3P Family violence
The Alternatives to Violence Project – a strengths-based approach to nonviolent relationships and conflict resolution
Offering interactive, experiential workshops on nonviolent relationship and conflict resolution, the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) has been established in over 50 countries in a wide range of contexts, since starting in 1975 in a USA prison. AVP in Newcastle has adapted the workshops to work with parents and partners.
The workshops are built on a number of principles including:
- There is good in everyone – we build on the strengths of participants, and believe if we respond to people’s potential for good we are more likely to receive a positive response than if we respond to their potential for violence.
- We are all teachers and learners – the facilitators don’t have all the answers and are there to learn as much as to help guide the process. We encourage people with lived experience to become facilitators.
- We learn by getting involved – focusing on transformative learning, the core ideas of the workshops are introduced through interactive activities followed by discussion about the implications of what we just did.
- We are all volunteers – facilitators are volunteers and we don’t accept mandatory participants (although some people are “encouraged” to do a workshop by people in authority).
- It isn’t therapy, but there can be healing – we are very clear that the workshops are not therapy and we aren’t trying to “fix” anybody. But sometimes people find that exploring issues in a supportive environment can be part of a healing process.
- It isn’t religious but it can be spiritual – while there is no religious affiliation or content, some people find there is a spiritual aspect to the workshops.
After providing a brief overview of the workshops this interactive presentation will explore some of the dilemmas of such an approach to family violence including:
- What are some of the challenges of adopting a strengths-based approaches to family violence?
- How we create a safe environment in workshops where there may be perpetrators, survivors and workers?
- How can we measure the impact of experiential workshops which are based on a broad approach rather than a specific program?
Graeme Stuart, a lecturer in Family Studies at the University of Newcastle, is passionate about strengths-based approaches to working with families and communities. He has been a voluntary facilitator with the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) since the early 90s and is also a co-convenor of the AVP International Research Subcommittee. I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Ecology in 1999 and a Master’s degree in Public Governance in 2009.
Gener Lapina became involved with the Alternatives to Violence Project in 2010. Currently, she is a Family Worker at Family Support Newcastle and before this worked in case management for refugee and migrant families for nine years in the NT. Prior to this Gener also did community work in East Timor and the Philippines.