Burnie leading the way in collecting stories for change

Burnie leading the way in collecting stories for change

Today 12 students graduated from the University of Tasmania as a Community Knowledge Collector.

This is a first for mainstream community shared learning and evaluation in Tasmania.

Community Knowledge Collector Annie said “Burnie has a thriving community of people who are passionate about change and growth for our region and beyond. Too often, we only hear about the negatives. I feel blessed to have been able to get involved with this project and meet some really amazing people.”

The Community Knowledge Collector micro credential course commenced in October 2022 and was designed as a place-based learning tool to introduce participants to the foundational learning required to foster community change. Burnie Works partnered with the University to codesign the pathway for Community Knowledge Collectors. Burnie Works has also played a key role in mentoring and managing the project as well as providing other training opportunities for students.

Prior to commencing this project, Burnie Works spent eighteen months learning, listening, and testing how we can best support information collection and shared learning across our community focus areas. We bought people together to incubate the idea, design, source funding, manage the project and build community capacity.

Burnie Works Knowledge Collector Project Coordinator Shandel Pile said “A Community Knowledge Collector is a person who is interested in their community, the opportunities, and challenges it faces. They help collect information and stories so we can understand what matters to people in our community. This knowledge is then brought together with other information and data to shape community action and shared decision making.

“They have the skills to engage with community; collect people’s information safely and respectfully; understand the information they have collected; and then with permission, use this knowledge to create advocacy, action, and change.

“Without community knowledge the big changes rely on data and experts from outside the community. Community Knowledge Collectors bring community and lived experience into the mix – just as it should be. With local insight, local knowledge and local action, Burnie Works.”

Community Knowledge Collector Annie said “Humans are really interesting and I love hearing their stories. Our lived experiences are one of the best tools we have for creating change and growth. So many people have never had the opportunity to have a voice and be heard. I intend to help change that.”

Burnie Works Chair Jacqueline de Jonge said “Knowledge Collectors have already been undertaking field work, collecting stories at the Burnie Child and Family Learning Centre, kipli kani events, Chatty Café and at primary schools.

“We are already seeing a demand from services and organisation who want to tap into this new resource, and we are exploring how this will work for our community in the long term.

“Our absolute focus is maintaining the integrity of the knowledge we collect.

“We are hearing that community are often asked for their opinions, but that they don’t see an outcome or the change that they had hoped for. We want to make sure that the knowledge we collect is used to make positive change in our community. Because your story matters.”

Katherine from Social Ventures Australia, who worked with the Knowledge Collector team in a recent project with Burnie Works said “we really valued the opportunity to leverage the skills of the team in collecting stories and experiences from the community – this ultimately helped us bring together a more comprehensive picture of impact. It was such a joy to see an innovative, community-focused project in action.”

Burnie Works is now creating processes, tools, and methodologies to build a Community Knowledge Collection Toolkit for the Department of Social Services. This has included informed consent forms, policies, safe storage of data, safe spaces for knowledge collection and being creative with end products.

Wanda, a Community Knowledge Collector said we have learned “how to identify, collect, curate and structure community knowledge through story telling while ensuring data sovereignty and that the data collected is useful, useable and used.”

Burnie Works and the University are delivering the Community Knowledge Collector Project as part of the Australian Governments Stronger Places, Stronger People initiative.