Workshop for Aboriginal fathers in prison – what worked

Photo (OZinOH)

Photo (OZinOH)

In this post, part of a series on some fathering workshops I helped facilitate for Aboriginal men in jail, I explore some of the things that worked well. The workshops, Brothers Inside, were generally 4½ days spread over 2-3 weeks and focussed on the roles the men played as fathers (both in and out of prison) and ways in which they could strengthen these roles, and encouraged the dads to think about how they could improve their connections with their children.

What worked well

Strengths based approach. The foundation of the workshops was a strengths-based approach. Craig Hammond (my co-facilitator from the Family Action Centre) and I believe that all the men had strengths they can build on as fathers and we respected the opinions and experiences of the workshop participants. Many of the men said Brothers Inside was the best workshop they had every attended. Continue reading

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Workshops for Aboriginal fathers in prison – challenges

(Photo: Kate Ter Haar)

(Photo: Kate Ter Haar)

I mentioned in my last post that, as part of shifting the focus of my work to parenting and families, I’ve been reflecting on some of the work I’ve done with families over the years. Yesterday I wrote about the experience of Aboriginal fathers in prison based on some fathering workshops I helped facilitated for Aboriginal men in prison. This time I will talk a bit more about some of the challenges in running the workshops, and later, what worked and what we learnt.

Though the workshops we recognised the importance of fathers in their children’s lives, explored the roles the men played as fathers (both in and out of prison) and ways in which they could strengthen these roles, and encouraged the dads to think about how they could improve their connections with their children. In a way the workshop title – Brothers Inside – could have been a bit misleading (after all the workshops were about being a father, not being brothers) but Aboriginal men often call each other “Brother”, hence the name. Continue reading

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Being an Aboriginal father in prison

As part of shifting the focus of my work to parenting and families, I’ve been reflecting on some of the work I’ve done with families over the years. One that had a particularly significant impact on me was helping to facilitate a series of workshops with Craig Hammond (an Aboriginal colleague from the Family Action Centre) for Aboriginal fathers who were in prison. The workshops provided me with the opportunity to discover more about the backgrounds of the men and gain insights into some of the challenges of being a father in prison. While I struggled with some of the attitudes and behaviour of the men, at the same time it was easy to respect them and to recognise that they really wanted to be good fathers and wanted the best for their children.

In this post I want to reflect on their experience as fathers and in my next post I’ll explore the workshops themselves.

Being a father in prison was not easy. Often the fathers talked about the pain of being separated from their children. Continue reading

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A great 1 minute video of fathers and their kids

After my post yesterday about creating positive images of Aboriginal fathers, I was flicking channels on TV last night and saw the following ad. It was so refreshing!

The video, produced by the Fatherhood Foundation, wasn’t specifically about Aboriginal dads (although I’m sure some of the featured dads were), but showed a variety of dads and their children. While I doubt I would agree with all the Foundation’s work (they seem to have a conservative view of the ideal family consisting of a married man and woman) this is a great initiative and I think they have created a powerful ad.  I wish we were exposed to more images of fathers like these.

If you liked this post you might want to follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. Creating positive images of Aboriginal fathers
  2. Being a father
  3. Parenting for a better world
  4. Focusing more on parenting for the environment
Posted in Community engagement, Videos | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Creating positive images of Aboriginal fathers

Be there for usWe are surrounded by negative images of Aboriginal men and fathers. In the mainstream media, and even academic literature, they are mostly portrayed in a negative context: the focus is on crime, domestic violence, alcohol and other drugs, unemployment, and child abuse. It is time we started seeing more of the positives. A recent study (Stoneham, Goodman and Daube, 2014) looked at 335 media stories relating to Australian Indigenous health and found that 74% of them were negative, 11% were neutral and only 15% were positive.

Craig Hammond, one of my colleagues at the Family Action Centre, has produced a range of resources (DVDs, posters and a book)  that offer more positive images.  In 2011 he  published a paper Making positive resources to engage Aboriginal men/fathers (Hammond, 2011)  in which he discusses some of his work helping to create posters with positive images of Aboriginal fathers in a number of communities. He argues: Continue reading

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Go home on time day!

Go home on timeToday is Go home on time day, so that’s what I’ll be doing.

The day was conceived in 2009 by the Australia Institute as a light-hearted way to start a serious conversation about the impact of poor work/life balance on our health, relationships and workplaces.

Although Australians often have a reputation for being lazy and taking lots of time off work, we actually work long hours and put in many unpaid hours (not including unpaid work in the home and volunteering). According to the Institute’s report Hard to Get a Break:

  • Australian’s contribute an estimated $110 billion per year in unpaid work
  • 1 in 5 workers don’t take a lunch break
  • Over half do not take all their annual leave each year
  • 50% of Australians who are overworked would like to spend more time with their family

Children need love and attention to thrive, so it is especially important that parents balance home and work. It’s also good for the parents! (The Raising Children Network has some great tips on easing the transition between your work life and home life.)

Although I work quite long hours, I’m lucky that my work is flexible and I’m able to make time for my family (e.g., get to special events at school, take time off if the kids are sick). I will often do some work after they have gone to bed so that I can take time off during the day or arrange my work hours around the family. Many people do not have the luxury of flexible hours and so leaving work on time is especially important.

Do you normally leave work on time?

