Speaker's Tour in Australia


In November, Tanya Notley completed a two week tour of Australia, speaking about the use of new technologies for advocacy and facilitating info-activism workshops at a series of events which Tactical Tech was invited to. At the Making Links conference, designed to create the space "where social action and technology converge", Tanya delivered a keynote and presented Tactical Tech's work. She also facilitated two workshops at this event and later for the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC): "Developing an Info-Activism Strategy for Advocacy" and "Visualising Information for Advocacy and Creative Campaigning". At the Participatory Design Conference, organised by the University of Technology in Sydney, Tanya ran a half-day tutorial on data visualisation techniques for advocacy campaigns.  


On the 25th November, Tanya hosted a workshop at the Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) aimed at connecting people in Western Sydney whose work or activism involves them in community development, advocacy, human rights, cultural projects and community campaigns. The 30 participants at the ICE workshop included University lecturers and PhD students working on media activism, social change media and participatory design research; social justice, community development and arts workers; designers, film-makers and media producers; and representatives from a number of relevant peak bodies including the Australian Human Rights Commission and STARTTS, a State support service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors.


ICE was founded over 20 years ago, originally taking a van around to communities and providing language translation services, materials in multi-languages and support to newly migrated families and communities. Since 1999 they have been a digital media focussed organisation, offering training and support to the community and creative producers of Western Sydney.

Caitlin Vaughan, Manager – Research and Policy Development at ICE, who organised the event says that there is “enormous potential for info-activism in Western Sydney which is one of the most culturally diverse regions in Australia and also home to our country's largest urban indigenous population. Info-activism presents huge opportunities to facilitate communication across cultural and literacy barriers, and also empowering diverse and disadvantaged communities with powerful tools."


Caitlin said, "The workshop inspired a lot of discussion and excitement at ICE, and has already informed a number of discussions around shaping our existing and planned future activities and projects for 2011. It was also the first official workshop that ICE has run in the space [The Switch Digital Arts Centre] - and we were pleased to gather such an interesting and engaged group of practitioners and community organisations - who have already begun to connect and communicate around what they encountered in the workshop in the days immediately following. A number of meetings to discuss future plans and activities have already been scheduled, and others proposed."


Caitlin received very positive feedback and hopes to create more opportunities for future workshops. She said,  "One of the main challenges is that many organisations involved in social justice and advocacy have limited resources (particularly time and expertise). We also think that some work is needed to enable these groups to connect with people and groups with the kinds of design skills that would enable them to manifest and bring out their visualisations into campaigns and project outcomes. We can see a need to invest in the development of these kinds of applied and engaged design skills among some of our visual artists and design practitioners from the region."


Image: Workshop at ICE's new venue Switch Digital Arts Centre.