Digital Programs Making an Impact in Remote Australia

Digital Programs Making an Impact in Remote Australia

22 Apr 2024

If you wandered into Story Factory’s Parramatta centre one day, you would be greeted with a curious scene: our Indigenous Storyteller, Russ Smith, delivering a dynamic monologue to a seemingly empty room. 

Upon closer inspection, however, you may notice an array of tiny faces peering back from a screen across the room. 

These belong to students from a classroom in Ti Tree, a remote Indigenous township nearly 3,000 kilometres away at Australia’s geographical heart. Such is the magic of our digital workshops, where distance is no longer a barrier but a bridge.

“I personally had so much fun,” Russ reflects. “As an Aboriginal man it was an honour to connect with mob in the middle of this huge land.”

For many of these young people, English is their fourth language. 

Nonetheless, in under an hour, Russ had the students feeling comfortable using new language devices, like similes, to vividly describe a fictional invasion of giant frogs wreaking havoc on their small town. 

They all enthusiastically contributed ideas about places in their town to hide from the frogs and, together, crafted a shared oral story.

The learning experience was reciprocal. Russ remarks: “These are very remote communities, so everything is on their time which I found refreshing as I watched the hustle and bustle of inner city Parramatta flying past outside.”

It can be easy to take technology for granted in our hyper-digitised world. Yet, moments like this remind us of its transformative potential. 

These workshops – made possible through our partnership with the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA) help us to reach young minds we might never have connected with otherwise. 

Story Factory’s digital journey began unexpectedly in 2020, when COVID-19 forced us to move all our programs online. This was an upheaval we were unequipped for but quickly adapted to, thanks to the ingenuity of our dedicated team (unsurprisingly, creativity is not a trait Story Factory staff are lacking!).

Naturally, we were relieved to be back in classrooms face-to-face when restrictions eased, but we couldn’t ignore the potential for growth offered by digital. 

Over the last year, we have poured extra resources into enhancing our digital programs to make them as exciting and inspiring as possible for young writers. This has included experimenting with green screen backgrounds to inject an element of ‘digital magic’ into each workshop.

Now, having just passed the one-year milestone since rolling out our digital workshops nationally, we’re delighted that we have supported close to 3,000 young people across 7 states.