Partnership with Mt Druitt Indigenous Church (2008-12)
"Bridges has enabled us to grow as people, supported our church members and encouraged us to stand on our own two feet..." - Kayleen Manton, Community Leader, Mt Druitt Indigenous Church.
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Willmot Indigenous Children's Photovoice (2008)
Willmot Public School partnered with Mt Druitt Indigenous Church and Bridges in a PhotoVoice project for Indigenous Students from Stage 3 classes. 15 students participated in a 10 week program in which they learned digital photography skills. Bridges took a resilience-based approach and worked with children and to some degree their community i.e. family, school and broader community. The program included an excursion to Campbelltown Art Centre where the students viewed an Aboriginal Photographic Exhibition and had a workshop with renowned Aboriginal Photographer, Mervyn Bishop. Later in the program students went on photographic excursions around Willmot and to Featherdale Wildlife. The program culminated in a celebration day in which the photographs were screened to an audience of family, community members and Stages 2 and 3 classes. With the help of Aboriginal Puppeteer Chris Burke from Gracie’s Productions each student and their photographed were celebrated. As part of the project the students created a book which they titled "Willmot is the place to be".
View the book
In this process, the children felt a sense of pride in themselves and the area they live, they learnt photography skills, had a sense of contributing to their community and created more connections with each other as well as other groups in their school. Bridges supported their school in organising a launch of the booklet. At this event the children were identified as VIPs and were congratulated in front of their peers from other classes, their parents and teachers.
The Photovoice project engaged with the children around their personal, cultural and community strengths in order to build on the factors in their lives that will increase their resilience both now and in the future. The students experienced positive Aboriginal role models through Mt Druitt Indigenous Church, the Indigenous staff at Willmot Public School and invited guests and excursions. Students, parents and workers had the opportunity to work with famous Aboriginal Photographer Mervyn Bishop and attend the “More Than My Skin” Aboriginal photographic exhibition. Here they met Aboriginal arts workers and curators. As a result of attending this exhibition, the children were featured in Indigenous newspaper, Koori Mail. In the final phase of the project, students met and worked with the Yarramundi Kids puppets and pupperteer Chris Burke, who has Indigneous-specific puppet shows based around child protection and resilience.
Teachers and family members indicated changes that have taken place for the children, including the children being more confident, less isolated within the school and more understood and connected with other school children.
As a direct result of the project, Wilmott Public School embarked on a whole of school pride project, with all students taking photographs. The Photovoice project booklet continues to connect students to the broader community, and has been presented as part of the "Yarramundi Kids" program on National Indigenous TV.
Groupwork and Ongoing Counselling
Mt Druitt Indigneous Church runs a number of community groups, including a weekly Recovery Group, Youth Group and Kids Club. Through a continuing partnership with Leaders Rick and Kayleen Manton new projects have been run supporting the church. Bridges provided a series of eight sessions to the Recovery Group on use of Photovoice. Click here to read the story about this project which involved Bridges workers - Miriam Bevis and Viviane Oliveira, posted on the Dulwich Centre website. Counselling from Bridges was available for the Recovery group members, and outreach counselling for Church members has continued.
Child Protection Training (2008-9)
Bridges attended meetings with the Indigenous church leadership group to identify how Bridges could support them. The group requested support around training in counselling, domestic violence, child protection and drug and alcohol. Bridges linked the Mt Druit Indigenous Church with Mt Druitt TAFE. The initial contact at TAFE, Dave Nash, was involved in Bridges Stage II. This has resulted in eight of the church's community leaders gaining accredited training in child protection, provided by Mt Druitt TAFE.
Connecting clients with community (2009)
Another example of facilitating connections was when one of our Indigenous clients, linked with the Mt. Druitt Indigenous Church, who attended counseling sessions at Bridges told us he was interested in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The worker connected him to the famous Gracie Academy in Blacktown. Chris, the instructor, offered him a sponsorship. As a result our client has been attending the classes and has plans to bring his knowledge back the children in his community.
