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The History of Sharing Culture

Timeline

2001 •   Jodie completed a Diploma in Multi-Media and discovered a passion for developing educational multimedia content.
•   Started to brainstorm building an interactive cultural game and other education resources.
2002 •    Moved from Far Nth Qld to the Sunshine Coast with our 4 children. 
2003 •    Started to identify a lack of cultural resources in schools.
2004 •    Began developing interactive games on Yolngu Culture.
•    Jodie completed Certificate IV in Small Business Management.
2005
•    Developed first business plan for Sharing Culture, started as a business Partnership trading as Yolngu Media.
2006 •    Continued market research and product development.
•    Took the products to Yirrkala for Community consultation and approval.
•    Changed business name from 'Yolngu Media' to 'Sharing Culture'.
•    Changed the business structure and Formed Company - Sharing Culture Pty Ltd.

2007 •    Launched first products - Sharing Culture Education Kit, Aboriginal Art, Language and Culture CDROMs.
•    Won awards - Qld Multi Media awards and Memento Australia.

2008 •    Took online, making it accessible through internet.
•    After incredible support, feedback and consultation with Aboriginal Communities, we began developing Sharing Culture Online.
2009 •     Continued developing Sharing Culture Online.
•     Continued with ongoing Community Consultations and feedback.
•     Generated international interest.
2010 •    Launched 'Sharing Culture Online' at Garma;
•    QSA released the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Languages Syllabus, we began developing a Program to support Communities with Language and Culture lessons.

2011
•    Worked with members of the Kabi Kabi Community begin to revitalise their language.
2012
•    Completed the first phase of the Teaching & Learning Program (T&LP).
•    Formed a working partnership with Central QLD Language Centre to begin Language Revitalisation throughout Central Queensland, starting with Bundaberg and Woorabinda.
•    Sharing Culture placed on the register of digital resource suppliers with Education Services Australia to provide digital resources to support the Australian Curriculum.
•     Set up the T&LP in Sydney, St George, Sunshine Coast, Woorabinda and Bundaberg.
•     Met with Elders and other Community members across QLD, ACT and NSW to introduce the T&LP.
•     Participated in a workshop to advise on a schools program for Reconciliation Australia.
•     Become Board Members of the Sunshine Coast TAFE Indigenous Advisory Board.
•     Released new T&LP Unit on Family and Kinship.
2013 •     Released new Unit on My Body.
•     Traveled nationally to introduce T&LP and obtain feedback from Elders & Communities.
•     Continued delivering workshops.
•     Spent 5 months in Arnhem Land to fulfill cultural obligations and maintain our connection to family, country & culture.
2014
•     Developed a working partnership with Abriculture and Gimuy Walubara Yidinji (Tribal Authority of Cairns). Delivered training and set up T&LP.
•     Attended World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE), held in Hawaii.
•     Released new T&LP Unit on Greetings.
•     Updated all T&LP Units to align with the Languages Learning Area of the National Curriculum.
•     Upgrades to Sharing Culture Online.
•     Started planning and development of an Accredited Training Package.

The long version .... and it's long :) 

Sharing Culture Pty Ltd was founded in 2005 by Gadj and Jodie Maymuru. We started with very little - just a burning desire to make a change for our children and other Aboriginal children. We had no money to start a business, we did however have a lot of skills and knowledge. The only equipment we had was a basic computer with dial up internet. We were able to develop our first range of Yolngu focused products with no funding. With the generous support of our family who loaned us some money, we were able to pay for our CDROMs to be manufactured. Over the last 9 years, we have received two grants to work with specific communities, other than that we are completely self funded.

Our children began school in Yirrkala, Northern Territory, then Cairns and Ravenshoe, Far North Queensland. The majority of staff and students were Aboriginal and in Cairns there were also a lot of Torres Strait Islander students. The resources and support for Indigenous students reflected the high populations. In 2002 we moved to the Sunshine Coast and it became very apparent that Aboriginal people were a vast minority on the Coast. From general observation and our experiences with schools our children attended, the priority for education of Indigenous children was not as high as in the Northern parts of Australia, in most places non existent.

