A6. Community Interventions – Oral Paper Session

Thursday, 30 March 2017
11am-12.30pm

Performing for Healing Or Healing for Performance – Mapping the seemingly competing intersectionality of healing practices and community development involving the arts with performance outcomes in relation to the rigours of theatre performance

Abstract
Cultural development at STARTTS -NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors, has been involved in various cultural initiatives to include dance, music and theatre practice with emerging refugee communities in Australia for the last four years funded by the Australia Council for the Arts. The assorted team of counsellors, psychologists and professional artists, mainstream venues, Centre for Refugee Research at University of New South Wales and community development officers have worked with refugee youth and community participants to develop work intra and inter arts and cultural practices. Firstly the paper will analyse and map the healing processes employed by the project. Secondly it will analyse the works in relation to the development of cultural capital within various communities with support offered by STARTTS and then look at how this was transformed for public performance with its own set of rigours. Finally the paper will dissect the perceived dichotomy of the above mentioned methodology employed by the project and highlight curatorial, directorial, marketing and community arts development processes undertaken to bridge this gap. The process and outcome of a theatre based show with its expectations of time, technical requirements, finance and artistry will be juxtaposed with the need of the community and healing needs. Utilising video documentation, theory, practice and evaluation, the paper will assert that the harmonious elements of the methodology are more robust than the divergent aspects initially purported.

Authors
Jiva Parthipan (STARTTS)

Presentation currently unavailable

Women’s story-telling in The Third Space: A means for empowerment and a model for practice

Abstract
“… a third space, where the transformational value of change lies in the re-articulation, or translation, of elements that are neither One … nor the Other … but something else besides.” (Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture, 1994)

Straddling formal community-development contexts and the cultural realm, The Third Space works with refugee women to create platforms to speak and be heard. Not only is story work in The Third Space about engaging women to connect, express, learn and heal in empowering and nurturing ways, it is also about fostering creativity in all its diversity to facilitate critical dialogue among and between disparate groups. As complex and exacting as this work is, women share their insights, experiences and knowledge in their own language and on their own terms, and grow feminist solidarity across networks and community. Women’s story-telling in The Third Space requires a critical, feminist and postcolonial praxis that upholds the core values of mutual respect, reciprocity, dignity, trust, and reflexivity. These values are underpinned by a participatory worldview founded on cooperation, collaboration and democracy rather than competition (Ledwith Community Development: A Critical Approach, 2006). Free market politics and competition in community sector has left limited space for critical education and critical consciousness, a process at the heart of community development with refugee communities. Practical story-work projects support refugee women to engage in critical dialogue to learn about their everyday reality and act together to bring about change for themselves, their families and communities: “Personal issues become local projects, projects become causes, and causes become movements for change” (Sivanandan cited in Cooke, Radical Community Work, 1996). Women’s Story Telling in The Third Space is therefore a vital means for true empowerment, and a model for transformative practice.

Authors
Paula Abood (The Third Space), Amrit Versha (The Third Space), Geneve O’Connor (The Third Space)

Presentation currently unavailable

Iraqi Youth Dance Project

Abstract
This paper discusses the process and outcomes of a dance group intervention for Iraqi young people representing a range of Iraqi communities including Assyrian, Mandaean, Chaldean, Kurd,Arab, Christian and Muslim who experienced dislocation, prolonged exposure to war and associated trauma.

The potential of dance/movement program is explained through its impact on the core-self and body image. The dance/movement program works on the principle that mind and body co-exist in a state where health of one affects the other.
The 16 sessions program was led by a multidisciplinary team and applied a holistic approach to healing in line with STARTTS model of best practice.

Alongside training in dance, weekly sessions also included time for the group to explore identity and belonging, explore their cultural inheritance such as learning more about different Iraqi musical traditions and costumes, or to discuss issues of concern in daily life, such as helping participants to negotiate cultural and religious restrictions to taking part in dance and public performance.
Post-program evaluation suggests the use of a non-verbal modality provided a readily accessible means by which they could learn about themselves in any given moment without having to engage with painful emotions in a more direct verbal manner which can be overwhelming particularly for refugee children and young people.

“I didn’t dance before, so I learned it. I was surprised. I was surprised of my ability, was thinking that I put so much energy. Because I think that no one is going to dance but when I see everyone shouting and liking the dance I put more energy into the dance” (Participant, IYP)

Authors
Lina Ishu (STARTTS), Jiva Parthipan (STARTTS)

Presentation currently unavailable

Meaningful Being: The experiences of young South Sudanese Australians

Abstract
The last two decades has seen a huge increase in research and the development of trauma recovery programs for refugees and asylum seekers. To date, the research has been dominated by a quantitative paradigm for understanding risk and protective factors for mental health and wellbeing. There is a relative dearth of studies where the role of systemic, social and personal factors on wellbeing are explored. An even smaller volume of work explores personal belief systems and existential meaning from the refugee perspective.
The current paper explores meaning in life, social connectedness and quality of life in young South Sudanese Australians aged 18 to 30 years, who formed a significant portion of Australia’s humanitarian intake in the 2000s. The research was informed by a range of theories and frameworks, including psychosocial trauma frameworks and social psychological theories.

The study engaged mixed methods, utilising quantitative measures and a semi structured interview. Results indicate the dynamic, contextualised, and relational nature of being, with micro and macro factors playing prominent roles in the lives of South Sudanese Australians. The impact of trauma on the experience of meaning in life in the past, present and future was evident. Exposure to traumatic experiences played a key role in the development of personal beliefs, including beliefs about peace at the individual, relationship, and societal level. Education and family were reported as key sources of meaning in life. The prominent role of Australian systems and structures in the lives of young people also stood out. A model to represent the findings was developed and the research points to the potential of peace building with diaspora communities.The last two decades has seen a huge increase in research and the development of trauma recovery programs for refugees and asylum seekers. To date, the research has been dominated by a quantitative paradigm for understanding risk and protective factors for mental health and wellbeing. There is a relative dearth of studies where the role of systemic, social and personal factors on wellbeing are explored. An even smaller volume of work explores personal belief systems and existential meaning from the refugee perspective.

The current paper explores meaning in life, social connectedness and quality of life in young South Sudanese Australians aged 18 to 30 years, who formed a significant portion of Australia’s humanitarian intake in the 2000s. The research was informed by a range of theories and frameworks, including psychosocial trauma frameworks and social psychological theories.

The study engaged mixed methods, utilising quantitative measures and a semi structured interview. Results indicate the dynamic, contextualised, and relational nature of being, with micro and macro factors playing prominent roles in the lives of South Sudanese Australians. The impact of trauma on the experience of meaning in life in the past, present and future was evident. Exposure to traumatic experiences played a key role in the development of personal beliefs, including beliefs about peace at the individual, relationship, and societal level. Education and family were reported as key sources of meaning in life. The prominent role of Australian systems and structures in the lives of young people also stood out. A model to represent the findings was developed and the research points to the potential of peace building with diaspora communities.

Authors
Susannah Tipping (Foundation House)