International conference on
Strengths Based Practices in Social Work and Human Services
22-24 November 2012
Set up by the Brisbane Institute of Strengths Based Practices in co-operation with the Nepal School of Social Work and support from James Cook University, Australia.
“Celebrates practices in social work and human services with individuals, groups and communities and showcases the best professional practitioners from Australia, South East Asia, USA, United Arab Emirates, Africa, and the Asia Pacific Region.
The conference aims to create a global inter-connectedness between people seeking solutions for their local problems. It promotes a resilience approach. We don’t intend asking at this conference “what problems do we have?, instead we ask, “what strengths do we have which allow us to remain resilient despite the challenges we face?”
This was my second Strengths Based Practice presentation. In the past I have been disappointed by conferences because even through there are lots of presenters, I leave without having made any connections at all. The Strengths Based Practice Conference in Brisbane, 2010 was one time I felt I was part of a like-minded community – a blend of practitioners and academics, which what I am. My work received a warm response, especially from Dr Venkat Pulla who published some photos of my work with SECASA in the conference program.
So I was keen to participate again. At this conference spoke specifically about the on-going impact of childhood sexual abuse and the benefits of engaging in an arts practice as a meaningful and long-lasting tool of recovery. I presented photos of the participants work from my projects with SECASA and Connections Uniting Care. The delegates not only were we moved by the work but appreciated the impact of it, and could see its potential in their particular communities.
A highlight of the conference was the launch of the book New Perspectives in Coping and Resilience. It was highlight on a number of fronts :
Firstly, the book includes chapters exploring this subject from diverse perspectives as chapters were written by practitioners and academics from throughout the world. This world-view opens up a broader discussion for the caring professions, and I believe will be especially useful to help students grasp an understanding of a bigger picture of some pressing issues.
I was honoured to be accepted as a contributing author to this book. My chapter : Out of the Shadows, Into the light, describes the transformative processes of participating in arts practice for victims of abuse.
The integrity of the Institute of Strength Based Practice was seen in action when I was invited to design the front cover using an image from one of our projects. The chosen cover showcased a stunning mosaic created by Gayle Koubwere – a participant on a 2012 arts project. The inclusion of Gayle’s work – an beguiling half face of a woman adorned with flowers behind her ear – brought vitality to the cover, as it also brought vitality to the maker of this artwork. It was truly an example of her coming out of the Shadows and into the Light.
Book is available through http://www.irisconsulting.com.au/
http://www.amazon.com/Perspectives-Coping-Resilience-Venkat-Pulla/dp/8172737157 and other places too!
As a performing artist I found myself at this conference wondering if I was at the right place – I certainly believed the community art practice work belonged in that forum – as it was a discussion about human rights, building communities and educating children – but the performing arts?!
I was asked to perform at the conference dinner and was given free reign by the open hearted organiser, Dr Venkat Pulla. I was delighted by the response of the audience and their readiness to accept my work as a valuable tool for education and community engagement. The performance created some anticipation for my paper, which I gave the next day with the assistance of an enthusiastic, budding young performer – the child of one of the delegates. Although short, I was able to further demonstrate the value of performing arts – by creating a happy and enthusiastic environment and breaking down some of the shyness issues so that education and skill development can be ignited.
Artists in Community International perspective
For us the Strengths Based Conference was a fantastic opportunity to mix with people from seemingly very different backgrounds and professions, who ultimately shared a like-minded view of the world. In the discussions we learned a lot about the some of the issues affecting particular communities – the global issues such as poverty, women and children’s rights, food issues, water and environmental destruction and HIV/AIDs to some of the more local issues – such as disability access, as well as a history lesson about Kenya and Uganda.
We made many connections and received many invitations to work in communities as diverse as Africa, Bolivia, India, Pakistan and Nepal. So rather than feeling like the outsiders, it transpired that art has a strong place in recovery and community building.
Anne and Alex