Indigenous design program creates educational aspirations

Friday 10 June 2016

Students and teacher Sam Edwards-Vandenhoek stand together

Dr Edwards-Vandenhoek and Indigenous artist and designer Nathan Patterson stand with some of the students participating in Marngo Designing Futures.

In summary

  • Swinburne runs two day design program
  • Twelve Indigenous secondary school students attend
  • Program aims to build tertiary design aspirations in students

Twelve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Melbourne and regional Victoria recently immersed themselves in their Indigenous culture during a two-day design workshop at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus.

Working with Swinburne’s Centre for Design Innovation, the Marngo Designing Futures program aims to build leadership capacity, stimulate interest and raise awareness of vocational and higher education.

Framed from Indigenous perspectives, the program covers themes that underpin design, film and media practice and helps identify career pathways in design for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students that promote Aboriginal design and innovation.

a student created indigenous artwork on a computer
A student uses creative pen technology to design artwork

Program leader Dr Samantha Edwards-Vandenhoek, says a range of design methods and technologies are used to introduce students to design principles and practices.

“The students participating in Marngo Designing Futures all come from different backgrounds. Some have only recently discovered they have Indigenous heritage and are very eager to learn more about their history and the connection to the land,” Dr Edwards-Vandenhoek says.

“We’ve been running workshops and classes around Indigenous design and innovation, social design enterprise, digital storytelling and image-making and designing for change.

“Overall, the students have been very engaged with the program. It’s been great to be a part of it.”

a birds eye shot of indigenous paintings on canvas
Hand-painted artwork done by students in the program

Building tertiary educational aspirations

Indigenous Australians make up less than 2.2 per cent of the entire student population. The number studying a design-related discipline is even lower.

Dr Edwards-Vandenhoek saw this as an opportunity to apply for Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) funding to increase the number of Indigenous Australians studying post-secondary school qualifications.

After successfully obtaining funding in 2014, she launched Marngo Designing Futures.