Feeling Heard in North Richmond

Nils von Kalm
July 30, 2021
•
2 minute read

What does a flourishing community look like? What are the experiences of people who live in such a community?

The North Richmond Housing Estate, in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, is showing the potential of being a flourishing community.

We are working with the North Richmond Community Health Centre (NRCH), other agencies and residents of the estate to create a community that enhances the opportunity for everyone to flourish.

This will be achieved through the power of story. When people can tell their own stories, they feel heard. It is a common human experience.

A sense of worth and agency is inherent to our understanding of flourishing, and CBBC takes an approach to allow this to happen through people sharing their stories of struggle and hardship as well as their joys and triumphs.

Much more than material advantage, flourishing involves living with a sense of purpose and being able to contribute to your own wellbeing and that of others. When people are truly heard, it allows them to experience the dignity which was always there but has so often not been recognised.

CBBC became involved in the NRCH project through a COVID-19 response network supported by the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC). CBBC’s Managing Director, Andre Van Eymeren, says that an outcome of the project will be to document the remarkable community development that we believe will come about from sharing lived experience.

He explained: “The project will operate in conjunction with North Richmond Community Health [NRCH]. They have told us that residents want to be able to share their stories about where they are living, as well as express their strengths and hopes for the future.”

A group of people are standing spread out in a park area next to a concrete housing tower. Tables are set up with refreshments. Most of the people are wearing masks over their nose and mouth.

Last year’s hard lockdown of nine public housing towers in inner Melbourne highlighted some of the ongoing systemic disadvantage experienced by their residents. And while the North Richmond Housing Estate did not experience this level of lockdown, NRCH has a desire for residents to tell their stories and be heard.

Andre says that, “Stories will be told by the community in a way that allows for diversity of expression. We expect and want people to feel free to express their emotions, whether they be grief and anger, or stories of strength, resilience and hope for the future.”

As organisations and individuals are gathered together, a training process will be developed. The aim of the training will be to enable the local community and organisations to work together on strength-based approaches to community building.

This is the crux of good community development. Building on the strengths already present in the community creates the opportunity for flourishing. It allows people to take ownership of how they would like to live and be empowered to create initiatives that they lead and that will allow them to flourish.

Ultimately, it’s CBBC’s Flourishing Framework® that will enable all this to take place. Among others, the elements of the Framework include a sense of belonging, living a purposeful life, the ability to contribute, and the opportunity to lament and celebrate. It is these elements that will allow the people of the North Richmond Housing Estate to be part of a flourishing community.

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