The learning I never knew we needed

Karen Gowans, Learning & Development Manager, RedSeed

I’ve been doing this work for a long time - actually, a really long time. I’ve been doing this work before Instructional Design was even a thing. In fact, I’ve been doing this work before there was such a thing as eLearning. Now that really ages me!

I’ve created content about looking after babies, using scissor lifts, managing challenging behaviour, understanding wine, careers, goals, leadership, communication, sales, health and safety, gay men’s culture … the list goes on. 

But I’d never been asked to create content around violent extremism, and more specifically, violent extremists targeting vulnerable people in New Zealand … until recently!

Did you know that the internet, a tool most of us use every single day, and certainly the tool that is a critical part of my job, is being used by extremists to target, groom and radicalise vulnerable people in our society? 

I kid you not! You’re probably thinking - “Is that even a thing? This is New Zealand! This country is safe(ish)! Surely this can’t happen here?” 

These were exactly the same questions that Glen and I asked ourselves as we sat in a meeting recently with Explore Hāpainga Ora. Explore had been asked by the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Department of the Prime Minister to lead a project to raise awareness of these issues with carers of vulnerable people living in our community. You could have picked our jaws up off the floor as they outlined the project to us and asked for our help.

Yes, this is happening here!

This would be one of the most sobering projects I’ve ever been a part of. Our brief was to script, film, and develop a short awareness video for the families, whānau, and caregivers of vulnerable people at risk of being targeted. Our content had to equip carers with the knowledge they needed to spot behaviours and activities that might raise red flags that the person they support is being targeted. 

While the topic was shocking, it was also incredibly rewarding to do our little bit to raise awareness of such a horrid issue. If we had a part to play in preventing even one person from being radicalised, then wow—what a cool contribution RedSeed has made to society!

We all need to know this, because knowledge is our greatest defence and when it comes to protecting the people we care about most. 

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