Song for Sunday – Times like these

Love this version of Times Like These (originally by the Foo Fighters).


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Song for Sunday – Sing Gently

The actual song is under 3.5 minutes, but the video is over 10 minutes. Most of it is listing the 17,572 singers from 129 countries who come together to perform Eric Whitacre’s “Sing Gently”.

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. All the songs
  2. “Heal Together” by Christine Anu, Philly, Mindy Kwanten and Radical Son
  3. “This Machine” by FourPlay
  4. “Luka” by Suzanne Vega
  5. “Miserere mei, Deus” by Gregorio Allegri (performed by the Tallis Scholars
  6. John Lennon’s “Image” by Playing for Change
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Song for Sunday – Heal Together

It’s been over four years since I posted a song for Sunday so one is well over due. I’m in the process of updating a couple of online courses I teach and I’m wanting to have a greater focus on working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities. While looking for useful material, I came across this song from 2019: Heal Together with Christine Anu, Philly, Mindy Kwanten and Radical Son.

Written by Christine Anu and Max Lambert for the Healing Foundation, Heal Together emphasises the importance of healing from past, and current, traumas in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. But this relies on telling the truth about Australia’s history.

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. Previous songs for Sunday
  2. Song for Sunday – Treaty by Yothu Yindi
  3. Song for Sunday – This Machine
  4. Song for Sunday – Luka by Suzanne Vega
  5. Engaging Aboriginal fathers
  6. Navigating dilemmas of community development: Practitioner reflections on working with Aboriginal communities

If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.

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Broken Squares online

Broken squares is a popular exercise in Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), and other workshops. When we trialed an AVP workshop online, I created a version we could do using Google Drawings. It largely works the same way, but with only four groups.

The following instructions are based on using Zoom, but it would be similar with other platforms.

Time required: 20-30 minutes


  1. Go to, under “File” select “Make a copy” and save it to your “My Drive” (by clicking under “Folder” and clicking the back arrow until you reach “My Drive”).
  2. Make a copy of the broken squares for each group doing the exercise and copy the web link for each copy so you can share it with the group later. I recommend that you create a shortlink for them (e.g., with

Instructions in large group

  1. Share your screen with the opening setup of the pieces (as at the top of the post).
  2. Tell participants that they will be working in teams of four and their objective is to create 4 squares of equal size (one in each of the 4 coloured rectangles).
  3. All pieces must be used and the pieces must NOT be rotated or resized (because if they are they will not be able to create all 4 squares).
  4. Each person will be given a coloured rectangle to work in (i.e., 1 person will work in the red rectangle, 1 in the purple , 1 in the yellow and 1 in the blue) and they can only work with pieces touching their coloured rectangle.
  5. During the exercise there is to be no talking (or using Chat or text messages).
  6. If they do not want a piece they have they can place it so that it is touching their coloured rectangle and another one.
  7. Note: there is nothing stopping them putting a piece in the middle so that it is touching all 4 rectangles, but let them work that out for themselves.
  8. They may not take pieces from other participants and may not place a piece in somebody else’s square.
  9. They may not ask for anything in return.
  10. Depending on your focus, you may want to add, This is a team goal, so watch for how you might assist your fellow team members in achieving this goal.
  11. If there are more than 4 people in a group, extra people can be observers.
  12. Check if there are any questions
  13. Place them in breakout rooms. There should be a facilitator or (somebody who knows what to do) in each group acting as an observer.

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Agenda and resources from our first AVP online workshop

The AVP philosophy poster from AVP in Western Australia

We (Graeme Stuart and Rob Duncan from Newcastle, and Selene Moonbeams and Jim Thom from Western Australia) are making the agendas and resources we used in our first Basic Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) online workshop. For an overview of AVP see What are Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops?

Because we think there is real potential for AVP online workshops we are making all the material we used available for copying or downloading.  They are available from (There are instructions for accessing below.)

The material includes:

  1. Our agenda with notes and extra information
  2. The participant feedback (both at the end of each session and at the end of the workshop)
  3. All the resources we created or used for the workshop
  4. Some of the material produced during the workshop.

The resources we created or used include:

  1. The participant agenda’s for each session
  2. The “posters” we used to introduce the workshop
  3. A template for Causes, Choices, Consequences (which we think needs simplifying)
  4. A few versions of the Transforming Power mandala (the coloured mandala used in NSW, the mandala in pieces so they can be moved around, and an Aboriginal version of the mandala developed in Western Australia and Northern Territory)
  5. The pieces for doing broken squares online.

How to make a copy of the material.

The following instructions are based on a PC, so might be slightly different if you are using a Mac, tablet or phone.

  1. Right click the name of the file you want to make a copy of and click “Make a copy”
    Make a copy
  2. If you are asked where to save it, save it to “My Drive”
  3. Go to “My Drive” and look for “Copy of …[name of file you saved”
    My drive
  4. You should be able to edit it.

Instead of selecting “Make a copy” in Step 1, you could select “Download” (two items below “Make a copy”) and save it to your computer.

