Skip to main content
Log in

Youth empowerment and information and communication technologies: a case study of a remote Australian Aboriginal community

  • Published:
GeoJournal Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

In spite of a ‘digital divide’, Aboriginal groups in Australia, as internationally, are increasingly using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to maintain their cultures, communicate, archive knowledge, empower their communities, develop skills and generate income. Each community uses the technologies differently in accordance with their particular needs and the opportunities available. The use of ICTs in Aboriginal youth empowerment is illustrated through a case study of an initiative undertaken by the Walkatjurra Cultural Centre in Leonora, remote Western Australia. A participatory process was used to engage the Centre’s young people and they were given individual assistance to develop their ICT related capacity. The community conceives this youth empowerment to be part of a broader youth participation process that will contribute to the Centre’s overall objectives.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics). (2006). 2006 Census community profile series: Leonora. Catalogue no. CCS 54551. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au. Accessed February 16, 2009.

  • ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics). (2007a). Population characteristics, Abroriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 catalogue no 4713.0. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/8AE3A9370C89309ACA257418000E4FB0?opendocument. Accessed February 20, 2009.

  • ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics). (2007b). Housing and infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: Australia, 2006 (Reissue) catalogue no 4710.0. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. http://www.abs.gov.au. Accessed April 17, 2007.

  • Agrawal, A. (2002). Indigenous knowledge and the politics of classification. International Social Science Journal, 54(173), 287–297. doi:10.1111/1468-2451.00382.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alsop, R., & Heinsohn, N. (2005). Measuring empowerment in practice: Structuring analysis and framing indicators. World Bank Policy Research working paper 3510. Washington, DC: World Bank.

  • Appadurai, A. (2004). The capacity to aspire: Culture and the terms of recognition. In V. Rao & M. Walton (Eds.), Culture and public action (pp. 59–84). Washington: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Buchtmann, L. (2000). Digital songlines: The use of modern communication technology by an Aboriginal community in remote Australia. Prometheus, 18(1), 59–74. doi:10.1080/08109020050000663.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chikonzo, A. (2006). The potential of information and communication technologies in collecting, preserving and disseminating indigenous knowledge in Africa. The International Information & Library Review, 38(3), 132–138. doi:10.1016/j.iilr.2006.06.006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Christie, M. (2006). Boundaries and accountabilities in computer assisted ethnobotany. Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 1(3), 285–296. doi:10.1142/S1793206806000214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Christie, M., & Verran, H. (2006). Using digital technologies in doing indigenous places in Australia. Paper presented at the conference ICTs, Development and Indigenous Knowledge, European Association for the Studies of Science and Technology, Lausanne. http://www2.unil.ch/easst2006/Papers/C/Christie_Verran.pdf. Accessed February 5, 2009.

  • Conger, J. A., & Kanungo, R. N. (1988). The empowerment process: Integrating theory and practice. Academy of Management Review, 13(3), 471–482. doi:10.2307/258093.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Corbett, J. (2003). Empowering technologies? Introducing participatory geographic information and multimedia systems in two Indonesian communities. Dissertation, University of Victoria, Canada.

  • Corbett, J., & Keller, P. (2005). An analytical framework to examine empowerment associated with participatory geographic information systems (PGIS). Cartographica, 40(4), 91–102.

    Google Scholar 

  • Deger, J. (2006). Shimmering screens: Making media in an Aboriginal community. USA: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Department of Communication, Information Technology and the Arts (DoCITA). (2005). Networking the nation: Evaluation of outcomes and impacts. Canberra: Australian Government, DoCITA. http://www.archive.dcita.gov.au/2006/06/networking_the_nation/evaluation_of_networking_the_nation. Accessed June 1, 2007.

