A collaboration between RMIT and the State Library of Victoria is capturing the family stories of the Somali community in Melbourne.
The project is designed to preserve traditional Somali culture, which has a very strong oral focus that is slowly disappearing as younger generations become more attuned to written and visual media.
Stephen Skok, Program Manager of the Screen and Media Associate Degree, and a group of students started working with the State Library of Victoria on the "Dome Centenary Fellowship Q'bdi" project in May.
The RMIT students are working on the audio-visual recording of Somali stories that will not only capture family origins but also record their flight as refugees, their paths to Australia and subsequent reception.
With the assistance of the library's Genealogy Department, family trees will then be constructed and published online, creating a durable, written record.
Mr Skok said being able to view these vivid, deeply moving histories online would offer a fresh dimension of comprehension to the wider Australian public, where the Somali community is frequently misunderstood and often known only by stereotype.
"Our participation in the Q'bdi project is a way of actively engaging with community organisations and groups through our knowledge and expertise in screen and media production," he said.
"Students gain industry standard production experience and valuable insights into the lives and culture of some of our more recently arrived communities."
Students in the Screen and Media program build and develop valuable skills and knowledge in the key areas of concept development, storytelling, pre-production, production and post-production for single camera and multi-camera screen content.
"Our students are interested in hands-on technical preparation along with the critical and creative development of their screen production outcomes," Mr Skok said.
"Throughout the program, we emphasise the importance of industry knowledge, collaboration, team building, work readiness and professionalism."
Clare Renner, Deputy Dean of Vocational Education in the Media and Communication said: "Being part of the Q'bdi project has been a rewarding experience for our students on many levels and is just one example of the ways in which Stephen Skok has encouraged Screen and Media students to be involved in visual storytelling, both within Australia and overseas.
"By supporting students in forming collaborative partnerships and providing the opportunity to work under industry conditions, the program also allows vocational education students to begin building a professional CV while studying at RMIT."
The stories are being filmed in RMIT's Building 94 TV studio, as told by key figures in the Somali community of Melbourne. The project will be completed later this year.
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