Written 2009. Last update, April, 2014.

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Natural Nurturers


Laceweb action research over many years has repeatedly found that the existence of experienced and competent natural nurturers is a wide spread phenomenon that extends right through the Oceania East Asia Australasia Region. These are folk who are naturals when it comes to caring and nurturing others,


 If one knows what to look for and has eyes to see, and caring nurturing respectful ways of engaging and relating, natural nurturers can be readily found and linked with.





The term ‘RAD’ refers to the resource called Rapid Assessing of Local Wellness Psycho-social Resources & Resilience Following Disasters




This Document may be used and adapted with Laceweb acknowledgement for non-commercial purposes


Feedback on use encouraged


It may be useful for those well versed in Indigenous ways and traditional healing ways of the East Asia Oceania Australasia Region


It may also be useful for those International Aid bodies and others seeking to cultural interface with Indigenous and small minority people of the Region in ways that do not harm or compromise


Laceweb resources are available to prepare people to use this document and associated resources





RAD has been framed to be used by people with:


o   Experience and competence in its use

o   Sensitive to security issues, and

o   Already experienced in supporting local people in culturally sensitive ways to take their own action together via self-help and mutual-help to move towards wellness, as the locals know it.


The RAD Resource may be used in psychosocial support with all people affected by man-made and natural disasters.


It is recognized that man-made and natural disasters may result in severely traumatized people, especially among women, children, elderly, indigenous people, and oppressed minorities.


Many may have been subjected to physical, psychological and or emotional torture and/or have pressing unmet psychosocial needs degrading wellness.


RAD and this document have been continually evolving through assistance of many local at-risk folk through the Oceania SE Asia Australasia Region.


Experience Base


The associated Laceweb experience base has been evolving over more than 50 years. It has been born of wellbeing enablers and natural-nurturers in the Region exploring their own sense of return to wellness in the various aspects of their own lives following man-made and natural disasters - drawing on their local cultural and everyday life ways, as well as personal and interpersonal experience of what works in local contexts and understandings. Refer Regaining Balance through Mutual-Help.


In conjunction with people in the Region, processes are investigating the Ways by which a culture/society as complex adaptive system actually maintains, amplifies, regulates and in some circumstances re-constitutes itself (autopoiesis – self : creating or producing).


Psychosocial wellness can be defined as an emergent phenomena contingent upon the recovery by the system of its self-regulating and self-amplifying functions.


In this framing we return over and over again to asking ourselves and the readers to observe, ‘what is the local living system actually doing?’


From actual immersion in context we may begin to see what others unsensitised to locality, time, place and context may completely miss. We may ask questions like


‘In what ways can we identify and nurture the ‘positive deviants’ who are using the ‘free-energy’ to regenerate and reconstitute local solutions which are profoundly appropriate to local life?’ 


Such a question is of immense importance immediately post-trauma, for without the critical engagement of and directing by nodal locals - the information, resources and energy of the aid intervention becomes inefficiently used, poorly up-taken, and typically, non-sustaining.


In short, a major focus for emergency psychosocial aid intervention, if the project is to become self-sustaining must involve interfacing at the level of first world notion of ‘executive control’ though with local natural nurturers – though in that context – how does the local context actually work at the local level. For example, the real change agents activating wellness may not be Paramount Chiefs and other power people or dominant females. It may be ‘non-obvious’ transforming energies like children’s’ play and spontaneous nurturing by humble local natural nurturers. The role of the intercultural enabler(s) as relational mediator and intercultural interfacers in this context becomes critical.




RAD and associated healer networks are emerging from a recognising within local grassroots folk in the Region of the need to add folk experienced in culturally appropriate and sensitive psychosocial support to Rapid Deployment Emergency Response Teams in the Region.


It’s further recognized that folk seeking support following man-made and natural disasters in the Region are calling for support to be provided by people familiar with and respectful of local culture, indigenous psychologies, and community based psychosocial mutual-help ways.


Locals in the Region are expressly seeking local resiliency, competence, and wellness based self-help and mutual-help as complementary alternatives to Western and other dominant society models of prescriptive service delivery based on ‘client vulnerability’ and ’mental ill-health’ (refer Recognising and Evolving Local-lateral Links Between Various Support Processes).


In instances where International NGOs and other entities are only experienced in prescriptive service delivery of non-local way, RAD Network people may act as an enabling intercultural interface between these outside service delivery people and the locals’ self-help and mutual-help wellbeing ways.


In contexts of conflict contributing to societal collapse, local folk in the Region are exploring loco-lateral and bottom-up processes for re-constituting their lives together (refer Extegrity).


