Stories break down barriers

Thursday, 3 December 2015

(left to right) Malith Arop, Deng Tong, Aching Arop and Natalia Humphrys from St Flannan's Catholic Primary School.

Staff, students and the local community gathered at the Australian Catholic University Brisbane Campus to hear stories of resilience and hope.

There were tears, laughter, smiles and hugs as children and adults from marginalised backgrounds shared their stories of resilience and hope for the future at a community celebration of the Narratives of Hope project at ACU’s Brisbane Campus on Friday 27 November.

Narratives of Hope is a joint ACU community engagement and Equity Pathways initiative that provides an opportunity to change public perceptions through storytelling, while ensuring participants also develop literacy skills and knowledge around storytelling, technology and performance.

Over a nine week period, participants from Clemente, Palm Island, Banyo Homework Club, Earnshaw State College, Mary MacKillop College, St Flannan’s Catholic Primary School, Kedron State High School and Multicultural Development Association (MDA) came together with ACU staff and students who acted as learning partners. As relationships were built, short digital stories, poems, art and speeches were developed together to reflect their personal journeys.

ACU Community Engagement Facilitator Janine Quine said stories were a powerful way to connect with people.

“I think a lot of the problems in the world today are caused because we don’t know each other’s stories and that is why this project started,” she said.

“Telling stories is so important for people from migrant, refugee and other marginalised backgrounds because it gives them a voice and we hope to continue this project in the future.

“What is really great is the variety of people we were able to include. We had children as young as seven talking about their love of mathematics and science, through to adults who shared their experiences of being migrants with high qualifications and the struggle to get recognition for their skills and abilities."

ACU Equity Pathways Officer Rose Wood is committed to demystifying higher education.

“The initiative was a fantastic opportunity to invite students onto campus and work alongside them to develop their awareness of lifelong learning and university, and to build on their career aspirations.”

Principal of Mary MacKillop College Christine Clarke is a huge supporter of the project.

“You have to a love a university that helps you connect,” she said.

Narratives of Hope is an Institute for Advancing Community Engagement and Equity Pathways Initiative. Find out more about ACU’s pathway programs for students here.