A general lack of Indigenous educational resources was one of the major reasons for starting ‘Sharing Culture’. While there were the odd resources, mostly books, hardly any targeted primary school students, and even less were computer based. Our daughter who loved reading was in year 2 at the time. She came home with the only Aboriginal book in the library, it was old and torn and was more suitable to about a year 8 or 9 student. This inspired us to combine our skills and knowledge to build a quality range of highly engaging, Aboriginal themed software products. Our strong cultural upbringing and Jodie’s Multimedia training created a perfect synthesis of knowledge and know-how to create a new way of re-claiming and preserving culture and language.

So, we started on this incredible learning journey and haven’t stopped. We began with sharing Yolngu culture, including art, language, information, music etc, and called our business 'Yolngu Media'. We registered the business on the 24th October 2005. Most people struggled to say the word Yolngu, so we went back and came up with ‘Sharing Culture’, which is the core of who and what we are! In 2006 we changed the business name from ‘Yolngu Media’ to ‘Sharing Culture’.

Our children have inspired the activities, we looked at what they loved doing – painting, colouring, jigsaw puzzles, memory games, books and stories etc... and set out to replicate these activities in a digital format. As our children were away from Country, language was also an important factor when creating our products.

We also became aware that it must be difficult for teachers to support our children's needs without any resources, and if we wanted teachers to bring out the best in our children, tapping into their culture was a great motivator. We concentrated on making the teacher's life easier and providing tools to support them.

In 2006, Gadj took the products to Yirrkala for Elder and community approval, and the feedback was it was a great resource, but the Yolngu teachers needed more support in using it in a classroom scene. So writing the ‘Teachers Handbook’ began and we designed the ‘Teacher Resources’ to accompany the ‘Student Activities’ CDROM, which took another 12 months to write and produce. Throughout the whole process, the most important thing is ensuring we meet Communities needs, as well as ensuring design elements are 'easy' and 'fun', and simplicity is the key. Our products need to be user friendly for a wide variety of audiences.

During development of the 'Student Activities' CDROM, we became aware that parents wanted affordable programs for their children to use at home and tourists were also looking for something unique and Indigenous Australian for children. So we split the 'Student Activities' and developed the 3 CDROMS that are now sold in stores throughout Australia. These include Aboriginal Art Activities, Aboriginal Language Activities & Culture Activities.

Just when we thought we had it all under control and we finally had our master copies at Sony ready to be manufactured, we had a death in the family. We had to halt manufacturing and change the persons name because in Yolngu culture when a person passes away their name can't be spoken. This brought to our attention an issue we hadn't considered - we needed more control over the content if we were going to be to maintain and respect cultural protocols. Once the CDROMs were manufactured it would be impossible to remove or make changes to the content. We had to come up with a better solution.

Finally in October 2007, the first of our products were released. The ‘Sharing Culture Education Kit’ won the Queensland Multi Media Awards for best Training/Educational CD and the 'Aboriginal Art Activities' won the Indigenous Memento of Australia Award. In 2008 we took the Sharing Culture Education Kit and made it available online and launched the 'Sharing Culture E-Learning' portal.

We took our programs to conferences across the country. It was a huge success and pretty much every Aboriginal person who saw the program said "Can you do that for us?" Understandably they wanted to have their own cultures represented, celebrating their own languages, stories, and local histories.

After a year of gathering feedback, we decided it would be near impossible to tackle all of the languages in the country, so we developed a system giving communities control and ownership of their own content. In 2009 we focused on designing and building a new program - ‘Sharing Culture Online’. Jodie completed a Diploma in E-Learning, which was very valuable in developing the new system. 

In 2010 Sharing Culture Online was officially launched at Garma Festival. This allowed for Communities to control their own content. They were able to easily build their own interactive dictionaries, talking digital story books, produce jigsaw puzzles and insert their own information in the facts section.

