Aboriginal young people, digital identities and ethical considerations for adopting collaborative methodologies in creative practice

Fran Edmonds
University of Melbourne

In this paper we will discuss a number of ethical considerations that have arisen when working with Aboriginal young people during a series of Digital Storytelling Workshops. The workshops discussed here, reveal how the use of digital, and especially mobile technologies, are providing Aboriginal young people with more control than ever before over their self-representations. However, while the young people in this project demonstrated their innovative approaches to creating visually unique material and narratives, there continues to be limitations to the way Aboriginal young people can safely navigate, share and construct these representations. Their stories reveal the highly complex conditions that exist for these young people when exploring and constructing their identities in the digital realm. Racist and discriminatory comments continue to affect the way Aboriginal young people determine how and to whom they distribute their digital stories through their on and offline social networks.

In working through these complex conditions, the digital storytelling workshops have found that the integration of collaborative and community-based methodologies for advancing digital literacy skills, which contribute to the creative and innovative use of digital technologies for identity exploration, are important for supporting cultural cyber savvy and cyber safe behaviours. Our collaborative approach has included working with Elders, artists and filmmakers to provide opportunities for young people to reflect contemporary Aboriginalities and understandings of who they are and where they come from in the digital age.