Product at a Glance - Product ID#WB2F78F2
Title: Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers
Abstract: Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers is a project intended to engage and support Aboriginal men with positive photographic images of Aboriginal men in fatherhood roles. The product is a series of posters with photographs of Aboriginal fathers and their children. Examples of the numerous photographs include a Dad kicking a football with his son, Dad playing in the sandpit, reading a book to his kids or doing cultural activities with his children. The photographs are captioned with positive text about fathers - Our Kids Need Dads Who: Stay Strong Smile, Take an Interest, Be There and Listen, and posters include artwork representative of country. The product was created to be displayed at day care centres, community organisations, court houses, health centres and other places where men are likely to see them. The posters were created for Australian Aboriginal communities in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, the Tiwi Islands and Yarraba in Queensland, Wreck Bay in New South Wales, and Hobart in Tasmania, and distributed to each household in these communities. However, they have a wide appeal to other Aboriginal communities and all those who view the posters in public settings.
Type of Product: Poster series
Year Created: 2008
Date Published: 4/23/2012
Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle
Callaghan, XX 2308
p: 61 2 49216690
Authors (listed in order of authorship):
Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle
Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle
Product Description and Application Narrative Submitted by Corresponding Author
What general topics does your product address?
Allied Health, Public Health, Health Information Management
What specific topics does your product address?
Access to health care, Community engagement, Community health , Community-based education, Education, Health behavior, Health care quality, Health education , Health equity, Maternal/child health, Men’s health, Mental health, Partnership building , Prevention, Primary care, Public & media relations , Race & health, Sexual health, Social determinants of health, Social services, Low Income Health, Prison health, Community-based participatory research
Does your product focus on a specific population(s)?
What methodological approaches were used in the development of your product, or are discussed in your product?
Community-academic partnership, Community-based participatory research , Photovoice
What resource type(s) best describe(s) your product?
Documentary, Manual/how to guide, Service learning material
1. Please provide a 1600 character abstract describing your product, its intended use and the audiences for which it would be appropriate.*
Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers is a project intended to engage and support Aboriginal men with positive photographic images of Aboriginal men in fatherhood roles. The product is a series of posters with photographs of Aboriginal fathers and their children. Examples of the numerous photographs include a Dad kicking a football with his son, Dad playing in the sandpit, reading a book to his kids or doing cultural activities with his children. The photographs are captioned with positive text about fathers - Our Kids Need Dads Who: Stay Strong Smile, Take an Interest, Be There and Listen, and posters include artwork representative of country. The product was created to be displayed at day care centres, community organisations, court houses, health centres and other places where men are likely to see them. The posters were created for Australian Aboriginal communities in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, the Tiwi Islands and Yarraba in Queensland, Wreck Bay in New South Wales, and Hobart in Tasmania, and distributed to each household in these communities. However, they have a wide appeal to other Aboriginal communities and all those who view the posters in public settings.
2. What are the goals of the product?
The goal of the product is to provide positive visual images which support and engage Aboriginal men in fatherhood roles and to address the more common negative representations of Aboriginal men in the media and society in general. By supporting and engaging in this way the product’s intention is to foster a sense of belonging and identity as a father for the Aboriginal men at whom it is aimed. By doing this, the product’s goal is to address the self-esteem and accompanying mental health issues of the Aboriginal male community – and indeed the flow-on effect therefore to the communities which it intersects - created by negative representations of the group. By allowing this community to see itself represented in a positive light, the product aims to foster a sense of self-worth by enabling Aboriginal men to embrace the strengths they bring to their role as fathers. It also seeks to allow the men to recognise and acknowledge the importance of this role and therefore participate more actively in fatherhood. By starting this dialogue the product also aims for the continuation in the long term of similar representation of Aboriginal fathers in order to more thoroughly imbue the specific Aboriginal male community with a sense of self-worth and a concept of their intrinsic value as engaged fathers. A complementary goal of the product is to encourage the wider community to break down stereotypical and prejudicial concepts created around previous representations of Aboriginal men. This is intended to allow the wider community to see Aboriginal fathers in a positive light which represents the diversity of the Aboriginal man and of Aboriginal fathers specifically.
