Preserving the past
Developing and maintaining the heart of the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) is the aim of an Arrernte woman and a former NSW north coast resident now living in Alice Springs.
Tucked away in a room at CAAMA, Sylvia Purrurle-Neale and ICV volunteer Jody are working hard to systematise a veritable gold mine of visual and audio material of Indigenous culture from throughout Australia.
The CAAMA library is crammed with precious bits and pieces that the two women hope will become more accessible to the community.
“The Aboriginal community and particularly the Elders recognised and accepted very early that the use of white man’s technology is a way to preserve some parts of our culture. My interest in the preservation of our culture has always been foremost in my mind. The whole aim of CAAMA is to preserve what the community has entrusted to CAAMA,” Sylvia explains.
Working in two tiny adjoining rooms, surrounded by shelves that go from floor to the ceiling packed with old films and tapes, the rapport between the two women is obvious.
Like many organisations similar to CAAMA, funding for projects such as the one being carried out in the library (preservation) means that things have to be taken step by step as the two women are hampered by the lack of the latest equipment required to digitise the material.
“A variety of things are needed for the preservation process to happen which includes a range of technologies. That can be from digitising the beta tape to preserving the old films. The library is set at the prescribed temperature that assists in the preservation of the material. In spite of this deterioration is slowly occurring on materials that are not digitised. Having the right equipment is a step in slowing down the rate of deterioration,” Jody states.
For Sylvia, who previously worked in the Alice Springs’ public library, she believes Jody’s presence has proved “invaluable” along with the backing of ICV. Sylvia goes on to say that she feels that “it is the ethos of ICV that attracts quality people like Jody to the organisation”.
“I am normally a very private person. Jody and I seem to speak the same language,” she said. Jody agrees.
“I think the impact is positive and it is positive for both of us. I love working with Sylvia, she is a wonderful women and she has made me very comfortable and very at home here. I think that my impact for her is to have two heads together to work out problems and makes for a much more simple way of sorting out problems. Those little steps bring a positive feel to the work.”
Their efforts sit very well with the CAAMA aim of promoting Aboriginal culture and language and therefore engendering pride in that culture in the wider community.