Humane Global Transitions

Mutual Help and Self help Networking, Therapeutic Community, and Peacehealing


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Posted: Dec 2000. Last updated:  Oct 2019


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This page reports on qualitative Ph.D. research in progress into psychiatrist and humanitarian law barrister, Dr. Neville Yeomans' life-long action - extending into the margins of wider society the healing ways from Fraser House, a 1960's innovative therapeutic community founded by Yeomans.

A brief overview of the research methods, findings and discussion is provided, including a brief sketch of Fraser House's structure and process, and the processes supporting the emergence from this Unit of a grassroots self-help/mutual-help healing network called the Laceweb. This matrix is evolving among indigenous and disadvantaged minority psychosocial healers throughout the S.E. Asia Oceania Australasia Region. Laceweb's enabling of small possibilities for grassroots energised humane global transition is outlined.

From Therapeutic Community to Global Reform

This paper reports on Ph.D. qualitative research into Dr. Neville Yeomans (All references to 'Yeomans' refer to Neville T. Yeomans unless specified otherwise ) work in combining therapeutic community with self help networking. Yeomans pioneered therapeutic communities in Australia as founding director and psychiatrist of Fraser House, a therapeutic community he established in 1959 in the North Ryde Mental Hospital, in North Ryde, Sydney, Australia (Clark and Yeomans, 1969; Yeomans, 1980 From the Outback.; Yeomans, 1965; Yeomans, 1961a; Yeomans, 1961b).

Although based within a mainstream mental hospital, the Unit was a self-help community with residents evolving well-being together. For Yeomans, Fraser House was part of a wider life-long quest to ease cultural transition towards a more humane caring world. This paper is a preliminary report on research into the unfolding processes of this quest.

More specifically, it looks at the history, theory, practice and healing artistry (Cultural Healing Action) of Fraser House and its extension in the Laceweb, a little-known therapeutic community centred social movement started and named by Yeomans, and emerging amongst an informal network of indigenous and disadvantaged minorities in the S.E. Asia Oceania Australasia Region. (Origin of Laceweb name)

For background refer Community Ways for Healing the World

Yeomans modelled Fraser House structure and process in large part upon indigenous socio-medicine. Yeomans had close childhood relationships with nurturing indigenous women and their communities through his father's work as a remote area gold and tin mining assayer. On two occasions Yeomans personally experienced childhood near-death traumas. In both the above cases, Yeomans was cared back to psycho-emotional health by indigenous women. Through these experiences, Yeomans had first-hand experience of indigenous sociomedicine and socio-healing for social cohesion (Cawte, 1996; 1974).

With his quest in mind, Yeomans evolved Fraser House from the outset as a micro-model of a dysfunctional culture - comprising the mad and the bad. For this, Yeomans arranged for prisoners to be released to Fraser House under license.

Feeling Influences

In evolving both Fraser House and the Laceweb, Yeomans was guided by the feel of visions, ideas and action. For Yeomans, corrective emotional experience is at the heart of psychosocial change. Yeomans particularly drew on insights from Firth's anthropological writings relating to the social cohesion practices of the Tikopia people of the Solomon Islands (Firth, R. 1936).

Firth was one of many anthropologists Yeomans read during his anthropological/sociological studies into small village life. Fraser House was modelled on a Tikopia Village and associated social cohesion ways. Yeomans discussed this with me in a series of in-depth interviews in Yungaburra in 1992 while we were preparing for a 1992 gathering about indigenous people establishing therapeutic communities. That gathering was held at the aboriginal elder Geof Guest's therapeutic community at Petford, North Queensland, Australia - (Developing Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander Drug and Substance Abuse Therapeutic Communities).

One aspect of Tikopia way was embodied in Firth's concept 'cleavered unities' (Firth, R., 1936). Firth speaks of unifying processes among the Tikopia that recognise, acknowledge, play with, respect, celebrate and maintain cleavages (difference/diversity) - that is, 'unifying cleavage'.

One example of the concept is that Tikopia marriage was between those most different - those on the opposite side of the Island. Matrilineal land and the custom of the bride living with her husband's family meant that morning and night would see a two-way flow of couples across the Island, going to and from their gardens. As community walking over the ridges - to and fro - passing those opposite to themselves in friendly banter - the Tikopia people were cohesively embodying their way of life - a mindbody synthesis with their people, their place and their world.

