Victor Steffenson’s Living Knowledge Place

Victor Steffenson is a finalist for the IDX Culture and Country Award proudly supported by Mirvac
The Culture and Country category is proudly supported by Mirvac and celebrates the use of technology to capture stories and share culture.

Victor Steffenson is a filmmaker, musician and consultant who developed the Living Knowledge Place, a community driven education website. Developed in collaboration with Elders from across Australia, the Living Knowledge Place addresses the need to make traditional and cultural knowledge practices accessible to the next generation. Victor believes translating, educating, and recording Indigenous and community knowledge is best done through visual storytelling.

We asked Victor about his work and why embracing digital technologies is important for Indigenous people and communities.

What do you find most rewarding about your project?

The most rewarding thing about the work I do is helping indigenous people see the country again to strengthen their knowledge. The second most rewarding thing in my work is helping non-indigenous people to understand and share the beauty of indigenous knowledge, values and life. The third most rewarding thing about my work is getting indigenous and non-indigenous people working together and respecting each other.

What have you found most challenging or exciting?

The most challenging thing is getting indigenous knowledge recognised in the society today. The most exciting thing about it is that it’s happening.

How and why did you get started? What was your inspiration?

My first inspiration that gave me my life direction is my grandmother Ada. Our family’s connection to our indigenous heritage was badly damaged by the separation of her and her siblings in the early 1900’s. Because of this, I wanted to learn as much as possible about indigenous culture and my own connections, to replace some of what was taken from those terrible days.

This is where two Awu-Laya Elders, brothers Dr George Musgrave and Dr Tommy George, became an added inspiration to me from the age of 18. They took me under their wing and we started on a mission to get the culture strong again. Today all of my Elders are with me in spirit as I continue on with the journey, sharing the work with many along the way.

Why do you think embracing digital technologies is important for Indigenous people and communities?

It is important for Indigenous culture to embrace digital technology; it’s a vital tool to record, teach, and practice indigenous knowledge into the future. Film is the part of technology that is closest in line with the traditional transfer of knowledge. But we also need to wary of technology when it comes to culture.

I am most interested in using technology to encourage people toward the true practice of culture, and exercise living traditions on country. Developing the Living Knowledge Place together with clan groups has been the start of demonstrating such aspirations.

For me technology is important, but living knowledge and culture is far greater. You can reach for the stars by using all of the modern tools, but never forget where you come from.