statistics of violence on Indigenous people is confronting. Research from Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) reveals that:

  • Indigenous people are 2-5 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to experience violence as victims or offenders;
  • Indigenous females are five times more likely to be victims of homicide than non-Indigenous females; and
  • Indigenous females were 35 times as likely to be hospitalised due to family violence.

To help address this cycle of violence for Indigenous people, Roberto says the Red Dust digital media skills project was designed specifically to engage youth aged 12-25 in remote Indigenous communities where there is high prevalence of risky behaviour.

“Thanks to the Future2 grant, this project provides an opportunity for young people to participate in skills based workshops for industries not normally present in their local community. It exposes these young Indigenous Australians to activities that form part of potential employment opportunities and helps them to develop transferable skills.”

Susie agrees: “All young people are into digital media through their phones. Due to isolation and the natural beauty of their surroundings, I find bush kids to be extraordinarily creative and I am very excited to see the work they produce. I am very confident it will be quite special.”

A lasting relationship

Susie acknowledges that the lockdown of communities during the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard on remote Indigenous communities, and views Red Dust’s digital media skills workshop as a great way to involve Indigenous youth in something positive and beneficial.

“For a number of years, I had heard about the work Red Dust was doing in Indigenous communities, so by endorsing Red Dust’s application for a Future2 grant, I was delighted to be personally involved with this organisation,” Susie says.

“I look forward to seeing the productions the workshop participants put together, and I hope my involvement with Red Dust will grow into a lasting relationship,” she says. “Red Dust ticks the boxes for things I am passionate about in rural Australia.”