This point is perfectly illustrated by what happens with people who have experienced addiction or mental health problems. We hear all about the bad things that they do, rather than the good things, i.e. they recover and go on to lead healthy and vibrant lives, often helping other people tackle their problems.
One consequence of this negative focus is that people in wider society believe that no one recovers from addiction and mental health problems. This creates a barrier to recovery or healing. In fact, the reality is that the majority of people recover from such conditions.
When I started working in the Indigenous field, I reminded myself that I must focus on the Solution and on Good News Stories. In fact, my colleague Mike Liu and I decided that we needed to create a ‘Good News’ media to facilitate healing.
So today, I’m going to introduce you to a Good News Story, Dreambuilding in Napranum. It’s a story I’ve crafted over ten Sharing Culture web pages, utilising written and film content available on the web.
I talked to Annalise Jennings - who worked with the Indigenous community of Napranum - and she was pleased with what I wanted to do. Some of you will know that Annalise has joined the Sharing Culture network of Advisors/Healers.
When I first saw a film clip of Annalise’s work in Napranum, I was quite simply amazed… and very excited! I wasn’t just excited by what had been achieved by Napranum community members, but also by the approach and philosophy that Annalise had adopted.
Let me just focus on a few relevant points and I hope this encourages you to look at the Napranum Dreambuilders’ Story:
- Annalise did not go into Napranum thinking she had all the answers (solutions) – or even any of the solutions. She believed strongly that the community had the solutions, even though they had been labeled the ‘second poorest community’ in Queensland. And she was right!
- Annalise did not go into the community believing that they were a problem community or their young people were ‘children at risk’. She viewed the community with a positive mindset and looked for their strengths and assets. And there were plenty of those!
- Rather then engage parts of the community, Annalise believed that she needed to engage all levels of the community. And she went about doing just that, with wonderful results.
- Annalise empowered people and helped people gain a sense of connection and belonging. She helped people find a positive identity. These are all key elements to healing. And as people became empowered, guess what? They empowered other people. And soon there was a ripple - no, a wave - of hope and healing. What a catalyst? And what magic?
I’m going to finish this bit here, because I could go on and on… What I would like to continue with is the following:
After working in this field for 18 months, I’ve heard much Bad News… I’m not going there now.
Then I hear the Good News of Indigenous initiatives that are helping individuals, families and communities heal. We need to be shouting from the rooftops about these initiatives - I don’t think we do this enough. Annalise’s project is just one of a number we will highlight in coming months on Sharing Culture.
Sadly, these exciting initiatives are often run on a shoestring - or they are developed as a small pilot which receives no further funding, despite its success. They are often developed by people who are receiving minimal money or no money at all. Some of these people finance their own work. At the same time, large organisations receive large amounts of money to achieve… ?
I finish with a quote:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead, US cultural anthropologist
Please take some time reading the Napranum Story. It may take more than one sitting, but it’s worthwhile. Thank you.
Thank you, Annalise. Thank you, people of Napranum! I hope I have told your Story well. And I look forward to meeting you one day.