  • Dyson, L. E., Hendriks, M., & Grant, S. (2007). Information technology and indigenous people. London: Information Science Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ergeneli, A., An, S. G., & Metin, S. (2007). Psychological empowerment and its relationship to trust in immediate managers. Journal of Business Research, 60, 41–49. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2006.09.012.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fink, C., & Kenny, C. (2003). W(h)ither the digital divide? Info—The Journal of Policy. Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications, 5(6), 15–24. doi:10.1108/14636690310507180.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gaidan, B. (2007). My life with computers on a remote island. In L. Dyson, M. Hendriks, & S. Grant (Eds.), Information communication technology and indigenous people (pp. 58–63). London: Information Science Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Cambridge: Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ginsburg, F. (1994). Embedded aesthetics: Creating a discursive space for indigenous media. Cultural Anthropology, 9(3), 365–382. doi:10.1525/can.1994.9.3.02a00080.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Godoy, R. A., Patel, A., Reyes-Garcia, V., Seyfried, C. F., Jr., Leonard, W. R., McDade, T., et al. (2006). Nutritional status and spousal empowerment among native Amazonians. Social Science & Medicine, 63, 1517–1530. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.03.048.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gomez, R. (2003). Magic roots: Children explore participatory video. In S. White (Ed.), Participatory video: Images that transform and empower (pp. 215–231). London: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gregory, S., Caldwell, G., Avini, R., & Harding, T. (2005). Video for change: A guide for advocacy and activism. London: Pluto Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hardy, C., & O’Sullivan, L. (1998). The power behind empowerment: Implications for research and practice. Human Relations, 51(5), 451–483.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hinkson, M. (2005). New media projects at Yuendumu: Towards a history and analysis of intercultural engagement. In L. Taylor, G. Ward, G. Henderson, R. Davis, & L. Wallis (Eds.), The power of knowledge, the resonance of tradition (pp. 157–168). Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Holte-McKenzie, M., & Forde, S. (2006). Development of a participatory monitoring and evaluation strategy. Evaluation and Program Planning, 29(1), 365–376.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johansson, L. (1999). Participatory video and PRA: Acknowledging the politics of empowerment. Forests Trees and People Newsletter, 40/41, 21–23.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kelly, K. (2005). We are the web. Wired, 1, 1–5.

    Google Scholar 

  • Langton, M., Mazel, O., Palmer, L., Shain, K., & Tehan, M. (2006). Settling with Indigenous peoples: Modern treaty and agreement making. Annandale. NSW: Federation Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Leaning, M. (2005). The modal nature promise of ICT: Challenging historical interpretation of the social understanding and appropriation of ICT. Journal of Community Informatics, 2(1), 35–42.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lunch, N., & Lunch, C. (2006). Insights into participatory video: A handbook for the field. Oxford: Insight.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mathur, A., & Ambani, D. (2005). ICT and rural societies: Opportunities for growth. The International Information & Library Review, 37, 345–351. doi:10.1016/j.iilr.2005.09.004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McKenzie, D. J. (2007). Youth ICTs and development. Development Research Group working paper. Washington, DC: World Bank.

  • Michael, K., & Dunn, L. (2006). The use of information and communication technologies for the preservation of Aboriginal culture. The Badimaya people of Western Australia. In L. Dyson, M. Hendriks, & S. Grant (Eds.), Information technology and indigenous people (pp. 170–174). London: Information Science Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Michaels, E. (1986). The Aboriginal invention of television in central Australia 1982–1986. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  • Michaels, E. (1994). Bad Aboriginal art: Tradition, media, and technological horizons. USA: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Michaels, E., & Japanangka, G. L. (1984). The cost of video at Yuendumu. Media Information Australia, 32, 17–25.

    Google Scholar 

  • Michaels, E., & Kelly, F. (1984). The social organisation of an Aboriginal video workplace. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 1, 26–43.

    Google Scholar 

  • Molony, T. (2006). ICT in developing countries. Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology Briefing Paper. London: Parliament of UK.

  • Muir, K. (1998). This earth has an Aboriginal culture inside: Recognising the cultural value of country, land, rights, laws: Issues of Native Title Issues paper no. 23. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Native Title Unit.

