Gugu Badhun women on the move: enhancing wellbeing in an Aboriginal community through the use of ICT

Madden, Dianna Lynn (2011) Gugu Badhun women on the move: enhancing wellbeing in an Aboriginal community through the use of ICT. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Many Aboriginal Australians report a diminished sense of wellbeing in their every-day activities, due to the after effects of colonialization. The concomitants of racism and separation from their traditional lands and culture fuel this situation. Indigenous people from other countries report similar outcomes. This research aims to discover whether access and use of culturally appropriate Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can have an ameliorative benefit, enhancing participants' sense of support and engagement with their culture.

Indigenous people often find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. Data from the ABS (2007) support this, showing that Australian Aboriginal people lag behind in their uptake of ICTs compared with other Australians. While multiple studies have shown that access and use of ICTs can provide real benefits in regards to empowerment for women, few of these studies have focused specifically on wellbeing aspects. This research contributes to knowledge by examining the wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal women who are given the opportunity to access culturally appropriate ICT.

The research in this project was a participatory action-research study with women and girls of the Gugu Badhun (an Aboriginal Australian language group) to explore ways to better support their familial and cultural activities associated with identity and group sustainability. Purposive sampling was used to establish a small cohort of Aboriginal women chosen from the Gugu Badhun. Indigenous people’s life experiences occur at the intersection of Western and Indigenous knowledge systems, therefore this research uses a collaborative process to support the creation of knowledge at this cultural interface. The research plan for the study was divided into three action-research cycles: group interviews and focus groups, use of a technology probe, and feedback from the participants. The technology probe was a web-based application with access limited to the women in the study. Analysis of the group interviews and technology probe use showed a keen interest in the group in utilising targeted ICT applications, especially those of the older generation who had no interest in social networking applications such as FaceBook and Twitter.

Storytelling via the probe enabled the participants to mentally revisit scenes that had been highly significant to them (for both positive and negative reasons) and to reframe these incidents in ways that enhanced their feelings of wellbeing. Evidence for this statement is found in reports from group members that the probe activity has been very healing for them. The probe site allows the women a platform to discuss concepts that are intrinsic to their existence, and how these ideas interlink and enmesh with each other; such as the importance of connection to country, and offline activities surrounding identity and sustainability as a group.

The contributions from this study include description and evaluation of how the combination of long-term group interviewing with design and use of a technology probe can enhance wellbeing in an Aboriginal group, as well as serve as a technique in assisting group members to elucidate technology requirements in order to exploit the use of ICT in their community. Empowerment of individuals led to an increased sense of self-esteem related to ICT activities and greater domestication of these tools in their everyday life.

Results from this study have wider policy implications dealing with how ICT research is conducted with Aboriginal people in general. The use of cultural mentors along with the long-term engagement with the research group enabled the data obtained from the technology probe and the entire project to be analysed and used in a ways that not only benefited the participants, but also contributed to the corpus of knowledge about improvement of wellbeing for Aboriginal people through the use of ICTs.

Item ID: 21334
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Aboriginal women, Burdekin River region, community engagement, community wellbeing, connection to country, cultural engagement, cultural heritage, cultural knowledge, cultural narratives, cultural preservation, cultural property, database design, digital technology use, empowerment, family wellbeing, Gugu Badhun people, ICT, ICT design, identities, indigenous culture, information and communication technologies, life experiences, North Queensland, social media, storytelling, technology probes, wellbeing
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Copyright Information: Copyright © 2011 Dianna Lynn Madden.
Additional Information:

Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Bidwell, Nicola, and Hardy, Dianna (2009) Dilemmas in situating participation in rural ways of saying. ISBN 978-1-60558-854-4. Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference of the Australian Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group: Design: Open 24/7 In: OZCHI '09 21st Annual Conference of the Australian Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group: Design: Open 24/7, 23-27 November 2009, Melbourne, Australia.

Browning, David, Bidwell, Nicola J., Madden, Dianna, and Standley, P-M (2008) Rural encounters: cultural translations through video. ISBN 978-0-9803063-4-7. Proceedings of the 20th Australasian Computer Human Interaction Conference 2008 In: 20th Australasian Computer Human Interaction Conference 2008, 8-12 December 2008, Cairns, QLD, Australia.

Hardy, Dianna, Morgan, Matthew, Atkinson, Ian, McGinty, Sue, Cadet-James, Yvonne, Hannan, Agnes, and James, Robert (2008) Enabling lightweight video annotation and presentation for cultural heritage. Proceedings of eResearch Australasia 2008 In: eResearch Australasia 2008, 28 September - 3 October 2008 , Melbourne, VIC. Australia.

Hardy, Dianna, Bidwell, Nicola, Cadet-James, Yvonne, and Atkinson, Ian (2007) Domesticating design by a disenfranchised community. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Social Interaction and Mundane Technologies In: SIMTech Workshop 2008 International Workshop on Social Interaction and Mundane Technologies, 26-27 November 2007, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2012 06:05
FoR Codes: 08 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 0899 Other Information and Computing Sciences > 089999 Information and Computing Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 33%
08 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 0805 Distributed Computing > 080505 Web Technologies (excl Web Search) @ 33%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Studies @ 34%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage @ 50%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940102 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Development and Welfare @ 50%
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