In 2010 Queensland Studies Authority (QSA) released the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Languages Syllabus. While it was an incredible time in the history of education in Queensland, it wasn't easy to implement. It quickly became clear that a lot of Communities needed support to firstly reclaim their languages, and then to teach them. It was (and always will be) extremely important to ensure that the content met the needs of Communities. It also had to meet the needs of Education Departments.

So using the QSA Languages Syllabus as a guide, we began developing a framework to support Aboriginal Communities deliver local language and culture lessons. This incorporated Sharing Culture Online, which would provide a database of local knowledge that schools can access. It would give students an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of local language, while providing teachers with assessment tools and evidence of students work. We began writing the first unit which included step by step lesson plans, additional resources and most importantly local knowledge prepared by appropriate Elders and Community members. This became the Sharing Culture Teaching & Learning Program. Throughout the development we consulted with Aboriginal Elders, leaders, community members and students from urban, rural and remote communities. We also consulted with language experts including linguists, teachers, principals, Education Departments and authorities. After a lot of consultation, the first unit was ready. It included 20 lessons with step by step lesson plans about the Local Area and Basic Greetings. This was approximately 20 hours of lessons, however the state manager for LOTE (Languages Other than English) advised us that it could easily go across a whole year.

In 2011 we assisted members of the Kabi Kabi Community to begin to revitalise their language. Community members were provided with access to Sharing Culture Online, participated in training workshops. We facilitated Community members working with linguist Aunty Jeanie Bell who produced the Butchulla & Gubbi Gubbi dictionary, as well as ongoing work with linguist Margaret Florey. We piloted the Teaching & Learning Program.

In 2012 we launched the first phase of the Sharing Culture Teaching & Learning Program. We delivered training to set up the first unit for the Teaching & Learning Program in Sydney, St George, Sunshine Coast, Woorabinda and Bundaberg. Once we had developed the framework, we started to produce more units and released a unit on Family and Kinship. We produced a set of customizable flash cards to go with the unit. The second unit was only 10 lessons, and all future language units will be 10 lessons. 

In 2013 we released a new Unit on My Body. In May 2013, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) released the Draft Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages – F-10. From June we spent 4 months in North East Arnhem Land to maintain our connection to family, country & culture, and to fulfill cultural obligations. Sadly we lost a member of our family, Dr Yunupingu, who had a very significant role in Gadjs education and inspired us in many ways. We had also invited Tableland Elders to our Homeland (Djarrakpi) to share knowledge and experience traditional ceremonies and engage in a cultural exchange. We also participated in the Garma Festival while we were there.

We're now in 2014, and what a year it's been already. We started the year by updating all of the Teaching & Learning Units to align with the Languages Learning Area of the National Curriculum. The Local Area Unit was split in 2 and updated. We now have 4 Units and resources to complement the units. 

We have started planning and developing an Accredited Training Package to support Aboriginal people deliver language lessons through the Teaching & Learning Program. We plan for this to be complete by the end of the year (2014).

We developed a working partnership with Abriculture and Gimuy Walubara Yidinji (Tribal Authority of Cairns). In May we delivered training and set up Teaching & Learning Program with Community members from Cairns, Atherton, Hopevale and the Torres Straits. We started to discuss the possibility of developing a Torres Strait Islander version of Sharing Culture Online. At the end of May Jodie attended the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE), held in Hawaii. This provided an opportunity to learn from experts across the world, and also network with other passionate Indigenous educators.

At the end of July we completed the draft version of a unit that focuses on the trade between Yolngu and Macassans. It is currently being piloted and is due for release at the start of term 4.

We have also be doing some upgrades to Sharing Culture Online. Originally it was built in Adobe Flash, however iPad can't play flash, so we are doing a complete upgrade to html5. The new site is expected to go live next week (August 2014). Other partnerships have been established and will be promoted when it's appropriate.

If you would like to keep up to date with what we are doing, you can like our page on FaceBook. You can also sign up to our Newsletter, however we're still trying to work on getting our newsletter together. 

The Future

We are continuing to develop culturally appropriate educational resources. Our future goal is to work with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Communities throughout Australia and then worldwide to develop the concept further and connect children and cultures around the world.


 
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