Telling Our Stories to the World, engaged regional communities across Queensland to tell their stories about the challenges of climate change through creative expression and storytelling.

Telling Our Stories to the World, engaged regional communities across Queensland to tell their stories about the challenges of climate change through creative expression and storytelling.

 

What

Telling Our Stories to the World was a collaborative creative arts project implemented by the Queensland Writers Centre (QWC) at the State Library of Queensland and supported by the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ). 

The QWC introduced a pilot project in 2019 for Telling Our Stories to the World, working with LGAQ and Queensland Health to encourage remote communities in Central West Queensland to tell their own stories in their own way.  

Growing on the outcomes of this successful pilot project, QWC collaborated again with the Queensland Government through the Department of Environment and Science (DES) and LGAQ, to encourage communities, businesses, schools, families and individuals to reflect on how they are adapting to increasingly severe and frequent extremes of weather. 

By helping individuals and communities to ‘tell their own stories’ through a range of creative media and opportunities, including writing and photography, this place-based creative community development project aimed to create a momentum that could be sustained into the future through the ongoing state-wide activities of QWC. 

The project vision was to develop an arts-led creative process to be the catalyst for an innovative and resilient Queensland that manages the risks and harnesses the opportunities of a changing climate including drought, floods, cyclones, storms and bushfires.

The project activities empowered participants by strengthening existing creative skills, developing new ones, and fostering individual and community self-esteem. 

Throughout the project, QWC, DES and LGAQ worked closely with local community champions to recognise and celebrate the voices, lives, work and commitment of regional Queenslanders.

Building community identity, connections and social capacity through this project helped to increase resilience in the face of climate change.

 

 

Projects activities include: 

Writing Friday  

Writing Friday is a QWC initiative that runs out of QWC located at State Library of Queensland and in local libraries and community centres across Queensland to engage communities in writing and storytelling. 

As part of Telling Our Stories to the World these writing sessions provided inspiration for story-making and to help contextualise individuals’ stories of adaptation.

 

Postcards

As part of the creative initiative to help inspire regional communities to write about their climate change experiences, QWC created a series of postcards, and commissioned local photographers and artists to provide photographs and images.

Postcards were distributed to a range of venues, interest groups and events, targeting regions across the state.  

Community members could respond to the writing prompt on the front of the postcard, or simply share something about themselves, and their lives, in the context of resilience and adaptation to climate change. 

The prompts were framed to invite responses that considered how they might already be adapting, or how they will become more resilient in the face of future climate change events.  

 

Author Workshop Tours

Established Queensland writers and tutors toured the regions and conducted creative writing and story-making workshops with target groups in local areas. 

The Telling Our Stories to the World workshops encouraged participants to integrate their own stories, past, present and future, into a broader narrative of climate change and resilience. 

Each writer on tour provided writing prompts and supported participants to tell their own stories of climate change adaptation, in their own way.

 

School Visits

By inspiring students and teachers to create their own conversations, relevant to their localities and lifestyles, Telling Our Stories to the World also engaged them in workshops designed to develop an awareness of the localised effects of climate change. 

These workshops allowed children and teachers to think about how climate change is affecting their environments through personal experience and observations, without telling them how or what to think.

 

 

WQ Magazine 

QWC’s quarterly magazine for members, Writing Queensland (WQ), produced two themed editions to support Telling Our Stories to the World.

The 2022 WQ edition of Telling Our Stories to the World was sent to more than 1800 members and all participating councils.  

 

When and where

Telling Our Stories to The World dates - 1 February 2021 to 1st April 2022

Far North Queensland

  • Cairns City Council 
  • Cassowary Coast Shire Council 
  • Cook Shire Council
  • Douglas Shire Council

North Queensland

  • Burdekin Shire Council 
  • Charters Towers Regional Council 
  • Mackay Regional Council
  • Townsville Shire Council

North-West Queensland

  • Burke Shire Council 
  • Carpentaria Shire Council 
  • Cloncurry Shire Council
  • Etheridge Shire Council 
  • Flinders Shire Council 
  • McKinlay Shire Council
  • Richmond Shire Council
  • Mt Isa Shire Council 
  • Richmond Shire Council

Central Queensland 

  • Gladstone Shire Council 
  • Livingstone Shire Council 
  • Rockhampton Shire Council 

Wide Bay Burnett

  • Bundaberg Regional Council
  • Cherbourg Community Council 
  • Gympie Regional Council
  • South Burnett Regional Council 

