Digital story takes human rights message to bush kids 

Students at one of the homeland learning centres near Arlparra have been learning about human rights.

A Charles Darwin University academic has combined the ancient art of story-telling with the wonders of digital technology to teach the principles of human rights to some of Australia’s most remote school students.

Law lecturer Jeswynn Yogaratnam this week returned from the Outback homeland community of Arlparra, 260 km north-east of Alice Springs, where he unveiled an innovative multimedia tool to teachers and students.

He said the tool had the potential to encourage a high level of student participation.

“The beauty of it is that it combines visual and oral story-telling techniques in the first language of Aboriginal people, as well as in English,” he said.

“It contains a discussion between two people discussing basic ideas about a set of human rights that are significant to remote Indigenous Australians.”

These include the right to education, the right to housing, women’s rights, cultural rights and the rights of people with a disability.

“It also allows students to record their ideas, or provide the narrative with their own voice, which helps facilitate a strong sense of identity and ownership.”

Mr Yogaratnam said the tool was developed as part of a Federal Government grant to contextualise human rights education for remote community schools in the NT.

He engaged the services of communication specialist “isee-ilearn” to develop an interactive online story that would capture the imagination of a young Indigenous audience.

“The challenge was to communicate several nebulous and complex ideas in a way that was meaningful to young people whose knowledge of human rights issues is limited.”

Mr Yogaratnam said considerable effort went into translating the story from English into Arrernte before it was initially trialled at Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) in February.

“It took several hours just to translate [the word] ‘human rights’ as there was no direct translation into Arrernte,” he said.

Mr Yogaratnam said the story would be translated into other languages and introduced to remote schools in the Top End.