3. Who are the intended audiences or expected users of the product?
The product has several audiences. Aboriginal men are one audience. Aboriginal fathers are another, more specific, audience. Specific Aboriginal communities in the Tiwi Islands, Yarraba in Queensland, Wreck Bay in NSW, Alice Springs and Hobart were the audience for whom the product was created. Other intentional audiences are Aboriginal children, Aboriginal women and Aboriginal Australians as a whole group. The wider Australian community is another less specific though equally important audience for the product.
4. Please provide any special instructions for successful use of the product, if necessary. If your product has been previously published, please provide the appropriate citation below.
The Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers project has been designed as a capacity-building approach to engage all members of different Aboriginal communities in discussion and recognition of the strengths of Aboriginal fathers in their community. The posters are accompanied by a free downloadable manual which sets out the steps for communities to make their own posters. In simple format, it details the stages of community consultation, identifying suitable texts, finding suitable images of Indigenous fathers, and arranging printing of the resource through SNAICC. The project has been described in Hammond (1) and the manual is available at http://www.SNAICC.asn.au/_uploads/rsfil/02501.pdf
5. Please describe how your product or the project that resulted in the product builds on a relevant field, discipline or prior work. You may cite the literature and provide a bibliography in the next question if appropriate.
The Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers project has its origins in principles of social justice and strengths-based practice, as practised by the Family Action Centre at the University of Newcastle, Australia. The strengths perspective offers service providers a work practice which focuses on strengths, abilities and potential rather than problems, deficits and pathologies (2). The capacity-building intention of a strengths approach attempts to equitably involve community partners in research, draw on their knowledge and experience, share decision-making responsibilities, and build community capacity (3). In the early 2000s, systematic investigations into the needs of young Indigenous men in their fathering role were absent from Australian research. A landmark review by the Australian Government identified no research focusing on Indigenous fathers, and few community services that served Indigenous fathers specifically (4) (for an exception, see Jia (5). Yet, as in other countries with First Nation peoples, Australian Indigenous people, then and now, face multiple disadvantages of unemployment, poverty, family violence, and alcohol abuse. Further, many Indigenous families live in remote and isolated parts of Australia (6). Thus, despite calls for culturally appropriate policies and services for the youth of Indigenous communities (7), social policy has lagged far behind the lived experience of family life for many Indigenous youth.
6. Please provide a bibliography for work cited above or in other parts of this application. Provide full references, in the order sited in the text (i.e. according to number order). .
1. Hammond, C. (2004). The story of ‘Our Kids Need Dads Who’ posters and the ‘Skills and Strengths of Indigenous Dads, Uncles, Pops and Brothers’ DVD. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal, 28(5), 8-11.
2. Chapin, R. (1995). Social policy development: the strengths perspective. Social Work, 40(4), 506-514.
3. Minkler, M., & Wallerstein, N. (2003). Community-based participatory research for health. San Francisco: John Wiley.
4. Russell, G., Barclay, L., Edgecombe, G., Donovan, J., Habib, G., Callaghan, H., & Pawson, Q. (1999). Fitting fathers into families: Men and the fatherhood role in contemporary Australia. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services.
5. Jia, T. (2000). Indigenous young fathers’ support group. Aboriginal and Islander Health Workers’ Journal, 24(1), 18-20.
6. Geggie, J., Weston, R., Hayes, A., & Silberberg, S. (2007). The shaping of strengths and challenges of Australian families: Implications for policy and practice. Marriage and Family Review, 41(3/4), 217-239.
7. Beresford, Q. (1993). Aboriginal youth. Social policies and policy responses in WA. Youth Studies Australia, Winter, 25-30.
8. Fletcher, R. (2003). Fathers' role in family services: The Engaging Fathers Project. In R. Sullivan (Ed.), Focus on Fathering. Camberwell: ACER Press.