The Fraser House infrastructure was originally designed by the Health Department - contrary to Yeomans' intention - as separate male and female units with separate dining rooms at either end. Yeomans saw this separation of the sexes as isomorphic with cleavered dysfunctional community. Once the Unit was started, Yeomans interspersed male and female dormitories and turned the female dining room into a lounge.

The 250-metre walk through the Unit from the shared dining room to the shared lounge became a metaphorical Tikopia mountain trail for co-reconstructing their shared realities and each other. The walk (along with the rest of Fraser House) became 'public space' (Ireland, R. (1998) for enriching and sustaining community. Firth makes no comment about the potential of the Tikopia way of life as a practical working model for restoring psychosocial health and well-being in dysfunctional people, families and communities. Yeomans' realised that potential.

Yeomans' aim was to create 'small village' living within the Unit that may impact upon and create shifts away from isolation and destructive intra and inter-personal cleavage. Fraser House interventions made intentional functional cleavage in entangled pathological networks. The intentional cleavering created potential psychosocial spaces and places for corrective emotional experience - so each cleavered pathological network may have scope to come together in more functional unity.

Another major influence on Yeomans was his father P. A. Yeomans, the founder of the agriculture practice, 'Keyline'. Neville Yeomans extended an underlying Keyline theme - community cooperation in using Keyline practices for sustaining social, habitat, economic and environmental well-being (Yeomans, A., 1993 The Late Percival Alfred ("P.A.") Yeomans; Yeomans, P. A. 1976; Yeomans 1971, Collected Papers; Yeomans, 1965; Yeomans, 1958; Yeomans, 1955).

In evolving Fraser House, Yeomans wove together influences from his father's work and indigenous understandings, especially relating to socio-geography, context, location, place and placemaking (Concepts and Frames).

Another influence on Yeomans was psychosynthesis (from a 1998 interview). Assagioli hints at 'cleavered unity' in giving a big picture of psychosynthesis:

'From a still wider and more comprehensive point of view, universal life appears to us as a struggle between multiplicity and unity - a labour and an inspiration towards union ... uniting all beings ... with each other through links of love...' (Assagioli, 1965, p. 31)(my italics).

In 1999 during an in-depth interview, Yeomans identified Humberto Maturana's paper, 'Biology of Love' as seminal (Maturana & Verden-Zoller, 1996 Biology of Love). The article suggests that perhaps our species name should be called Homo Sapiens Amans (lover). Love is central to Laceweb well-being action.

An Insider Looking In

In a 1980 article in the first issue of the International Journal of Therapeutic Communities, Yeomans referred to the need to have social research into the evolving Laceweb social movement in Far North Queensland.

One of our major next steps is to bring together a psychosocial evaluative research team to monitor the development of this regional community movement. Such may take some time as social scientists are fairly uncommon in the area (Yeomans, 1980 From the Outback.).

In evolving Fraser House and the Laceweb, Yeomans continually catalysed tentative possibilities. My interaction with Yeomans is a case in point. At my first meeting with Yeomans in Sydney in the mid-Eighties we talked about my psychosocial studies and my eligibility for consideration as a Ph.D. candidate.

From the outset, and without informing me of his wider aspirations, Yeomans mentored and co-evolved me along side indigenous Laceweb enablers through shared sociotherapy, psychotherapy and enabler experience within Laceweb contexts (Yeomans, 1974a On Global Reform and International Normative Model Areas (Inma)).

Yeomans slowly added bits to other's understanding on a 'need to know' basis. Confidentiality regarding Laceweb links was one of his concerns. In some contexts in the Region, healing can be a subversive activity - as in the recent East Timor experience.

Another reason for 'drip feeding' information is to prevent overwhelm and scepticism. Some indigenous and other natural nurturers, especially those who are traumatised are already extremely cautious and easily 'put off'. Yeomans' did not arrange for me see his 'Global Reform' article until July, 2000 (Yeomans, 1974a On Global Reform and International Normative Model Areas (Inma)).

In 1997, Yeomans inspired me to do Ph.D. research into Fraser House and the Laceweb. As a potential precursor to my being part of Yeomans envisioned 'psychosocial evaluative research team', he had engaged me in prolonged in-depth and long interviews for ten years.

My research challenge is that of the insider looking in. Since commencing the Ph.D. in 1997, and following Lincoln and Gubba (1985), further in-depth interviews with Yeomans and persistent participant observation of Laceweb action have been carried out. Material obtained from Yeomans has been triangulated with material from a series of in-depth interviews with each of three professional people who worked with Dr. Yeomans as senior staff at Fraser House in the Sixties.

