Creating a collection of literature on the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP)

(Photo: jarmoluk)

For the last six months or so, I’ve been working (slowly) with a small team (mainly Anne Wallace-DiGarbo, Katherine Smith, Judy Litke and me) to create a collection of research and literature on the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). It went live today!

The collection, which is available from, is grouped under four headings:

  1. Descriptions of AVP – non-research literature about AVP (e.g., descriptions of AVP workshops and discussion of the history of AVP)
  2. AVP Research – evaluations of AVP and other research about AVP
  3. Related research – research that is relevant to AVP but is not directly about AVP (e.g., research about related programs or violence prevention)
  4. Research methods (coming soon) – discussion about research designs, methods & instruments that might be used in AVP research.

We originally started working on a collection of AVP research, but as we found other useful material we decided to expand the focus to AVP literature. So far we have concentrated on AVP research and will continue to look for more material for the other sections.

Creating the collection have raised a number of dilemmas. Continue reading

Posted in Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), Being an academic | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

New resources on asset-based community development (ABCD)

Asset-based community developmentI’ve just added the following resources to the reading list on asset-based community development (ABCD) I’ve created.

Cameron, C., & Wasacase, T. (2017). Community-driven health impact assessment and asset-based community development: An innovate path to community well-being. In R. Phillips & C. Wong (Eds.), Handbook of community well-being research (pp. 239-259). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. Available from (Link to abstract only)

Chinyowa, K. C., Sirayi, M., & Mokuku, S. (2017). From needs-based to asset-based community development: The ABCD method as an effective strategy for engaging with grassroots leaders in South Africa. In S. J. Erenrich & J. F. Wergin (Eds.), Grassroots leadership and the arts for social change. Bingly, UK: Emerald Publishing Limited. Available from (Need subscription to access)

Chiu, M. Y. L., Zhou, R. D. H., Tong, A. K. K., Tonsing, K. N., & Yiu, M. G. C. (2017). Asset-based community mental health: An evidence-based support program by lay mental health ambassadors. Asia Pacific Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 8(2), 150-164. doi: 10.1080/21507686.2017.1349684 (Link to abstract only) Continue reading

Posted in Strengths-based approaches & ABCD, Working with communities | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Conflict resolution and nonviolence workshops with young people

A model for Alternatives to Violence Project and Help Increase the Peace workshops with youth

This paper was originally published in 1999, but is still quite relevant.

SINCE 1994, the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) and Help Increase the Peace (HIP) have conducted workshops in Newcastle on conflict resolution and nonviolence with adults and young people. As we reflected on the successes and failures of the workshops, we developed a model which identified the features of effective workshops with young people in schools or youth services. This model was developed with the support of the Samaritans and 12-month funding from the Crime Prevention Division of the NSW Attorney General’s Department.

The paper discusses the model in terms of project experience and the translation of the model into practice.

Workshop structure

While there is some variation in the length and structure of workshops, the essential elements remain the same and include:

  • beginning with group-building exercises and the establishment of group agreements;
  • a variety of structured experimental, interactive activities and small-group discussion;
  • energisers to encourage cooperation, let off steam, change the pace of the session and have fun; and
  • feedback from the participants.

Continue reading

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Community engagement and the Stop Adani national day of action

Stop Adani Day of Action at Nobby’s Beach, Newcastle. (Photo: Ryan Jago)

Last weekend (7-8 October 2017), people around Australia put their bodies on the line to send a message about Adani’s plans for the Carmichael Mine in Queensland: one of the World’s largest coal mines. In over 45 locations in Australia, people spelt out “Stop Adani”.

My family and I were in Lismore visiting friends the week before so Cathy took photos of us creating letters with our bodies and then put the photos together to create our message.

My family and some friends spell out our message re the Carmichael Coal Mine (Photo: Cathy Stuart)

On Saturday we joined over 600 people in Newcastle to spell it out on the beach (we’re in the bottom of the T, with Cathy’s parents who are both in their 80s). Continue reading

Posted in Environmental sustainability, Social change, Working with communities | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

My response to the campaign against same-sex marriage

Love is love

As I said in the previous post, to me the YES case in the same-sex marriage postal vote is largely based on love, acceptance and justice, while the NO case is largely based on fear, exclusion and poor logic. Much of the NO campaign is attempting to shift the focus from whether two people of the same-sex should be allowed to marry, by attempting to make people afraid of the potential consequences of marriage equality.

