Indigenous educational animation has Murdoch input

April 28, 2017

A still from Little J and Big Cuz

A still from Little J and Big Cuz

Australia’s first ever Aboriginal animation series – Little J and Big Cuzwhich debuts tonight on NITV, features input from a Murdoch University alumnus, a former student and a member of staff.

The ground-breaking animation aims to support a smooth transition from home to school and early learning education environments for Indigenous children.

Priscilla Reid-Loynes, an Indigenous Early Childhood Consultant who studied for a graduate certificate in Early Childhood Education at Murdoch, was the lead Indigenous education consultant on the series. She developed the concepts for the show and guided the implementation of Aboriginal worldviews and knowledges within the series.

The Australian Council for Educational Research invited Libby Jackson-Barrett, a lecturer from Murdoch’s School of Education, to be a part of the advisory team on the project. This was thanks to her expertise in Indigenous primary education and her experience of working with children on Country at Burringurrah, Djarlgarra Bilya and Walliabup Connections.

Former law student Ningali Lawford-Wolfe plays the role of Nana in the series.

The animation follows lead characters Little J (voiced by Miranda Tapsell) and Big Cuz (voiced by Deborah Mailman) as they discover more about their culture and the great experiences they can have at school.

Along with a number of other Indigenous educators, Ms Reid-Loynes and Ms Jackson-Barrett contributed to educational resources that tie in with the series such as games for children, a website and supporting programs for families and teachers.  They also reviewed the scripts and provided professional advice to give an Indigenous perspective.

“We hope the series and the supporting resources will have a positive impact not just for Indigenous children, but also non-Indigenous youngsters,” said Ms Jackson-Barrett.

“Our kids will perceive themselves as Aboriginal in a positive light because the animation relates to Country and how we relate through our connection to Country. It is about our children seeing ourselves represented positively.”

“For non-Indigenous kids they will get a totally different story to what their parents, grandparents and great grandparents  were told about Aboriginal peoples, our history and ways of being, knowing and doing.  They will experience Country in a vastly different way, which they will be able to pass on to their families.”

For Indigenous people, Country refers to the core of their identity through their connection to land.

Ms Reid-Loynes added that for her, Country is curriculum and teacher and they strove to reflect this in the animation.

“Our diverse First Nations have many ways of being, knowing and doing. Country is the core business of our worldviews and knowledge systems,” she said.

It is hoped educators will also be inspired by the series and utilise the free resources produced in connection with each episode.

Little J and Big Cuz is set to debut on NITV on Friday 28 April at 7.30pm. It can be watched weekly on Fridays at 7.30pm, and on weekdays from Monday 1 May at 4pm.

More details about the show are available from the dedicated website: www.littlejandbigcuz.com.au.

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