Other enablers of the Laceweb have been interviewed. All of these interviews were in turn triangulated with Fraser House and other archival material (Yeomans, 1965; Iceton, 1970-1976). As my Fraser House interviewees are all researchers, my data and analysis has been cross-checked with each of them - in their dual roles of interviewee and peer. Fraser House ex-residents are also being interviewed.

Fraser House Structure and Process

Margaret Mead spoke of Fraser House as 'the most total therapeutic community' she had ever been to (Yeomans, 1965, V.12, p. 69). Maxwell Jones, a UK pioneer in therapeutic communities, suggested that the carefully worked out Fraser House social structure would have 'evolution as an inevitable consequence' (Clarke & Yeomans, 1969, p. v-ix). Yeomans, my three ex Fraser House interviewees and an outpatient confirmed that this 'inevitability of change' applied to residents and staff alike.

In keeping with Yeomans' indigenous frame, as soon as the first intake of residents occurred, Yeomans successfully sought transfer of all indigenous people in the NSW mental asylum system to Fraser House. This information came from a 1998/9 interview with Yeomans, and a 2000 interview with a former outpatient (Yeomans, 1962).

Yeomans' writings provide glimpses of his process. A key aspect of the current Ph.D. research involves identifying and specifying the therapeutic and healing 'elements' used at Fraser House and the processes used to extend these into the Laceweb.

Fraser House elements included:

  • Seeking balance at many levels
  • A pervasive move away from administrative service delivery towards self help
  • Resident run committees, governance and self-help
  • Innovative therapeutic process, including:
    • Resident administrative self governance as therapy - 'If I and others can run a large hospital, we can 'run' our own lives and support each other to do the same
    • Big group (collective) socio-therapy (with around 180 people in the room)
    • Day to day small therapy group membership based on rotating sociological categories
    • A full family therapeutic community residential program
    • Everyday shared life activity as therapy - modelled on indigenous life-ways
    • Family friends therapy - attendance of family and friends as outpatients at big/small groups
    • Indigenous sociohealing ways (Firth, 1936; Cawte, 1996; Cawte, 1974)
    • Using work as therapy (e.g., residents tendering and winning a construction job at the unit; residents running their own kiosk)
    • Using research as therapy
    • Shared mood as a healing modality (Stimmung)
    • Use of simple slogans
  • Building psychosocial healing networks
  • Community outreach:
    • Community counselling at council facilities
    • Speaking at community functions
    • Prison staff enabling
    • Invitations for public to attend Big Group - On one occasion an ABC TV current affairs team came and filmed Big Group.
    • Psychiatric Research Study Group
    • Resident enabled community based suicide prevention - voluntary work therapy
    • Resident enabled domiciliary care - voluntary work therapy
    • Ex-resident enabled self-help groups

During resident intake, steps were taken to have gender and age balance and all diagnostic categories represented. Balance was also sought between married/single, socio-economic status and mad/bad. In balancing over-controlled/under-actives and under-controlled/over-actives, typically, two pairs of each type would share a bedroom. This provided scope for a shift away from behavioural extremes to a more normal centre.

A 'resident committee' based resocializing process was evolved and all aspects of Unit administration were devolved to these committees. Residents and outpatients always outnumbered staff on any committee and every committee member had one vote. Residents would often out-vote staff. Yeomans had a veto power which he rarely used. On Yeomans' call, the residents typically made the ecological decision. They were the ones most embedded in the community, and Yeomans operated on the premise that, 'the locals know what is missing in their own well-being'. He acted on this premise in his subsequent Laceweb enabling.

An endeavour was also made to maintain the above balancing within committees. Nurses wrote a handbook on Fraser House Committees and other structures and processes (Yeomans, 1965). There were other handbooks written. As everything at Fraser House was under continual review, structure and process were continually changing.

In using work as therapy, tasks were assigned to those who could not do them. A social recluse was put in charge of purchasing for the kiosk. A compulsive thief was placed in charge of the kiosk, stole funds and had to face the transforming pressure of the total community - the mad and the bad. He became meticulously honest. Residents managed their own accounting for the kiosk, with accounts presented to the residents' parliamentary committee. That committee was made up of members of all committees and reported to Thursday Big Group, so all residents and outpatients became exposed to learning about ecological money use.

