Notre Dame graduate explores environmental issues with regional students

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 16-7-2012

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



A film and photographic project which gave youth in the Goldfields region of Western Australia an opportunity to speak up about community and environment issues, and the personal challenges they face has been described as a “course highlight” by Notre Dame graduate, Lucy Cooke.

Ms Cooke travelled with 130 young people to develop the Eastern-Goldfields Project titled: Project Explore as part of her Behavioural Science internship with not-for-profit organisation Millennium Kids.

Millennium Kids uses the ‘youth voice process’ to develop local, regional and international partnerships centred on identifying, exploring and addressing environmental issues.

Combining her extensive background in the film industry with her passion for creating positive social change for young people, Ms Cooke provided each person with digital and video cameras to record their feelings about the protection of the Great Western Woodlands - the largest remaining woodland in the world.

The footage was then formatted to make a 30 minute film documenting the project and the youth’s insights into their concerns for the environment.

Not only was Ms Cooke’s film screened at the ‘Project Explore’ launch in December 2011, but her photographs have since been made into a book and visual exhibition telling the story of the woodlands through the eyes of the young people.

“I cannot help but feel a sense of pride in the fact that my work with Millennium Kids helped to develop a photography exhibition and a beautiful book,” Ms Cooke said.

“The faces of the young Goldfields people just lit up when they had the opportunity to share personal stories about their connection with their local natural environment.”

The 23-year-old graduated from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus in 2011 with a double degree in Behavioural Science and Communications and Media.

Since graduating, Ms Cooke has directed music videos for Western Australian bands and is in the process of developing a series of documentary films exploring the social and moral issues confronting Australians both now and in the future.

Ms Cooke said the encouragement she received from Dr Sharon McCarthy and Dr Dawn Darlaston-Jones in the School of Arts and Sciences has positioned her well for her future career.

“As a Behavioural Science graduate, the skills and abilities I acquired at Notre Dame helped me to develop a high level of professional integrity. Promoting positive social change through the power of digital storytelling is extremely important,” Ms Cooke said.

“The course taught the technology and methods of qualitative research to find out the most important means of instituting a continuous cycle of learning for young people in isolated and marginalised communities.

“I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to externalise their stories through digital storytelling.”

Dr McCarthy and Dr Darlaston-Jones said Ms Cooke was an outstanding ambassador for Notre Dame.

“Lucy embodies the values of Behavioural Science and has made full use of the scaffolded learning in the degree. This begins in the first year and builds into a suite of knowledge, skills and abilities which ensures graduates are immediately effective in the workplace,” the academics said.

“The fact that Lucy was able to apply these skills in relation to the Millennium Kids project emphasises the social justice foundation of the degree, but also her personal commitment to these values.”

Ms Cooke hopes her future work can empower younger generations to become more engaged within their communities and give them the confidence, capacity and discipline to achieve their personal goals.

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Ebbs: Tel (08) 9433 0610; Mob 0408 959 138 Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093