Exploring possibilities for Small Generalisable
Actions among disadvantaged Indigenous
and small minority people


Written 10 Oct1997 Last updated April 2014.


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This paper is a complimentary briefing paper associated with the Laceweb documents:

·         Self Help Action Rebuilding Wellbeing in the SE Asia Oceania Australasia Region

·         Background Briefing Paper on Possibilities For Unfolding Self Help Action On Bougainville


As at 1998, Sixty Billion dollars flows into the SE Asia Oceania Australasia Region in Aid money. Japan is by far the largest donor country. AusAid combined a few years ago with Austrade to run the conference, 'Aid business is good Business'. The head of the Japanese Aid body was present. Government Aid and trade hand in hand with transnational companies. Typically, 'aid' work generates economic 'activity' for companies from the donor country, and the expressed aim was for every dollar of aid to generate seven dollars of follow-on business. That is, the additional money potential of aid 'follow-on' economic activity in the region is in the order of $420 Billion ($420,000,000,000). Aid is driven by 'money politics'.

Disadvantaged indigenous and small minority people in the Region typically live in 'contested geographies'. Governments and multinationals want the same area for other purposes - timber, mining, power, water and the like. Most of the trauma facing the focal people in the Region is traceable to decisions by the very governments and multi-nationals who are in the act of dispensing the $60,000,000,000 in 'aid' or linked to the business activity connected with, or flowing from 'aid' action. Refer Key Indigenous Issues).

In controlling this massive 'aid', vested interest ensure that local indigenous and disadvantaged small minorities have little or no say in anything that happens. When Aid bodies speak of 'self-help' for 'local people' it is a far cry from what is being proposed in the Laceweb Self-Help documents.


The suggestions in 'Laceweb – Self-Help Action' document are based on the use of extremely dynamic, powerful and effective socio-emotional and socio-economic processes. These approaches have evolved in the Laceweb over the past 50 years. The approaches outlined in the document, when applied by competent, experienced enablers, are extremely powerful. However, if these processes are attempted by unqualified, unskilled and inexperienced people, not only could they be completely ineffectual, they could result in people being disillusioned. Currently, few are equipped as enablers to use these processes. Laceweb Enablers support locals to be more able to do things for themselves. Local enablers may evolve as part of the process of rebuilding Well-being.


What is being suggested in this document is pervasive 'Self=Help'. It is not 'service delivery 'dressed up' to give locals 'a sense' of self-help. It is just what it says - local grassroots people helping themselves and having all the say about how things happen and what happens.

In contrast to the Laceweb way, pervasively, 'infrastructure development' ‘community development’ and other and 'service delivery' involves someone doing something for someone else. Typically, bureaucrats within the government agencies of donor and recipient country decide what happens. The 'Service' is delivered and supported by bureaucracy. This is 'poles' apart from what is being recommended here.

While possibly starting in very small ways, the suggestions contained in the links at the bottom of this page are potentially comprehensive in their scope towards generating an alternative or a complement to 'expert-driven' service delivery processes. Starting in very small ways may allow what works in meeting local priorities and aspirations to be repeated and expanded. Small beginnings may allow far-reaching Well-being change in the Region.


Most Well-being issues revolve around what we do, or not do as we go about our daily lives; that is, our culture. Throughout the Region much well-being loss can be attributable to business decision makers (For Example, Panguna Copper mine in Bougainville). A very small proportion of loss of Well-being relates to the action of germs, viruses and chance occurrence.

In general terms, a very large proportion of Well-being loss is self-imposed or imposed by outsiders or locals - violence, torture, and trauma, domestic violence, lack of mutual respect, becoming insane, poor eating habits and life styles, polluting, causing soil erosion, lack of exercise and laziness, and so on. It is trivially true that if people stopped behaviours like the ones mentioned, most Well-being issues, currently needing millions to resolve, could be solved without spending a cent. But it is not that simple.