Intercultural Normative Model Areas (INMAs) are being explored; refer (INMAs) & Un-Inma Atherton Tablelands Inma Project


In linking grassroots torture and trauma support people in the Region it is understood that areas of governance and others in the Region are, as a matter of policy, using torture and trauma for social control. In these contexts, local grassroots people integrating the tortured and traumatized towards wellness may be harassed, tortured or killed. In these contexts contextual circumstances tend to determine who, if anyone gains access to information.






The following defines terms used in this document:




Wellness and illness in many domains of life may be viewed as a continuum with each end representing an extreme. At any given time, one's position along the continuum represents the window through which the individual experiences:


o   Their body-mind

o   Life circumstances

o   Symptoms

o   Sense of self,

o   Relationships and

o   Their interconnecting with their world in general. 


'Wellness' may be defined as a generalized self-perception based on the individual’s sense of participation in and enrichment from life. This generalized sense of wellness is a function of the relative significance of the various blended wellness domains and the nature of these blendings - their various interconnecting, inter-weaving, inter-meshing, inter-mingling, inter-depending, inter-locking, inter-twining and inter-lacing - physical, psychological, mental, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, habitat, economic and environmental domains. Wellness involves plexus - Latin from plex - past participle stem of plectere (plait, interweave’) – hence network or interwoven mass. With this, on may become a connoisseur of wellness.

A person's self report is the best predictor of wellness and only they know when they do not have wellness.


Current biomedical and sociological evidence indicates that self-assessment of wellness is the single biggest predictor of actual wellness. Therefore, we sense the importance of stating emphatically, that the person is the authority on their own wellness, while the western-trained ‘expert’ remains an authority on pathology and disease.


It appears very germane to emphasize that authority for reconstituting wellness is logically in the hands of those who define and are responsible for wellness: again the local people themselves.


Sustainable wellbeing outcomes are in the hands of those people who have authentic power and authority to actually reconstitute, rediscover and reclaim wellness. While pathological-based therapeutic interventions remain primary in NGO and UN aid processes - the current trend of partial and rapidly attenuating outcomes will proceed unabated, simply because there is no logical link between seeking to correct or normalize a part of a complex self-organizing system and reconstituting the optimum functioning or wellbeing of the entire system. The very latest Wellness research is concerned with the simple, effective, evidence-based ways for achieving the latter process while therapeutic interventions address the former.


The experiencing of wellness is being well - wellbeing. The foregoing recognizes that having health is very different from having wellness. Being well is very different to being in good health. One can be healthy and unwell and vice versa.


Local People


Local people are all the people living in the area who have been affected by the emergency.


Wellbeing enablers


Wellbeing enablers are those who through structured, supported or spontaneous life experience and/or through personally experiencing the modelling of others' micro-experience in their own bodyminds (embodied knowing), can support people in wellbeing self-help and mutual-help - recognizing and supporting people's resilience, competencies and resources. Wellbeing enabling is very different from Service Delivery (refer Interfacing Document and Recognising and Evolving Local-lateral Links Between Various Support Processes).





It is recognized that in many contexts, International and National NGOs and other agencies using prescriptive service delivery, people inexperienced in the ways embodied in this set of RAD documents may be the only outside follow-on resources available after rapid assessment. Typically, there are local resources and an issue becomes interfacing these two resources


These entities typically use First World psychologies and healing ways with ‘Service delivery', 'mental health', 'pathology', 'vulnerability' ,'diagnose and prescribe' and ‘expert and client’ as their frames of action (refer Recognising and Evolving Local-lateral Links Between Various Support Processes.

While recognizing the need for support in emergencies, people in distress in the Region are asking for support people to be culturally sensitive and for them to evolve ways of complementing and strengthening local healing ways, and local alternatives to this imposition of outside way.


This is the very reason why this Resource, RAD and associated Networks have been evolving.


This Page and associated resources are evolving energy for sensitising the international community about ways to respectfully interface with other cultures who live in very different realities, in ways that support without offence, compromise, and harm.




To reiterate, in instances where entities are only experienced in prescriptive service delivery of non-local way, local natural nurturers may act as an enabling intercultural interface between these outside service delivery people and the locals; possible roles:


o   Briefing organizing/donor partners on the local context and local wellness ways and support action

o   Identifying, liaising with and mobilizing the necessary external support - including briefing them on local context and local wellness ways and support action

o   Linking external support with local carers

o   Ensuring external support people have appropriate training, supervision, supplies, etc


The potential is that using RAD during rapid response engaging, and subsequent liaising with people providing follow-on support, may further enhance intercultural sensitivities and the adaptive use of the international communities’ capacity in contexts where they have little or no understandings of local way.









It is recognized that psychosocial mutual-help wellness support should be an aspect of emergency rapid deployment in the Region.