I’ve seen four main arguments against same-sex marriage.

  1. Fears that same-sex marriage is bad for children
  2. Fears that same-sex marriage will restrict religious freedoms
  3. Fears that same-sex marriage will lead to programs like Safe Schools or other programs “promoting” homosexuality
  4. The desire to preserve traditional or religious notions of marriage.

Let’s have a look at each of them. Continue reading

Posted in Families & parenting, Social change | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why I voted YES in the same-sex marriage postal vote

I try to be fair and to understand other points of view, but to me the YES case in the same-sex marriage postal vote is largely based on love, acceptance and justice, while the NO case is largely based on fear, exclusion and poor logic. I am NOT suggesting or inferring that the people who are voting NO are unloving and have no legitimate concerns, but I am saying they do not have a strong case. Nor am I saying the YES campaign has always been conducted with love and acceptance towards those who are opposed to marriage equality.

There are three main reasons I voted YES. Continue reading

Posted in Families & parenting, Social change | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Evidence-based practice and innovation

In some ways we live in an exciting time where we are learning more and more about what works—and what doesn’t—in helping to nurturing strong families and communities. Research and research evidence play a crucial role in these discoveries and in ensuring that our work makes a difference.

When I started working with communities and families over 30 years ago, there were very few rigorously evaluated programs or approaches in family and community work. Youth and families workers often relied on their gut instincts. Now there are many programs and approaches that have been shown to make a difference and, as a field, we are thinking much more critically about how we know we make a difference.

There is no doubt that research and research evidence play an important role in innovation and new ways of working. Continue reading

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In some countries (and USA states) our marriage is illegal

In some countries (and 30 states of the USA), Cathy and I would have been prevented from marrying. In fact, even though we are happily married after 31 years and have two wonderful daughters, in some countries (and some states of the USA) our getting married would have been a criminal offence and it would have been illegal for us to cohabitate or have sexual relations.

A while ago, one of Jasmine’s teachers said that relationships like ours made her feel ill. She wasn’t referring to our relationship (as she doesn’t know our dark secret) and I’m sure that if she got to know us better, she might revise her opinion, but she made this comment in front of the whole class while Jasmine was in the room.

When we said we were getting married, some people were quite concerned (one relation didn’t acknowledge our marriage until a few years later) and people were worried about the implications for any children we had.

Colleagues have recommended that I don’t let other people know about my relationship in some work contexts (including working with some communities and in prison).

My parents deliberately hid our relationship from some of their friends and acquaintances (even though they were delighted we were getting married). Continue reading

Posted in Personal, Social change | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Half a million views

I woke this morning to a nice blogging milestone—half a million views!

Since starting the blog in early 2011 there has been a slow but steady climb in views.

Total monthly views

Average monthly views

I know there are limitations to the number of views as a measure (e.g., if somebody has a very brief look and is not at all interested, it still counts as a view) but it still is an indication of the interest. Continue reading

Posted in Being an academic | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Transparency report (May-August 2017)

(Photo: CC BY-SA, flickr/freepress via Flickr)

At the start of the year, I decided to provide transparency reports for my blog. While I don’t make any money from the blog, I like the idea of sharing information that might be of interest to other bloggers.

  • Total views (May-Aug 2017) – 66,660 (Average of 542 views/day)
  • Total visitors (May-Aug 2017) – 43,037
  • Total likes (May-Aug 2017) – 23
  • Total comments (May-Aug 2017) – 43
  • Total shares (May-Aug 2017) – 122
  • Total WordPress followers (end of Aug 2017) – 388
  • Total email followers (end of Aug 2017) – 322
  • Total Twitter followers (end of Aug 2017) – 522
  • Total Blog Facebook page followers (end of Aug 2017) – 326

The ten most viewed posts for the last four months were: Continue reading

Posted in Being an academic | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments