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Unlocking potential for visual arts talents of the future

Published:05 December 2016

1: CQUni instructor Kaylene Butler with students enrolled in the Digital Arts project. 2: One of the participants created a logo representing himself in a wheelchair. 3. Student Tegan Booth works on a graphics tablet. 4. Tegan with CQUni instructor Melinda Jasmine.

There’s a chance of finding the next Wayne Blair or Baz Luhrmann thanks to a nationally-networked Digital Arts project aimed at boosting opportunities for young people from a disadvantaged background.

The $860,000 project led by CQUniversity is giving young people with disabilities, those from regional and remote areas and those from an Indigenous background the chance to complete a Certificate 11 in Visual Arts.

The Cert II is being delivered by CQUniversity online with additional support provided at drop-in centres in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The Cert II students have been energised recently thanks to Wacom’s donation of 15 reconditioned graphics tablets.

Among the desired outcomes of the Digital Arts project will be an improved capacity to provide education services that are flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of young people from a disadvantaged background, through online delivery and/or mentored activities in community settings. Proponents will  also strive to strengthen parent and carer networks and encourage families to play a more active role in the decision-making process.

CQUniversity Professor Denise Wood says Digital Arts* builds on the success of a $2.94 million Digital Enterprise project (which she started leading while at the University of South Australia) aimed at improving outcomes for youth with disabilities.  

Digital Enterprise is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education through the Broadband Enabled Education and Skills Services Programme, while Digital Arts is funded by the National Research and Data Working Group through a National Disability Research and Development Grant.

"This new Digital Arts initiative focuses more specifically on young Indigenous people or those experiencing disadvantage or disability, while enabling Indigenous youth attending remote schools to also participate in the program," Professor Wood says.

"Young people with disabilities aged 16-29 years will receive mentoring support via weekly drop-in sessions and online activities to undertake a VET-accredited Certificate II in Visual Arts which will have a digital technology focus. Those eligible to participate in the program are receiving scholarships to undertake the Cert II through CQUniversity."  

Now at CQUniversity, Professor Wood continues to lead both the Digital Enterprise and Digital Arts projects.  

* The Digital Arts project team includes Professor Denise Wood, Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, Professor Helen Huntly, Associate Professor Steve Pace, James Picton, Patrick Connell, Carmen Gray, Auntie Kaylene Butler, Research Coordinator Dr Sheila Scutter and Project Coordinator Eleanor Jackson-Bowers. Partner investigators include Associate Professor Pammi Raghavendra (Flinders University), Associate Professor Deirdre Tedmanson (UniSA), Professor Noel Lindsay (University of Adelaide) and Dr Stefan Schutt (Victoria University).

** Digital Arts drop-in centres are located in South Australia in partnership with Tutti Arts; in Reservoir, Victoria in partnership with Reservoir Neighbourhood House; and in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory in Partnership with Corrugated Iron Youth Arts. CQUniversity is providing a project site at the Rockhampton City campus and is in negotiations to provide a site in the APY Lands in remote South Australia.