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Making one piece of cling wrap last

plastics-ocean

(Photo from: Opportunity Green)

“Think about it. Why would you make something that you’re going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever, and you’re just going to throw it away. What’s up with that?” (Jeb Berrier, BagIt Movie)

My mum was in South Korea as a missionary in 1955 (only a couple of years after the Korean War) and lived in Busan. She lived with four or five other women and sometimes one of them would go to Seoul about 450 km away, which (in those days) was a day’s travel. Buying lunch on the train wasn’t an option so they normally took a sandwich wrapped in grease proof paper. On one trip to Seoul, one of Mum’s colleagues stayed with a North American family and when they made her lunch for the trip home, they used plastic wrap (or cling wrap). Mum and her friends had never seen it before, and thought it was fantastic. They certainly made the most of this great new invention. That one piece of cling wrap travelled back and forward between Busan and Seoul dozens of times, being shared by everyone in the house. After each use, this lone piece of cling wrap was wiped clean and put away in their shared kitchen.

How things have changed. How many of us would consider cleaning cling wrap or plastic bags? What a pain! How annoying! We now take plastic so much for granted that we see it as a totally disposable product. Yet this stuff that was seen as so amazing only a generation or two ago is produced using a very limited, non-renewable resource, namely oil. For some reason we think it is acceptable to use plastic cutlery, plates and bags once and then throw them away. We think it is acceptable to make plastic toys that are used once or twice as an incentive to buy more junk food. When will we realise that this is not how every other generation has lived, in fact it is an extremely recent phenomena. When will we realize that, sooner or later, we really ARE going to run out of oil and that we need to stop wasting it!

If you liked this post you might want to follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. 10 ways to reduce your consumption
  2. Climate change: we need to clean up after ourselves
  3. 10 things you need to know about the lastest IPCC report on climate change
  4. Parenting for a better world
  5. The paradox of inconsequence
Posted in Environmental sustainability, Simplicity/consumption | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Our addiction to growth

The myth of infinite growthAccording to the G20 final communique:

Raising global growth
to deliver better living standards
and
quality jobs for people across the world

is our highest priority.

I’m sorry, I don’t agree. In fact, we need to kick our addiction to growth as a matter of urgency. Our modern economy is built on the myth of infinite growth: our mainstream economists seem unable to imagine an alternative and, without it, are at a complete loss. Our addiction to growth is fed by unsustainable  reckless consumption and short-sighted exploitation of non-renewable resources. When are we going to wake up?

Our whole economic system is based on consumption, and growing consumption. To question our consumption levels is to question the way our whole society is structured. But we live on a finite planet, so infinite growth is not possible. Even much of the environment movement seems afraid to confront over-consumption or to promote a steady-state economy (i.e., one not based on growth). While it is safe to talk about new technologies, new forms of energy production and increasing efficiencies of energy and material use; our actual levels of consumption is a topic that governments and society in general prefers to avoid.

Underlying our addiction to growth are a number of assumptions including:

  • Growth is good; in fact businesses and economies must grow
  • Even though we live in a finite world, we should behave as if it were infinite
  • As our standard of living increases, so will our happiness
  • The depletion of natural resource and the degradation of the environment do not need to be included in measures of economic health
  • We need economic growth to eradicate global poverty and solve environmental problems
  • Human ingenuity and technological developments will allow our economies to just keep growing.

It is time start challenging these assumptions. As Naomi Klein argues in This changes everything:

Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.

Once again, our world leaders have let us down and wasted the opportunity to put environmental sustainability at the heart of our economic and political deliberations.

If you liked this post you might want to follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. 10 ways to reduce your consumption
  2. Climate change: we need to clean up after ourselves
  3. 10 things you need to know about the lastest IPCC report on climate change
  4. Parenting for a better world
  5. The paradox of inconsequence
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Climate change: we need to clean up after ourselves

(Photo: Evan Leeson)

(Photo: Evan Leeson)

We often tell our children to clean up after themselves, but when it comes to the climate, it seems we are happy for them to clean up the mess we have created. The evidence is clear: we need action and we need it now. We know that the longer we delay, the harder it will be to prevent drastic climate change; and yet we keep avoiding meaningful action out of fear that it will have a negative impact on the economy or our standard of living.

I am so angry, particularly as a parent, when I see political, business and community leaders making decisions which prioritise short-term economic gain over long-term environmental sustainability. Until the recent agreement between the USA and China on reducing CO2 emissions, Australia had resisted calls for climate change to even be on the agenda of the coming G20 meeting. Today, the Australian Treasurer said the while climate change will now be discussed at the G20, “There will be no single issue that will distract leaders or anyone else from the task of delivering on growth and jobs.” Australia’s political leaders just don’t seem to understand the impact climate change will have on everything in our future, including the economy.

It may feel like we can’t make a difference, but it will be even harder if we leave it to our children to tidy up after us.

As a parent, do you worry about the state of the world we are leaving our children?

If you liked this post you might want to follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. Focusing more on parenting for the environment
  2. Parenting for a better world
  3. Strengths-based approaches = HOPE
  4. 10 ways to reduce your consumption
  5. 10 things you need to know about the lastest IPCC report on climate change
Posted in Environmental sustainability, Parenting | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Digital Parents Blog Carnival

Digital Parents Blog Carnival

I recently joined Digital Parents, an Australian community of parent bloggers. As I’ve started to focus more on parenting I thought it could be interesting to start building connections. As part of the community, each month bloggers can submit their best post for the past month which is then listed on one of the blogs from the community to create a blog carnival. This month it is hosted by Mums on the Go.

It seems that most are Mummy Bloggers or people writing for mums, but there are a few other fathers.  There is a range of posts including:

There are some interesting posts. I decided to submit my post on The paradox of inconsequence. I don’t think it will be all that popular, but that’s OK!

If you liked this post you might want to follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. Focusing more on parenting for the environment
  2. Parenting for a better world
  3. Playgroups as a foundation for working with hard to reach families
  4. What is Kids’ Vegies on the Verge?
  5. The paradox of inconsequence
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