RAD based Rapid Assessment may provide a reasonably accurate picture within the five days with progressive half-daily feedback on each day (five days being the typical length of Rapid Assessment Deployment in the Region) on the wellness support needs and local psychosocial resources and resilience among the locals.


There is a low logistical and resource cost to this flowing from the potential NON-LINEAR benefits of tapping into self-amplifying and self-regulating local living networks who typically engage freely as they go about their lives.


RAD should ideally be carried out again periodically to evaluate the effectiveness of the emergency support rollout in terms of the local people's perception. A consistent bio-psychosocial research finding is that self-reported wellness is the single best predictor of actual wellness. This would shift the focus of wider support by the international community to evidence based practice based on the only effective measure - the locals’ sense of wellness - the individual, family, friendship networks and community return to wellness (wellbeing).


RAD assessment holds forth promise of providing support to International Aid Organisations’ effectiveness in providing guidance based on local knowing of what will not work at the local level, as well as what will work where International Aid is stretched beyond capacity by local context.


To reiterate, there is no logical link between seeking to correct or normalize a part of a complex self-organizing system and reconstituting the optimum functioning or wellbeing of the entire system. International communities’ tend to be preoccupied with sectorising action in ways that often exclude the psycho-social and other domains or speak of engaging in the ‘psychosocial’ where they engage with Western psychological concept and have scant experience or competence in social aspects, especially in local cultural contexts. In sectorising they also tend to disintegrate integral aspects and treat bits of a context separately (children, unaccompanied minors, mothers with children, the aged, the disabled, etc) – where perhaps the natural starting place for healing wellness of the local people is for example the whole village or the whole community. In doing this sectorising, International Aid may be ignoring and contribute to the disintegrating of the profound interconnectedness of these local healing domains (refer Government and Facilitating Grassroots Action).


Follow-up periodic evaluation of local wellness via RAD would enable the evaluating of the various 'programs and projects' against the changing wellness and other needs as the locals perceive them.


Given the above, RAD is ideally ‘required’ whenever there is an emergency response to man-made and natural disasters in the Region.



Providing Rapid Psychosocial Support - Some Experience from the Region


The following experience may guide Psychosocial Support and Rapid Assessment using RAD.


The local natural nurturers and carers in their context establish a natural ordering of priorities in linking with locals.


Once we meet one or two they pass us on to, and introduce us to others, so we may merge into their resilient adaptive local life system. Merging with the local nurturer milieu helps recalibrate our heads and bodies to be in tune with the local – to have the local layout of places within us as a lived life experience of embodiment of people and place (located people – people connected together connected to place - ‘cultural locality’ - to begin to tune into their realities and logistics of the unfolding disaster.


It is recognized that rapidly gaining sufficient information following man-made and natural disaster can be a major contributing factor in stopping further harm and minimizing the affects of trauma.


It is further recognized that:


o   All of the many traumatizing contexts in the Region - for example, child abuse in its various forms, child trafficking, child soldier aftermath, women trafficking, loss of place, loss of way of life and habitat, forcing whole villages to watch ‘body-horror’ for mass traumatising for social control, landmines, torture, gender violence and the like, all have a profound impact on psychosocial wellbeing.


o   Nutrition, sanitation and clean water, stopping the spread of infectious diseases, adequate shelter, safety and the like are crucial in the early phases of support. Establishing basic safe and sanitary conditions may maintain survival at baseline value. To actually promote and advance life requires people to hold a space for wellbeing. Wellbeing is an inner journey, not subjective in the sense of ‘fluffy and interpretivist’ – rather, profoundly internal, deep, self-selected, unfolding and intimately reconnecting local people to being, to self and each other, to being in the world with others, and to place, time and context. We need to distinguish between establishing basic conditions for survival (health) - and creating context for self-organizing life-ways to reconstitute lived wellness (thriving). For this, psychosocial and wider wellbeing support and understanding and competence in using Wellbeing Way are crucial.


o   Large numbers of traumatized people invariably stretch service delivery processes beyond capacity – typically, not enough 'professionally trained trauma support' people can be mobilized. The processes embodied in this resource, in tapping into and strengthening the self-help and mutual-help networks typically already present among the locals (and rarely or never noticed by international aid bodies), have demonstrated cost-effectiveness (so much is self-organizing and voluntary). It may limit the impact of emergency events and speed up the return to everyday normal functioning and wellbeing. An example is the identifying of a local woman nurturer with well nourished who was a useful anomaly in Vietnam who had well-nourished children when all other children in the village were malnourished - the secret was local shrimps and specific greens. Passing this understanding on through the village virtually eliminated malnutrition (refer Pascale R. T., Millemann, M., & Gioja, L., 2000, p. 175-181). This local shrimps and specific local greens was locality specific. It was not turned into an inter-contextual five step algorithm and applied throughout Vietnam. The metaprocess was however used and many other locality specific Ways to reduce malnutrition were evolved with great success.


