Presenting 2 papers at the Family & Relationship Services Australia conference

I’ve had two papers accepted for the Family & Relationship Services Australia conference in Cairns in November this year.

One on the Alternatives to Violence Project and one on Uni4You: the abstracts are below. If you are at the conference, please make sure you say hi.

The Alternatives to Violence Project – a strengths-based approach to nonviolent relationships and conflict resolution

Co-presenter: Gener Lapina (Alternatives to Violence Project and Family Support Newcastle)

A full version, written version of the paper is available here.

Offering interactive, experiential workshops on nonviolent relationship and conflict resolution, the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) has been established in over 50 countries in a wide range of contexts, since starting in 1975 in a USA prison. AVP in Newcastle has adapted the workshops to work with parents and partners.

The workshops are built on a number of principles including:

  1. There is good in everyone – we build on the strengths of participants, and believe if we respond to people’s potential for good we are more likely to receive a positive response than if we respond to their potential for violence.
  2. We are all teachers and learners – the facilitators don’t have all the answers and are there to learn as much as to help guide the process. We encourage people with lived experience to become facilitators.
  3. We learn by getting involved – focusing on transformative learning, the core ideas of the workshops are introduced through interactive activities followed by discussion about the implications of what we just did.
  4. We are all volunteers – facilitators are volunteers and we don’t accept mandatory participants (although some people are “encouraged” to do a workshop by people in authority).
  5. It isn’t therapy, but there can be healing – we are very clear that the workshops are not therapy and we aren’t trying to “fix” anybody. But sometimes people find that exploring issues in a supportive environment can be part of a healing process.
  6. It isn’t religious but it can be spiritual – while there is no religious affiliation or content, some people find there is a spiritual aspect to the workshops.

After providing a brief overview of the workshops this interactive presentation will explore some of the dilemmas of such an approach to family violence including:

  1. What are some of the challenges of adopting a strengths-based approaches to family violence?
  2. How we create a safe environment in workshops where there may be perpetrators, survivors and workers?
  3. How can we measure the impact of experiential workshops which are based on a broad approach rather than a specific program?

Why supporting parents in lifelong-learning is relevant to Family Services: A case study of Uni4You

Co-presenters: Michele Oshan, Deb Hartman, Kerrell Bourne (all from the Family Action Centre)

You can download the PowerPoint presentation here.

Why would family services want to support parents to enrol in university study or undertake other lifelong learning opportunities?

The Family Action Centre established the Uni4You program in 2013 to support people who have generally never considered university as a possibility. Uni4You provides information sessions, preparatory workshops, learning support groups and case management to support participants as they make informed decisions about opportunities for lifelong-learning, and journey through a University enabling program or other lifelong learning opportunities.

Participants in Uni4You come from communities that are historically under-represented in Universities and also have a lived experience of low-income, educational disadvantage, caring responsibilities in a single parent home, childhood trauma, disrupted family life, and/or associated health issues. The histories of family of origin and life experience add to the complexity of participating and navigating access to higher education.

We will discuss why such a program is relevant to family services, and how it supports school transitions and school success. As well as discussing some of the successes, we will also discuss some of the challenges (e.g., how to respond to the pressures that Uni4You can place on families and relationships, and resistance from some family and human service providers).

The presentation will be based on the experience of the Uni4You team and results from 2018 research exploring:

  1. What influences Uni4You participants’ decision, and ability, to participate (or not) in life-long learning activities in the context of tertiary education?
  2. What strengths and resources do they bring to their study and the University?
  3. What challenges do they face in undertaking University enabling programs and transitioning to undergraduate programs?
  4. How can they best be supported (at an individual, family and community level) to succeed in University enabling programs and other lifelong learning?
  5. How do community-based widening participation programs such as Uni4You impact on individuals, their families, neighbourhoods, communities, and institutions?

The research is a partnership between University researchers and the Uni4You program staff (who are part of the family’s program team at the Family Action Centre) and recognises the expertise of the Uni4You participants by adopting an approach based on co-design and co-production which involve stakeholders in research processes rather than having research ‘done on’ them.

In the spirit of “leaving no one behind” we want to challenge family services to think about how they can support parents to consider university and other lifelong-learning opportunities.

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

  1. What are Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops?
  2. An Alternatives to Violence Project workshop for parents
  3. Blogging as an academic
  4. Playgroups as a foundation for working with hard to reach families
  5. 9 principles for supporting families and communities
  6. Engaging Aboriginal fathers

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.

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), Being an academic, Working with communities and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Presenting 2 papers at the Family & Relationship Services Australia conference

  1. Vaughn John says:

    Hi Graeme
    Both paper look very interesting. I look forward to hearing more or to reading the papers if you plan to write them up.


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