How community radio is sowing the Seeds of Affinity

Radio interviewA unique and personal radio series that has been designed to educate the community and raise awareness about the challenges faced by women when they are first released from prison is being launched today on Semaphore Community Radio WOWFM.

What I Know Now” is a series of short programs that has been produced by UniSA Journalism Lecturer and community radio specialist, Dr Heather Anderson, with Seeds of Affinity Pathways for Women, an Adelaide-based support group for women of lived prison experience.

Each of the four programs have a different theme, run for up to seven minutes and have been created  as part of a research project supported by Development of Industry Partnerships funding from the Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences, at the University of South Australia.

“The radio series targets women who have just been released from prison, or who are about to make this transition, and shares with them the information the Seeds of Affinity participants wished they had known when they were released,” Dr Anderson says.

“We hope to also highlight to the broader community that women getting out of prison have served their time and that with help and support they can successfully re-enter the work force and be valued members of society.

“Hearing the participants’ personal stories powerfully spoken on radio gives us an intimate insight into how these women have fought against the odds to start a new life for themselves and their families.”

The radio series was developed through a set of workshops led by Dr Anderson, who’s PhD had previously examined how community radio works with prisoners around the world, and by Dr Charlotte Bedford, Visiting Researcher at the Department of Media, University of Adelaide.

With Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing that the number of women in Australian prisons increased by 11 per cent in the 12 months to June 2015 and that at least 40 per cent of women jailed had recorded a prior adult imprisonment under sentence, a key driver of this project was researching how radio can help prisoners avoid recidivism, both during incarceration and post-release.

 “Radio is a powerful medium for story-telling,” Dr Anderson says.

“It overcomes problems with literacy but also humanises the issues being discussed – which is important for women who have been stigmatised by a past prison sentence.

“We approached Seeds of Affinity with a basic concept to use radio to produce messages, and the series developed from there because the Seeds’ women really wanted to help others who were going through what they had already survived.”

Seeds of Affinity participants developed skills in preparing and conducting interviews, recording voice-overs, scripting radio packages and explored a variety of story-telling techniques over an eight week period to produce the radio series.

Having personally experienced people’s prejudices, Seeds of Affinity founding member and “What I Know Now” participant, Linda Fisk, jumped at the opportunity to learn new skills and share her knowledge.

“I know from a personal stand-point that when you’re released from prison, to actually believe that you’re worth anything, to believe that you can contribute anything to mainstream society, is very, very difficult,” Linda says.

“We hope these radio programs will inform the general public about the main issues faced by women when they first re-enter the community after a prison sentence while also raising awareness about the services Seeds of Affinity offers so that fewer women have to experience the trauma and stress of returning to prison.”

The programs will showcase on WOW FM 100.5MHz (Semaphore community radio) at 3pm on Friday May 27th, and will be rebroadcast on University of South Australia’s internet radio station unicast.com.au at 5pm on the same day.

The series will also be showcased nationally on community radio and by podcast on the Seeds of Affinity website.

Interested broadcasters are also welcome to contact Dr Heather Anderson for a copy of the audio.

Media contact: Katrina McLachlan office +61 883020961 mob 0418823673 email katrina.mclachlan@unisa.edu.au

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