Song for Sunday – Teach your children by CSNY

With the start of semester on Monday, I looked for a song with some connection to study or uni. It was pretty hard. There are quite a few negative ones (e.g., Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”), inappropriate ones (e.g., ABBA’s “When I kissed the teacher” ), ones for the end of semester (e.g., Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out”) or ones about rock and roll (e.g., the Ramones’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”). There were also some potential one’s (sometimes with a fairly tenuous link) that weren’t available online.

I’ve ended up choosing “Teach your children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young from their 1970 album “Deja Vu.” I know we aren’t teaching children, but I thought it built on the reciprocal nature of education referred to in this week’s Saturday Quote by talking about adults teaching their children, and children teaching their parents. I also like the opening line (“You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by”) as I emphasise that community engagement involves a principled approach.

Graham Nash has said the song was inspired by a photo by Diane Arbus, “Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park,” and encourages us to think about the messages we give to children about war and other social issues.

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to watch some previous songs for Sunday:

  1. Luka” by Suzanne Vega
  2. “Treaty” by Yothu Yindi
  3. “Child in Time” by Deep Purple (and a version by Blackmore’s Night)
  4. John Lennon’s “Image” by Playing for Change
  5. “Foolish Notion” by Holly Near
  6. “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas
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Saturday quote by Paulo Freire

Whoever teachesWith the start of semester on Monday, I thought this quote, from Paulo Freire’s “The Pedagogy of Freedom,” was a useful reminder. I’ve certainly learnt a great deal through the act of teaching, and look forward to continuing to do so.

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

  1. Past Saturday Quote
  2. Teaching community engagement to students from 29 disciplines
  3. 9 principles for supporting families and communities
  4. Blogging as an academic
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Some weekend reading for the start of semester

Welcome sign in chalk and flowers

(Photos: McKay Savage)

Semester 2 starts on Monday so I’ve been busy getting a number of subjects ready. This semester I’m responsible for two undergraduate electives (Engaging communities and Volunteerism – perspectives and management) and a postgraduate subject (School and community partnerships). Because of other commitments I won’t be active in them (they’re all online) but have been preparing the course outlines, the blackboard sites and other teaching materials, and will coordinate the teaching. This week’s readings will thus focus on interesting resources that focus on community engagement, volunteering or school-community partnerships. So welcome to any of my students who happen to read this and happy semester!

Community at the Center: Building the Field of Community Engagement via Nexus Community Partners – a great video (18:03 minutes) in which people from five North American community organisations (who work with communities of colour) discuss community engagement: what it is, strategies, underlying principles, the importance of relationships, and various other issues.

Family/Community Engagement: Community Partnerships by Jennifer Doucette – a short (3:27 minutes) video discussing how her school in Milwaukee involved the community more.

Improving the Health of Communities Through Participation by Jane Farmer via Latrobe University – a short video (2:27 minutes) and other information about a three year project supporting rural communities to design, develop and implement locally responsive and sustainable health services.

Tipping the scale — unconscious barriers to community engagement by Brett Powell via TEDxChemungRiver – a video of a short (11:49 minutes) TEDx talk about four barriers to volunteering and ways they can be overcome.

How everyone wins from an effective community engagement programme from the Guardian – how the Guardian and community groups benefited from a week-long volunteering project that was based on sharing their technology skills.

Community engagement via PwC – how a large Canadian corporation describes its corporate social responsibility program.

One from the vaults

Online teaching and social inclusion

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

  1. Previous weekend readings
  2. Teaching community engagement to students from 29 disciplines
  3. 3 types of community engagement (with related concepts and literature)
  4. Selecting an example of community engagement to critique
  5. 10 things I’ve learnt about strengths-based community engagement
  6. Making parents feel welcome in schools
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Building relationships

groupRelationships are at the heart of family and community work; and building relationships take time.

When I helped run groups for people living in caravan parks, we door knocked around the parks inviting residents to join us. Each week we visited Amber, Joel and their daughter Jade (not their real names) and, although they said they might join us, they never showed up. We didn’t enter their van and only exchanged a few words, but whenever we checked if it was OK for us to continue knocking on their door, they said it was fine.

Eventually, after two or three months seeing us around the park and having brief conversations with us, they started coming to some of the groups. After six months they were one of our most regular families.

Many people in the caravan parks had negative experiences with government and community services, so it isn’t surprising some of them took quite a while to decide whether or not they could trust us. We needed to give them the time, but it also helped to keep extending invitations.

