Collaborating as Social Work

My Story Matters by Kate Margaret Oleary/ Wilurarra Creative, Art and Technology by Ben Fox/ Enabling Stories by Tomás Laurenzo and Gustavo Armagno
Saturday, 17 September, 2011 - 17:00 - 18:00
Chair Person: 
Helene Black
Kate Oleary
Ben Fox
Tomas Laurenzo
Gustavo Armagno

My Story Matters

by Kate Margaret Oleary

The ‘My Story Matters’ program aims to improve the mental health and well being of older people with a mental health condition through the implementation of a life review based program utilising digital storytelling.

This approach reports a 50% reduction in the incidence of depression for persons 75 years and older.

The implementation of this program considered the following elements:

  • Community Involvement

  • Selection Criteria

  • Context of meetings

  • Volunteer trainings

  • Environment

There was extensive consultation throughout the implementation of this program with the digital storytelling centre at the Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, local historians, community groups, as well as mental health and other aged care specialists.

Staff and volunteers noted the following benefits for participating residents: improved sleep; increased engagement with staff and other residents; a reduction in medication use; a reinforcement of past memories relating to self, family members and significant others; a stronger sense of family, community and ‘belonging’; enhanced and maintained cognitive functioning. 

Not only this, older people have returned to their creative art long forgotten. For example, George, a 93 year old man, composed a musical score for a song he wrote for his dyeing wife whilst grieving for her. MSM gave George the platform in which to channel his dormant creativity and express his feelings. (This DVD would be shown during the presentation).

These benefits indicate a reduction in depressive symptoms in this group of residents. The involvement of the family members / volunteer friends has also built a support network amongst the residents participating in ‘My Story Matters’. This program captures glimpses of older peoples’ past & present.  Not only sharing them with family, friends & community, it reaches out towards ‘grand & great-grand children’ through ‘modern technology’ – a critical digital humanities potential.

My Story Matters’ won the 2009 Positive Living in Aged Care award.

Human everyday experiences are seen as simple, yet when a person’s life event is merged with digital storytelling it becomes a powerful social media.  ‘My Story Matters’  captures a vulnerable thread of humanity we all share and links young and old, our past memories and future dreams.

Wilurarra Creative, Art and Technology

by Ben Fox

Ben Fox (trained engineer and artist) and Kate Fielding (Writer and designer) present on how art and technology are working in one of Australia’s most remote desert communities to enable Indigenous cultural maintenance and diverse literacies.

Wilurarra Creative is a one-of-a-kind program. It facilitates a diverse range of creative programs and provides space for self directed learning for Ngaanyatjarra people 17-30.

Part arts space, part library, part internet café, part hair salon, part music studio: part workshop; all creativity, all community. Wilurarra Creative is bursting at the seams; full of people, ideas and action.

Wilurarra Creative is a community hub and incubator. It provides activities for the large demand from post school age adults in remote communities. Wilurarra Creative is excelling where many projects struggle; consistently engaging people in meaningful projects and providing real pathways to new opportunities through community building, learning, mentoring and employment.

Wilurarra Creative;

Works with adults  
Achieves a high level of engagement from this demographic who are notoriously hard to engage
Involves supervision of self directed training
Trains participants to run the equipment (reducing bottlenecking and reliance on particular staffers)
Shares models with other Ng communities, providing employment to young people trained through the program to train others
Fosters intergenerational support
Models best practice community development

Wilurarra Creative’s home is Warburton Community, W.A, on the Ngaanyatjarra Lands.

Enabling Stories

by Tomás Laurenzo and Gustavo Armagno


The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program aims to provide each child in developing regions with a connected laptop to allow them “to become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future”.

Uruguay, through its governmental project –Plan Ceibal– was the first country to achieve the ‘full deployment’ status, after successfully delivering a XO laptop to every public schooled child between 6 and 12 years old.

This paper shows the Enabling Stories project, a perceptual interaction based, interactive storytelling application, designed for children with motor or cognitive disabilities, as well as children with normative development, that runs on OLPC’s XO computers.

The application is not only an interactive storytelling game but also a tool for stimulating the development of specific cognitive functions and skills, as well as promoting digital inclusion, and improving social, emotional and motivational aspects on its users.

The art of storytelling in its many forms has been widely used to support the development of a wide spectrum of cognitive functions and skills. Children with motor or cognitive disabilities often experience difficulties using standard interaction schemes.

The interaction with our application is based on triggering actions when the user shows or occludes a printed image within the XO’s camera field of view (usually the space in front of the keyboard, seeable thanks to a small periscope we designed).

Our application models key aspects of the narrative, such as characters, places, possible interactions between characters, etc., and allows its users to construct new stories on real time.

The user interacts with the application by setting scenes up or answering to specific questions. For example, the application would describe a scene by using spoken text, images, music, video, etc. and then prompt the child for information.

A rather trivial example would be: “the girl is taking a hike in the forest, who does she meet?”, the child , then would take one of the images (let’s say, one with the drawing of a dog), and puts it in the space seen by the computer’s camera. The application then continues with the narration using the user input.