It was a pleasant winter’s morning in the Blue Mountains on Saturday July 15 as Springwood Uniting Church welcomed participants to the latest #RighTrack Community Action Workshop.
These workshops, in partnership with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, aim to equip people with skills and strategies to find new ways of talking about refugees and people seeking asylum with those around them.
The workshops present a conversational framework for talking about the issues based on shared values and personal experience, which research shows, is more likely to lead to changes in community attitudes than relying on facts alone.
More than 35 people gathered at Springwood Uniting Church on Saturday from local churches, community organisations or as interested individuals. There was a great mix of experience in the room, from seasoned campaigners in the Blue Mountains Refugee Support group to people newly interested in the issues and wanting to learn more. The whole group was actively engaged in the theory and exercises on ‘reframing’, or how we speak about people seeking asylum.
Many participants commented on how helpful they found the ‘Explore, Equalise, Elevate’ strategy for dealing with common challenges or questions in discussion on this issues such as: “don’t we have to be tough so people don’t drown at sea?”
At the end of the session participants identified things they would start or stop doing to put their learning into practice.
A big thank you to Revs Graeme and Leigh Gardiner from Springwood Uniting Church and the congregation for hosting the workshop and providing a great morning tea.
If you are interested in being involved in or hosting a Community Action Workshop in your congregation or community, get in touch with Alex Hogan from the Uniting Advocacy Team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon O’Brien is the Head of the Social Justice Forum.