Meredith Hartley works with cohealth in Melbourne’s inner north. As a recent graduate ofCBBC’s inaugural Rebuild Your Community course, Meredith has begun transforming the way she works with community. She comments that the course "has been such a deep dive into how we engage with communities, how we work with communities and coming at it from different angles."
Changing job roles partway through the course, Meredith became Community Engagement Facilitator in the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) team redesign for cohealth. This involves her meeting internally with the AOD teams as well as with people who use the services run by cohealth. Through RYC, Meredith has gained insights into the complexity of the communities she works with.
"When I'm having a conversation [with someone using the services], I have to think about meeting them where they're at and being with them in the space rather than coming at it from my perspective. I've got to step into their community and step into their interconnected web of work, their life, and their community."
For Meredith one of the key learnings was around the interrelatedness of community.
"Getting an understanding of what a community is, what makes up a community, that it's an interconnection of people and relationships. And also the natural world, the environment around people, its structures, its institutions, its governance, its culture, its recreation, its art - it's all of these things that are interconnected in this huge web. It’s also where people in that community feel like they can belong, and that they can contribute. And then keeping all of those aspects of a community in mind when I am working with people, or when I'm doing community engagement, or when I'm trying to collaborate with community around what they want to see for themselves."
For CBBC, the journey towards flourishing communities involves breaking down traditional silos to see the whole person in the context of their community. In an attempt to describe this holism, co-founder and Managing Director Andre Van Eymeren has developed the Flourishing Framework®. It acts as a guide for policymakers, community-facing practitioners, and active citizens and is a key feature in the RYC training course.
According to Meredith, “the Flourishing Framework® of people feeling safe, people feeling like they belong, they have access to basic needs, that they can create meaning, that they can create rituals, that they can celebrate, and they can lament… I’m really having that in my mind when I'm thinking about collaborating and working with community.”
Throughout the course, Meredith also reflected on who she is as a worker and how her values align with her role.
“It makes me think about not only how to work with community, but also just myself in the context of working and the kind of worker I am, and how I can be. My job title is engagement facilitator, which means I facilitate engaging, but that doesn't mean I have to lead. And it means that what I've learned so much about from this course is taking a step back and that community takes the front seat - they’re the driver. I just sit in the passenger seat and have a conversation.”
RYC has been developed to help community workers
Over five months, the course includes 10 x 3.5hr sessions, individual coaching aimed at applying what is being taught, a full coursebook and an ongoing connection with the CBBC community.
RebuildingYour Community is a chance to learn more about how communities can flourish. It’s tailored for community-facing workers, enabling them to become facilitators of the amazing strengths already present in local communities.
From Meredith’s perspective:
“We talk about Appreciative Inquiry, we talk about Asset Based CommunityDevelopment. And we talk about all those different kinds of models and concepts and then throw in the Flourishing Framework® around that... [We learn] all of this stuff within the Rebuilding Your Community course, which is so rich and exciting and meaty.”