I am a strong advocate for the work of the Story Writing In Remote Locations (SWIRL) program through Victoria University.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the eye opening experiences I had with the SWIRL program through when I was studying teaching in 2006- going back again in 2007 and 2008. SWIRL inspired me to want to work with Aboriginal young people and led me to move to Pinjarra Senior High School after I graduated and then onto my remote posting some years after that. It was while working in Halls Creek District High School that not only did I become a better teacher and leader but also where I met my partner, and his son, leading to the birth of our daughter in 2016. It was my partnership with Carl that inspired our books. And so, SWIRL was a life shaping experience for me.
But SWIRL isn’t just about the university students (pre-service teachers, nurses, youth workers and event coordinators etc) that it educates and empowers but as importantly it is about the young Aboriginal people who have the chance to have their voices heard through the creation of books. The Aboriginal young people participate in a range of activities with the university volunteers- who also take lots of photos. Children are then invited to make books- printed in English (or two way with language) or electronic with video and voice over readings. Often two books are printed- one for the student to take home and the other left in the school for the enjoyment of the class.
SWIRL runs every year- developing relationships with local communities and empowering local people to learn more.
Lawry Mahon has now retired so I am unsure if the program still runs at Victoria University. However, I highly recommend any pre-service teachers to investigate this program or any like it to allow you to learn about Australia’s ancient living cultures first hand.
Any other fellow SWIRLERs out there?