If you want to Download all the material, (again these instructions are for a PC, so Mac may be a bit different).

  1. Go to the folder with all the files (
  2. Click “AVP Online Basic May 2020” and then select “Download”
  3. It will either ask you where you want to save it, or automatically save it to your computer (probably in you “Downloads” folder).
  4. You then need to “extract” the files by opening the folder, clicking “Extract All” and following the instructions.

We hope this helps you access the material.

There are more reflections from the workshop in the following posts:

  1. 20 tips for an online workshop
  2. Creating a safe space for a workshop on Zoom
  3. Reflections halfway into our first online AVP workshop
  4. More reflections from our first AVP online workshop
  5. Broken Squares online

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20 tips for an online workshop

Our facilitation team

Having completed our (Graeme Stuart and Rob Duncan from Newcastle, and Selene Moonbeams and Jim Thom from Western Australia) first Basic AVP online workshop, here are some tips for facilitating interactive, experiential workshops online (via Zoom)

There are more tips, reflections and information in our other posts:

  1. Creating a safe space for a workshop on Zoom
  2. Reflections halfway into our first online AVP workshop
  3. More reflections from our first AVP online workshop
  4. Broken Squares online
  5. Agenda and resources from our first AVP online workshop

The Facilitation Team

  1. Until you are quite experienced with online workshops, we think it is particularly important to have teams that can work effectively together. While it is always important, in a normal workshop we can more easily work with other facilitators we find challenging. (They often have something to teach us.) In this new context—where we are having to experiment, develop new ways of doing activities, don’t have tried and tested agendas, and are having to spend a long time planning—there isn’t the time (or energy) to work as much on the team.
  2. There needs to be at least two facilitators (and for an AVP workshop we would suggest four) to share facilitation and technology, and in case anything goes wrong. By having four facilitators we could have three groups in breakout rooms, each with a facilitator. But if there are too many facilitators, it makes the group too big.
  3. When using technology for exercises (e.g., using breakout rooms) or taking notes (e.g., in a shared screen), it is important that the one facilitator looks after the technology or note-taking so that the main facilitator (for the exercise) can focus on the group and facilitating the activity.
  4. In creating a team, we suggest it helps to have:
    • Some quite experienced facilitators
    • At least two facilitators who are quite confident with technology generally and Zoom in particular
    • People who are excited by change and trying new things.
  5. You also need facilitators who have the time to devote to the workshop but who won’t expect too much planning and debriefing. As well as the 2 1/2 hours per session, for our workshops we spent two hours planning between each session, 30 minutes before the session and up to 30 minutes having a quick catch at the end of each session.  Later on, we didn’t always need that long, but certainly early on, we couldn’t have done it much quicker. But also, we didn’t want to spend any longer planning and debriefing (even though there was more we could have done.) All up went spent around 47 hours on Zoom (in addition to writing up agendas, preparing exercises etc).

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More reflections from our first AVP online workshop

We (Graeme Stuart and Rob Duncan from Newcastle, and Selene Moonbeams and Jim Thom from Western Australia) were very happy that our first Basic Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) online workshop went well. We believe that, while clearly having differences to an in-person workshop, AVP can successfully be offered online and offer new possibilities for engaging people who would not be able to attend in-person workshops. Examples include:

  1. Including people who list in remote regions
  2. Including people who have physical or emotional limitations on their ability to attend in-person workshops
  3. Offering workshops for marginalised sections of the community who may not feel safe attending a mainstream workshop
  4. Assisting people to do a workshop in their own language (e.g., a person living in Australia could do a workshop in Indonesian offered from Indonesia)
  5. People who live on opposite sides of a political divide (e.g., people from Israel and Palestine).

As more online workshops are run around the world, the AVP facilitators will become better at running virtual workshops. We certainly do not believe they should replace in-person workshops, but they will be a useful addition to the range of potential workshops.

Here are some reflections mainly based on the final four sessions of the eight sessions. There is background to the workshop and reflections from the first half at Reflections halfway into our first online AVP workshop. Topics include: planning; zoom and other tools; adapting exercises and facilitation. There is also a separate post on creating a safe space for a workshop on Zoom.

Two participants withdrew from the workshop because they had other things going on in their lives (and the fact that the workshop was online was not a major issue). The remaining 10 participants attended all the sessions except two who missed a session when they were sick or had technological issues in the first session.

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Reflections halfway into our first online AVP workshop

We (Graeme Stuart and Rob Duncan from Newcastle, and Selene Moonbeams and Jim Thom from Western Australia) are half way through a 20-hour Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) online workshop (eight 2.5-hour sessions over four weeks) held via Zoom. Our first! The following are some reflections about the process so far. While the reflections will be particularly relevant for AVP facilitators, they may be of interest to others offering online workshops. (See What are AVP workshops? for an overview an AVP face-to-face workshop.)

