SELF-HELP ACTION SUPPORTING
SURVIVORS OF TORTURE AND TRAUMA IN SE ASIA, OCEANIA AND AUSTRALASIA
A PLAN OF SMALL GENERALISABLE ACTIONS
Posted Jan 1998. Updated April 2014.
Evolving a SE Asia
Pacific Self Help Trauma Support Intercultural Network - A Small
This document is part of a wider project building support for Indigenous and disadvantaged small minority trauma and torture survivors throughout the East Asia, Oceania and Australasia Region.
The following material provides scenarios of action extending a small Micro-proposal relating to the Focal people, namely East Timorese, Bougainvillian and other Indigenous/disadvantaged small minority and intercultural people in the Region. This Micro-project is outlined in the document 'Evolving an East Asia, Oceania, Australasia Self-help Trauma Support Intercultural Network - A Small Micro-project'.
This plan for action uses a participatory self help model. The model has been successfully actioned by Indigenous, disadvantaged small minority and intercultural Regional Focal people for over thirty years. The page Communal Ways For Healing the World contains a historical timeline of this action.
This Plan is based on the following Treaty and Code:
This action has demonstrated that traumatised people can provide a healing support to each other as part of a healing community. It is self help. This is not discussing a 'service'. People may heal themselves and pass on what works to others within voluntary informal networks. The self-help healing network is already evolving in the Region among for example, East Timorese and Bougainville people. Uncompromising funding support can see it blossom. The possibility is that the further evolving of these healing networks will not only help bring healing to oppressed and war ravaged people, it may well be a major process for consolidating peace processes. Refer Regaining Balance through Mutual-Help - A Story from Life
This document is about possibilities for small local mutual-help self-heal self-help action supporting survivors of torture and trauma among Focal people in the Region. These healing ways have been successfully used for over thirty years by Focal people in the Region.
This document is expressed in very tentative terms because nothing contained in this document could happen unless local Focal people want it.
Support for torture and trauma sufferers; Rebuilding Well-being in all its forms:
The above list is in alphabetical order - no priority is implied
The Laceweb is an informal network of intercultural people engaged in mutual-help and self-help well-being action. This network/movement commenced in Australia in the 1940's. It has been evolving through small local self-heal self-help well-being action among Torres Strait Islanders, Australian South Sea Islanders, Australian Aboriginals as well as among Indigenous, disadvantaged small minority and intercultural people in remote and rural areas - Focal People. It is spreading throughout the SE Asia, Oceania, Australasia Region.
People from the Laceweb who have supported themselves and other locals in self-heal/self-help on many occasions, may be available in an enabling role to support survivors of torture and trauma among East Timorese, Bougainvillian and other Focal people in the Region. Actions may address relief from trauma, oppression, poverty, sickness, misfortune, destitution, and illness. As well, it may help sufferers of the following forms of pressures and trauma:
The Laceweb is not connected with any political group, faction or religion. They respect spiritual and cultural diversity.
The Laceweb enables actions and support for torture and trauma survivors using healing ways that may form a basis for evolving culturally appropriate healing among diverse Focal people.
The Laceweb has, for over thirty years, demonstrated that traumatised people can provide a healing support to each other as part of a healing community. It is participatory self help. This is not discussing a 'service'. People may heal themselves and pass on what works to others. This help and support may be passed on within an expanding integrating network, and thus support may grow exponentially. Extensive historical and research material on the Laceweb is available via the Internet. This has been prepared in part by a Laceweb member towards Ph.D. psychosocial research into the Laceweb and participatory self-help models. Laceweb people may take an enabling role in extending self help support networks in the Region.
Virtually no-one on the islands of East Timor and Bougainville have been unscathed. For example, there are over 150,000 seriously affected people on Bougainville - a massive challenge. As reported by the UN Inter-Agency Report on Bougainville - 17 May 1995, the following are top priority issues in that context:
PARTICIPATORY SELF HELP
It is noted that the PNG Government representative, in opening the talks as part of the final drafting of the UN Inter-Agency Report on Bougainville, stated that both 'the participation of local people' and 'self help' processes are crucial to any meaningful normalisation on the Island and that both should be incorporated into the Report's recommendations. The final Report also held out those two aspects as critical.
