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Field notes July 2006


Mäpuru - Mid term Report

Jackie has been very active involving the entire community in this project. Prior to the project many Mapuru residents were unclear what ‘computer’ meant, or what a computer looked like. Three months into the project Jackie reports that all people now know what computers look like and know how they can be used. He is very enthusiastic about the project, so much so that he recently explained,

“We are learning so much, and you are helping us. Without you and this AFLF project we would have no-one. When you show us, we teach others, and they teach others. It is very, very important for us to learn, so we and our children, and their children have a future. When we need you, we can ring you and you help us, it is also helps us when we can talk Yolngu language with people in the team.”

Jackie as the Assistant Teacher-in-Charge of the Mapuru School has introduced internet banking to all the older students. He is assisting students to open bank accounts and helping them register for internet banking. Jackie has reported that it is important for Mapuru families to feel comfortable using the school computer for checking balances and transferring funds. It is a new way of doing things, but it is good because computers help community families stay on country. Jackie said, “I am happy with the project because families want to learn and there are other people who want to teach, so my job can get easier.” At Mäpuru other ‘Champions’ have appeared as part of the team. For example, Jackie has spent considerable time with Banalinydju, and now as a skilled operator, she is training others. She has been asked to submit an invoice to the project by email, for her training work. Recently Belinda began teaching members of her family the where with it all of computers and internet banking. This is a particularly sustainable model as it is fully supported by community members providing maximum reach into the community. This model has emerged and is effective because it follows the community’s own patterns of relationships and governance.

There are two significant indicators of the IT uptake. The first is to do with how computers are now being use widely for money business. This is the first step in making the small business operations in the three communities more viable, and better under the control of their owners. For example, the eco-tourism venture at Mäpuru has been assisted by this project. There are currently bookings for four workshops. As community members have developed IT skills and learnt to internet bank they are seeing a future for themselves and their families. As Roslyn said, “the computer and internet are helping us to stay here on our country and make a future for ourselves.”

The second indicator is the amount of teaching and training that is happening informally within the communities, with the program spilling over into the school program in all three communities, and with the Indigenous champions from the other two communities communicating regularly with each other to get training and software set up in their homelands.