    Google Scholar 

  • Narayan, D. (2002). Empowerment and poverty reduction: A sourcebook. Washington, DC: The World Bank.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Neto, I., Kenny, C., Janakiram, S., & Watt, C. (2005). Look before you leap: The bumpy road to e-development. In R. Schware (Ed.), E-Development: from excitement to effectiveness. Washington, DC: World Bank. http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2005/11/08/000090341_20051108163202/Rendered/PDF/341470EDevelopment.pdf. Accessed January 24, 2009.

  • Pamatatau, R. (2007). The promise of information technology. Aotearoa Ethnic Network Journal, 2(1), 34–37.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pettersen, L. T., & Solbakken, H. (1998). Empowerment as a strategy for change for farm women in western industrialized countries. Sociologia Ruralis, 38(3), 318–330. doi:10.1111/1467-9523.00081.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rao, V., & Walton, M. (2004). Culture and public action. Washington: Stanford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Satheesh, P. V. (1999). Video by women—an alternative to literacy. Hyderabad, India: Deccan Development Society.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sen, B. (2005). Indigenous knowledge for development: Bringing research and practice together. The International Information & Library Review, 37(1), 375–382. doi:10.1016/j.iilr.2005.10.004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, L. T. (2008). On tricky ground: Researching the native in the age of uncertainty. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The landscape of qualitative research (pp. 113–144). London: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Turk, A., & Trees, K. (1999). Culturally appropriate computer-mediated communications: An Australian indigenous information system case study. AI & Society, 13, 377–388. doi:10.1007/BF01205984.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • UN. (2005). World Youth Report 2005: Young people today, and in 2015. New York: United Nations Publications. http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/wyr05.htm. Accessed December 15, 2008.

  • Underwood, C., & Jabre, B. (2003). Arab women speak out: Self-empowerment via video. In S. White (Ed.), Participatory video: Images that transform and empower (pp. 235–251). London: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Verran, H., Christie, M., Anbins-King, B., Van Weeren, T., & Yunupingu, W. (2007). Designing digital knowledge management tools with Aboriginal Australians. Digital Creativity, 18(3), 129–142. doi:10.1080/14626260701531944.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weiler, R., Khan, A., Burger, R. A., & Schauer, T. (2005). Executive summary. In R. Weiler, A. Khan, R. A. Burger, & T. Schauer (Eds.), Information and communication technologies for capacity building: Critical success factor. (pp. 15–16). Paper presented at world conference on harnessing the potential of ICT for Capacity Building, UNESCO and the Club of Rome, Paris. 11–13 May 2005. http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=20914&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html. Accessed February 19, 2009.

  • White, S. (2003). Participatory video: Images that transform and empower. London: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • World Bank. (2000). World development report 2000/2001: Attacking poverty. Washington, DC: World Bank.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yin, R. K. (2002). Case study research and design methods. California: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the following individuals and organisations for their assistance in this research project: The Walkatjurra Cultural Centre and its members, in particular the Walkatjurra Junior Rangers, for sharing their time and providing funding and support; Assistant Professor Dr. Jon Corbett, Dr. Mary Stockdale and Dr. Louis Evans for their time spent working with the Walkatjurra Cultural Centre during the initial project stages; Delgermaa Altangerel for her research assistance; the special editors of this themed issue for their insights, suggestions and considerable inputs in tightening the manuscript; and the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre Desert BizTM and Plants for People projects. The work reported in this publication is supported by funding from the Australian Government Cooperative Research Centres Programme through the Desert Knowledge CRC; the views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Desert Knowledge CRC or its participants.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maria Fay Rola-Rubzen.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Singleton, G., Rola-Rubzen, M.F., Muir, K. et al. Youth empowerment and information and communication technologies: a case study of a remote Australian Aboriginal community. GeoJournal 74, 403–413 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-009-9277-6

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-009-9277-6

Keywords

Navigation