When Jasmine as first born, we had a few home visits from an early-childhood nurse. I remember feeling a little apprehensive before she visited even though I knew, intellectually, there was nothing to fear and she wasn’t there to judge us. If this is how Cathy (who was an occupational therapist) and I (a youth worker) felt, I can imagine it must be much worse for some families.

The reality is that the nurse (and us when we visited families in caravan parks) DO have a legal obligation to report children at risk of harm. Families do have legitimate grounds for concern when services become involved in their lives so it isn’t surprising that they need to check us out.

When we work with marginalised families and communities, we need to be open and honest, and take the time to build trusting relationships. We can’t breeze into a community or a family’s life and expect them to immediately open up and trust us.

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

  1. 9 principles for supporting families and communities
  2. Principle 1: Services will make building strong relationships with residents a high priority
  3. Playgroups as a foundation for working with hard to reach families
  4. “I try and make it feel more like a home” – families living in caravan parks
  5. Families with children living in caravan parks
  6. A resilience practice framework by the Benevolent Society
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Song for Sunday – Luka by Suzanne Vega

Released in 1987, Luka by Suzanne Vega is about family violence and child abuse. (It’s worth watching the video.)

Yes I think I’m okay
I walked into the door again
Well, if you ask that’s what I’ll say
And it’s not your business anyway
I guess I’d like to be alone
With nothing broken, nothing thrown

Continue reading

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Saturday quote – Rosie Batty on family violence

(Photo of door: Daniel Oines)

(Photo of door: Daniel Oines)

Continuing on the theme of domestic and family violence from this week’s weekend reading, today’s quote is from Rosie Batty. Rosie is the 2015 Australian of the Year who inspired the nation following the murder of her son by his father.

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

  1. Past Saturday Quote
  2. What can you do when someone you know is experiencing domestic violence?
  3. Domestic violence – why doesn’t she just leave?
  4. Domestic violence, family, friends and neighbours
  5. Domestic and family violence – What about men?
  6. White Ribbon Day
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Some weekend reading – domestic and family violence

Domestic and family violence have been in the news quite a bit this week due to the start of public hearings for the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, so this week’s weekend reading focuses on domestic and family violence.

How to help a loved one who’s being abused by their partner by Sandra Kim via Everyday Feminism – a very non-judgemental approach to supporting someone experiencing domestic or family violence. Continue reading

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Principle 9: Services will have well-supported, skilled staff

Caravan park

(Photo: Antranias)

The final part of a series of posts based on nine principles for supporting permanent residents of caravan parks which are relevant to a range of other contexts. The first post introduces the context and lists the nine principles.

Each service has two staff, one an Early Childhood Specialist, and the other a Community Worker with social work/welfare expertise. In this way, we serve dual purposes. The Early Childhood Worker’s focus is to ensure that appropriate play and craft activities are available, that give children and their carers input that is educational, challenging and above all fun! The Community Worker has a particular focus on engaging carers and working with them informally on a range of issues including parenting information, education and support, self-concept, relationship and health issues. [1]

Continue reading

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Principle 8: Services will pay particular attention to the needs of children

Caravan park childrens groupPart 9 of a series of posts based on nine principles for supporting permanent residents of caravan parks which are relevant to a range of other contexts. The first post introduces the context and lists the nine principles.

Playscheme’s greatest strength is its simplicity, its inviting appearance, and non-threatening façade. This is a powerful side effect of the playgroup model. Parents feel comfortable to engage in an activity that focuses on their children in a positive way, that is non-problem based, and keeps them out of the spotlight. Our playgroups are free of charge and place no immediate responsibility or expectations on parents. We have a “no exclusions” policy and would never turn a child away that came unaccompanied. [1]

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Principle 7: Services will advocate on behalf of residents

Caravan with plantsPart 8 of a series of posts based on nine principles for supporting permanent residents of caravan parks which are relevant to a range of other contexts. The first post introduces the context and lists the nine principles.

There are caravan parks that have sub-standard living conditions, and are unsafe and poorly maintained. The situation arises whereby marginalised people are able to be exploited due to a lack of any other options. For the typical Family Support Worker the impulse to advocate for the disadvantaged is strong, especially when it appears a profit is being made at their expense. This becomes complicated, however, when the parks are generally private property and the managers have the ultimate right to not allow Playscheme and the Family Support Workers in. They also have the ability to evict “problematic” residents. Further, having a park closed down as it is unsafe, unhygienic, and exploitative may stop that abuse of human rights; however, the homeless and marginalised would have few options left open to them. [1]

Continue reading

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