10
Monday, 03 December 2018
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Grace Hall (left), Melody Keating and her daughter Zella appear in a stage production based on the “Dh^wu Mayili’mirr Lakara\a” project
Grace Hall (left), Melody Keating and her daughter Zella appear in a stage production based on the “Dh^wu Mayili’mirr Lakara\a” project

Story-telling connects communities

By Andrew Hall

Social Work student Melody Keating is drawing together the warp and weft of oral histories to discover the fabric underpinning community cohesion in remote areas of the Northern Territory.

“Dh^wu Mayili’mirr Lakara\a” was a community consultation and creative arts project conducted earlier this year in Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala, and Gunyangara, East Arnhem Land. The aim of the project was to find ways of connecting people with each other, and with their cultural, historical and metaphorical stories.

“An underlying goal was to explore the use of the creative arts in social work practice using principles of narrative therapy, strengths perspectives and trauma-healing journeys,” Melody said.

“The project was adaptable and flexible, with the goals and direction decided by participants. 

“People were given the opportunity to tell stories as part of a theatrical production, musical pieces, kinship maps and an illustrated storybook.”

Melody’s project is applying the methodology of University of California professor and author William M. Bodiford, who said such approaches to understanding communities, “embraces the generative power and potential of human beings to construct a powerful image of an alternative future through the conversations we have and the stories we tell that inspire, motivate and mobilise people to engage in constructive and positive action”.

Melody said she believed that positive and creative action could bring healing. 

“I find meaning in giving others and myself the chance to focus on enchanting, magical and hopeful stories. 

“We all struggle through a variety of challenges in life, but feeling connected and heard is essential in combatting fear, loneliness or despair.”

Melody’s work is supervised by CDU and Anglicare NT East Arnhem Regional Office.