Soundtrails now on Facebook

SoundtrailsDiscover the stories of the New England and North West areas of NSW through the audio Soundtrails, which includes a series of stories regarding the Myall Creek Centre for Reconciliation, in which Starfish is a partner and sponsor.

Soundtrails brings stories to the street by inviting you to walk an area and listen on your smartphone. Each soundwalk will ignite the imagination – you’re standing in a place and seeing it now, while listening to stories of how it once was – and of how people connect with it.

The Soundtrails app launches in June 2014.

Please “LIKE” and share the Soundtrails Facebook Page.

Creating digital stories about Myall Creek and reconciliation

An innovative digital ‘sound walk’ is being created to tell a series of stories about Myall Creek and its work for reconciliation and healing. The project is being led by The Story Project with financial support from Starfish, Gwydir Shire Council and The Friends of Myall Creek.

“I’ve just got back from a trip down to New England and Bingara where I was working on the Myall Creek sound walk,” said Hamish Sewell of The Story Project. “This was a time for me of much travel, gathering of much material, research and simply being out there at the Myall Creek memorial site in the evening watching as the sun went down.

“While the Myall Creek site represents all that is most terrible about Australian history, if the response I got from the people I approached was anything to go by, it also represents all that is the best about Australia.”

The Myall Creek Sound Walk will provide an immersive experience for visitors wanting to delve deeper into the stories of the Myall Creek massacre site. As they walk along the memorial path, visitors will be able to listen via their smartphone to a rich ensemble of sounds and stories that are innovative, engaging and respectful. Using GPS and mobile app technology, the sound walk will help animate the existing memorials and bring to life the many stories of Myall Creek.

Hamish has already conducted interviews with Aunty Sue Blacklock, Uncle Lyall Munro, Margaret Bottom, Elizabeth Connors, Des Blake, Beulah Adams, Colin Isaacs and Paulette Hayes. A range of other important material for the stories is now being gathered.

Hamish is now gathering and working through a range of reading and other material – poems, writing, art and music. Any suggestions for material, particularly sound material, would be most welcome! Please contact Adam Blakester | 02 6775 2501 | 0419 808 900 |

Read more about Starfish’s work for the Myall Creek Centre for Reconciliation here.
For examples of digital stories see The Story Project and the work of Hamish Sewell.

The World’s Longest Story ~ Armidale Aboriginal Monument

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Starfish’s Feasibility Study into establishing an Armidale Aboriginal Monument has recommended the creation of a series of monuments over time to tell “the world’s longest story” ~ the story of Aboriginal Australians, from ancient pre-history through to contemporary times.

“Australian Aboriginals are the oldest continuous living culture on Earth and the first peoples of the Armidale area,” said lead researcher, Adam Blakester of Starfish Enterprises. “Yet while there are many monuments in Armidale which acknowledge the contributions of European settlers and the wider community, there are only a handful which recognise Aboriginal people.”

The Feasibility Study involved two broad streams of work: social research with local stakeholders and community leaders regarding their views; and technical research regarding monuments, funding, design and planning. More than 250 professionals and community members contributed to the research process. Of the 191 respondents to the public poll, 84.3% supported establishing an Aboriginal monument.

More than 150 Aboriginal Monuments already exist around the country. They reflect a wide range of styles from artworks, sculptures and geoglyphs through to more common plaques, obelisks and commemorative gardens. Most focus on the contributions of individual Aboriginal people or significant events and milestones while a few tell the collective story of Aboriginal people.

“There is an opportunity to create something significant which recognises the profound history and significance of Armidale’s Aboriginal people,” continued Blakester. “While traditional sites of significance have been identified, a stronger message will be achieved by creating a monument which is highly visible, easily usable for events and ceremonies, and easily accessible for visitors and locals.”

A full copy of the Feasibility Study Final Report and Recommendations can be downloaded here.

Sustainable Australia Report (2013)

[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]”To sustain the long term wellbeing of Australia’s population, we need to find ways of supporting economic growth without degradation of the environment.”[/quote]

Australia’s National Sustainability Council have released their Sustainable Australia Report 2013.