A example of the Fraser House use of slogans is, 'No one is sick all through'. In the early days of Fraser House, permissiveness within the staff-resident relation was embodied in the slogan, 'We are all patients here together'. The best advice that could be given a resident was, 'bring it up in the group'. As an example, a notorious bank robber along with other former prisoners, in Fraser House on license from Long Bay Prison, were planning to use Fraser House as a base for a major robbery. Fraser House was not secure and residents typically had weekend passes. One resident revealed the plans in a very tense Big Group. The bank robber reformed. He became a research assistant to the Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology in Canberra for many years. Fraser House slogans became a simple shared language and set of beliefs that were easily taught to new arrivals.

Within the Fraser House Therapeutic Community, 'community' was the primary therapy. Big group was held morning and early evening on weekdays for exactly one hour. Knowing this rule, from the moment that Big Group commenced, varying residents were invariably clamouring to get collective interaction focused on their concerns. Strict time keeping helped sustain a mood of, 'let's get on with it'. Residents could only stay six months. This was reduced to three months. Two return stays could be negotiated. These protocols also conveyed, 'Get on with transforming your life - now!'

Small therapy group membership was based on a number of sociological categories. Both the sociological category and the composition of small groups varied daily and membership in all the groups at any one time were based on the same category. The social categories were: (i) age, (ii) married/single status, (iii) locality of domicile, (iv) kinship, (v) social order (manual, clerical, or semi-professional/professional) and (vi) age and sex.

People in pathological social networks would be all together with everyone else in Big Group. However, because of the continual changing composition in small groups, the members of these pathological networks were regularly split up (cleavered) for the small group sessions.

For the small groups based on locality of domicile, Sydney was divided into a number of regions. In most cases, groups of people came regularly on the same trains, buses and each other's cars so they all got to know each other. Mutual travel was fostered by the Outpatients, Relatives and Friends Committee, one of the resident-run committees. This committee would arrange the matching up of attendees to maximise car-pooling and people travelling together creating networking possibilities.

Residents would attend the locality group for the region they would be returning to. Typically, by the time they were to leave, they and their family friendship network would have expanded to a functional network of around seventy people. This means people, who may have previously had a dysfunctional social network that was smaller than those typical in society, ended up having one that was typically larger in terms of the number of people in the, 'closely known and regularly interacting' part of their social network. As well, these people had all of their rich Fraser House experiences in common, and a common set of communication and mutual support skills.

There are reports that Fraser House ex-residents did keep in contact with each other and get together for friendship, mutual self-help and support. One such group helped in evolving the self-help group, 'Recovery' that later changed its name to 'Grow', now an international organisation.

Without being accompanied by staff, residents made suicide prevention and domiciliary care interventions in the wider community using a vehicle purchased and funded from profits from the resident run kiosk. Residents who were almost ready to leave Fraser House would provide domiciliary support to those who had already left.

There were many successful field trips by the resident-run suicide prevention group at all hours. As an example, the high cliffs at the Gap on Sydney Harbour's South Head is a well known suicide spot. Fraser House residents on the suicide prevention group would volunteer at short notice to travel from the Unit on the North Shore and cross Sydney Harbour Bridge to reach the Gap. This Fraser House outreach was a precursor to Lifeline, a well known Australian telephone crisis support line.

In the early Sixties when Yeomans was completing postgraduate studies in psychology and sociology he started the Psychiatric Research Study Group. It was a forum for the discussion and exploration of innovative healing ideas. Margaret Mead chaired the group when she visited Fraser House (Yeomans, N., 1965, Vol.12 page 68). It met at rooms adjacent the Unit.

The study group networked for, and attracted very talented people. Students of psychiatry, medicine, psychology, sociology, social work, criminology and education attended. Prison officers and parole officers with whom Yeomans had been working within the prison and corrective system also attended along with Tony Vinson, who became Director of Corrective Services in NSW.

Any promising ideas raised in the group tended to be tried out in Fraser House and adopted if fitting. One of Yeoman's concepts is, 'the survival of the fitting', a Yin adaptation of the original emphasis on 'the fittest'. This group was an early example of Laceweb informal healing networking.

Yeomans wrote of cost-benefit analysis research into Fraser House:

Some years ago, I arranged a cost-benefit analysis of Fraser House, compared first with traditional Admission unit in another psychiatric hospital, and second with a newly constructed Admission unit which some felt might be a pseudo therapeutic community. Somewhat to my surprise Fraser House was not only more effective but also cost less than the other two. The traditional unit was next cost-effective and the 'pseudo' unit least (Yeomans, 1980 From the Outback.).

