Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Community of Excellence - Indigenous youth and digital inclusion

Special guests at the launch included Governor Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, The Hon. Victor  Dominello

It was my absolute delight to launch the  NCIE’s Community of Excellence  today, having only arrived back in Sydney last night from Cowra, where I worked on literacy projects at Yalbillinga Boori Day Care Centre and ran workshops at Malyun State School. I was excited to tell the community about this one example of digital literacy and the importance for us as Indigenous people to be part of the social media revolution. Exciting and innovative facilities such as this ensure that we are not left behind in terms of sharing knowledge, building professional  profiles, enhancing community engagement and supporting the future generations of Indigenous leaders.

I’d like to congratulate and thank the Telstra Foundation and the NCIE – who have demonstrated through this initiative how two leading national institutions can build a partnership designed to support the present and future well being of young Indigenous people. 
Jason Glanville (CEO, NCIE), moi and Tim O'Leary (Chief Sustainability Officer at Telstra)
The Community of Excellence demonstrates the foresight and progressive approach of the Telstra Foundation to be driving ‘digital inclusion’, and I’d like to acknowledge their commitment to making it possible  – for our people, that is our members, to connect whenever, and wherever, we may be.
On my recent trip to Santa Teresa for ARMtour, myself and other team members signed up students to be part of the Community of Excellence. Through this facility those who participate will be able to follow the personal training video that Michael Hennessey created and / brain warm up video prepared by the current Australian Karate champion Anthony Tockar. These are the ‘special benefits’ being part of this community can afford you, and me, for that matter. And these are the innovative ways in we can and are using the digital environment to improve the health of young people nationally.

 CofE members demonstrate the site

Following ARMtours, many of us feel what some call the blues, but because our uniform is orange, we get the oranges. Our role models come from around the country and from across a range of sporting arenas and professions. As teams we share a significant amount of time doing what many feel are life-changing experiences in remote communities, and then we go home alone. It can be difficult to manage the post-natal-kind-of emotions one feels after ARMtour, but this new facility provides a way for role models and the students we work with 1000s of miles away, to maintain at a high level of engagement and positive affirmations on a daily basis, if so desired.

Minister Dominello with students of Marist Brothers, Pagewood and teacher Mark Heiss 
As an author, I must declare my bias. Naturally one of the things I like most about the Community of Excellence is the role the ‘blog’ plays. Outside this space, we have relatively few bloggers to speak of and we pretty much follow each other. Within the CoE (not to be mistaken for the Church of England) we have bloggers all over the country, finding their voice and their writing skills right here. Thanks to the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy (NIYLA) , members are directed to do activities that require them to blog. This is a major achievement not only in literacy, but Indigenous publishing of sorts. I can see the community of excellence being a breeding ground for future novelists, poets, even speech writers.

And I might add, while members are perfecting their writing skills, they are also improving their capacity of working in the digital environment. I do feel the CoE should serve as a template for education nationally.

The other aspect of the CoE I appreciate is the goal setting facility. I’m a goal-setter; I have been for many, many years. But I work alone as a writer and the Community of Excellence now means I can share, support and be inspired by the goals of others. Some of my on-line peers have goals such as: completing marathons, reading certain titles, another wants to improve their fitness and lose 4kg – this is one I am trying to do with her –because in our digital community, the opportunity exists for members to reach goals together. Another wants finish their masters in 2013. One was as specific as Fight strongly in Japan at the Kyokushin WWC Tournament! Imagine what it does when you are lacking motivation or ideas for what’s possible or how high you can aim, to read such inspiring goals set by your peers, by fellow students, colleagues, family members and mentors. I don’t want to fight in Japan, but I wouldn’t mind going back there for a holiday! There’s another goal I should add to my profile! 
The amazing Gondwana Choir with young people from around Oz totally capitavated the audience with their talent and passion.
And can I just say, socially I’m not short of things to do, but my diary gets a lift when I check out the events stream of the CoE – and this is another fabulous way that digital inclusion leads to greater community engagement off-line. You can be kept up to date about and receive invitations to exhibitions, launches, and even author talks!
Finally, I think it’s important to say that the Community of Excellence as a social media tool is NOT the place where we read status updates that complain about family members, hangovers or any other negative statement, the kinds that weigh us down emotionally and psychologically when reading. Rather, our community is the exact opposite. It is an affirming, positive, mentoring space where we set goals – professional, personal, health related - and we gain support from those doing the journey with us.

It is a space where we can congratulate without shame, the successes of our peers around Australia. 

It is a space that embraces the cores values of the NCIE as a national organization: Excellence, Inclusiveness, Growth and Integrity. These are my own values, and that is why I am here. To quote Jason Glanville, Excellence is the new black, and it is also authentic. And we are proud to celebrate it.

And so, having given it the biggest Digitally Inclusive Gold Star possible it was my pleasure to officially launch the Community of Excellence and wish the NCIE and Telstra Foundation a long and prosperous future together, working towards the digital inclusion of Indigenous people of ALL ages! 
Luke Murray, Indigenous Community Engagement Officer, Korin Gamadji Institute will be enlisting his young people also.

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