Narrative Training in partnership with the Dulwich Centre and connecting with Hermannsburg (2010)
Bridges organised for training in narrative methodologies for the members of Mt Druitt Indigenous Church and for other community members and workers. David Denborough and Barbara Wingard came over from the Dulwich Centre in Adelaide to provide this training. As part of the workshops a CD was developed and stories were shared from the group in Mt Druitt, in response to stories related to grief, loss, resilience and hope by an Aboriginal community in Hermannsburg. Click here to read about the Hermannsburg narrative project called "Yia Marra" on the Dulwich Centre website.
After the narrative training, Bridges staff facilitated the “Team of Life” methodology with the Church’s Youth Leaders which resulted in a collective story on how they deal with hard times that was shared in narrative workshops in Brazil, Canada, U.S.A., Hong Kong, Uganda, Mexico.
As a result of sharing the collective story, people from overseas as well as locally are beginning to send responses on how the original story has made a positive contribution to other people’s lives.
The Dulwich Centre sponsored Bridges to run a 4 week “Team of Life” groupwork program with the young people. Through these activities young people became more connected with important people in their lives and their culture. They were supported to acknowledge the challenging issues their community is facing at the same time as acknowledging their skills in responding to these challenges.
Counselling for community members using narrative methodologies has also continued.
Bridges event at Mt Druitt Indigenous Church (2010)
Event 2010 Flyer
The Mt Druitt Indigenous Church leaders, Rick and Kayleen Manton and Youth Leader Sheryn Turvey spoke at the Bridges Event, which was held at their church. This event celebrated the work of Mt Druitt Indigenous Church and the partnership with Bridges.
Forty people attended the event. Many people expressed that they wanted to support the church and their work in the community. Since then Bridges has facilitated a partnership for the church with BREED (Blacktown Regional Economic and Employment Development). BREED is supporting the church in setting up the equipment for their after school home work program. Also as a result of this event a partnership is being explored with Sydney West Area Health Service through the Aboriginal Health Unit. A relationship with Future Journeys is also developing which will assist the young people and the Church in sharing their visions for the future and in using photos and film to share their experiences and ideas.
Mt Druitt Indigenous Church youth group connecting with Muslim young people (2011)
Mt Druitt Indigenous Church and Bridges again collaborated in giving a narrative response "Messages to young Australian Muslims: A Message from young people at Mt Druitt Indigenous Church" to the project "Life Saving Tips" which a group of young Muslims did with The Dulwich Centre.
This Dulwich Centre publication, including the response from the Mt Druitt Indigenous Church Youth Group is being distributed throughout NSW schools.
"Bridging" and valuing the knowledge of the members and leaders of the Mt Druitt Indigenous Church
Bridges has also created opportunities for the Church leaders to speak at particular forums. The Church leaders and members have a lot of knowledge and wisdom that Bridges and other organisations are benefiting from. Church leaders recently presented at an event organised by the Reconciliation for Western Sydney Inc.
Comments from Mount Druitt Indigenous Church. A Case Study of the Bridges Network Approach
Rick and Kayleen made the following comments as part of an independent evaluation of Bridges work :
Kayleen Manton said "Bridges has enabled us to grow as people, supported our church members and encouraged us to stand on our own two feet. We feel welcome at Bridges and Bridges is welcome in our Church. They make us feel relaxed and we feel part of the family".
Rick and Kayleen described the relationship they have now with Bridges as being very different from when they first met. They described a growing partnership between the two organisations that is less reliant on individuals and more based on the agency as a whole.
An excerpt from the Bridges Evaulation Report 2010 (pp 45 - 48) - scroll to read the full excerpt
Interview on Koori Radio about our work with Mount Druitt Indigenous Church and Marrin Weejali (2011)
Click here to hear Tirrania and Paulene speak to Paulette Whitton on "Blackchat" in an ainterview that was aired on 28 June 2011.
Response to Mt Druitt Indigenous Church by Girls School in Victoria (2012)
Mt Druitt Indigenous Church received a letter from a girls school in Victoria as a response to the "Life Saving Tips" narrative project by Muslim young people from Bankstown. Read more...
Further project work with young people (2012)
Currently a project is taking place with the Mount Druitt Indigenous Church young people in which they are learning skills in taking videos while filming Aboriginal elders telling their life stories.
The ABC are filming the progress of this project to be included in a documentary.
Further projects with kids club and youth group (2012)
Group work is being planned with the kids club with the aim of increasing their resilience. Further information about the groups will be made available as the projects develop.