Fraser House experience supported Yeomans premise that traumatised and dysfunctional people could evolve themselves through self help and mutual help towards their own well-being together. The next step in his quest was to widen therapeutic community concepts into the wider community.

Osmosis into the Wider Community

While Fraser House did have enduring legacies, in the late Sixties, mental health system-based pressures skewed Fraser House's structures and processes towards mainstream practice. Yeomans had recognised that this would happen from the outset, and had commenced specific steps to extend the Unit's influence into the wider community shortly after the Unit started.

The above-mentioned suicide prevention and domiciliary outreach and other community outreach were examples. Another example was that in 1962, Yeomans took time away from Fraser House to search the World for the best place to evolve what Yeomans called, an 'International Normative Model Area' (Inma).

For Yeomans, an Inma was a region where ways of humane living together could be explored with a minimum of interference from dominant society. Yeomans was aware that the term 'Inma' had sacred significance - being the corroboree of the Aboriginal women of Central Australia; in ma, as 'in the mother' - the mother nurturing.

He went to the most oppressed people - the Indigenes and the disadvantaged/oppressed micro-minorities in a number of places around the World and asked them, where would be the best place to commence global humane change. Consistently the answer was given, 'The best place is in the remote regions of Far North Australia'.

Yeomans' outlined a rationale for this choice and made plans to establish a base in the region (Yeomans, 1971 Collected Papers). Yeomans wrote the poems, 'Inma' and 'On Where' to encapsulate his healing aspirations, and the place identified by the oppressed people he had spoken to (Yeomans 1974b Inma; Yeomans, 1974c On Where).

Yeomans extended the ideas in a monograph entitled, 'Global Reform - International Normative Model Areas', written as a humantiarian law barrister in 1974 for the Australian Humanitarian Law Committee (Yeomans, 1974a On Global Reform and International Normative Model Areas (Inma)).

Yeomans was exploring tentative micro-models for peace-healing( dysfunctional conflict ridden societies and the whole world.


Carlson & Yeomans (1975) Whither Goeth the Law - Humanity or Barbarity;
Yeomans, 1974d
Humanitarian Law
Homepage -
Future Possibilities
Yeomans et al,1997b
Evolving a SE Asia Pacific Self Help Trauma Support Intercultural Network - A Small Micro-Proposal).

Peacehealing is a Yeomans' concept embracing healing ways - including mediation therapy - that may heal and foster respectful relationships between previously conflicted people.

Yeomans, in talking of INMA’s potential role in cultural transitions wrote:

The take off point for the next cultural synthesis typically occurs in a marginal culture. Such a culture suffers dedifferentiation of its loyalty and value system to the previous civilisation. It develops a relatively anarchical value orientation system. Its social institutions dedifferentiate and power slips away from them. This power moves into lower level, newer, smaller and more radical systems within the society. Uncertainty increases and with it rumour (my italics). Also an epidemic of experimental organisations develop. Many die away but those most functionally attuned to future trends survive and grow.

Information typically passes along Laceweb networks as rumours, 'We heard this works. You may want to adapt it in your place' (Informal Networks and New Social Movements).

Yeomans wrote about indigenous people's choice of Far North Queensland as the better place to establish Inma:

'Australia exemplifies many of these widespread change phenomena. It is in a geographically and historically unique marginal position. Geographically Asian, it is historically Western. Its history is also of a peripheral lesser status.

Initially a convict settlement, it still remains at a great distance from the core of Western Civilisation. Culturally it is often considered equivalent to being the peasants of the West. It is considered to have no real culture, a marked inferiority complex, and little clear identity. It can thus be considered equally unimportant to both East and West and having little to contribute.

BUT - it is also the only continent not at war with itself. It is one of the most affluent nations on earth. Situated at the junction of the great civilisations of East and West it can borrow the best of both. Of all nations it has the least to lose and most to gain by creating a new synthesis (Yeomans, 1974a On Global Reform and International Normative Model Areas (Inma)).'

In extending Fraser House into the community, three of Yeomans' premises were (i), that natural nurturers exist in any culture; (ii), that through enabling support and osmosis, the healing ways that were evolved at Fraser House may be spread among these natural nurturers and (iii) that diversity may be accepted, respected and celebrated among cleavered unities.

