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February 26, 2014

NEOMAD animating Pilbara pupils

by Pamela Nathan

Re: ‘Comic caper gets Pilbara pupils animated’, by Roger Stitson, The Age Monday 24 February 2014.

NEOMAD – What a wonderful and inspiring project! Stitson reports on NEOMAD, an interactive comic book designed by the indigenous children of Roebourne on the western edge of the Pilbara desert. According to Stitson, NEOMAD is a word implying cultural conjoining of a past and future age. It is an epic, funny, mysterious three-part tale of young indigenous heroes and heroines from the Pilbara – “Love Punks” and “Satellite Sisters” – who venture to restore the balance of existence and to bring peace to a world that has lost its way.

The students have mastered photoshop and have run comic workshops and they plan to run inter-school workshops with other communities and have already been to Ntaria. Stuart Cambell, a digital comic book illustrator, collaborated with the elders and the students. There are some wonderful photos of the children working on the project.

NEOMAD was a finalist at the New Media Awards in Los Angeles and in November won the annual Australian teachers of Media (ATOM) award for best game/media production. As Stitson reports there are shorter learning and behavioural wins and confidence and pride which all build into long-term potential and achievement.

Funding educational and creative projects like NEOMAD is surely preferential to funds going into truancy officers and policing of children. This story shows the children engaged in a joint creative project which they will now take to other children in other communities – motivation, creativity, renewal and empowerment are obvious outcomes. Moreover they address the difficult issues of the past and the future and the heritage, history and language of the land that gave rise to its development. The identity of children and a sense of belonging with pride in their world is critical in the development of a sense of an adjusted self/ves and their engagement with the whitefellah world.