My focus is slowing shifting and, in some ways, I’m returning to my roots in the peace movement. When I started this blog (in early 2011), my focus at the Family Action Centre (FAC) was largely on community engagement. In late 2014, when the FAC offered Australia’s first Graduate Certificate and Master of Family Studies, I began to focus more on working with families: initially engaging families and (because of some funding we received) evidence-based or evidence-informed practice.
Over the last year or so, I have started to focus more on nonviolence and conflict resolution again (which are more closely aligned with my work in the peace movement in the 1980s, with establishing the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) in Newcastle in the 1990s, and with my PhD that explored the nonviolence as a framework for youth workers). My work continues to be built on a foundation of strengths-based practice and (because I try to adopt a bottom-up approach) engagement.
This year I have several main projects:
- Name.Narrate.Navigate (NNN)—a trauma-informed, culturally sensitive, psycho-education program for young people aged 11-17 years who use violence in their interpersonal relationships, particularly those in domestic and family contexts. I’ve been part of the broader team for a bit over 12 months, but NNN will now be a major focus of my work through helping to facilitate the workshops, writing up the process and impact, and chairing an associated practitioner working party. This is a multi–disciplinary team lead by Tamara Blakemore.
- Post separation counselling and mediation—Tamara and I (with the support of another multi-disciplinary team) are finishing a series of reports about research we have been doing with Uniting counselling and mediation services exploring best practice in this context. We have just finished the drafts of five reports (a rapid review of relevant literature; a summary of interviews with 36 Uniting staff; an analysis of an online survey of ex-clients; a review of policy and practice documents, and a summary and synthesis report). Our next step is a workshop with key Uniting staff to consider the practice implications of the findings, incorporating discussion of the implications into the summary report, preparing a report for public consumption and publishing some of the findings in journals.
- Alternatives to Violence Project—workshop on nonviolence and conflict resolution. I continue to be quite involved in facilitating AVP workshops with a family focus and co-convening the AVP International research subcommittee. I’m also working with a relatively small group of AVP facilitators/academics on two books about AVP (an authored book setting out some of the theoretical underpinnings of AVP, and an edited book collecting stories about AVP around the world.)
- Uni4You—a pre-access and widening participation strategy based at the Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle that supports students who often have a lived experience of educational disadvantage (including domestic violence and mental health issues) and are often the first in their families, and their neighbourhoods, to enrol in higher education. We are finalising a report and hopefully some journal articles about research we did with Uni4You participants.
- Teaching—in second trimester and second semester I will be teaching four courses:
- HLSC2243 (Prevention & early intervention approaches in family & community services)—an online elective for undergraduate students from any degree
- HLSC2241 (Family and community engagement: An introduction)—an online elective mainly for students in the Human Services specialisation of a Bachelor of Social Science
- HLSC6105 (Engaging families and communities)—an online directed elective for students in the Grad Cert and Master of Family Studies, and the Master of Environmental Management and Sustainability
- HLSC6105 (Engaging families and communities) —a face-to-face version of the above course being offered to a group of academics from State Islamic universities in Indonesia who are coming to complete the Grad Cert in Family Studies as a strategy to help establish the discipline of family studies in Indonesia.
Outside of work I continue to be the secretary of Transition Newcastle, particularly supporting the work of Cathy (my partner) in Upcycle Newcastle, the secretary of my daughter’s High School Parent and Citizen Association, and enjoy my changing role as a father as my daughters enter adulthood. (You might like to read the speech—Dear Mister Prime Minister: Are you listening?— my younger daughter gave at the September 2019 school strike for climate.)
I will, off course, also be adding to the blog so you can expect to see a slight shift towards these topics over the coming year.
If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:
- About me
- My background in peace and environment groups
- The Alternatives to Violence Project: Reflections on a strengths-based approach to nonviolent relationships and conflict resolution
- An introduction to strengths-based practice (a video lecture)
- 10 things I’ve learnt about strengths-based community engagement
- Seven principles for a strengths-based approach to working with groups
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.