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Noongar Dandjoo: A Cross-Cultural collaborative approach to Aboriginal community television production

Johnston, Michelle (2013) Noongar Dandjoo: A Cross-Cultural collaborative approach to Aboriginal community television production. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Prior to commencing this PhD project, my research into community media revealed that Aboriginal people were mostly absent from Perth community television. In spite of participating in a consortium to establish community television in Perth, the Aboriginal community had not broadcast a single program by 2006 when this PhD project commenced. In this same year, the only Aboriginal community radio station in the south-west lost its licence and the local Noongar community were working towards reestablishing their radio presence. Thus, while Aboriginal community media in other parts of Australia were experiencing considerable success, Perth Aboriginal media appeared to be struggling. This prompted a series of questions that this research set out to investigate. How did the Perth Aboriginal community feel about community media? How strongly if at all did they want their voices to be part of the public sphere? Were there circumstances, particular to Perth, that were impeding the establishment of Aboriginal community media? What were the ingredients needed to establish successful Aboriginal community media in an urban environment like Perth?

The answers to these questions were sought through the production of an Aboriginal magazine-style television program series called Noongar Dandjoo, named after the Noongar tribal group who are the traditional custodians of the land in the south-west of Western Australia. Dandjoo is the Noongar word for ‘gathering’.

This project used an action research approach to investigate not only the creative outcome, Noongar Dandjoo, but also the all-important process of its production. The broadcast content provides evidence of the power of community media to support culture, contribute to a sense of community identity, and challenge mainstream media stereotypes and misrepresentation. The participatory process of production enables Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants to create a ‘third space’ which delivers benefits for all, and which emerges as a model for cross-cultural collaboration. For Indigenous participants, the program contributes to a sense of empowerment as well as developing communication and production skills. Non-Indigenous media students participating in the program develop their cultural awareness and empathy for Indigenous issues, which in turn impacts on mainstream media representation as these same students are employed as media professionals.

The Noongar Dandjoo project is described within the context of Noongar history and culture, and community media theory and practice. The action research method is adapted to align with Indigenous ethical protocols and third space theory.

This thesis is accompanied by DVD copies of three series of Noongar Dandjoo which illustrate the action research process.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Notes: DVDs for the Electronic version are not available.
Supervisor: Phillips, Gail
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