'Participation of local people' and 'self help 'were again reiterated by a recent statement by Bougainville Member of the PNG Parliament, John Momis. He noted that all sorts of Australian organisations were wanting to come into Bougainville and provide various 'services' - in effect, to capitalise on opportunity. He cautioned against this. The Bougainville people want to help 'themselves' to return to normalcy.
The following view has been expressed by many Bougainvillians:
'We Bougainville people are very cautious of outsiders who want to come in to fix things for us. Massive needs exist in health, education, and infrastructure to name a few. We virtually need to start from scratch. Outside help 'is' needed. However we do not believe that having a massive range of 'services' devised and provided across the board by outside experts is the way.'
It is not surprising. This is the 'way' of the mainstream first nations. Virtually all mainstream funding uses 'top down service delivery' models as a starting point. This is never questioned. Both funding 'policy' and 'programs' are based on this 'service delivery' model. It is the model used at every level of Government. All Program funding 'criteria' and 'evaluation' are also based on the 'service delivery' model. Any 'sense' of participation and 'self help' is skewed into the service delivery model.
There is a real dilemma in all of this. Bougainville people have been cut off from the World for almost a decade.
'We are traumatised. We are very sceptical of outsiders. The last thing we want is someone coming in and running our lives for us. And yet the only model that Governments and NGO's have is 'service delivery'. Service delivery typically means 'You decide and do things for us'.'
'Participatory self help action' as the Laceweb know it, does not meet either the funding criteria or the evaluation criteria of 'service delivery' models. These two models belong in different worlds.
To attempt to place a top down service delivery organisation in a watchdog role over us using 'service delivery' criteria to 'ensure we are doing things 'properly' is unacceptable and unworkable in respect of this Participatory Self Help Action Plan and the accompanying Micro-proposal.
For example, a Laceweb proposal to the Australian Federal Government Health Department's Rural Health Support and Education Section (RHSET) in 1993 was prepared based on 'participatory self help'. The proposal was extremely appealing to the Department though deemed to be 'poorly written' - translate this as 'not using service delivery' frameworks. The Laceweb received a further 52 questions to be answered so that they could evaluate us. All of these questions assumed 'service delivery' and 'service delivery frameworks, contexts and criteria'. While all the questions 'made sense' within the service delivery' model, around 45 of the 52 questions made no sense within the 'participatory self help' model.
Examples of 'service delivery' questions the Laceweb was asked by the Australian Government's RHSET section:
Specify the services that you will be delivering?
None. The focus of action is 'self help' as specified in our Proposal. We may enable self-heal/self-help if asked.
Who will be delivering the services?
No services will be delivered. The Proposal is for self-help healing action through informal networks.
The current 1998 interpretation of an appropriate response to the above question would be expressed as there may be the very circumscribed ‘service’ of sharing helpful micro-experiences by Laceweb members - if locals want this enabling.
How will services be delivered?
There's no service delivery. Action evolves self help healing networks - enabling sharing of micro experiences may take place at healing gatherings - see Proposal.
What is the roll-out timetable?
This isn't one. Action is a function of local inclination and action.
What fixed training agenda do you have?
We are enablers, not trainers. We have no fixed agenda and there is no fixed agenda among Focal people. There is however an 'open agenda' with the themes specified in the proposal. What happens during our time together may be a function of local operative concerns and needs.
What are the qualifications of outside experts being used to research the current need?
No experts are being used. Actions are based on local knowings and wisdoms about what is missing in the Focal people's wellbeing. Self help is based on action research by locals. Outside enablers, differ from 'experts', as detailed in the proposal.
The Australian Government's RHSET Program had an extensive set of criteria that had to be met for proposals to be 'acceptable'. The criteria presupposed that certain pre-specified things must and will happen.
Participatory self help is 'not' prearranged- rather it 'organically unfolds'. With our model, nothing has to happen. Action is inherently tentative. Note the pervasive use of the tentative expressions 'may' and 'it's possible' throughout this plan. At the same time, with this tentativeness, local self help energy may do what service delivery can never do!
