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Making Time Online

On Wednesday 1 July CAN and Creative Recovery Network welcomed musician Phil Bartlett to explore the topic of Deepening Understanding – First Nations Relationships for Making Time Online.

Phil is a well known musician from the South West of WA and is proud of his Noongar heritage. Phil uses music to inspire positive change in communities and is currently working on CAN’s Lullabies Project.

Here is a run down of some of the key points Phil uncovered during this session. If you would like to be involved in a future Making Time Online register to be notified of the next conversation.

Be yourself

In his work with communities, Phil notes the importance of ‘being yourself’. Being authentic is essential for establishing trust with a group. When working with aboriginal communities or any community it is about finding your own style. It may be showing lots of care and empathy; being fun and happy; showing energy and enthusiasm; or beginning with the artform itself to make a connection. When Phil meets a new group he uses fun, interactive play and launches into song to make that initial connection. It is important to know your own skills and what you are good at and to build on that.

Establish trust

Establishing trust is also about time. It takes time to form relationships. We need to start off slow and build rapport. Connecting with very reserved participants takes a lot of time and effort. When working with some young aboriginal people there can be the issue of ‘shame’. For Phil, shame occurs when a young person doesn’t feel comfortable enough to be themselves. It is important to help children from a young age to develop their confidence. Phil believes it is this shyness and lack of confidence that holds young people back and is one reason why there are not enough aboriginal people in positions of authority.

Create a safe environment

In terms of creating a safe space when working with communities on a creative project, it is important for everyone to know why they are there and what they will get out of a project. Clarity around this helps to establish trust.

Become a ‘water thrower’

When dealing with conflict or participants who demonstrate anger or other negative behaviours, Phil talked about training ourselves to become ‘water throwers’. When faced with anger, or someone who is trying to get a reaction rather than getting angry (throwing more fire) we need to learn to throw water on to the fire.

Throwing water back onto fire is about being cool and tactical in your response and showing humility. It is important to give young people the space they need to be angry, to stay positive and to use language that invites conversation. When working with young people it is important to demonstrate how to respond to anger and to show how to deal with conflict. Anger management is learnt through example.

Phil concluded the discussion by highlighting the importance of self care.

Phil turns to music for an emotional release and to get rid of negative energy. Singing and playing sustains his work with communities as does the spiritual feeling that comes from helping others.

Join the next Making Time Online conversation, which will be a peer-led discussion on  Wednesday 5 August.

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Image // Michelle Troop


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