Postgraduate students are co-creating a mobile app to help preserve Gunditjmara land in western Victoria.
Students in the Master of Media recently took part in a 10-day field trip to learn about Gunditjmara culture, land and people.
The background research has helped to better inform the students, who are collaborating with members of Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation on a mobile app to be used in the promotion of the Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Area, near Portland in Victoria's south-west.
Currently in post-production, the work-integrated learning (WIL) project is being co-created with Winda Mara and students in the Collaborative Media Project unit.
The app uses GPS technology to trigger audio, video, photographic and textual content as the user progresses through the site.
The content includes interviews with Gunditjmara Elders, rangers and tourism officers, and aims to enhance tourism to the area.
Lecturer Dr Patrick Kelly, who set up by the project in 2015, said with this mutually-beneficial relationship, the students get the experience of working with a real-world client and developing their intercultural competencies by spending 10 intensive days collaborating with members of the partner organisation.
“The partner, or ‘client’, co-creates content with our postgraduate media students who support Indigenous knowledge production and who can provide the skills, equipment and time to create an innovative mobile media project,” Kelly said.
Eileen Alberts, an Elder of the Gunditjmara who currently works part-time as the Mentor for the Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation’s Land Management Program and Budj Bim Tours, said that through the media project it is envisioned that RMIT students and the Land Management Team will be able to exchange knowledge.
"The RMIT students show respect, responsibility, as they learn about the spirituality and the love of the country that our rangers work on and care for as part of their lives," Alberts said.
“The rangers learn from the RMIT students what it takes to work with audio recordings and the types of careers that may expand from working with the students."
Emma Sharp, a student in the program, said that the experience on the field trip was amazing.
“It's hard to imagine I would have had an opportunity to take part in something like this outside the course. It was unique and immersive and a really fantastic learning opportunity," Sharp said.
Student Julian Grant said the project was a really beautiful learning experience that threw students in the deep end of cultural understanding and exposed them to both a landscape and a history that is underspoken.
“A great two part working experience, with an emphases on considered practice, and how to produce media that might be more sensitive than it appears on the surface," Grant said.
The mobile app will be released later this year by Winda Mara on the Apple and Google app stores.
Story: Wendy Little