Students unite to deliver health messages to community

5 November 2015

The University of Sydney will premiere videos made by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students to promote healthy life choices for young people in regional Australia.

Still from a Framing Health claymation video

A series of quirky Claymation-style video clips created by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students to endorse healthy lifestyles in rural Australia will premiere at the University of Sydney today.

The screening brings to a conclusion the popular Framing Health Project, an initiative of Souths Cares in partnership with the University of Sydney’s Compass program. The project gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students the opportunity to gain valuable skills in writing, producing and filmmaking.

General Manager of Souths Cares, Brock Schaefer, said that his organisation has been working in collaboration with the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health and students from the University’s Graduate Diploma of Indigenous Health Promotion to produce the educational videos, which are aimed at encouraging positive life choices for young people in regional Australia.

“These clips will prove to be an invaluable health resource for health promotion workers in regional and remote regions of Australia,” he said.

“They are unique in regard to the medium they employ and also in their messaging – they are concise and contemporary but delivered in an entertaining way.”

Students from J.J. Cahill and Tempe High Schools joined forces with Jack McGrath, a lecturer at Sydney College of the Arts, to produce the Claymation clips, which are reminiscent of a Wallace and Gromit-style short film. Covering issues including negative body image, peer pressure around drugs, and anxiety, the videos advocate healthy lifestyles in a whimsical way.

“Our students should be congratulated on the quality of the clips, the range of health issues they cover and their currency,” Schaefer said.

“Unfortunately, these issues seem more widespread today and can affect males and females from all walks of life.

“The timeliness of these issues makes the work our students have produced even more important to the community.”

Jack McGrath from Sydney College of the Arts said the project has myriad benefits for both the high school and graduate students involved.

“Creating relationships and dialogue with University of Sydney staff and students has made the high school students feel like part of something with real-world impact, purpose and an outcome,” he said.

“These students have informed the creation of a project that’s based on issues they feel are important in their communities, they’re listened to by adults and they’ve created something to show the world.

“Similarly the graduate students have felt really liberated about being part of a creative project, and though they were anxious at first they’ve all had a lot of fun with it. It’s all about experimentation and the stock motion is very intuitive to use.

“Some of the students from the Torres Strait have said their communities are sick of pamphlets and didactic public health texts. These videos help communicate important health messages in a practical and visually appealing way.”

The film premiere will commence with a dynamic display of traditional dance by students from Christian Brothers Lewisham and a Welcome to Country by students from J. J. Cahill Memorial High School.

Many community leaders are anticipated to attend the event, as well as some high-profile Rabbitohs identities including Beau Champion, who will deliver the keynote address, and Nathan Merritt, who will present students with certificates.

“At Souths Cares we are fortunate enough to have two Ambassadors, Nathan Merritt and Beau Champion, both strong, Indigenous mentors who have supported the students on this journey,” Shaefer said.

Event details

What: ‘In Focus’ Framing Health Project 2015 film screening

When: Thursday 5 November 2015, 10am to 2pm

Where: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, Eastern Ave, the University of Sydney