Exploring the impact of Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP)

(Image: Pixabay)

Although the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) began in 1975 and has since spread to over 50 countries around the World, there has been little formal research or evaluation done in relation to its impact.

In the context of an increasing emphasis on evidence-based practice and evidence-based programs there has been increasing pressure to be able to demonstrate that AVP does make a measurable impact.

While AVP practices and processes mean that AVP workshops are recognisable anywhere in the world, their is a great deal of variation from group to group, and workshop to workshop. Evidence-based programs often have clear program guides and standardised agendas so that there is a consistent agenda, structure and process (to help maintain program fidelity). AVP, on the other hand, involves a broad approach and no set agenda, AVP manuals include a wide range of activities that can be selected depending on context, and facilitators are free to add other material as needed.

This variety and flexibility means that the workshops are easily adapted to different countries and contexts, but it means that outcomes are unlikely to be consistent and it makes it harder to state, “This is the impact of AVP.”

The AVP International Research team, which I’m part of, is exploring how we can measure the impact of workshops, while maintaining the experiential, flexible approach of the workshops.

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Power and strengths-based practice

(Photo: Pixabay)

Strengths-based practice fundamentally challenges traditional approaches to power relationships in working with individuals, families and communities. As I suggested in my last post, we can differentiate between four types of power[1-3]:

  1. Power-over
  2. Power-with
  3. Power-to
  4. Power-within.

Power-over relies on force, coercion, and threats. It allows an individual or group to make decisions for others and to force them to comply[1, 4]. If the “others” fear the consequences or sanctions that may be applied, then they are more likely to comply[5]. Family and community workers often have a range of sanctions or consequences that can be applied if families or communities do not cooperate, including:

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4 types of power: What are power over; power with; power to and power within?


(Photo: Pixabay)

When I first started as a youth worker in 1991, I was working in a medium-term accommodation unit for young people who were homeless. I really struggled with being in a position of authority having just graduated from a welfare degree that had emphasised “client self-determination.” I was really uncomfortable being in a type of parental role where I had to make decisions about what the young people could or couldn’t do, where I was responsible for behaviour management and where I had to be willing to set limits.

I was in a real position of power and I felt very uneasy about it, especially as I saw plenty of examples of power being used in quite coercive, if not abusive, ways. I had to learn ways of being in authority that were consistent with my philosophy and approach.

I was in a position of power over the residents, but I needed to learn this did not define the whole relationship, and there were other types of power that were also important which I could nurture.

A number of authors differentiate between four types of power [1-3].

  1. Power over
  2. Power with
  3. Power to
  4. Power within

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9 things we can do to challenge fast fashion

Some upcycled outfits by Cathy (Photo: Eddie O’Reilly)

In my last post I discussed some of the environmental and social issues involved with fast fashion. If we are serious about sustainability and social justice we need to find alternatives.

The following are eight things we can do to challenge fast fashion.

1. Shop less and buy less

We cannot afford to continue consuming as if we have unlimited resources. One very effective way to do something, is to shop less and buy less.

2. Buy second-hand and/or through clothes swaps.

So many clothes are discarded and end up in op shops, thrift shops or second-hand shops that there are so many choices. Buying from op shops or thrift shops will not only reduce the consumption of new clothes, but by doing so you can also support the work of charities and not-for-profits. A number of places now organise clothes swaps or you could arrange one with your friends.

3. Upcycle

Rather than discarding clothes, try upcycling them and creating something new out of something old. (My partner is the driving force behind Upcycle Newcastle.) Continue reading

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We need to rethink fast fashion

(Photo: Pixabay)

Imagine a rubbish truck full of discarded clothing going to the rubbish tip every second. This is how much waste is generated in the clothing and fashion industry globally [1] every day, with almost 60% of all clothing ends up in landfill or incinerators within a year of purchase [2].

There has been significant growth in the clothing industry this century. McKinsey and Company [2] estimate that between 2000 and 2014 the number of garments purchased by the average consumer increased by 60%, while the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has calculated that clothing production doubled in the first 15 years of the century [6]. In the same time, the number of times a garment is worn has decreased by 36% [6] (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Trends in clothing production and utilisation (Source: Euromonitor International Apparel & Footwear cited by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation[6])

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Special days and dates for the environment – 2019

(Photo: Pixabay)

Here are some significant international and national days/weeks for 2019 that focus on environmental issues.  I’ve also created a list of days and dates focusing on families and communities. Please let me know if I have missed any important ones. (Days marked with * are mainly for Australia.)