South-East Queensland

  • Brisbane City Council 
  • Gold Coast City Council 
  • Logan City Council
  • Redland Bay Shire Council 
  • Scenic Rim Regional Council 

Central Western Queensland

  • Barcaldine Shire Council 
  • Barcoo Shire Council 
  • Winton Shire Council
  • Longreach Regional Council 

Darling Downs 

  • Toowoomba Regional Council
  • Southern Downs Regional Council

 

Key stats

  • 2000 postcards distributed across Queensland 
  • 880 received back by the Queensland Writers Centre
  • 100 of these Queensland postcard stories were sent to other regions, states and countries 
  • 8 workshop writers were sponsored to attend the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) workshop ‘Writing Climate Fiction’, 
  • 790 participants attended from Far North Queensland, North Queensland and Northwest Queensland.
  • 8220 Kilometres were travelled during the project 
  • Furthest location travelled to was Camooweal 

 

 

Investment 

The Queensland Government provides the Queensland Writers Centre with $1,280,000 funding through the Organisations Fund 2022 – 2025.   

Telling Our Stories to the World project also received funded throughing the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science’s SAP+ program,

 

Outcomes

Despite some challenges created by the ongoing uncertainty and restrictions associated with COVID-19, Telling Our Stories to the World delivered on its objectives. 

Activating Queensland Places and Spaces 

New Writing Fridays were embedded as an ongoing QWC activity, continuing beyond the Telling Our Stories To The World project. 

 

Driving Social Change and Strengthening Communities 

Community members of all ages, representing the key beneficiary groups and all target regions, have engaged with opportunities to reflect on how they are adapting to climate change and increasingly severe and frequent weather extremes. 

The project activities have encouraged individual empowerment and community connections while identifying the vulnerability of local businesses in rural areas due to the impact of severe weather conditions. 

Community Groups identified who benefited from Telling Our Stories to the World include:  

  • Human health and wellbeing professionals
  • Tourism operators and employees
  • Small and medium business owners and employees
  • Agricultural owners, managers and workers
  • Local ecosystems and their supporters
  • Emergency management personnel
  • Industry and resource sector managers and workers
  • Children and young people
  • Older people. 

Postcards has been embedded into QWC’s regular activities as a community engagement strategy, which will continue to encourage reflection and dialogue about climate change adaptation beyond the life of the project.


Sharing our Stories and Celebrating Our Story Tellers 

QWC established a foundation to continue to build on its aim to foster a vibrant culture of reading, writing and storytelling across Queensland.

The pilot Telling Our Stories to the World, delivered by QWC in 2019, demonstrated that author workshops were a powerful means for building community connectedness, collaboration and optimism through writing and story-telling. 

One writer, who participated in Telling Our Stories to the World, joined QWC as a staff intern. 

 

 

Learnings and reflections 

Telling Our Stories to the World became an important catalyst to expanding the hybrid nature of writing as it enabled QWC to deliver projects quickly, cost effectively and to an increased number of remote writers.   

A perfect example of this hybrid format was Postcards, a popular, non-threatening way for people of all ages to share thoughts, reflections, memories, hopes, fears and mini narratives. 

The value of the Writing Friday was connecting and identifying skilled writers, allowing QWC to build relationships with established talented writers around the state who can assist and inspire those who are emerging in the writing field.      

With more time, QWC would like to also engage with more diverse voices, including more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities, refugees and asylum-seekers, and others without English as their first language. 

There is awareness that language barriers and anxiety about authority have prevented some groups from accessing information and services needed for preparedness, response and recovery phases of recent natural disasters. 

These communities are often the same populations that have experienced trauma, including intergenerational trauma, and require more support for their wellbeing and mental health in order to be resilient, not just stoic, in the context of climate change.

 

What next

QWC will seek future funding opportunities and partnerships to expand several of the project activities which proved highly effective in engaging communities in dialogue about climate change adaptation.

QWC, DES and LGAQ would also like to engage more small-to-medium enterprises in considering climate change adaptation in a positive, constructive light, through creative narrative activities.

Both organisations will seek to continue engaging very remote communities such as Diamantina Shire, Bulloo Shire, Paroo Shire, St George, and Goondiwindi. 

Queensland Health identified these areas as being hard hit in recent years with mental health issues and initiatives like Telling Our Stories to the World would continue to champion resilience in these areas. 

Writing Friday is now running in Bundaberg, Cairns and Gympie with the intention to establish more in north and northwest Queensland and the Wide Bay Burnett, providing more people with regular opportunities for connection and creativity. 

 


Find out more

Queensland Writers Centre’s Telling Our Stories To The World website

 

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