Within RHSET frameworks, certain aspects of wellbeing were clumped together - others were excluded. The Laceweb proposal to RHSET was all about integrated holistic wellbeing action that was fundamentally different to the 'what, why, when, where, and how of 'Sectorised service delivery'. Laceweb action has both integrity and Extegrity - the expansion of wholeness (a Laceweb concept).
An offer was made by RHSET to waive their normal criteria, though they would use their normal criteria to evaluate progressive action. The Laceweb declined funding to ensure that existing Laceweb momentum was not compromised.
For implementing proposals under this Plan we would accept co-vision relationships with international Indigenous/minority academic/research groups known to be experienced in participatory mutual-help and self-help models.
'Co-vision' is a concept borrowed from transnational management consulting. The term encapsulates contexts where trainers find that feedback from trainees train and change trainers so much that they have to change their training to fit the wisdom of the trainees. The concept equally applies to 'enabling' contexts.
The Laceweb realizes that it may participate in activities funded by others. It recognises the value of cross-cultural, cross-national and international guidance, and support in such circumstances.
The principles it favours are that in this wider context of humanitarian activities:
The principles of balanced wide representation of stake-holder entities can be continuously explored. The recent Irish peace initiatives provide valuable lessons in this regard.
We will be fully accountable for funds. However to tie funds to doing 'participatory self help' according to 'service delivery' criteria is unacceptable - it is a contradiction in terms and action.
Evaluation is built into every participatory self help action. However, it will be evaluation using 'participatory self-help criteria of local people', not 'service delivery' criteria.
If funding bodies are so tied to 'service delivery' that they insist that it be used, then funds will not be accepted for this Plan and the Micro-proposal, and our progress will be so much slower.
And it was for good reason that the Australian Government's Austrade and AusAid jointly ran the conferences in Melbourne and Sydney a couple of years ago called 'Aid Business is Good Business'. Laceweb members' recollection from attending the Melbourne Conference is that more than 90% of Australian Aid money returns to Australian organisations who do the work, that every dollar of aid generates a further six dollars of follow-on business and that about 75% of aid projects fall down either completely or partly. The reasons given for this failing was because there is only central government involvement by the recipient country, and because of lack of substantive participation by grassroots people at the local level.
Put this record in front of say war traumatised, sceptical Bougainville people who are very wary of outsiders, with the Panguna Copper mine (implicated in the outbreak of hostilities) hovering in the background, and no wonder people are wary of those bringing gifts!
It is possible that in large scale disasters, healing self-help is the only process that may work with the large number of traumatised people involved. It is understood that the model of delivery of care and support by 'experts' almost invariably falls down in contexts where large scale disasters occur. This is because the sheer size of the task to be done stretches expert resources beyond effectiveness. Typically, you cannot get the numbers of experts that would be needed to help tens of thousands of people. The cost would be enormous.
Sure, there are different contexts and issues, however we understand that AusAid has put substantial money into 'service based' trauma support for Palestinians, and yet after a couple of years only a few hundred have been supported. We are talking about substantive support to 150,000 people in Bougainville alone!
What we are suggesting is that in large scale disasters, with the large number of traumatised people involved, healing through voluntary informal networks by experienced locals, enabled to engage in mutual-help and self-help healing action, is the only process that may work. This applies to both manmade and natural disasters. It applies Globally. Healing ways may spread far and wide like underground mycelium.
An evolving experienced voluntary mutual-help and self-help network holds forth the possibility of placing healing and nurturing experiences and behaviours out in the local communities. Here they may be spread and incorporated into every aspect of communal life, as people go about their daily lives. Some people may desire to take on the enabling, healing micro-experience sharing, nurturing and/or caring roles. People in these roles may develop further nurturing carers within the communities in evolving the self-help support network.
Following many years of gatherings and discussions between Laceweb enablers Australian Indigenous/disadvantaged small minorities, East Timorese, Bougainvillian and other like minority people, self -help healing networks are already evolving in a number of areas of the Region. For example, small healing networks of East Timorese and Bougainvillians are evolving around respective safe havens in Top End Northern Territory, and Far North Queensland regions in Australia (refer the accompanying Micro-proposal). Conceptions of transfer sociograms as to how the sharing of healing ways may work may be found on the Internet.