From the outset Yeomans viewed Fraser House as one small step towards humane caring global transition. He envisioned this epochal change towards a more humane intercultural social-life-world process taking perhaps three hundred or more years (Yeomans, 1974a On Global Reform and International Normative Model Areas (Inma)).

In keeping with his humane values and frames, Yeomans starting place for evolving the Laceweb was with the most oppressed - the indigenous and oppressed small minorities. The humane change process envisioned is of a pervasively Yin nature; the Inma energy of the Central Australian Aboriginal Women - nurturing caring energy and spirituality. It is a positive energy - for well-being. It is not against anything. It does not counter culture. It does not resist or oppose (Concepts and Frames).

In summary, the following is a list of some of the processes used in evolving the Laceweb:

  • Seeking out, enabling, supporting and linking traumatised natural nurturers among indigenous and disadvantaged minority people
  • Supporting local natural nurturers in their support of other local traumatised people
  • Finding and enabling resonant 'interculturals' - people experienced in moving freely between social realities
  • Evolving small residential therapeutic community houses in remote places
  • Evolving dispersed non-residential therapeutic communities sustaining community wellbeing exchange
  • Seeking a place for and evolving an International Normative Model Area (Inma) and safe havens
  • Establishing and evolving co-mentoring and co-learning enabler relationships
  • Extensive use of telephoning in networking
  • Energising arts festivals, gatherings and celebrations
  • Using naturally occurring gatherings, especially local small community markets
  • Evolving healing contexts, spaces, places and small camp-outs - refer One fortnights action) for one fortnights action using these ways
  • Context healing, street mediation and group story performance. Creating and using everyday life well-being moments. Draws on indigenous healing process, corroboree, therapeutic communities, dance movement and Keyline organic farming concepts and processes. Uses natural and evolving contexts as healing possibilities. Embraces Mediation Therapy/Counselling for strengthening healing, relationship and community.
  • Evolving family friendship networks
  • Rumours viral networking - where people only know a few nearby links
  • Identifying and enabling nodal people who may link with a number of rumour lines
  • Seeking balance at many levels, as per Fraser House
  • Cultural Healing Action (Cultural Healing Action)
  • Villaging the city, and making Laceweb villages within other Festivals (Laceweb Village at ConFest - Self Help Healing Action
  • Using other social occasions, e.g. New Year Eve gatherings
  • Using mediation therapy and mediation counselling in peacehealing
  • Using humanitarian law
  • Using the Internet
  • Linking with global bodies with a humane ethos
  • Constantly seeding and energising possibilities - a few of many germinate and blossom
  • Linking all of the above processes and people together, especially enablers and nodal people

Yeomans sought to foster transitions away from service delivery by dominant structures that control and impose process. As a move towards community self help, Yeomans was a primary influence in the setting up of the Australian Community Mental Health system in the late Sixties.

Yeomans was a prime energiser and the first Coordinator of the New South Wales Community Mental Heath Section. He set up Australia's first Community Mental Health Clinic in Paddington, NSW (Yeomans, N., et al 1993 Governments and the Facilitation of Community Grassroots Wellbeing Action).

Three family friendship network groups started by Yeomans in the late Sixties were Mingles, Connexion and Nexus Groups - all with a focus of linking people together for well-being (Mingles ).

As one process for enabling the growth of mutual-help networks, in 1968 Yeomans and others energised the Watson Bay Healing Festival, perhaps Australia's first multicultural community festival. The Festival included the music and healing artistry of people from over 30 countries (Watson Bay Festival).

In October 1969, Yeomans and others energised the Centennial Park Healing Festival for community building (Sydney Morning Herald, 1968). Through Yeomans, the Paddington Community Mental Health Clinic led to the holding of the Paddington Festival in the early Seventies. Paddington festival and Paddington market were energised by Yeomans and others to surround the Community Mental Health Clinic and provide a community (village) space and context (Mangold, 1993, p.4). Paddington Bazaar remains as a Sydney icon to this day.

In a resonant vein, Yeomans later evolved the Rapid Creek Project in Darwin as a possibility for linking the indigenous Larakia people's healing networks into community markets, environmental restoration action, the long-grass people (indigenous street people), and other community wellbeing actions.

The festivals were followed up with the Campbelltown Festival around 1971/2. Yeomans attended the 1979 Cooktown Arts Festival which was energised by a Fraser House ex-outpatient and others.

