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Friday, June 9 • 9:30am - 9:50am
The Embedded Creative: the role of a creative practitioner in the Name.Narrate.Navigate (NNN) Program at Frank Baxter Youth Justice Centre.

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This research project sought to evaluate the role of the creative researcher/practitioner in an Australian social justice initiative for young people. The project adopted an approach where the visual communicator was regarded as a key investigator who uses visual communication systems and approaches in the context of research to stimulate dialogue, elicit opinion and reveal insights (Gwilt, 2011, p2). The project is centred around the Name.Narrate.Navigate (NNN) program for youth violence. NNN intentionally merges the neuroscience of trauma with Aboriginal ways of knowing and doing by using creative methods as the ‘elicitor’ of narrative storytelling to build connection and understanding. To date, Photovoice methods (Fitzgibbon & Healy, 2019), involving a combination of photography and focus group discussions have been used to gain rich multi-dimensional understandings of violence from the perspective of justice-involved young people in the program. With expansion to custodial settings and restrictions on the use of cameras therein, the NNN program sought to collaborate with cross-disciplinary partners to explore other visual methods for this important aspect of the work. This project asked:
1. How does an embedded creative practitioner enhance the elicitation of narrative story telling for young men in youth justice detention?
2. How do graphic storytelling and visual communication strategies improve dissemination of key research insights gained in restricted environments?
3. How can drawing assist in facilitating complex conversations?

The objective of this cross-disciplinary project was twofold. Firstly, the research team endeavoured to adjust the NNN program for restricted juvenile detention environments by embracing alternate creative methods. The project sought to develop a strong narrative of how scaffolded drawing can be used to help facilitate conversation and engagement with young men aged 15-21 who use violence and for the workers who support them. It did so by developing a visual system/cultural probe kit consisting of tactile drawing stimuli, guided drawing activities and exploration of symbols for the contextual meaning. This cultural probe kit was newly developed and untested in social justice settings.

Secondly, reportage illustration, drawing and studio practice was used to communicate the important role of this program more broadly. Looking at the creative practitioner as ‘observer of the program’ alongside and assisting in the facilitation of NNN program activities from the perspective of an illustrator alongside visual recordings of the program. Illustration functions in this context as serving society, commentating, documenting, and bearing witness. It explains and constructs a visual experience of societal reflections, in which pictures, language and meaning are entwined in the evaluation of a complex preventative intervention for youth violence. Developing an insider perspective through design ethnography, reportage illustration (Embury 2018) and drawing this project looks at the restricted environment of juvenile detention.

Increasingly alternative methods of inquiry are needed to enhance contemporary approaches to broader research, impact and engagement, and dissemination in traditional academic disciplines This project was the first of its kind to explore the potential for the embedded creative as more than a facilitator of an artwork-based intervention in justice settings, but as a story-teller capable of both eliciting and documenting unsaid moments in the group process that lend new understandings to youth violence, and the experience of custody. In new cross-industry settings, graphic storytellers are likely to be increasingly valued for interpersonal and interpretive skills. These artists explain how they can work ‘a kind of magic’ through live drawing while abstract, complicated, or formless discussions unfold. (Grant et al 2021).



Embury, G. and Minichiello, M., 2018. Reportage Illustration: Visual Journalism. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Grant, P. and Clark, G., 2021. Graphic Storytellers at Work. Australia Council for the Arts. file:///Users/Ajc704/Downloads/Graphic-Storytellers-at-Work-GSAW-Report_WEB%20(4).pdf

Gwilt, I.D. and Williams, J., 2011. Framing futures for visual communication design research. Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal.

Researchers acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land in which the University resides and pay respect to Elders past, present, and emerging. We extend this acknowledgement to the Worimi and Awabakal and Darkinjung people of the land in which we work.


Ari Chand

Doctor, University of South Australia

Tamara Blakemore

University of Newcastle, Australia

Friday June 9, 2023 9:30am - 9:50am EDT
ARC E-02