Cooktown workshop 1 design

Our purpose in Cooktown

We ran two different community workshops in Cooktown plus we were involved in two school activities. We also hosted a few meetings and yarns in the Community. We knew of the vibrancy of activity in Cooktown already, but wanted to find out what was important about what people did, and how they had managed to develop such a strong collection of programs and projects.

We were very much in listening mode so we could help the GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) design or support further and new activities under the Sea Country Guardians program.

Community Workshop

With the cooperation of Kym Gerome, the ROCCY (Regional Organisation of Councils of Cape York), Laurisa Hale of Yuku Baja Muliku Land Trust and Julie Kereszteny of Cooktown State School, who each believe in what we want to achieve. We had two amazing workshops gathering data and collecting ideas for projects.

Workshop techniques 1

In the best laid plans, our first workshop was disrupted by extreme rain. So we worked with people who came when they could. We worked informally with people throughout the day but did manage two formal components.

We introduced the Holistic Planning and Teaching Framework My Land, My Tracks by Uncle Ernie Grant, Elder of the Jirrbal tribe. Jeff McMullen and Uncle Ernie have built a video which describes how young Indigenous people understand their world and learn. We use this framework to acknowledge the holistic view of Indigenous people and their connection to Land.  Ernie says people view Land, Language and Culture in the context of Time, Place and Relationships. This really appeals to everyone, both Indigenous and non-indigenous because it acknowledges the holistic view of Indigenous people and assists non-indigenous people to understand.

We collected data from individuals: Heidi from Tangaroa Blue, Cultural Audit processes with the Deeral family and information about capturing video data in the outstations of Lakefield National Park from Conrad Michael. We also collected more information from Peter Kelshaw at QPWS, Jason Carrol and Brett Peterson as well as students and staff of Cooktown State School.

We did our usual "think, pair, share"  activity to gather data about what young people might do, value and learn about sea country.

Workshop techniques 2

Our key different approach here was to use a double fishbowl technique.This enabled us to give voice to young people where elders listened and enabled elders to converse and let young people listen. Our goal is always to find the common ground between the groups.

In our double fishbowl, young people held a conversation with one of us in a circle and elders sat in a second row. We asked questions and people responded in turn, so everyone had a say. We then swapped everyone's place and the elders sat in the inner circle and participated in a facilitated conversation.

We asked questions which began with - "What was your favourite memory of being on country as a 10 year old? to "What would you like your great grandchildren to do on country when they are 10?"

We were very proud of the students and young people having their say.


We used a program called  "Inspiration" which is a brainstorming and ideas organisation tool to collect ideas, organise them and eventually analyse them to a point where we developed powerpoint slides of main ideas to present back to community next time. (