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Abstract

This paper reports on a new initiative between the Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health (CUCRH) and the journalism program at Edith Cowan University (ECU). The main aim is to help journalism students achieve a better understanding of Aboriginal communities and culture in Western Australia, and that this new knowledge and experience will inform student news stories and feature articles on Aboriginal issues. Currently, non-Aboriginal journalists seldom get to meet and talk with Aboriginal people about their life and beliefs, and this often results in narrow and misinformed reporting. So in July 2008, eight final-year ECU journalism students were offered an opportunity by CUCRH to participate in a one-month journalism placement with Aboriginal communities in two Western Australian towns. At the end of the placement, the students were asked to prepare a brief written report on what they had learnt form the experience. A common response was that the students had gained substantial knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal people (and about themselves). The prime focus of the paper is on what the students learnt. The paper does not assess if the students improved their writing on Aboriginal issues since it was the first time for them to write on such topics. The placement will be offered again in July 2010.

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