Arts

Spanning the digital divide

JESSICA WHITEAKER

A ‘Camera Recycle Project’ is helping youths from around Western Australia to span the ‘digital divide’.

Camera Recycle Project Managing Director Jade Stott says it is time to address unequal access to technology because society risks an even greater divide if it does nothing.

CRP is a Perth-based not-for-profit group that gives young people the tools for creative expression in digital media

The group provides disadvantaged youths with digital cameras that are returned at the end of the day.

“After the programs finish, the kids can’t afford this kind of technology,” Ms Stott said.

“I know schools have the technology available, but what if you’re disengaged from school or homeless?”

Ms Stott says the project is extremely rewarding and creates exciting opportunities for participants.

“One of my favourite experiences was being able to send cameras home with 52 young refugee children as part of Refugee Week 2011,” she said.

“The program, Freedom from Fear, raised awareness on what these young people value about Australia and helped to humanise refugee issues.

And it is not just among refugees that CRP says it is making a difference.

“So far we’ve had lots of success stories with one young man even enrolling into a TAFE photography course with his borrowed camera,” Ms Stott says.

Josh Hourigan became involved with photography through another one of the CRP programs, Home is where the heart is.

“I went with a professional photographer and took a bunch of photos and he said I had a talent and should think of setting up my own business, so I went to CRP and they loaned me a camera and a laptop and off I went,” Mr Hourigan says.

Mr Hourigan says CRP is helping in many ways.

“CRP has helped me out a lot … getting me in touch with people for photography work, and I get a bit of money,” he says.

“I try to give back to CRP as much as I can cause there are a lot of kids I know who want to get involved, so I send them all CRP’s way.”

The group is now looking to expand into different mediums.

“I chose cameras because you don’t need to be creative, it’s about being in the moment and capturing it,” Ms Stott says.

“To see the world through some of these young peoples’ eyes is really quite interesting.”

“It’s hard to kick the stigma attached to these troubled youths but not one camera has ever been stolen or misused.”

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