16 Jul Curtin’s ACE Program bridging gap between students and community
The Aboriginal Community Engagement (ACE) project at Curtin University is critical service-learning that provides the opportunity for students to work collaboratively with a Perth Aboriginal community organisation. The students are a mixed cohort of Screen Arts and Journalism undergraduates who, through their participation, advance their media production skills while at the same time developing relationships with Aboriginal people from within their own community. The projects are determined by the community participants in collaboration with the students.
Critical service-learning is distinguished from other experiential education by its intention to positively affect both the service recipient and the provider. ACE endeavors to build capacity for community partners while at the same time developing students’ knowledge of Aboriginal people, culture and history, and therefore their professional cross-cultural competence. The emphasis is on service and learning, on culture and on social justice.
The ACE program is further distinguished by its employment of participatory action research as a way of guiding our ways of working with community, and with cultural protocols. Action research is about creating change through action, and change that results in action. Action researchers never work alone, but with community participants, who participate not as subjects but as co-researchers. It is not research done on or for people, but rather research done with people, with community. It brings together action and reflection, theory and practice to come up with practical solutions.