Please note that some of the websites are not updated for 2019 yet.


World Wetlands Day – Saturday, 2 February 2019

Business Clean Up Day – Tuesday, 26 February 2019 *

International Polar Bear Day – Wednesday, 27 February 2019


Schools Clean Up Day – Friday, 1 March 2019 *

Clean Up Australia Day  – Sunday, 3 March 2019 *

World Water Day – Friday, 22 March 2019

Ride2School Day – Friday, 22 March 2019 *

Earth Hour – Saturday, 30 March 2019

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Special days and dates for families and communities – 2019

There are many international and national days/weeks that focus on issues facing families and communities. The following are some of the more significant ones in 2019. I generally haven’t included the many charity days and days focusing on specific health issues. Please let me know if I have missed any important days.

(While most of the following days are international, ones marked with * are mainly for Australia.)

I have also created a list of days and dates for the environment.

Please note that some of the websites are not updated for 2019 yet.


International Holocaust Remembrance Day – Sunday, 27 January 2019


World Day of Social Justice – Wednesday, 20 February 2019

International Mother Language Day – Thursday, 21 February 2019


International Women’s Day – Friday, 8 March 2019

Close the Gap Day – Thursday, 14 March 2019*

International Day of Happiness – Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Harmony Day – Thursday, 21 March 2019* Continue reading

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List of 2018 posts

Here is a complete list of blog posts from 2018 with the number of views they received as at 31 December 2018. As you can see most of my posts don’t get widely read! There are more stats about my blog here.

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Blog statistics for 2018 (Transparency report)

Total monthly blog views to end of 2018

When I started blogging I had no idea how my blog compared to others. I know it shouldn’t matter because I should be doing it for my own reasons, but the truth is I did wonder. After nearly two years of blogging I was still only averaging 23 views a day and decided that unless more people were interested, it really wasn’t worth the effort. I started putting in more time and thought to the blog, started writing better content and did some of the courses available through WordPress, and the numbers started increasing.

I’m still not sure how my blog compares to other blogs but, as I’m averaging nearly 1000 views a day, I definitely feel it is worth continuing. Even though many of my posts don’t get many views, because there are over 700 posts and some of them do fairly well, the total views continue to increase. As can be seen in the above graph, December/January and June/July are much quieter months which suggests to me that quite a lot of students use the blog. Continue reading

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The Alternatives to Violence Project: Reflections on a strengths-based approach to nonviolent relationships and conflict resolution

Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) logoThis is the text of a peer-reviewed paper that Gener Lapina (from AVP and Family Support Newcastle) and I had published as part of the 2018 Family and Relationship Services Association conference. The citation with a link to the published version is:

Stuart, G. & Lapina, G. (2018) The Alternatives to Violence Project: Reflections on a strengths-based approach to nonviolent relationships and conflict resolution. FRSA Conference e-Journal (3), 62-69. Available from: https://frsa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/FRSA-conference-ejournal-2018.pdf

Strengths-based practice is widely accepted as an important foundation for social work, family work and community work in a range of settings (Hunter, Lanza, Lawlor, Dyson & Gordon, 2016; Oliver & Charles, 2016; Saleebey, 2013). There are, however, a number of challenges or dilemmas involved when adopting a strengths-based approach in certain contexts where there are significant risks associated with people’s safety, such as working with perpetrators of domestic or family violence and in child protection.

In this paper we explore some of the dilemmas involved in offering Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops to parents and partners. We provide a brief overview of AVP, discuss some characteristics of strengths-based group work and then consider five dilemmas we’ve faced in offering the program.

AVP Background

AVP is a community-led initiative that began in the 1970s in New York’s Greenhaven Prison. The program was developed following concern expressed by senior inmates about the cycle of reoffending amongst younger inmates, and a desire to help their fellow inmates develop skills in navigating conflict, without resorting to violence. After much success in Greenhaven, AVP was soon introduced to other prisons and then expanded to other countries and to a range of other contexts (Addy, 2009; Kayser, Roberts, Shuford & Michaelis, 2014; Kreitzer & Jou, 2010; Lambourne & Manirakiza, 2017; Walsh & Potter-Daniau, 2017). Continue reading

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