Wednesday, June 1, 2022
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The Big Issue to launch online workshops

Following the success of face-to-face workshops in NSW and Victoria, The Big Issue will be launching an eClassroom version of the program next year, which will be available to schools nationwide. The online workshops, featuring presentations from The Big Issue vendors, will be broadcast out of the NSW office in Redfern.

The Big Issue NSW classroom coordinator, Melissa Brooks, said the eClassroom format would allow more students to access the program, by removing the challenge of distance. Previous evaluations of the face-to-face program had uncovered travel time as one of the main barriers to involvement from schools in regional areas.

“It’s important for us to be able to reach as many people as possible, especially young people, and get them to think about homelessness,” Ms Brooks said. “It’s great that we’ve been able to do it in Victoria and NSW, but obviously it’s something that needs to happen in other parts of the country as well.”

Last month, the federal government announced $120,000 in funding to support the launch of the program, including the development of a studio in Redfern, with broadcasting equipment like video cameras and microphones. “Part of what we’re looking at bringing to the eClassroom is a roving microphone and roving camera, so for schools that are interested in the history of Redfern … as a significant place in Sydney, we can help them to understand the area where we are working,” Ms Brooks said.

“Kids from regional areas … are usually more shocked by the number of people they see sleeping rough in the city, [compared to] kids who grow up in the city and have become accustomed to it. Their ideas about what causes homelessness are also often quite different.”

Sydney schools will also benefit from the program, with cost efficiencies resulting from multiple schools accessing the program at once.

With the launch of the eClassroom, many of The Big Issue vendors are looking forward to telling their story to a wider audience. Marcus Prentice, a guest speaker for The Big Issue classroom and vendor in Erskineville, said the program had given him the opportunity to share his life experiences, whether good or bad, with others. “I like to think that hearing what I have been through might help someone else with their problems,” Mr Prentice said.

“[The eClassroom program] is very exciting. I am a bit of a technological dunderhead, but I really want to learn more about using the technology. It’s a great way to talk to people and I like that we will be able to talk to more people from regional areas, being a country boy myself.

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