Marngo Designing Futures: Place-based and ‘On Country’ Design Strategy and Education and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Development
- Dr Samantha Edwards-Vandenhoek, Program Coordinator, Marngo Designing Futures
- Deputy Chair, Communication Design Swinburne School of Design
Funded by the Australian Government’s Higher Education and Participation Scheme since 2014, Marngo Designing Futures is a multi-award-winning national place-based and culture-centred education program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students that seeks to build youth entrepreneurship, cultural leadership capacity, stimulate interest and raise awareness of higher education and pave, as well as career pathways in design, media and steam related fields.
Marngo’s Indigenous design strategy is innovative in its use of a cultured-centred participatory methodology and 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning (Yunkaporta 2009) that affords an intercultural, peer-to-peer and intergenerational co-creation space to meaningfully and authentically support and empower the participants through the prioritisation of their own voices, languages, stories, designs and experiences.
There are significant long-term impacts associated with the acquisition and transfer of Indigenous cultural and design literacy, thinking and strategy in shaping the future of Australia’s creative industries. Over 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students from Victoria, Western Australia and Northern Territory have benefited from participation since its inception.
For more information visit: www.marngodesignfutures.com.au
Indigenous designers, cultural educators, filmmakers, art centres, schools and families are directly involved in design, facilitation and evaluation of Marngo Designing Futures. The Advisory Committee comprises Swinburne’s Moondani Toombadool Centre and Alison Page, Chairperson, National Centre for Indigenous Excellence. Project partners include Richmond Football Club, Korin Gamadji Institute, Warmun Art Centre, ZakPage Storytelling, National Aboriginal Design Agency, Koorie Heritage Trust, National Parks and Wildlife Services, Adobe Australia, ABC Indigenous, SBS | NITV, Melbourne Indigenous Transition School, Australian Chamber Orchestra, West Australian Museum, Marcus Lee Designs, Iluka Designs and Lyn-Al Young.
Through the development of a place-based design curriculum that centralises Indigenous narratives, voices and knowledge, Marngo Designing Futures seeks to understand and address the systemic impediments to higher education facing young Indigenous people.
By providing opportunities for the sharing and acquisition of Indigenous design knowledge in a two-way learning framework that emphasises self-determination, co-creation and shared insights, participants develop problem-solving, design thinking and project management skills, which can then be carried into university and industry, directly benefiting their own communities and creating a shared space for understanding.
Decolonizing the institutional construct through the provision of curriculum, projects and resources that encourages the integration of Indigenous design knowledge, processes and thinking is central to the Marngo program.
From the outset, Indigenous engagement was prioritised and the initial groundwork was focused on building respectful relationships with Indigenous designers and artists, and deepening connections with Indigenous organisations, communities and schools across Victoria.
Continuous efforts are made to ensure that Marngo is framed in relation to a range of local Indigenous perspectives. Marngo Designing Futures incorporates workshop programs developed by Indigenous designers, artists and remote schools about how Indigenous design, culture and knowledge can drive innovation and activate social transformation and is a viable career pathway.
More broadly, Marngo supports the growth of an Australian creative industry that is holistic and provides opportunities for Indigenous design and planning methods to be better understood by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike.
By challenging Euro-Western modes of learning and doing through the centralisation of Indigenous design knowledge, perspectives and voices, enabling programs like Marngo have the potential to add Indigenous cultural literacy to higher education and in doing so led to significant long term benefits for the acquisition and transfer of local knowledge that reinforces how Indigenous design and Indigenous-led collaborations can drive innovation, activate social and environmental transformation.
Indigenous Design Strategy; Place-Based Design Education; Transformative Design; Knowledge Sharing