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Student Xpress (3ZZZ)

CBAA News, 29th May 2013
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Student Xpress is a new eight-part current affairs series produced at Melbourne’s 3ZZZ, on the experiences of students living in Australia, particularly international students. To find out more the CBAA put a few questions to 3ZZZ Assistant Manager Jan Smith.

For readers not familiar with the station, please tell us a little about 3ZZZ.
3ZZZ is in located in Melbourne and is community radio’s largest ethnic radio station. 3ZZZ has been running for 24 years and broadcasts in over 65 languages. 3ZZZ can be heard on 92.4FM in Melbourne, on digital radio - 3ZZZ Ethnic, the station can be streamed from our website.
 
What are some of the stories we’re going to hear in Student Xpress?
Student Xpress gives little-heard international students a voice. We hear how Orientation Week is just not enough for newly arrived students who are grappling with English, our customs and settling in a long way from home. We hear how often international students struggle to get by on very low incomes, some working for $5 an hour. How there is benign segregation in the class room with locally born students sitting in one group and say Asian students tending to sit together as well. [Click through for a full rundown]

Nearly all the international students we spoke to said their experiences in Australia dramatically improved once they made friends with locally born students. Not only did they feel more part of Australia and less lonely, their English improved and they were able to access higher paying jobs.
 
It seems the perspectives of international students’ are often missed by the mainstream media.
Yes, we often hear experts talking about international students and the money they bring to Australia, those same people neglect to talk about a duty of care we have as a county for these students away from their families and culture for the first time in their young lives. Of the universities we talked to about programs for assisting students to feel at home at their campus, only Swinburne University offered anything innovative. They offer rewards to students who help  run their on campus social events. Once a student has done a certain amount of hours of volunteering with them, they are offered free short courses such as food handling and barista courses. Thus students not only get to meet other students and practise their English in a relaxed setting but they also get the opportunity to get certificates to help them get part time jobs.

We were disgusted with the famous university who refused to speak to us and who denied any responsibility in their response  to a story we have about an 18 year old Chinese student having her room keys thrown at her, at her university recommended accommodation. Her approach to the check-in desk was the first time she had spoken English to an Australian, her first day in Australia needlessly ended in tears.

How did this project come about?
3ZZZ broadcasters’ ages range from teenagers to people in their 80s.  We were looking for a way to encourage our younger broadcasters to have greater participation in the station. We decided to combine training with a program outcome, that is, the trainees produce content for broadcast. This content is in English because it is the common language of the group. It is anticipated that these skills can be transferred back to their community language groups. The trainees come from Chinese, Filipino, Spanish, Sri Lankan, and Vietnamese backgrounds.
 
Did you spend a lot of time workshopping the ideas before production?
No there wasn’t a lot of workshopping - we met as a group two or three times. We communicated using social media. This was very hands on - the effort was in finding international students with interesting stories. We then grouped the stories according to broad themes we had set. There was a lot of production time, editing, scripting and then compiling the programs.

With the second series we are currently making, on asylum seekers, we learnt from the Student Xpress project. This time with a team of 8 young people there has been a lot more emphasis training at the start of the project - interview techniques, portable recorders, Audacity and presentation techniques, scripting. Each student gets to produce one program in the series with the others contributing as reporters. Our use of social media has increased dramatically - we are using Facebook and Google Hangout for meetings.

Do you have any advice for other community stations planning to make their own documentary series?
There is nothing like training with an on-air outcome. It focuses students from day one as they apply their newly learnt skills. Our students on the course are from non English speaking backgrounds and are low income students, the time they are preparing these programs they are away from the low paying jobs. With our grant money we are paying their participants a nominal amount worked out on a points system. One point for each accepted interview, 2 points for being the producer for a program, a point for excellent team work etc. This means people are rewarded for their effort not their participation.

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Student Xpress is available to be played on stations around Australia through the national Community Radio Network service, and is playing live-via-satellite on Thursdays from 7 June to 26 July, from 09:04 - 09:32 EST.

For more information about obtaining the program contact the CBAA office on 02 9310 2999 or email crn@cbaa.org.au. Production of this series was made possible thanks to the Community Broadcasting Foundation.

 

 

 

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