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Think Different – Accelerate engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences! EXCLUSIVE

by Andrew Weller

Today’s environment is full of messages bombarding us all day every day - in traditional media, social media and advertising. This is an even bigger challenge for organisations which need to reach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences and requires strategies built around a ‘think different’ approach. Much of the communication landscape is not relevant for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. What is relevant for urban audiences, for instance, can be totally irrelevant for remote or regional audiences. For example: - The common assumption in advertising that people have access to the internet. This is disrespectful to the 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households1 in remote areas that do not have a computer connected to the internet. - Typical radio ads spoken fast by professional announcers are disrespectful to the 46% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas who speak a language other than English as their main language at home. Communicating respectfully requires relevance, and relevance requires engagement with the community to understand their feelings and experience first-hand. Communicating effectively requires cutthrough. Messages spoken by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people using humour and normal conversational language stand out from

Aboriginal youth enjoy a hip hop workshop in Meekatharra. Image supplied

mainstream content and are immediately recognisable as relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences. Breaking down barriers is a two-way activity. Governments and organisations wanting to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences need to get out into the community and develop messages collaboratively. One example of how to do this is Dreamtime Public Relations’ work with St John Ambulance Service (WA) where a hip-hop workshop was held in Meekatharra to communicate messages about the effective use of the Ambulance Service. Young people involved in the workshop developed messages which were then put to music and a video. During the workshop and finalé community event, St John Ambulance management and staff were instrumental in engaging

with the community. The workshop resulted in enhanced community relations that accelerated understanding and established a strong working relationship. Dreamtime Public Relations’ spokesperson Andrew Weller said, “St John told us it would normally take 12 months for the Community Paramedic to build a trusting relationship with the community, but in Meekatharra this was achieved in one week through the hip hop workshop. And, the community understood the message because they were living it.” “Whilst the hip hop workshop worked in this situation, it will not be effective for every communication situation involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as it depends on the message, the target audience age group, the location of the

community and more. Thinking differently and collaborating with the community on the most effective communication strategy, however, will deliver every time,” Mr Weller said. Dreamtime Public Relations is an awardwinning full-service communications agency providing research, strategy, media relations, digital media, copywriting, graphic design, website development, and promotional merchandise. Dreamtime Public Relations clients include federal, state and local governments, corporations, community controlled organisations and businesses. For more information about ‘Think Different’ strategies, visit www. dreamtimepr.com, talk to Dreamtime Public Relations on (08) 8463 1904 or email: info@ dreamtimepr.com

The music video and documentary produced are now available on YouTube Music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slAAgchiauM Documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrPkDTpaP9g

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