The Report highlights that Australia has made great progress in many areas ~ most Australians are living longer with better health and levels of education ~ however, inequality has increased and the health of the natural environment has continued to decline (almost all biodiversity indicators examined by the 2011 State of the Environment Report were rated ‘Poor’ or ‘Very-poor’ with deteriorating trends).

Rural and regional communities are identified as facing a diverse range of issues and distinct sustainability challenges in different communities. Performance against social and health indicators is often lower for regional Australians than for their urban counterparts. Indicators of community engagement, however, suggest that regional communities enjoy higher levels of connectedness and social capital.

Read the Report here…

Information or Wisdom?

Web Trend Map

Web Trend Map

[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]

American biologist, E.O. Wilson says: “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesisers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely. ~ Issue 3 UQ Momentum 2013.”[/quote]

Starfish specialises in research which involves large scale participation and synthesis of information.

Starfish has analysed large bodies of information to prepare synthesis’ regarding:

Show Your Support ~ BackTrack Classroom & Gallery

offers young people who have lost their way an opportunity to reconnect with their education and training, to become work ready, find jobs, lead happy and productive lives and participate fully in the community.

BackTrack have recently expanded their Armidale work to include a two-day per week school with real teachers working with real kids toughing it out the best they can in a real world.

In the same space a gallery is also being created. This will display and sell some of the cracking art and welding gear made by young rookies working with talented artist and youth worker Matt Pilkington.

The classroom/gallery in true BackTrack style is a shed ~ hot in summer and likely to be near freezing in winter.

That is unless some urgent funds are secured to upgrade the facility.

If you are willing to vote your support for BackTrack’s newest initiative they will go into the running for a $10,000 grant from Community Mutual Group. This will go a long way to covering the costs for the upgrade… and making a real difference to the lives of many young people finding their way again. BackTrack has a real track record in achieving such results.

To show your support, simply go to the Heart of the Community, join the website site and make your vote for the BackTrack Classroom & Gallery.

Starfish is currently working with BackTrack to expand their work across multiple communities and locations. See here for more details.

More details about BackTrack here

Have Your Say ~ Armidale Aboriginal Memorial

Aboriginal Memorials from around Australia

A poll has been launched to gauge the level of support for the establishment of an Aboriginal Memorial. Views are invited from both the Aboriginal and the wider community. The proposed purpose for the memorial is to acknowledge and commemorate contributions of Aboriginal people to the Armidale area.

According to Steve (Dugan) Widders, Anaiwan Elder and Community Liaison Officer with Armidale Dumaresq Council, there is currently no memorial which recognises the significant contributions of Aboriginal people to the Armidale community and district.

“Aboriginal people have lived in the Armidale area for 30-40,000 years or more,” says Dugan. “Armidale particularly has been a meeting place for many Aboriginal peoples. In fact Armidale has been a place of education and learning for many millennia. Various Aboriginal peoples would regularly come together in the high country to exchange knowledge.”

Starfish Enterprises have been engaged by Armidale Dumaresq Council to assess the feasibility of creating of an Aboriginal Memorial.

“We are keen to know the views of as many interested people as we can,” said Adam Blakester, the lead researcher for Starfish. “This poll is one of a several streams of research being undertaken. The study is also looking at the lessons from other Aboriginal Memorials around the country, funding opportunities, possible sites as well as the creative design and maintenance requirements for the memorial itself.”

The poll is just a few questions and can be completed online at:

More details about the Feasibility Study can be found here.

Economics word cloud from ABS analysis of Australia's 55 regional development plans

Australia’s Regional Development Priorities

The Australian Bureau of Statistics have completed an analysis of Australia’s regional development priorities and challenges. This analysis has been based upon the 55 regional development plans prepared from each of the members of Regional Development Australia.

The findings from their analysis include:
– the need to diversify regional economies
– recognition of climate change as a key challenge
– the priority for meeting education and health needs
– youth development being a priority
– infrastructure needs are paramount

Starfish facilitated the large-scale participatory planning for the Northern Inland (NSW) Regional Development Plan.

Find out more…