Throughout the Oceania Australasia SE Asia Region, Well-being influences are being generated that are placing the impetus for Action back at the place where it breaks down - with the local people as they go about their lives. Indigenous and Small Minority people have been, since the 1970's, taking self-help wellbeing action and asking for and needing nothing from government in order to carry out this wellbeing action - they just get on with it! Refer Government Facilitation of Grassroots Action.

It is pervasively local Action. Small groups engage in Action and keep using practices that work for them. Others become involved and initiatives, starting at the local grassroots level where it is happening, work their way outwards to include more and more of the wider community.

The links below do explore engaging in self help wellbeing action that may require funding and protocols for funding have been evolved.


Typically, small initiatives start with local action to address some aspect limiting or effecting wellbeing. For this, no funding is typically required. Later, there may be the exploring together of small and larger barter/trading opportunities and the real-playing of setting up and running these, and the evolving of action may be generating a wide range of positive behavioural outcomes. People may take on board a wide range of skills. Behaviours may change in the process.

More ambitious initiatives may be real-played. Sculptures and models may be created. Small pilot projects may be trialled as appropriate to context. The need to seek outside resources (including experts as 'resource people') may be recognized and how to do this may be explored and experienced.

Other potential initiatives requiring greater financial, labour and other resources may be taken through to final conceptual stages before review by funding sources. Typically, a number of initiatives may be developed in tandem.

Those income-producing Actions that may involve money to get them started may be modelled, real-played, mini-trialled, and acted out until a highly refined experiential action model emerges. A number of these may be evolving simultaneously.

Attention may be paid to how these various models fit together, as well as exploring the scope for economies through integrating aspects of the different possibilities (for example, situating a number of projects close to each other to use a common access path). Scarce funding may mean that the villagers may have a number of projects that have to be put on the back-burner or dropped.

Participating in the process may generate skills in selecting the initiatives to be put forward for approval by funding sources. All involved in the evolution of the experiential models may have already worked together on many issues not requiring funding. They may have, in this process, gained refined skills in cooperative Action. This Action together may prepare them for pervasively owning and effectively operating small and large economic initiatives.

For example, a key to 'low risk' economic endeavours is creating ongoing contexts where generating of goods and/or services is to meet existing requests. Generating goods and services in the hope (often vane) of exchanging them, is a higher risk. Enablers may support the local people in creating the first scenario.


'Nurturing culture' involves ways of joint Action having potential to spread and enrich the Well-being competence base throughout the local community. The potential is for the further expanding and spreading of the local wellbeing experiences, knowings, capacities and wisdoms.

The process mitigates against generating a few who have the power and influence that comes from being the possessor of scarce knowledge which is jealously guarded. Initiatives may be involving everyone in acting together to take back ability over their lives.

Typically, any experts already present or emerging in the villages may be used as 'resource people' and less as 'power brokers' and 'decision makers'. These role parameters may apply to any 'outside' expert who may become involved as well.

People may be engaged in passing on diverse Well-being skills - for example, in providing community-based family and individual wellness support. All involved may gain experience of competence by the very nature of the process of increasing wellness and creating new initiatives.

Well-being competence may be refined and passed on in everyday life in natural settings. Often this entails embodied knowing that has not reached consciousness. People are transformed in having grace and elegance in doing things that they may find hard to put into words. Others copy the process and also experience embodied knowing. Experiential learning.

As well, this may occur during specific structured contexts. Increasingly, people may be intuitively appropriate in their responses to each other. There may be acts that are perfect for the moment which also contain the seed of realistic generalisable policy.

Complementary Papers:

·         Self Help Action Rebuilding Wellbeing in the SE Asia Oceania Australasia Region

·         Background Briefing Paper on Possibilities For Unfolding Self Help Action On Bougainville


Laceweb Home Page

Laceweb - Self-Help Action Supporting Survivors of Torture and Trauma in Se Asia, Oceania and Australasia - Small Generalisable Actions

Short Version of Previous Page.

Trauma Healing Workshop Manual


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