Despite the long lasting effects of cultural disruption, NSW knowledge and collection gathering in communities has been building exponentially for some time. There is a noticeable growth in identity, self-esteem and pride amongst Aboriginal communities through identifying local heritage and culture, and through exploring related interpretative and art-based practices and resources.
Much of this work is led or solely done by willing, but under resourced, Aboriginal community leaders (volunteers). M&G NSW acknowledges that the comparative underdevelopment of Aboriginal owned and managed facilities in NSW requires a specific focus on grassroots organisational development in the regions, and by communities themselves embracing technology.
Aboriginal communities, knowledge and Mukurtu
In 2012, with support from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive (ATSIDA), based at Sydney’s University of Technology, the State Library of NSW and Indigenous Student Services at Charles Sturt University Wagga partnered with M&G NSW to present workshops in Sydney and Wagga, to introduce the Mukurtu database freeware.
This collection database offers limitless possibilities for customizing Indigenous protocols around access across all media. Workshops continue as part of the Travelling Places program, working towards a critical mass of community organisation users.
Funded by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, and in partnership with Arts Law Centre of Australia and the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), M&G NSW is delivering Travelling Places in the regions. The aim of this program is to offer support to Aboriginal communities across NSW towards the recovery, safe storage and development of their remaining cultural inheritance, as determined and enabled by themselves.
Separate workshops on broad policy and funding initiatives, legal issues associated with IP (versus Indigenous Community IP protocols) and an introduction to digital collection databases, culminates in a five day digital storytelling practical workshop (with AFTRS) producing legacy materials.
At its core, Travelling Places demonstrates the practicality of new technologies to enable communities to record their oral histories, sort and store knowledge and make informed decisions about associated cultural and intellectual property values.
Aboriginal Culture, Heritage & Arts Association
M&G NSW has conducted community consultations on the formation of the Aboriginal Culture, Heritage & Arts Association (ACHAA) - an association for Aboriginal keeping places, cultural centres, knowledge centres, language centres and artist run initiatives. This was a key action for M&G NSW from the delegates of the 2011 NSW Aboriginal summit — Keeping Places & Beyond: Building cultural futures in NSW.