Yeomans had researched mediation practices around the world as part of his (humanitarian) law degree. Yeomans was a key enabler in developing the Divorce Law Reform Society of NSW. Branches of the Society spread to other states. Yeomans prepared a series of mediational submissions (Carlson & Yeomans, (1975) Whither Goeth the Law; Yeomans, 1974d Humanitarian Law) - particularly the desirability of setting up family and individual counselling and family mediating processes. These writings, along with other submissions from the Society, became a basis for submissions to Justices Evatt and Mitchell and played a substantial part in the formation of the new Family Law legislation. From these beginnings, the use of mediation has been growing in Australian society.

In the early Seventies, Yeomans and others used the Fraser House Big Group collective therapy model for a series of annual gatherings in Armidale and Grafton, attended by a balance of indigenous people and Anglos (Kamien, 1978; Iceton, 1970-1976; Franklin, 1995). Many indigenous attendees now play significant community roles. Eddie Mabo, a Torres Strait Islander who was to play a crucial role in land law reform in Australia, attended the Grafton Gathering. The theme for these gatherings was, 'Surviving Well in Relating to the Dominant Culture'.

In speaking of humane transition Yeomans wrote:

'It is submitted that consciousness-raising would occur firstly among the most disadvantaged of the area, including the Aborigines. Thus human relations groups on a live in basis could assist both the growth of solidarity and personal freedom of expression amongst such persons. In initial experiences along this line (speaking of the Armidale and Grafton Human Relations Gatherings) the release of fear and resentment against whites has led to a level of understanding and mutual trust both within the aboriginal members and between them and white members (Yeomans, 1974a On Global Reform and International Normative Model Areas (Inma)).'

These gatherings were often very 'wearing' for attendees. At the Armidale and Grafton gatherings, Anglos who attended reported that the first day was taken up with Aborigines working through their fear and resentment. Most of this was directed at the Anglos present at the Workshop.

On the following days mutual understandings and trust began to emerge. Because of floods delaying some Aboriginal and Islander people's arrival at the Grafton Gathering to the second, third or fourth day, the group was processing anger and resentment introduced by these late arrivals for a number of hours following each person's arrival. Laceweb action is not always all love and sweetness.

Often it is very heavy going for all concerned. Max Kamien, a psychiatrist, wrote about attending the Armidale healing gatherings with Aborigines from the remote NSW town of Bourke. Upon their return home, the Bourke Aborigines immediately set up similar regular healing gatherings in their own community leading to well-being change (Kamien, 1978.; Iceton, 1970-76; Franklin, 1995; Widders, 1975 Black Alternatives: Aborigines in the Seventies and Beyond). The Friendship Networks Connexion and Nexus Groups at different times produced the Aboriginal Human Relations Newsletter that emerged from the Armidale and Grafton Indigenous Gatherings (Iceton, 1970-76).

Yeomans wrote in the first issue of the International Journal of Therapeutic Communities about actions inspired by Fraser House (Yeomans, 1980 From the Outback.). These actions were spreading Fraser House ways through evolving and enabling Australian Outback indigenous self-help networks.

Through the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, Yeomans engaged in co-learning co-mentoring exchanges with indigenous and disadvantaged minority Laceweb enablers (An Example of Enabling Indigenous Well-being). Yeomans wrote of proposals evolving in the late 1970's for a safe haven on Palm Island, North Queensland for indigenous and disadvantaged people from the Region (Yeomans, 1980 From the Outback.).

Yeomans started small indigenous therapeutic community houses in Mackay, Townsville, and Cairns in Northern Queensland (Yeomans, 1980 From the Outback.; Wilson, 1990, p. 71-85). Yeomans and others enabled gatherings and other contexts for sharing of therapeutic community healing ways among indigenous and small minority family-friendship networks (Sharing therapeutic community healing ways).

In the early Eighties, Yeomans and an Aboriginal person who had co-enabled the Armidale and Grafton Gatherings with Yeomans, enabled Aboriginal and Islander Well-being Gatherings in Alice Springs and Katherine in the Northern Territory. Evolving Laceweb links in those areas continue.

In the late Eighties, Yeomans, with the same Aboriginal person and others, enabled a dispersed urban Laceweb therapeutic community that evolved in the Bondi Junction area in NSW. About 145 people were involved in regular healing gatherings and other linkings. Most of the attendees were linked into the process by receiving phone calls from Yeomans.

