A collaboration of old university mates

Weekender

By MAINE WINNY
I STROLLED into the Animation Interactive and Multimedia Centre (AIM) at Swinburne School of Animations at Hawthorn Campus, Melbourne, and enquired at the counter about a post graduate course in 1993. A polite and smiling gentleman offered to show me around the (AIM) centre and the various creative projects the student where doing. I had always been fascinated in moving arts, I had read and studied the work of Walt Disney and others including, Dream Works producer Stephen Spielberg. Reading about their work made me envision eventually working in an animation studio in Hollywood.
The man who took me around during that visit 20 years ago, was Tim Austin, who has since then become a lifelong friend. He was then doing a post graduate animation course at Swinburne University – which was ranked as one of the top animations schools in Australia and the world. The School later merged with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Animations and became Australia’s centre of New Media Technology Animation and Multimedia.
In 1994, I was accepted to do postgrad studies in Animations and Film at the centre- which at that time had only 12 post graduate places available a year for the whole of Australia and overseas. Unfortunately, my sponsor would not allow me to switch from the Honours in Graphic Design that I was undertaking. In 1996 I graduated with a Bachelor of Design Degree with honours.
My interest in film animation remained strong despite, and I maintained contact with Austin after returning home. As jobs in animation were, and still are, scarce in PNG, I turned to working in fields that held some semblance of creative flare, especially in advertising, graphic design, photography, digital imaging, scientific illustration, video production, publication design etc. I also worked as creative producer for events, festivals, and concert stage, production and management in PNG and as a tour manager overseas.
My energy not limited to the arts, I ventured into community development and Eco Tourism receiving specialised training in these areas at Wageningan University in the Netherlands where I studied Multi Stakeholders Process and Social Learning, and was a speaker on community based eco-tourism in the Canada in 2015.
While others in his uni group ventured into film, and animation and other related fields of the moving arts and Interactive multimedia technologies, Austin developed specialised skills in e-learning and visual learning strategy development and delivery and continued to lecture in design,communication, IT and business courses for Monash University, Swinburne University, and RMIT University and was awarded an Adjunct Professorship at Swinburne University for consultancy services in e-learning. In addition, he has been teaching MBA programs as a visiting professor at The University of Saint Joseph, Macau, China. He has also gone on to establish a visual learning consultancy business called Visual Learning Pty Ltd.
He graduatedin 1998 as the first Master of Multimedia in Australia. Since then, Austin has established a solid research base focusing on visualization techniques in education, training and community communication working particularly with Indigenous communities. The continuing research aims to identify the most appropriate methods for thetransfer of text-based content into visual, animated and interactive educational material for use in new technology delivery modes for all levels of literacy and language.
I suggested to him in 2010 that we both should collaborate on a project that would help people in PNG.
I was hell-bent on the venture but had no money. Managing to scrape together some cash, I was soon winging it to Melbourne.
The K40 juggling in my pocket was everything I had to my name. I hoped against hope that there’d be no other airport charges. At Brisbane airport I exchanged my PNG currency and received 19 Australian dollars in return. During the trip from Port Moresby, I made sure to eat everything the flight stewards served up.
At Melbourne’s Tullamarine International Airport, Austin was waiting for me in his flashy black Audi. He asked whether I had luggage and I answered in the negative. A couple of extra jeans and a few pieces of other clothing, I had neatly packed into my laptop bag. The other small bag contained my camera. I was a man on a mission! I had to travel light. Austin and I laughed in the car as I regaled him of my K40 fortune.
It felt good to be in a flashy car, and on a fine road after years of riding a PMV in pothole city, Lae
Austin and his wife Rachael are V Learning partners. They had organised a room next to the V Learning Studio, which I could access anytime. Any time he could spare during his busy schedule, we worked on my training, and more importantly, worked on a visual learning development strategy for PNG. The studio looked out to the Mornington beach just a few steps away, and it was there that I was introduced to working in the digital virtual world, where the globe was the new playground, regardless of where you were.
From my experiences in working for an NGO in community development, conflict resolution, land disputes, data collection, video productions, motivating education in the community, I realised that communication was still a major barrier in the communities.During my three weeks at the Visual Learning Studio in Melbourne, we viewed and discussed an animated land title negotiations process Tim had developed,which showed the process of land title negotiations and visually developing a community vision with an aboriginal leader of the Yota Yota aboriginal nation in Australia. I thought that was the answer to what was needed in our PNG program.For more information go to; https://youtu.be/g8noDqcbRNc).
Next week, we look at visual community mapping exercise and Community Health Post & Visual Learning Centre Concept in Morobe.
Maine Winny is Director/Consultant – V Learning PNG LT and is also Director – Culture Link PNG LTD.

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