Project from down under to up north

The Ashington group, Carl Burton, Victoria Gallagher, Tony Bennett, Fiona Rowley and Matt Calder.
The Ashington group, Carl Burton, Victoria Gallagher, Tony Bennett, Fiona Rowley and Matt Calder.

A group of Aborigines from Australia are coming to Northumberland as part of a pioneering research project.

The group from communities around Brisbane will visit Ashington for the initiative that will help meet the major challenges that threaten both their futures.

It will allow us to learn from each other, developing themes that will hopefully aid us in meeting our challenges and making life better for the people who live in both communities

Victoria Gallagher

The initiative, led by Dr Matthew Johnson from Lancaster University, is examining and challenging the “precariousness” of both communities.

It involves people living in Ashington and in Aboriginal settlements in Queensland visiting each other and swapping experiences and ideas about problems and challenges they face and that threaten their communities.

Dr Johnson said: “These are two groups of people on opposite sides of the world that are very different in their own ways, but face similar precarious circumstances.

“The project is about how they are facing these challenges and what they can do as communities to shape their own lives.”

Victoria Gallagher is a community worker in Ashington and a member of the Lancaster University’s ‘Good Culture’ project.

She said: “In so many ways we are so different. But looked at it closely, it becomes clear two groups of people on opposite sides of the world share similar precarious circumstances.

“The hope is that the visit will help us all as we try to shape a future that in many ways will be better than both the present and the past.”

A documentary is being made of the project by acclaimed film-maker Roger Appleton.

Victoria Gallagher added: “Aboriginal Australians living in the suburbs of Brisbane had their relationship with the land severed when it was taken from them. Again the hurt and harm remains.

“We spent a month in Brisbane, talking and listening – seeing first-hand the challenges the Aboriginal communities like Southport, which is south of the city, face - and how they are trying to tackle them.

“We shadowed our Aboriginal counterparts at their places of work, including employment and health centres, arts collectives and land management agencies, and were also able to talk to community and political leaders.

“Our five counterparts from Brisbane will now fly over to the north east for their trip to Northumberland.

“They’ll see how we live, visit our projects, look at our work in the community, be able to talk to local people and get a picture of who and where we are.

“Again it will allow us to learn from each other, developing themes that will hopefully aid us in meeting our challenges and making life better for the people who live in both communities.”

Visit http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/good-culture/ for more details.