9. Fletcher, R. (2004). Bringing fathers in handbook: How to engage with men for the benefit of everyone in the family. Callaghan: Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle.
10. Hammond, C., Fletcher, R., Lester, J., & Pascoe S. (2003). Young Aboriginal Fathers Project. Research Report. University of Newcastle.
11. Hammond, C., Lester, J., Fletcher, R., & Pascoe, S. (2004). Young Aboriginal fathers: The findings and impact of a research project undertaken in the Hunter Valley, NSW. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal, 28, 5-7.
12. Wang, C., & Burris, M. A. (1997). Photovoice: Concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education & Behavior, 24(3), 369-387.
13. Sohng, S. S. L. (1996). Participatory Research and Community Organizers. Journal of Society & Social Welfare, 23, 77-81.
14. Hammond, C. (2010). Making positive resources to engage Aboriginal men/fathers. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal, 34(5), 23-25.
15. FaHCSIA (2009). Introduction to working with men and family relationships guide. Commonwealth of Australia. Available from http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/families/pubs/documents/working_men/working_with_men.pdf
7. Please describe the project or body of work from which the submitted product developed. Describe the ways that community and academic/institutional expertise contributed to the project. Pay particular attention to demonstrating the quality or rigor of the work:
- For research-related work, describe (if relevant) study aims, design, sample, measurement instruments, and analysis and interpretation. Discuss how you verified the accuracy of your data.
- For education-related work, describe (if relevant) any needs assessment conducted, learning objectives, educational strategies incorporated, and evaluation of learning.
- For other types of work, discuss how the project was developed and reasons for the methodological choices made.
The Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers project emerged from the Engaging Fathers Project (EFP)(8,9) at the Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle. The EFP was part of an international initiative, funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation of the Netherlands, to involve fathers and male carers with children to benefit the whole family. The EFP worked in partnership with antenatal, postnatal, Indigenous, early childhood and welfare services, and schools to develop models of father involvement. From its immersion in community, the EFP found strong evidence that Indigenous fathers were missing positive fathering role models, and that they experienced a range of service barriers that differed to non-Indigenous fathers. As a consequence, the Young Aboriginal Fathers Project (YAFP) (10) was specifically created with goals to document service provision for young Aboriginal fathers, gather young Indigenous fathers’ perceptions of service provision, and identify service provider strategies for the successful engagement of Indigenous fathers.
The YAFP showed no systematic investigation into the lives of young Aboriginal fathers and serious gaps in Aboriginal fathers’ access to parent education and support services. Intensive consultation and discussion with communities, significant stakeholders and young Aboriginal men took place in order to identify local issues. The most significant of these issues were service setting barriers, specifically, the widespread negative imagery of Aboriginal men through posters on topics such as domestic violence, stalking, drug abuse and child abuse. Consequently, a capacity-building methodology was developed to engage Aboriginal communities in promoting positive imagery of Aboriginal males as good fathers and participants in positive, culturally respectful male parenting (11,1). The projects focused specifically on developing a DVD and posters of good fathers, media that had previously been successfully used by other services (e.g., Uniting Care Burnside). Similar in epistemology and method to Photovoice (12) and other participatory approaches, such as community-based participatory research (3,13), the YAFP approach to engage Aboriginal communities in identifying their strengths, and images and messages that represented these strengths, was based on principles of building trust, stimulating appraisal and dialogue, and included consultation with Indigenous men, women, and community workers.
8. Please describe the process of developing the product, including the ways that community and academic/institutional expertise were integrated in the development of this product.
The posters developed in the original YAFP were highly successful because they were constructed through extensive community consultation and portrayed images of high value to the Indigenous community. The process of poster development offered a unique way to inaugurate restorative conversations about strengths, father roles, identities and values. This success prompted the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), a national non-government peak body representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, to engage the Family Action Centre to extend the YAFP poster project. SNAICC selected five communities across Australia for the project: Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, the Tiwi Islands and Yarraba in Queensland, Wreck Bay in New South Wales, and Hobart in Tasmania. Each of these communities has distinctly different cultures, including laws, language and artwork style and colour.