o   These local self-help nodes and networks are critical components of the self-organization process through which local resilience and wellbeing is re-established.


o   Action research in the Philippines by Professor Bautista’s team has identified a vast array of Resilience processes naturally occurring in at-risk children (Bautista, V., A. Roldan & M. Garces-Bacsal, 2001. Working With Abused Children - From the Lenses of Resilience and Contextualization. Save the Children Sweden, UP Centre for Integrative and Development Studies, and UP CIDS Trauma and Human Rights Program). Professor Bautista was funded by Down to Earth (Victoria) Incorporated to experience the Easter ConFest in NSW in 2004 and shared her Resilience Research and wide experience with ConFest attendees. She also engaged in other networking within Laceweb networks in Australia. She was accompanied by a Filipino colleague who works in post-disaster contexts supporting children at risk. Another Filipino colleague funded her own way to Melbourne linking with Laceweb people while exploring legally constraining rights based approaches for curbing homo agressans.


Experience in the Region has demonstrated the efficacy of:


1.    The 'respectful gentle caring presence':


o   the supporting of the local natural nurturers, and

o   the local ways for reconstituting wellness – e.g., whole-of-community healing ceremonies and rituals where elaborate though simple communal togetherness in preparing for the ceremonies and rituals are themselves healing

o   cultural respectfulness and sensitivity

o   community-based normalizing action

o   attending and listening


2.    Through respectful inquiry, ensuring that all action is in keeping with local culture and way; for example, in some contexts the interface between place and ancestor has crucial implications that if not recognized may add to trauma and strife. In one context, international aid people wanted to see people one at a time, where local way was to commence with whole-of-community healing processes using their local cultural ways


3.    Encouraging the recommencement of local artistic practice - for example creating play and cultural spaces/places in refugee and IDP camps, playgrounds, sports areas, special places for cultural and religious ceremonies and other everyday and special day community ceremonies – using cultural healing artistry of the locality


4.    Recreating possibilities for the resumption of as many aspects of normal everyday living as possible - as these may have a trivial, though potent effect on re-constituting community wellbeing together; potent in Bacau in East Timor is the sounds of roosters in their thousands crowing in the first light of day, and the sound of children playing around their mothers as they all walk down the road to the spring for a morning wash and clothes washing as children play in the water around them to the sound of birds twittering in the shady trees above


5.    Fostering and enabling a flow of reliable news and information and making this widely available to those concerned and all who may benefit from knowing


6.    Having, wherever possible, the community or communities making the decisions, using, as much as possible, their normal decision-making or other processes, about things like the layout of camps, places for and of worship, schools, play areas, basic rules of locals making for local governance of the camps, and the like.


7.    Providing enabling support for internally displaced people, refugees and others effected by man-made and natural emergencies to be involved in substantive mutual benefit action such as:


o   camp set-up and organization,

o   local camp governance

o   family, friend and community reunion, and

o   food distribution


8.    Reconstituting some, or all aspects of schooling and other everyday life experience for children - creating safe child-friendly spaces


9.    Identifying and supporting the continuation of existing activities, as well commencing normal everyday activities that locals have not yet reconstituted among the communities affected by the emergency within camps and formal and informal settings


10. When the time is right for it, fostering and supporting cultural healing action and re-creational activities for children, adolescents and adults as an aid to increasing wellbeing - play, artistry in all its local forms, painting, puppetry, drama, theatre, sculpture, storytelling, singing, chanting, dancing and the like


11. Respectfully fostering the reconstituting of cultural and religious happenings, rituals, ceremonies and events


12. Fostering and enabling existing and new self-help and mutual-help groups and networking


13. Recognizing and supporting intergenerational respect, care and nurturing




RAD Links


o   Rapid Assessing of Local Wellness, Psycho-Social Resources & Resilience Following Disasters (RAD)                                                                         

o   Recognising and Evolving Local-lateral Links Between Various Support Processes

o   Regaining Balance through Mutual-Help - A Story from Life

o   RAD and Resilience

o   Action Researching RAD in the Field

o   Outline Of A RAD Project Proposal

o   RAD Experiential Learning Gatherings

o   Self Care of the RAD Rapid Deployment Team

o   Possible Terms of Reference for RAD Assessment of Local Psychosocial Resources and Wellness

o   Responsibility for Distributing RAD Reports

o   Un-Inma Pikit Fieldtrip Report




·         Lace Webs and Laceweb

·         The Laceweb Network


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