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Dre Ngatokorua

Digital storyteller and broadcaster

Dre Ngatokorua - digital storyteller and broadcaster

Dre Ngatokorua is a deadly digital storyteller and broadcaster, Umeewarra media

I feel proud being able to share my identity with a lot of people. My parents shaped me into becoming my own person. They’re prominent people in their own respective communities. I watched what they did and asked them questions on a lot of different stuff. 

I grew up watching my mum as an artist and she was always telling me the story as she was painting. It wasn’t like the small white description you see in the art galleries – it was a full journey. That was my inspiration for my digital storytelling. 

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I also learn a lot of language and preserve that in the stories through digital storytelling with all my Nannas, Aunties and Uncles. I go with my Uncles up to the Flinders Ranges on Country and they point out the hills and mountains. We go to the story places. It makes everything so much more real. In my work, I’m brought back into that place where I find some peacefulness, thinking back to being on Country. I find peace and relaxation and put that emotion into work.

Discovering digital storytelling

Digital storytelling is an art form that uses lots of different things. I use animation along with paintings and recordings of my voice for narration. I also use music. With these combined, you get an emotional feeling as well as a visual feeling. It’s like watching the painting as it’s being done.

Doing 3D design in school helped me. That, and English and Art. There is a science in how you connect all the pieces. School helped with the learning aspect, the notetaking and how to look at things in a strategic way.

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I wish I took school more seriously – you never know where the things you learn will take you. There are things you learn that come back later and you realise how important they were. After school I did AFTRS (Australian Film Television and Radio School) online which helped me to learn a bit about understanding how you structure the plan of a project.

I took a lot of opportunities as they came up and gave things a go. I never knew where it would take me. It’s important to get a lot of different views, put in hard work and dedication and learn from others.

Working at a community radio station

My day-to-day work is at Umeewarra radio station – the second oldest community radio station in Australia. In my work I might do interviews and catch up with community to bounce ideas with them and try stuff out. I did a traineeship while I was at school with the radio station. I could do public speaking but radio was different. I was so nervous to speak and I was very stuttery. I learned to have small conversations with myself.

As a community radio station we’re obliged to get the right education and information to community. At the start of COVID-19, the government health department sent us a script to play on the station but we talked to a lot of the community media outlets and worked out that some mob didn’t understand it.

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Working with my Aunties and Uncles, we talked to the government and said, ‘This is an emergency and it has to be written in the way we can translate it.’ We wrote a new script and translated it for mob in the APY Lands – and the government approved it. A lot of the other radio services were also playing our translation. Our script even got onto national radio! 

One thing I really enjoy today is mentoring young people on how to present their skills – to become better at how they explain themselves. Young people need to keep connection to themselves and bring a bit of their own flavour. Get comfortable to talk with people but don’t change yourself. I’m only 26, but having those experiences early on has helped me to make changes.

I know that young people’s thoughts can dominate them – some kids think they’re not good enough. But I would say take each day one by one. Trust your gut and just remember that you’re deadly.

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Dre’s path to becoming a digital storyteller and broadcaster

  • Traineeship at Umeewarra
  • AFTRS 
  • Cert III in Music
  • Editing mentorship with Closer Productions
  • Digital storyteller and broadcaster, Umeewarra media

Dre Ngatokorua with Danika Davis

A version of this profile also appears in our upcoming issue of Careers with STEM: Indigenous. Sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on its launch date.

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