We are very happy with how the workshop is going, believe that the group has successfully built quite a sense of community and are convinced of the value of offering AVP online. While the workshops are different and some aspects are probably not as successful, there are other advantages and we believe offering workshops online will make it possible for people who would otherwise not attend a workshop, to do so.

There are 12 participants (a 13th registered but did not join) and four facilitators. Only 10 participants made it to the first session as one person tried to join the workshop but had technological problems, and another had an appointment they could not avoid. As we had organised the workshop on short notice, another was only able to attend the first half of the session due to a prior commitment. While AVP would often not allow somebody to join after the first session, we thought it was not demonstrating caring for others if we said no to the person who tried to get on but was unable to. As we were going to have to incorporate a new person into the workshop, we decided to also invite the second person who was not able to join the first session. A facilitator contacted each of the three participants to fill them in with what had happened. In session two, the group was able to incorporate them well and we don’t think it has had a significant impact on the group.

Everybody joined the second session although one person did leave the workshop half-way through. We are quite concerned as we don’t know why they left, and we haven’t been able to contact them since, despite several attempts to do so. We don’t know if technical issues made them drop-out, if they decided to leave, if something happened that made them feel unsafe or if there was something else.

We feel we need to be flexible around attendance as in each of Sessions 3 and 4, somebody has been unable to attend due to sickness or some other unavoidable reason.

The following are some of our strategies that we think have helped and some things we have learned.


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Creating a safe space for a workshop on Zoom

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

We (Graeme Stuart, Selene Moonbeams, Jim Thom and Rob Duncan) are a team of Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) facilitators who are about to trial our first workshop online. Over the past few weeks we have been experimenting and discussing with other AVP facilitators in Australia about how to offer workshops via Zoom. In this post we discuss creating a safe, non-judgemental space where people can speak about their personal experience and try new behaviours. (See What are AVP workshops? for an overview an AVP face-to-face workshop and Promoting Nonviolent Relationships: Alternatives to Violence Project Workshops with Parentsabout some AVP workshops with parents.)

AVP workshops are usually 18-22 hours (spread over two or three days) but we believe that a full day on Zoom would be too much. We are thus trialling 2 X 2.5 hour session per week (on a Monday and a Thursday) for four weeks. It is going to be an exciting experiment. We are particularly pleased that the facilitators and participants are coming from Newcastle (on the east coast of Australia) and Perth (on the west coast of Australia)—over 5000 kms apart. It is a great opportunity to share slightly different approaches.

Creating a safe, comfortable space for participants in an online context adds some significant challenges, and will be crucial for the success of the workshop. The following are some of the key strategies we hope will help us create such a space.

Zoom settings

1. We will not allow participants to join the Zoom session before the host. One of the choices we have in setting up a Zoom session is whether or not to allow participants in the room before the person hosting the meeting. We are concerned that if participants join the meeting before the host, we can’t be part of the interactions to ensure that everyone is respectful and appropriate. While we doubt there would be problems, it is a risk. Also if Zoombombing occurs before the host is present, it is much harder to manage it.

2. If need be we will protect against Zoombombing, by requiring a password to join the meeting. We think we are low risk as the link will not be shared widely.

3. We are NOT allowing private messages to be sent between participants. When setting up Zoom sessions, we could prevent participants from being able to send any messages through the Group Chat or allow participants to chat (or send messages) only to the host, everyone publicly, or everyone publicly or privately. The private chat allows participants to send a message to another person without anybody else seeing it, which creates a risk that participants could send an inappropriate comment or question, and they can be distracting for the people involved. We are allowing public chats (so anybody can send a message that everybody can see) as they can be useful for things like sharing a link, or posting what the gathering is (a gathering we the way we start each session with each participant saying their name and answering a question related to the sessions focus), and allow for communication if there is a problem with somebodies microphone or sound.

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7 tips for dealing with conflict while having to stay home

(Photo: Kranich17)

Couples, families and households are facing weeks, if not months, of much closer contact than normal. Conflict is going to arise as we face changes to household routines, spend more time with our families or households, and face new stresses and challenges.

Unfortunately, lockdowns and stay at home orders are leading to increased reports of domestic and family violence. This is not a post about what to do if you are being exposed to coercive control or violence. If you are in this situation, please reach out for support. There is a list of phone or web helplines from a range of countries here. There are also some suggestions for things you can do if you know somebody who is experiencing domestic or family violence here.

Here, I suggest seven tips that might help to respond to conflict that may arise during the COVID-19 shutdown.

1. Try to address conflict before it becomes a real problem

Many people are afraid of conflict, having seen it get out of hand and lead to arguments or fights. The problem isn’t conflict itself, but when we—or other people—respond to conflict in a self-defensive, a combative, or even a violent way. Conflict can actually lead to positive change, greater understanding and deepening of relationships. While it can sometimes be helpful to be accepting of others and not to turn things into a conflict, it is often important that we do address conflicts or things that are annoying us, before they become a crisis. It is generally easier to deal with issues earlier rather than letting them escalate.

2. Try to find a balance between respecting yourself and caring for others

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