MORNINGTON ISLAND AND DOOMADGEE OUR YARN
PARTICIPATORY PLANNING, NARRATIVE RESEARCH AND EVALUATION
CLIENT: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) – now with Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
THE NEED – CLOSING THE GAP
The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), on behalf of a range of Queensland and Australian government agencies and the Mt Isa Regional Operations Centre (ROC), engaged EVOLVE to prepare Community Safety Action Plans and Place Based Capacity Development Plans for Engagement, Leadership & Governance for the Remote Service Delivery (RSD) communities of Mornington Island and Doomadgee.
The evidence and government policy in relation to community safety clearly identified that for Indigenous communities to see long term and sustainable improvements, action needs to focus on locally driven solutions that lead to behavioural and attitudinal change to these difficult issues. This had to be supported by government ensuring the delivery of targeted an appropriate services to support individuals and families to make these changes. Community members of Mornington Island and Doomadgee had expressed their aspirations for a safe community where its people are healthy, active and respectful of culture and each other. Community also identified a need to have the ‘hard yarn’ and agree on actions to deal with the issues of:
- alcohol and other substance use
- violence on community including family violence and child abuse
- policing and community understanding the law and their legal rights and responsibilities
- youth and adult offending, detention and receive it is issues
- local crime prevention strategies: and
The development of comprehensive community research reports into safety and safety plans had been committed to as a priority action, providing an opportunity to community members to have the ‘hard yarn’ but also to find the equitable balance between community driven change with the necessary supports from service providers and government. This was consistent with policy directions of the Queensland Government regarding harm reduction targets.
Using EVOLVE’s innovative community engagement approach, EVOLVE co-designed the project with community, all tiers of government and service; to ensure on-going support, ownership and project success. The project was known as ‘Our Yarn’.
EVOLVE employed, coached and trained over 20 local community researchers. Together with the Community Researchers, the Our Yarn team developed a comprehensive approach to the research, detailed in a Toolkit developed by EVOLVE with a supported coaching and mentoring program. A big part of this was running community meetings using the meeting marketplace™ approach, which was strengths and solution based. In addition to workshop and training in each community, EVOLVE established a regular coaching and support session for Community Researchers. During these sessions we discussed weekly progress with data collection, successes, challenges, issues arising, ideas, solutions and support required.
Our Yarn used a three tiered structure to engage: Tier 1, comprised of local community researchers paid to undertake skills development, refinement of the research methodology and data collection, Tier 2, comprised of service providers who may or may not have been Mornington Island residents or Aboriginal, Tier 3, comprised of voluntary participation like from the student council
Meetings with Service Providers were used to understand their perspectives, create interest and engagement in Our Yarn for immediate and future project support and implementation and provide Community Researchers with up to date information on aspects of safety.
The major source of data collected by Community Researchers (were based around a set of co-designed questions. While the intent of the questions were set, the Community Researchers had the final say on the wording, number and format of questions asked. Great care was put into the selection of Community Researchers to ensure their reach and appropriateness across the different family and clan groups, age groups, gender and networks. The researchers were acknowledged and encouraged as the ‘experts’ of what would work in their community. This approach also acknowledges that it is the researchers who were having the yarns so they need to understand the intent and feel comfortable with each question. This also positioned the Community Researchers to be ongoing champions for a safer, respectful Mornington Island.
Community Researchers in Mornington Island worked in teams. They engaged with other locals by direct approach, random interactions in public spaces like the front of the shop and through public marketplace events.
- Collaborative preparation of community safety reports and action plans that captured:
- Community self- assessment (qualitative and quantitative) from the perspective of the community and other stakeholders of the current situation of community safety and wellbeing , including an articulation of the cultural aspects of safety for the community;
- Identified priority areas for action explaining why these have been prioritised;
- Clearly detailed actions to be taken by community, and how these are supported by service providers and government,
- Included measurable and achievable targets and milestones; and
- Defined processes for monitoring, review, evaluation and evolution of the Plans.
The community driven Our Yarn Safety Kits, which included a Short Yarn – What the community thinks are big actions that it can take to make community safer and stronger; Long Yarn – A more detailed safety action plan for community, stakeholders and government; and a Community Research Report –used to develop all other parts of the Safety Kit
Our Yarn was the community’s story about safety. As well as painting the picture of safety in each location from the community’s perspective, Our Yarn articulated how community will step-up to create a safer community by building on existing strengths and how this will be monitored and evaluated into the future. Our Yarn is about the community driving its own lasting change. Respondents overwhelmingly identified the community itself as the most influential factor to improve community safety.