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Refugees tell their stories


Refugees living in Adelaide’s northern suburbs have shared their personal stories through a program initiated by the St Augustine’s Primary School Community Hub at Salisbury.

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The ‘Writing Our Story’ project was collaboratively developed with the conversational English class facilitated by Yonna Pettigrew, wellbeing counsellor Michele McCrea, from Lutheran Care, and Hub leader Carole Smith.

Over 10 sessions participants helped each other to choose, write, illustrate and publish stories to share with their families and the wider community.

Ms Smith said the process gave participants an opportunity to build meaningful relationships with each other whilst strengthening community bonds.

The narrative therapy approach supports participants to identify similarities, build awareness of personal and community values and draw on strength from the content written, while at the same time extending skills in English speaking, writing and reading.

Participants were introduced to the concept of writing a personal autobiographical story – an outline of the writing process was introduced, including exploring topics of interest, story construction, terminology and vocabulary.

Throughout the project individual support and assistance was provided to ensure content written reflected an accurate description of the story that was being told.

Ms Smith said due to the sensitive nature of the project, participants were invited to take part in a guided meditation supporting them to acknowledge their challenges and process any trauma related emotions which may have surfaced.

The project was completed last year with printing, layout, illustration and production of the book ‘Writing Our Story’.

“Participants reported improvements in their English speaking, understanding, reading and writing skills,” Ms Smith said.

“They also demonstrated higher levels of courage, confidence, cooperation, connection to each other and a deeper sense of self, as well as the ability to find peace and stillness within, building on and contributing to a stronger sense of wellbeing.”

Published through photobooks, the stories enabled participants to share their journey with the school community.

Working in partnership with the Salisbury Library, the Community Hub launched the book with a celebration followed by an interactive exhibition at the Salisbury Library during Salisbury Writers Festival and Book Week.



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