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Virtual reality to preserve Aboriginal culture

Virtual reality and video games are the next frontiers in preserving the Aboriginal culture, according to a recent report.

A digital interpretation of the local landscape from an Indigenous perspective is being developed by conducting workshops with students at St Saviours College in Toowoomba, a Catholic day and boarding school for young women in Years 7 to 12.

During the workshop, the students get to develop a type of simulation, which is both fun and engaging.

The next generation should be taught that before the bricks and mortar of the current Australian cities and regional towns were built, the First Nations people called this place home, and it had been home since.

The team is working hard to accurately reflect how the environments once looked.

The whole landscape is rich with Aboriginal yarns, including myths and legends, stories about how they survived, how they sustained themselves, and even stories of bush foods.

The digital design of the virtual environments draws on real world research, records and traditional knowledge.

The team is doing a lot of historical work. A lot of the information that they have gathered about the First Nations people came from work done by archaeologists and historians.

There are a lot of content, hundreds of years’ worth of information. Articles written about them in old newspapers were also used.

The workshop conducted at St Saviours College in Toowoomba gave focus on knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

But aside from building digital skills, the workshop also helped to fill in the gaps in the knowledge about Australia’s Aboriginal history.

According to the students, indigenous culture, when discussed during history class in high school, is not so much about the present condition but pertains more about the past.

But the students believe that it is important to talk about the culture with the present condition and how things can intertwine and influence each other.

The use of technology combined with Aboriginal storytelling represents a new opportunity. This is the first time that a combined indigenous and STEM project is seen in Toowoomba.

It is really good to know that the Indigenous culture is spreading.

Projects like this could help bridge socio-economic barriers. Technology is something that has been specifically linked to having money and privilege.

It would be amazing to see the Indigenous perspective being connected with technology and how this opportunity has opened up for girls who do have an Indigenous background.

The project aims for people to have better respect, understanding and acknowledgment of Aboriginal people. The team is hoping that with virtual reality, more hearts and minds will change.

VR made it possible to get digital Aboriginals to move around and fill in the knowledge gaps. It can be aptly called a new technology for an ancient culture.

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