Some local nurturers among Focal people are sharing healing ways. They are very keen to extend their healing micro-experiences. Following these gatherings and discussions between Laceweb enablers and East Timorese/Bougainvillian and other Focal people, the following possible themes, processes and healing micro-experiences may be shared and explored.
The following material has now been prepared as a manual for 14 Workshops found at Trauma Healing Program.
The following is based upon Experiential Learning.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said:
For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.
Experiences use and adapt the older Ways of the Region.
Where children were learning things by watching what older people do.
And particularly, watching how they do the things they are doing.
By copying older people and experiencing doing lots of things.
And this learning is also happening among adolescents.
It is a cooperative activity – involving lots of sharing.
The focus is on learners in the process of learning.
Facilitators creating contexts ideal for learning.
In our own cultural Way.
Through the Oceania SE Asia Australasia Region our experience has been that grassroots folk with little past experience in wellness action can take on new learning through experiencing transforming ways.
Wellness, Relational Mediation and other LEARNING EXPERIENCES have been shown to be very effective in rapid release of problems of low self-esteem, jealousy, alcoholism and drug addiction, misunderstanding, anxiety, grief and depression, argumentativeness, abusive behaviour, public disturbance and other problems. They are very useful for those coping with disputes in family and community relationships.
Basic healing ways may be experienced very quickly and they are easy to pass on to others so they may also experience.
It is considered that a monitor or intake counsellor will need 45 hours instruction and field experience, a mediator 90 hours and a senior mediator 180 hours. A master mediator will need about 360 hours.
Facilitators are available to set up contexts for groups to share in experiencing transforming ways
Healing Support for:
Themes and contexts for healing within and between the above groups
Resolving the following:
Actions may evolve according to local operative needs, concerns and issues.
The following may be possible broader healing themes:
For these people, to 'recall' may be to relive and re-experience the pain and anguish. At the same time both the present and past good times may be devalued and no source of pleasure. Such processes may continually traumatize. Experience has demonstrated that helping people explore and change how they use their brain and senses may have profound healing value.
Enablers may have a broad concept of activities and possibilities for the time together. Typically, the process may start out with some structure. After a time, activities and games may begin to emerge out of the spontaneous responding of the participants, with action possibly evolving from the energy and inclination of the moment. In a very real sense, the participants may evolve their own experience together.
Participants of all ages may explore creative and artistic ways of examining their local cultural well-being issues of concern to the participants and their communities; examples may be: violence, torture, trauma, grief, sexual, alcohol and drug abuse, suicide and correctional healing experiences. They may create short plays, songs and rhythms, poems, stories, dances, murals and postcards, and other materials about these issues.
The healing cultural activities as well as the dynamic group relating may provide corrective remedial and generative emotional micro-experiences that may lead to personal and group issues actually being healed/resolved during the process of exploring them. At the same time participants may be gaining competencies that they may use in the future.
Cultural Healing Action in general terms may involve actively fostering and sustaining cultural well-being. It may foster possibilities of people extending their own culture as a balance to other cultures which may be dominant, elitist and oppressive. As well, it is a movement for intercultural reconciliation and well-being.
It may foster the development of local Quick Response Healing Teams to possibly help resolve local community and international conflict. It may provide scope for local people to actively engender and promote values, language, practices, modes of action, arts and other aspects of a way of life (culture). These in turn may facilitate social emancipation, intercultural healing, cultural justice, as well as social and environmental well-being.
The healing mediation balance level is extended from family therapy, the 'family community therapy' of Fraser House, Australia (refer 'Fraser House' in Laceweb - Communal ways for healing the World) and the Family Mediation Services of Ontario, Canada.
Context healing, street mediation and group story performance includes origins from corroboree, therapeutic communities, Nelpful analysis (neurolinguistic programming), dance movement and Keyline organic farming.