The process of developing the Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers was similar in each community, although team members worked differently according to community protocols and readiness. To begin the project in each community, initial contact was made with a member or organisation within that community. The Project leader was known by or introduced to elders and other relevant community members, and a community project officer was employed to support the project locally. Over a period of six to twelve months, interested people and organisations were drawn into the project, the existing posters were shown, and meetings were held with community members to facilitate discussion of the value of fathers, uncles, ‘pops’, and brothers. Considerable discussion also took place to identify the men thought by the community to be suitable to be included in the posters. To complete the project, decisions were made on location and context for the images, as well as for the captions that accompany the images. The agreed sets of images were gathered over time at community events and in family homes, and finally assembled into 5 different posters with captions, titles, and local artwork, to be professionally printed by SNAICC.
The consultation phase often operated at different levels within any given community. Initial discussions sometimes centred on the negative behaviours of some fathers in the community and it required time to allow the discussion to return to the project goal of Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers. Often discussions fanned out across different Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations and families so that feedback and further discussions continued for many weeks. In some communities, levels of conflict were evident between individuals and groups which delayed or hindered the project. Nevertheless, numerous comments were made by the men involved that “they had never thought about” the positive value of fathers or of their own strengths as fathers.
Community contribution and expertise was essential in every step, from the selection of men to be included on the posters, to deciding on appropriate wording (some communities decided to use local language in the captions), and promoting and distributing the posters. The community organised the activities where the photo shoots took place, for example in suitable day care centres or football ovals. All members of the community, women, men children, were invited to these events, which became family fun days. The community also set the pace of development, for example, in deciding when sufficient consensus had been reached to settle the final images, wording and design. In many cases community members and SNAICC staff organised the meetings where the finished poster products were shown.
While the five community projects were aimed at promoting positive fathering messages at a local household and community level by drawing on the unique language, artwork and images of each community, SNAICC also developed a set of national posters (A5 size) to illustrate and celebrate the diversity of Indigenous men across Australia. Again, this process was undertaken through consultation with several communities in order to respect the distinctiveness of particular communities at the same time as demonstrating the universal importance of cultural identity and connection to family, community and country.
9. Please discuss the significance and impact of your product. In your response, discuss ways your product has added to existing knowledge and benefited the community; ways others may have utilized your product; and any relevant evaluation data about impact, if available. If the impact of the product is not yet known, discuss its potential significance.
Against a dramatically changing and possibly destablising policy landscape for Indigenous people, the Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers Project offers a tangible and positive initiative. Two prior projects that were developed to enhance father involvement in children’s lives, the Engaging Fathers Project, and the Young Aboriginal Fathers Project, revealed a significant gap in research and services for young Indigenous men. At that time, systematic investigations into the needs of young Indigenous men in their fathering role were largely absent from Australian research. Nevertheless, as in other countries with First Nation peoples, Australian Indigenous people continue to face multiple disadvantages of unemployment, poverty, family violence, and alcohol abuse. Despite the need for culturally appropriate policies and services for the youth of Indigenous communities (7), social policy appears to have lagged far behind the lived experience of family life for many Indigenous youth.
The Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers initiative has provided an opportunity to demonstrate the strengths of Aboriginal men and their role in their families and communities. The completed posters were extensively distributed throughout the regions for which they were produced, being placed in homes, court houses, health centres, childcare centres and schools. This step achieved one aim of the project by producing strengths-based, positive images and messages about Indigenous fatherhood. Further, the community participation process stimulated consultation, conversation and connectedness, giving opportunity for Aboriginal men to reflect on their own roles and acknowledge the value of these roles to themselves. Informal feedback from a range of organisations and individuals, including magistrates, health workers and teachers, shows that the project has helped those who may already acknowledge men as having a valuable role but who perhaps may not have understood how that role helps the community.
