Multicultural NSW (MNSW) in collaboration with the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) and Western Sydney University (WSU) selected five NSW communities to deliver an educative framework to enhance social cohesion and build youth agency. The project was named ‘Positive Peace, Cultural Wellbeing and Youth Agency Initiative: Exploring peaceful solutions to living well in diverse communities’.
The project is designed to adapt IEPs Positive Peace framework (PPF) to each targeted community in order to foster cultural wellbeing. Similarly, the project aims to support the development of community led projects aiding the agency and resilience of each community. Therefore contributing to broader social cohesion in an effort to counteract fear, hate, racism and societal discord.
How Positive Peace was implemented:
A three day interactive Positive Peace workshop was held at Matavai Cultural Arts Center in Liverpool, Sydney consisting of 13 participants. Over the three days, participants explored IEP’s main research reports, spent time discussing and analysing each of the eight Pillars, as well as participating in a variety of interactive activities, which aimed at peer to peer learning and knowledge sharing.
Participants were encouraged to adapt the Positive Peace framework to their own relevant community setting, exploring ways in which the framework could further strengthen not only the Matavai Cultural Arts Centre, but their Pacifica community as a whole.
The Matavai group designed and planned their own Positive Peace project, a Documentary Film exploring Pacific Island cultural heritage and diversity. The film has been shaped through the eight Pillars of Positive Peace and will be implemented later in 2021. From IEP’s pre and post programme surveys conducted, it was evident that there were significant and positive outcomes in two main areas, knowledge and skills acquisition.
Knowledge: IEP’s surveys indicate that the majority of participants had a limited understanding of peace building. Observations suggested that participants significantly shifted their understanding in peace building activities within the context of learning the eight Pillars of Positive Peace and how they are applicable to a majority of context and settings. Knowledge building was seen throughout activities of the workshop as they were consistently able to identify the correlations between the Pillars and able to link it back to their own community needs. Throughout the workshop there were many instances of intercultural learning transactions whereby participants connected traditional indigenous concepts of peace from across the Pacific Islands and elements of the Positive Peace framework. Examples were shared about the circular configuration of the ‘the village’ system within the Pacifika cultural context and the circular web of Pillars, in which the Positive Peace framework is comprised of.
Skill acquisition: The results show only 3 out of 13 participants were confident (23%) when asked about their capacity to organize or facilitate activities that develop peacebuilding in their community. As the workshop progressed, Matavai participants demonstrated an in depth understanding of Positive Peace in relation to opportunities to strengthen their community and contribute to further social cohesion. This was demonstrated in discussions about unifying Matavai and sharing their culture and building relationships with others outside the Pacific community. Technical acquisition of Positive Peace knowledge was solidified in the groups’ articulation of Matavai’s resilience, existing expressions of peace, potential community building approaches and the role Positive Peace can play in this. This was especially evident in the application of Pillars exercise and project planning.