B6. Community Interventions – Oral Paper Session

Friday, 31 March 2017

Empowering refugee community leaders from emerging communities; ASeTTS Community Leadership Development Project

Rebuilding social capital and strengthening the capacity of refugee community leaders is the key to the recovery of members of collective communities. Collective communities often recover from trauma as groups or as a whole community. Most of the clients that ASeTTS works with are members of collective communities who arrived in Australia from various countries. Some refugee communities have strong leaders but do not have second level leadership. With some others there are members who would like to become leaders but have less confidence due to lack of skills in running community projects/associations. ASeTTS community development team often receives requests from community groups to assist them to write grant applications, register their associations, design community projects or connect them with funding organisations and local government authorities.

As a result, ASeTTS decided to design a project to assist community leaders to build on their skills in managing and leading community groups. The project was inaugurated in 2015 as a pilot project. It is a six month free course offered by ASeTTS with the support of experts from various organisations including ASeTTS who volunteered their time as workshop facilitators. The course covered 4 main modules namely, leadership, community project designing, community association management and non-violent conflict resolution. The course included 11 fortnightly workshops held on Saturdays and one cross-cultural event organised by project participants to improve connections. For the completion of the project, ASeTTS organised a networking meeting along with the graduation ceremony with project participants and funding organisations for them to build direct connections. With the success of the group run in 2015, ASeTTS decided to facilitate another group in 2016 with a new group of leaders which was completed in August 2016. To date, ASeTTS has trained 39 community leaders originally from 16 different countries.

Tharanga De Silva (ASeTTS)

Sporting Linx – Linking Leadership Potential

Sporting Linx is a Sports/Healthy lifestyle program established in 2011. It was designed as a sports-based tool for the engagement of young people (14-18 years) and as the name Sporting Linx suggests, is about creating a platform for connection (Links). The tag line for the program is, ‘Linking Leadership Potential’. Thus, a major focus of the program includes the concept of linking leadership to young people being responsible for leading in their own environment. In addition, the program aimed to select those young people with significant leadership potential and provide them with opportunities to develop and use these skills to improve the well being of those around them.

The program seeks to establish opportunity for social contact between young refugees, local peers, teachers and local community and sporting groups. All of these opportunities focused on the skills and knowledge needed to lead on a personal and community level building social capital. Utilising professional coaches and support staff, the program encourages participants to improve connections and interpersonal skills whilst identifying and encouraging leadership potential. The development of ‘soft’ skills are essential to settlement needs.

Session based in structure, STARTTS’ personnel have been able to address the key areas of self-esteem, communication, sharing and gathering support for young people that are all essential elements in building social capital. Sporting Linx seeks to provide knowledge that will improve well being and empower individuals to pursue personal and community goals in a safe and healthy way.
The program has been evaluated using a qualitative approach which engaged all stakeholders. This outcome based evaluation has highlighted a number of positive outcomes as well as addressed potential for improvement not solely in this program but sports based interventions in general.

Mark Davis (STARTTS)

Community-Based Psychosocial Interventions for Refugees Living in Australia

In Australia, a variety of community-based approaches has been pursued in addition to individual therapeutic interventions in order to assist in dealing with refugee trauma recovery and resettlement issues. NSW STARTTS, for example, conducts community development activities in addition to clinical approaches which are seen as complementary responses to address the impact of trauma on individuals’ participation in their community and the community’s ability to support individuals and their families. Their community development work draws on a number of theoretical approaches, including community capacity building, social capital building and assets based community development designed to increase the internal strengths and capacities of refugee communities.

This paper will present preliminary results of a research project involving an analysis of such community-based interventions being provided by STARTTS and other FASSTT member agencies. These interventions include various community arts projects, Families in Cultural Transition (FICT) and peace leadership training through participation in Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops. The findings build on research in psychology and psychiatry on individual healing, in anthropology and sociology on intercultural treatment of trauma, and in social psychology on the wider implications of collective healing and peace processes (Drozdek 2010).

The interdisciplinary approach aims to forge new connections between research in these separate disciplines to create new insights about healing and psychosocial transformation in different cultural contexts. The presentation will include comparison with the results of research about community-based psychosocial interventions being conducted in Burundi with communities recovering from mass violence.

Wendy Lambourne (Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney), Raphael Manirakiza (Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney), Lydia Gitau (NSW STARTTS)

Sharing some of the good things from the past: Lessons from developing an African communities fun day with African community leaders in a rural town

Wagga Wagga, a rural town in NSW has become the home of people from a number of African communities, predominantly South Sudanese, and smaller numbers of Burundians, Sierra Leonians, Liberians, as well as other people of African origin. The majority of Africans have a refugee background and have come as humanitarian settlers to Wagga, while others have joined family, and a minority have come as skilled migrants. The Community organisation WAfrica is the community organisation for all the Wagga African communities.

This presentation is a case study of the collaborative process involved in running the first Africa Family Fun Day in Wagga for the broad African community including children and adults. Aspects of refugee trauma addressed by the project included increasing trust bonds disrupted by systematic violence and providing a focus on safe past memories. The project very successfully increased social cohesion within the diverse African Communities, and facilitated focus on fun experiences linked to the past, by providing participatory workshops on traditional African child’s toy making and games along with the sharing of diverse African food from the different communities. The project was evaluated by attendance and participation on the day as well as verbal feedback opportunities and interest in future similar events being held.

The journey of STARTTS collaboration with WAfrica to plan and run ‘Africa Family Fun Day’ in 2015 and the lessons learnt is the focus of this presentation. The presentation includes a film of the day. Issues of tensions, enablers and barriers around expectations, ownership, meaning of collaboration, process and outcomes are examined in relation to this community development project. Strategies to address difficulties and limitations are highlighted to assist future programs. The case study findings will provide insights that will be worth considering in the planning and implementation process of similar projects.

Jeanette Ninnis (STARTTS)

Presentation currently unavailable