Intercultural consensus includes Arnhemland Yolngu negotiation of meaning, joint-authority, and concepts such as Ganma, Galtha and Yothu-yindi. It is informed by principles of humanitarian (caring) law. Linking Indigenous wellness ways and the latest in the Brain Sciences - refer:
The blissful picture writing view is adapted from aboriginal bark and sand painting, iconic images, and the Australian Bliss-symbols system.
Cultural Healing Action. Processes drawing on healing artistry and related influences from traditional and other cultures around the world, especially from SE Asia Pacific region, including the Tikopia people of the Solomon Islands and applications among Aboriginal and small minority people in SE Asia, Oceania, Australasia, and South America.
The Action approach is modified from mountaineering ropes courses, wilderness leadership, and the work of Scout Lee. She is a native American doctor of education who has used ropes and ritual in improving dispute solving and community enrichment.
Note that again, like the rest of this Plan, everything is expressed in tentative terms ('this or that may happen'). Nothing will happen unless we locals want it to happen as gatherings and actions unfold.
The following process may be used and imbedded firstly within the wider exploring of issues, themes, and priorities outlined above, and secondly, in sharing healing ways, and thirdly in evolving processes for creating trauma support networks.
Readers are again referred to the diagrams relating to sharing and spread of healing ways on the Internet page Laceweb Sociograms
This section has been evolved with local Focal people and takes the local perspective.
Readers are again referred to Laceweb Sociograms for a richer feel for the following process.
One Laceweb person is engaged in research for his PhD tracing the history of the evolving within Australia of mutual-help and self-help participatory 'healing wellbeing' models through the 'Laceweb'. This healing social movement can be traced to community wellbeing action in Australia in the 1940's. It has since spread throughout region. The research is also collecting and documenting the nature, use, and outcomes of healing micro-experiences. Another PhD has the theme: Community Development Following the Restoration of Normalcy - Possibilities for Supporting the Evolving of Self -help Healing Networks in Bougainville. Another Laceweb person is also engaged in Ph.D. research. His topic is 'Participatory Self Help Action Models and Their Development and Use Among Aboriginal and Islander People in Australia'.
Local Laceweb people living in the safe haven of Cairns, Australia played host to indigenous and small minority delegates to the Small Island, Coastal and Estuarine people Gathering Celebration This gather was funded by the United Nations Human Rights Commission in June 1994. A Report to the UN on this gathering can be found at UN Report
The Laceweb has been exploring and using forms of mediation therapy and mediation counselling. They are simple, yet profound. At times it may be possible for whole communities to enter into cultural healing action. A sociogram depicting this possible move into therapeutic community is shown in the last two diagrams on the Laceweb Sociogram page. Also refer Relational Mediation and the Daughter on Bail.
With many people of differing political persuasions advocating 'smaller government' it may well be that the model involved in this Plan and the Micro-proposal may have relevance in fostering contexts where communities and groups anywhere in the World may take a greater role in caring for themselves rather than asking Governments to do things for them.
Perhaps governments at all levels who are seeking to shift from a focus on 'service delivery' to 'participatory self-help' could use the unfolding Laceweb experience in building policy and programs based on the participatory self-help model as a complement to service delivery. Refer the Laceweb paper 'Governments and the Facilitation of Community Grassroots Wellbeing Action', a paper forwarded to the RHSET section of the Australian Federal Health Department in 1993.
Laceweb enablers have worked closely with Focal people from all parts of the Region in evolving this Plan and the associated Micro-proposal. They are pervasively keeping to the processes local people are asking for. Uncompromising funding support can see the self-help healing networks that are an evolving colourful and magnificent field of activity, further blossom.
The above organic process is resonant with the Focal people's healing ways and with the Laceweb enablers' desire firstly, to use mutual-help and self-help' processes, and secondly, to stay clear of a kind of pseudo-help that disempowers and leaves control of process and content to outside 'experts'.
This Plan and the Micro-proposal may well form a model for wider support by Government and NGO's.
The possibility is that the further evolving of these healing networks will not only help bring healing to oppressed and war ravaged people, it may well be a major process for confidence building towards consolidating a caring peace.
Perhaps you may want to support this project and the related Micro-Action and be part of an extra-ordinary healing Odyssey.