20 June, 2021
Comic to close the gap
A new comic was made in Barcaldine in the name of harmony.
FUNDED by Central West Hospital and Health Service and in collaboration with Barcaldine Prep-12 State School, a new radical comic will be landing in the laps of students who are avid readers.
The new comic launched, June 4, smack bang at the end of Reconciliation Week, is titled “The Great Debate”, and is in full colour.
It is an initiative on behalf of Central West Hospital and Health Service Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and its director, Dan Carter said its purpose is to create a greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth mental health and bullying.
Barcaldine Prep-12 State School Principal Nicole Landers said the book was especially helpful to the students who wrote it after fears they were feeling disconnected from school and their community.
Some of the students responsible for the publication had been staying in the Alice River Student Hostel, away from their homes in the Mt Isa area.
The Alice River Hostel has been a refuge for indigenous youth who have been struggling with a range of issues, such as requiring housing closer to a school, since 2014.
“They were coming to a new area, they were also engaging in a different schooling system, they were away from home lots of different things were occurring for them,” Ms Landers said.
“They felt isolated at times, they didn’t feel a part of the community, and then obviously there were different health and safety concerns each of them were experiencing.”
Knowing this, Central West Health commissioned the comic book for the students and brought in comic book extraordinaire, Damian Amamoo.
Workshops to develop the storyline and scripts for the comic book included creative contributions from Barcaldine State School students and Central West Health Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers.
Ms Landers said the comic book gave the students a voice they may not have had otherwise.
“They sat down with the comic specialist, they listed all of the things they were feeling, their interactions with both the school and the community, and then from there they created a bit of an idea about what their narrative was going to be,” she said.
The students were behind all the characters in the comic, some of which looked eerily like teachers and students at the school.
Ms Landers said the book has done well to help assimilate the hostel students.
“It was a foreign concept to us, the indigenous students who have grown up locally have not had any issues, and everyone just sees each other as one I think,” she said.
“However, when we have a large group of 30 kids who had very different backgrounds, I can see how they stand out, and it’s more difficult to fit in with the other students and form those social connections. "
Thanks to the funding from Central West Hospital and Health Service, a copy of the book was handed out to every student at the school.
Copies of “The Great Debate” are not currently available for purchase but you can find them at the Barcaldine Library.