New South Wales Government Family & Community Services - Aboriginal Housing Office

Social comics and storybooks

Through the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH) the Aboriginal Housing Office has funded the development of social comics and children’s storybooks as part of its Tenant Support and Education Program.

The stories and characters were created by remote community members in half day workshops facilitated by Inception Strategies, who then produced the illustrations and printed the comics. The workshops allowed tenants to build a picture of life in their communities and to weave key housing issues into stories that were written by community for community.

Participation in the workshops and development of the social comics built the self esteem of community members by addressing problems and finding solutions, which were then reinforced in the books.

Five communities produced three comic books aimed at adults and three storybooks developed by, and aimed at children. The comics and storybooks focus on what it means to be a responsible tenant.

The program took place in Lightning Ridge, Walgett, Bourke, Enngonia and Collarenebri. The Lightning Ridge and Walgett books focus on the importance of paying rent, those from Bourke and Enngonia focus on repairs and maintenance, and the Collarenebri book focuses on issues arising from overcrowding.

Social Comics assist with literacy, education, health, employment and training. Evidence shows that comics encourage reluctant readers back to reading and they have been a significant resource for communities in remote locations with poor literacy rates.

The program came about as a response to Aboriginal Community Housing Providers in these areas noting that overcrowding, rental arrears and tenant damage were issues that had become problematic.

The AHO decided to use alternate means of communicating with tenants in an engaging way in a bid to ensure the messages were received, understood and comprehended. The books outline some of the issues faced, the consequences of poor tenancy management, and most importantly, they provide solutions for avoiding the issues in way that is both entertaining and informative.

The storybooks demonstrate how housing and education can come together to positively impact children’s learning and development. The aim is to have students take home messages about overcrowding and educate those in their family.

Students and community members were excited and proud to be a part of the comic book project which delivered practical advice using real life experiences.

Having taken six to 12 months for each book to be developed, the AHO this month launched the books in each of the communities that participated. See what community members had to say about the program here.

Below are links to the comics.

Enjoy a Happy Home

Happy Homes bookletThe AHO's free downloadable booklet 'Happy Homes' has lots of great ideas for tenants for creating a safe living environment for families, and information on what to do in case of an emergency such as a fire, and how to keep pests out and your children safe.

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