Living Outback – A timely radio ‘nod’ to Lifelong and Lifewide Learning in rural and remote Australian communities

A new project, linking the old but still very relevant medium of radio with the latest internet technology, will provide many people around Australia with an insight into some of the contemporary issues facing rural and remote communities.

For many of us, radio is still that daily companion, brining us news, weather alerts, talkback radio and of course music. For many years from the 1930s to the 1980s, radio did play a very important educational role, bringing programs to schools – and especially schools in rural and remote Australia – at a time when radio was ‘king’.

And in many developing countries as well, adult education radio was (and still is) used to reach into remote parts of the world, with important information and education on farming practices, health and current events.

Today’s internet-based technology was unimaginable back then, and it’s no wonder that the educational potential of radio has been largely overlooked in recent times.

An initiative of PBA FM in Adelaide goes some way towards acknowledging and highlighting the continuing educational role of radio. Consistent with Adult Learning Australia’s key policy planks, radio is also lifelong and lifewide.

Living Outback is a series of 15 half hour radio programs, available to community radio stations around Australia from early April 2013. Program topics include key issues facing rural and remote communities – such as declining rural populations, the effects of drought fire and floods, perennial change issues to do with education, mining, farming and the way adults and communities do (and don’t) cope with change.

The Living Outback project is much more than a stand-alone radio series – it is complemented by a dedicated website – – to provide further information about each program, the contributors, and most importantly, a section headed Thinkabout Talkabout – notes provided by specialist contributors to encourage further reading and discussion on those important issues.

Working alongside PBA FM’s Tony Ryan, the Project Consultant Dr John Ashfield has long experience of working in mental health, men’s health and suicide prevention programs, particularly in rural South Australia. Over 30 interviewees come from four states, and the website is enriched by a series of photographs from around Australia.

Unlike in the old days, this is not ephemeral radio. Each program in the series is available worldwide through live-streaming and then as podcasts.

As President of the Board of Adult Learning Australia, we welcome this initiative, an excellent example of utilising radio in the 21st Century and encouraging lifelong and lifewide learning

Professor Barry Golding
National President
Adult Learning Australia

Professor Barry Golding

Professor Barry Golding

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