Yeomans became a co-enabler and co-learner with Geoff Guest, the Aboriginal healer elder of the aboriginal therapeutic community at Petford, 180 kilometres inland from Cairns in Far North Queensland (Geoff Guest Salem Camp). Geoff has supported self-transformation among indigenous and other youth over the past 20 years. Over 2,000 were supported in the middle ten years.

An indigenous Laceweb person and Yeomans were granted observer status at Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) meetings in The Hague. That indigenous person became involved in UN Working Groups. Both roles enabled networking among indigenous and disadvantaged minorities in the region. Yeomans was the only non-indigenous main platform speaker at the Indigenous Section of the UN Rio Earth Summit.

Yeomans worked on the wording of an Indigenous Treaty with NGO's, and a Young Persons Healing Learning Code (Yeomans, 1992a Inter-people Healing Treaty Between Non-Government Organisations and Unique Peoples; Yeomans, 1992b The Young Persons Healing Learning Code).

Yeomans and others pioneered mediation therapy among indigenous networks around the Atherton Tablelands - extending mediation practice towards healing relating. In 1992, Yeomans enabled a Mediation Therapy Gathering at Lake Tinaroo. Attendees included local indigenous women, as well as a number from remote communities in the far North.

An example of the interplay of Laceweb processes is when Yeomans used conversations at the local monthly Yungaburra Market to energise a fortnight of activity featuring two camp outs, a survey of 12 possible festival sites on indigenous and other land, and a New Years Eve party that energised the evolving of a youth network in Yungaburra called Funpo (One fortnights action).

During the Nineties, the dispersed intercultural therapeutic community that Yeomans had been co-enabling has been evolving safe-havens in Australia around the Atherton Tablelands, North Queensland, and the Northern Territory Top End (Yeomans et al, 1997a). The Atherton Tablelands is evolving as an International Normative Model Area (INMA).

Related humanitarian initiatives are evolving possibilities in the Region (Yeomans et al, 1998b Self-Help Action Supporting Survivors Of Torture And Trauma In S.E. Asia, Oceania And Australasia - Small Generalisable Actions). For example, small micro projects for supporting survivors of conflict in East Timor, Bougainville, and the Solomon Islands are evolving.


Everything is inherently tentative. Nothing happens unless locals want it to happen.

The Laceweb model now extends to renormalising societies following complete collapse based on local grassroots self-help/mutual help rather than via top down distant expert driven processes. The Laceweb model is an isomorphic reversed reframe of the mainstream model.

In the Laceweb model, social wellbeing may become the primary focus, then local humane law/lore, then local democratic self governance addressing local wellbeing. Other normalising may follow from this. Typically, mainstream sets up the political structure, then the legal system, then the people come last. Even then, typically the hundreds of thousands of traumatised people tend to remain so because of expert trauma services being stretched beyond capacity (Yeomans et al, 1999 Extegrity - Guidelines for Joint Partner Proposal Application ).

Information and a timeline has been posted on the Internet relating to the evolving Laceweb networks among indigenous and disadvantaged minority self-help healers in the SE Asia Oceania Australasia Region (Community Ways for Healing the World ). (Also refer the homepage: Future Possibilities).

In July 2000 there was a series of gatherings celebrating (i) the sixth anniversary of the 1994 Gathering, (ii) the UN Day in Support of Torture Survivors and (iii) the UN Peace Week (A series of gathering celebrations).

One example of linking with global bodies with a humane ethos was the 1994 UNHRC funded Laceweb gathering in the Atherton Tablelands, in Far North Queensland (Working Group, 1994 Report to the United Nations on the Small Island Coastal and Estuarine People Gathering Celebration - 1994).

This gathering was positioned by Yeomans as a follow-on gathering to the UN Small Island Gathering in the Caribbean. At that Atherton Tablelands gathering, Yeomans handed out a page listing all of the resonant UN and Global gatherings in the next three years. He suggested indigenous attendees endeavour to attend these gatherings.

It is understood that, evolving from the interplay of the above forms of enabling action, there are now Laceweb links embracing around half of the indigenous people of the SE Asia Oceania Australasia Region (Sociograms).

This Region contains around half of the World's indigenous people both in terms of numbers and different indigenous peoples (Down to Earth Auspicing Motion). Yeomans quest is now shared by many. Future papers will expand on other aspects of Fraser House and the Laceweb.


Homepage references:

Other links:

Laceweb Home Page

Self Help Action Rebuilding Wellbeing in the East Asia Oceania Australasia Region


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