Basket Weaving Project W.A and N.T

Term: 4 Year: 2020
Basket Weaving
Basket Weaving

Volunteering can create a wonderful learning environment in difficult times such as COVID-19 and is a way of giving back to community.

Community First Development is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Development and research organisation – working with our First Nation people.

Earlier this year, Elaine Stevens, Operations Manager CDP at the Wirrpanda Foundation Kalgoorlie contacted Community First Development Emily Lapinski seeking assistance with mentoring and training a CDP supervisor working in Leonora.

Leonora Art Centre CDP supervisor, Angie, wanted some support to diversify the art activities run at the Centre as part of the CDP program. The women participating in the arts program wanted to learn different art and craft skills besides painting, and to sell products at the Centre to generate income. Angie also wanted some mentoring support on setting up the gallery space and running workshops with participation Elaine Stevens, Operations Manager, Wirrpanda Foundation.

Wirrpanda Foundation chose Community First Development volunteer, artist and teacher, Jane Byrne, to work with them on this project. Jane has been working with Community First since 2014 and has facilitated community projects in Wiluna Remote Indigenous School W.A and Tjuwanpa Out Station Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation in Hermannsburg N.T.

The project was initially designed to be run in person with the CDP supervisors and CDP participants, however COVID-19 resulted in a change of approach. Due to the restrictions of COVID-19 CDP participants were unable to attend the Leonora Office and CDP programming stopped. Through Elaine Stevens an online platform via Zoom was set up and the online learning “Train the Trainer” has blossomed, Elaine has called it “Creative Me”.

Since May 2020, Jane has been facilitating online mentoring sessions with Angie and Thelma every one to two weeks. At these sessions, Jane and the CDP supervisors have discussed accessing art/craft materials from Zart and incorporating use of locally available materials from country, and workshop planning and facilitation techniques. Angie and Thelma also learnt about and practiced different craft techniques. To reinforce mentoring session learnings, Jane also sent them a number of step-by-step instructional videos and images with notes to support their learning.

As the participants technical skills are built on, they will be venturing into new projects such as make jewellery, incorporating their skills, techniques and local knowledge of combining indigenous Gum, Ininti, Quandong nuts, seeds and feathers into their work.
As of the beginning of July Tjuwanpa, Outstation Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation, Cultural and Educational Organisation in Hermannsburg, N T have also joined the online learning. Facilitated by Tania Liddle, Senior Community Development Project Officer at Community First and Colleen Cleaver, Activity Support Worker Tjuwanpa Outstation Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation.

This Initiative and the mentoring workshops, planning and facilitation skills have increased the confidence of all participants. The online mentoring sessions have also inspired them to collect natural materials for their planned workshops with CDP participants, and have motivated them to look for opportunities to incorporate culture into the Australian Government-administered skills development program.

Acknowledgment: Emily Lapinski Community First Development with extracts from Community First Development.
Community First Development
Wirrpanda Foundation

Jane Byrne
Artist Educator