List of 2019 posts

(Photo: Pixabay)

Here is a list of all my posts from 2019 with the number of views they received as at 31 December 2019.

It seems to take a while before some of the posts start being picked up: all but one of my top 10 posts this year were written before 2017 but have built up over time. There are more stats about my blog here.

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

  1. Blog statistics for 2019 (Transparency report)
  2. What is asset-based community-driven development (ABCD)?
  3. An introduction to strengths-based practice (a video lecture)
  4. The Alternatives to Violence Project: Reflections on a strengths-based approach to nonviolent relationships and conflict resolution
  5. Seven principles for a strengths-based approach to working with groups
  6. 10 things I’ve learnt about strengths-based community engagement

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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Blog statistics for 2019 (Transparency report)

Total monthly blog views to end of 2019

I have no idea how my blog compares to other blogs in terms of number of views and engagement. A few years ago, I started sharing some details about how the blog is going and, even though not many people read them, I continue to make them public in the interest of transparency and in case it is of interest to other bloggers.

I don’t devote as much time to the blog as I used to due to other work pressures. Last year I posted 28 times. (Here’s a list of posts for the year and the number of views they received.)

I don’t make any money from the blog, and don’t want to. The following stats are based on those available through a free WordPress blog (with the “no ads” upgrade).

Key statistics for 2019

  • Total views in 2019—347,260 (364,359 in 2018)
  • Total views for the life of the blog—1,295,700
  • Average of 951 views/day in 2019 (998 in 2018)
  • Total visitors in 2019—219,692 (237,962 in 2018)
  • Total likes in 2019—84 (59 in 2018)
  • Total comments in 2019—106 (121 in 2018)
  • Total shares in 2019—861 (655 in 2018)
  • Total followers of blog—1178 (1025 in 2018)
  • Total Twitter followers—611 (594 in 2018)
  • Total Blog Facebook page followers—516 (412 in 2018)

For the first time, some of the key stats were less than last year. This was because one post, It’s simple maths, not a once in a 1000 year phenomenon, received many more views in 2018 than I normally receive.

Top posts for 2019

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SNUG: retreats connecting families

This is a new video about the Family Action Centre’s SNUG project. SNUG, which commenced in 2009, provides residential retreats for families caring for a child with a rare health condition. At the four or five day retreats (there have been over 50 retreats so far) families have the opportunity to:

  • Meet other families caring for a child with a rare condition
  • Gain useful insights from other families about caring for themselves and their families
  • Have access to a health and complimentary therapies (e.g., dentistry and music therapy)
  • Participate in a range of activities (e.g., swimming, canoeing and archery) offered at the sport and recreation centre they stay at
  • Enjoy activities facilitated by SNUG staff and volunteers (e.g., ice skating, sensory play and family games)
  • Reflect on their strengths and challenges in caring for a child with a rare condition
  • Have a break from some of the demands of daily life
  • Reconnect as a family.
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Upcycle Newcastle – video

Cathy, my partner, is the founder of Upcycle Newcastle which promotes the creative reuse of waste. This is a short video about them created by Treehouse Creative for the Small Acts Big Change initiative by Hunter Joint Organisation on behalf of the councils of the Hunter and Central Coast Regions.

Upcycle Newcastle aims to change the way we see clothing and textile waste. Upcycling is taking products that would otherwise be disposed of and re-imagining them as a starting point for something new, beautiful or useful. In June 2019 they moved into their own space at Shed 7D, 50 Clyde Street, Hamilton North and have created a wonderful, creative space.

You can drop in and visit them 10am – 5pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 1-5pm every second and fourth Saturday of the month. They also offer a range of workshops, classes and events.

You can find out more about them from their Facebook page, Facebook group or webpage.

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

  1. We need to rethink fast fashion
  2. 9 things we can do to challenge fast fashion
  3. 10 ways to reduce your consumption
  4. The story of microfibres
  5.  The paradox of inconsequence
  6. Consumption and the Transition movement

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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Updates to the reading list on asset-based community development

(Photo: Oliver Tacke)

I’ve just updated the reading list on asset-based community development (ABCD). The following are the 24 resources I’ve just added. You can find the full list of 150 ABCD resources here.

General resources on ABCD freely available on the web

Asset-based community development at a glance (2019) Ontario: Tamarack Institute. Available from

Clawson, B. (2013). Community gardens add asset-based community development. Michigan State University   

Duncan, D. (2019). Collective impact through the lens of ABCD and RBA [webinar]: Tamarack Institute. Available from

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Some literature on engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities

Poster with pictures of Aboriginal fathers with the text Our kids need dads who are there for us.
(Image: Poster by Craig Hammond from the Family Action Centre)

The following are various articles I’ve come across relating to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities. Some of them directly relate to engagement and some are more general, addressing issues we should consider.

Articles available on the web.

Armstrong, S., Buckley, S., Lonsdale, M., Milgate, G., Bennetts Kneebone, L., Cook, L., & Skelton, F. (2012). Starting school: A strengths-based approach towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Camberwell, Vic: Australian Council for Educational Research. Available from

Barbour, W., & Schlesinger, C. (2012). Who’s the boss?: Post-colonialism, ecological research and conservation management on Australian Indigenous lands. Ecological Management and Restoration, 13(1), 36-41. Available from

Bennett, B., Zubrzycki, J., & Bacon, V. (2011). What Do We Know? The Experiences of Social Workers Working Alongside Aboriginal People. Australian Social Work, 64(1), 20-37. doi: 10.1080/0312407X.2010.511677 Available from

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Dear Mister Prime Minister: Are you listening?