As an indicator of its usefulness, the Positive Resources project is included in a suite of resources, Parenting and Men, offered to all Australian Indigenous communities by SNAICC. Further, as a result of the energy and community support for strengths-based messages, SNAICC and the Young Aboriginal Fathers Project collaborated to create a further resource to support fatherhood. You're A Dad – Seven Storylines About Being a Dad - is a 20-page A5 full colour booklet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers and young men. Each storyline is told through photographs and personal story tips with each storyline also making up an A4 page poster. This resource is used for home visiting maternity/paternity services; parenting programs; men's groups; early childhood, youth and health services; and for jail and offender programs.
Although there have been no formal evaluations of the project, SNAICC has comprehensively distributed the materials across all Indigenous communities in its sector. SNAICC has a network and subscriber base of over 1400 organisations and individuals, mostly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, but also significant numbers of other community based services and individuals, as well as state and federal agencies with an interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children. In addition, reports on the project have been published (10,14) that include formal feedback on the success and benefits of the project.
10. Please describe why you chose the presentation format you did.
In health and community sectors, recent initiatives have focused on strengths rather than deficits in their approach to engaging men and fathers in family services (15). In view of the chronic disadvantages that many Indigenous Australians experience, the Young Aboriginal Fathers Project (YAFP) similarly endeavoured to provide a culturally appropriate and capacity building venture that promoted Aboriginal males as good fathers and participants in positive, culturally respectful male parenting. The project responded to the immediate needs of portions of the Indigenous community by providing positive, strengths-based messages in contrast to the detrimental practices of deficit-focused approaches. The Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers project built on methods successfully used by other services (e.g., Uniting Care Burnside), and in its participatory approach, respected principles of cultural engagement through building trust, stimulating appraisal and dialogue, and consulting with Indigenous men, women, and community workers.
11. Please reflect on the strengths and limitations of your product. In what ways did community and academic/institutional collaborators provide feedback and how was such feedback used? Include relevant evaluation data about strengths and limitations if available.
The Family Action Centre, as a mainstream organisation, employs an Indigenous worker and builds partnerships with indigenous organisations in order to promote strength-based approaches, disseminate the outcomes and develop culturally appropriate resources. Working from a strength-based philosophy as opposed to a deficit model, the product was developed for fathers to acknowledge the strengths that they already have rather than asking them to create new ones. The community feedback around the poster series was positive and noted that this product addressed a real gap in the representation of Aboriginal men in the healthcare and wider community settings. This was a definite strength of the product - the creation of a new way of seeing and representing the Aboriginal man and father. Community feedback led to the creation of the booklet: You're a Dad - 7 Storylines About Being a Dad. At this stage there is no evaluation data available about strengths and limitations. This booklet contains seven core tips - Be There; Connect; Be Proud; Talk; Feel Good; Protect; The Journey - to continue the message from the Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers poster series.
12. Please describe ways that the project resulting in the product involved collaboration that embodied principles of mutual respect, shared work and shared credit. If different, describe ways that the product itself involved collaboration that embodied principles of mutual respect, shared work and shared credit. Have all collaborators on the product been notified of and approved submission of the product to CES4Health.info? If not, why not? Please indicate whether the project resulting in the product was approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and/or community-based review mechanism, if applicable, and provide the name(s) of the IRB/mechanism.
The project that resulted in the creation of Making Positive Resources to Engage Aboriginal Men/Fathers poster series embodied principles of mutual respect, shared work and shared credit at every stage. The extensive involvement of the local communities around Newcastle in the initial poster project assisted in ensuring mutual respect between the creators of the posters and the community. Under the auspices of SNAICC, the posters project was a culturally inclusive task, and a project such as this would not be possible without this collaboration.
Shared credit is indicated on the poster series where credit is given to the various services and organisations/institutions who contributed to the final product. Once the posters reached final printing stage, they were again taken back to each community and displayed and discussed with community members. All collaborators have been notified and have approved of this submission. There was no requirement for approval by an IRB or community-based mechanism.?