Joanna Lester


“Since I first travelled to Australia ten years ago, I’ve been fascinated with Indigenous culture and history. I decided I wanted to improve my knowledge and understanding of Indigenous culture and issues through volunteering, and was delighted to discover ICV offered a framework for people to do this as skilled volunteers through a well-managed nationwide programme,” says Joanna.

Joanna’s first ICV project was in May this year, providing broadcasting and multimedia support to the Aboriginal Resource Development Service (ARDS) in Darwin.

Joanna spent two weeks working with Sylvia, a Yolngu lady from Milingimbi, helping her to learn the functions of recording, editing, audio production, planning and preparing for content production and interviews, and learning vocal techniques for presenting and speaking on radio.

The second week of Joanna’s visit coincided with the World Indigenous Network (WIN) conference in Darwin, where Sylvia was able to put some of her new skills in to practice.

This on the job learning and support gave Sylvia confidence in preparation for her studies in media and broadcasting. Sylvia is also keen to transfer her skills to her Yolngu peers at ARDS. Joanna left some very useful guides for Sylvia to use, and she will continue to support and mentor Sylvia from home.

In turn, Sylvia was able to teach Joanna some cultural ways of the Yolngu people. Joanna appreciated the unique opportunity to learn more about Yolngu culture. She even picked up some Yolngu words.

“The experience completely exceeded my expectations,” says Joanna. “I learnt a huge amount from Sylvia and other staff at ARDS about Yolngu culture, language, and the vastly different worldviews that present challenges for Yolngu people in understanding aspects of ‘mainstream’ Australian daily life, law and government.

I was extremely lucky to work with ARDS staff, who are mostly multilingual and specialists in cross-cultural community development and education. It is a fascinating organisation and a wonderful learning environment.”