Video by Sonya McKay

Here is the powerful speech given by 15 year-old Alexa Stuart (yes I’m her proud father) at the Newcastle Global Climate Strike attended by around 10,000 people.

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

396 days ago, Greta Thunberg was a lone voice sitting out the front of the Swedish Parliament refusing to go to school, striking for climate action. In 396 days that single voice has turned into millions united with one simple plea: a right to a safe earth and a safe future.

Just 396 days later halfway across the globe, thousands here in Newcastle and over a million around the world have come to tell you, Mr Prime Minister, that no longer will we stand for your denial, no longer will we stand for your empty words, and no longer will we stand for your total inaction on the biggest threat humanity has ever faced. The youth have risen, and we will not rest until you have listened! 

In March, 150 thousand of us took to the streets around Australia yet you did not listen to our fears and you told us “we need more learning in schools and less activism”. But we will not take that for an answer! So we have gathered all our parents, our grandparents, friends and neighbours, peers and colleagues to join us in solidarity. And we ask you Mr Prime Minister, NOW are you listening!?

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A reading list on family and community engagement

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

The following is a reading list for an online elective (HLSC2241 – Family and community engagement: An introduction) I offer to students at the University of Newcastle about family and community engagement. The students come from a range of disciplines so the course is a fairly broad introduction.

Recently the focus of the course (or subject) changed from just being about community engagement to also including family engagement. This has had more of an impact than I thought it would, and I plan to update the reading list next year again (e.g., to include more material on family centred approaches).

The readings with an asterisk (*) may not be freely available unless you have access via a library or something similar.

Module 1: What’s this course all about? Introduction to the course and family and community engagement

1.1. An introduction to community engagement

The brief introductory lecture covers most of the material in this post but also includes some discussion of family engagement. I need to do some blog posts with this focus.

1.2. Ethics and community engagement

Much of this material is covered in a short lecture.

1.3. Moore, T., McDonald, M., McHugh-Dillon, H., & West, S. (2016). Community engagement: A key strategy for improving outcomes for Australian families (Child Family Community Australia Paper No. 39). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Pages 1-10. Available from

This reading by Tim Moore and his colleagues from the Centre for Community Child Health, provides a good introduction to community engagement. While the article is specifically in the context of improving outcomes for families, the material is also relevant in many other contexts. Pay particular attention to their discussion of the difficulties in defining community and community engagement (there is no widely accepted definition of community engagement), their introduction to levels of community engagement or public participation (which will be explored further in Module 3) and why community engagement is important. Continue reading

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Global Climate Strike (Friday 20 September): Everyone is invited, everyone is needed

I’m very pleased that my work place (the Family Action Centre) has endorsed the School Strikers and the Global Climate Strike on Friday 20 September. Here is our statement:

The Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle, recognises that families and children around the world are already being impacted by the effects of climate change, and research clearly shows the need for urgent action to avoid even more serious impacts on our health and wellbeing. We thus encourage everybody to support the Global Climate Strike on Friday 20 September organised by Student Strike 4 Climate and others.

Initiated by the international Student Strike 4 Climate movement, there will be strikes and rallies around the world in the week starting Friday 20 September. In Australia there are three demands:

  1. No new coal, oil and gas projects, including the Adani mine.
  2. 100% renewable energy generation and exports by 2030
  3. Fund a fair transition and job creation for fossil-fuel industry workers and communities.

As the Newcastle School Strike 4 Climate say,

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An example of strengths-based engagement

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

The following is part of a reflection from Vanessa Linden, one of my students in HLSC6105 (Engaging families and communities) as part of her Master of Family Studies at the University of Newcastle. She was happy for me to share it on the blog.

I was invited a couple of weeks ago to teach Lactation classes for 3 days at the main maternity hospital while the Lactation Consultant was away. Normally you stand at the front of the class and talk about the anatomy and physiology of the breast and how the milk is made etc.

I started the class standing at the front and soon found that these new mums were yawning, dads were waiting outside, babies were crying… I stopped the class and grabbed a chair and asked the mums to sit around in a circle and also asked if the dads could come in. They all agreed so I invited the dads in. They picked up their babies and when it was calm, I asked each person ‘how are you feeling?’

The first mum burst into tears, the second mum said she was tired, then the next dad said he was so overwhelmed etc. I gave them tissues, water to drink and many couldn’t stop crying! We talked about the baby blues, having time out for themselves when they go home, and this tiredness and overwhelming feeling is normal the first few days after the birth of a baby.

I hugged them, they hugged each other and I think it was the best breastfeeding class that I’d ever taught even though we only talked about breast feeding for 10 minutes out of 30 minutes. I felt happy that everybody was so grateful when they left the class, but I also thought that I’d probably never be invited back again!

I returned two days later and was called into the bosses office… she told me that everybody was talking about my class and how the feedback forms were rated 5 stars, and they had all mentioned that the breast feeding class was the highlight!

I can only say that participating in ‘Engaging Families and Communities’ has changed the way that I teach new mums and dads…for the better! (Vanessa Linden, Master of Family Studies student)

I think her story is more a comment about her courage to try something new and her ability to see what was happening in the group, than it is a comment about the course. It demonstrates the importance of seeing the individuals behind our work.

It is also an example of a strengths-based approach to working with groups because she changed the focus from one way information giving to real two-way communication, she created a very different power dynamic (it become power-with rather than power-over) and she recognised the group’s ability to support each other.

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

  1. Seven principles for a strengths-based approach to working with groups
  2. An introduction to strengths-based practice (a video lecture)
  3. Power and strengths-based practice
  4. 7 principles guiding my work
  5. A video and some tips on family engagement
  6. Engaging fathers: An overview of evidence-based practice

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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