17/03/2011 - 00:00

A CAN-do approach to training

17/03/2011 - 00:00

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There is something different about Community Arts Network WA.

There is something different about Community Arts Network WA.

Like many, it is working to increase community wellbeing in the state, but it is how it goes about it that sets it apart.

CANWA is a registered training organisation but instead of bestowing its knowledge on the organisations, communities and people it works with, it asks a pretty important question.

“We use the same approaches wherever we go which is asking ‘what do you want’,” CANWA’s training and business development manager, Monica Kane, said of the grassroots consultative approach.

Ms Kane joined the organisation last year with refined skills in training, having worked for myriad industries, and came onboard with the aim of developing the organisation’s training platform.

Aside from the successful youth programs, CANWA provides facilitation for organisations and regional communities in community engagement and cultural training and is operating a pilot community governance program in conjunction with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations.

“We have developed a program that initiates self governance but, most importantly for us, uses art and culture because the notion of using culture in aboriginal communities is almost so obvious but its not necessarily done,” Ms Kane said.

“The self governance is the outcome, but the way we do it is the community drives the program so they decide what it is they want to govern, they decide how they want to go about it.”

The course has also been developed to be adaptable.

“The model that we set up can be applied to any community, any organisation, any region, at any level. It becomes determined by that group,” she said.

Ms Kane said this was what was different about CANWA.

“Service providers need to consult with the communities in order for us to get it right. You can’t just go in and say, ‘this is it’ because you will just become another organisation and why should we dictate to a specific community whether it is indigenous, white or the City of Stirling,” she said.

CANWA uses innovative art forms like body sculpting, object anthropology and cultural mapping, instead of the textbook method where a discussion leader runs the dialogue in front of a white board.

“The training becomes implicit in the art and culture which is what I think CANWA training does very well,” Ms Kane said.

The organisation also works with regional communities in facilitating community development through arts programs and recently helped Kellerberrin host its bi-annual Keela Dreaming Cultural Festival.

Ms Kane said CANWA established programs in communities to which it has connections like Kellerberrin and Narrogin.

“In those communities the need is established for us and we don’t go into places where we don’t have links, because it much harder to do, to establish rapport and respect and trust,” she said.

“You’re not going to change the world and we’re not trying to, we are just trying to give people something to be proud of, of something they already have.

“They tell us what programs they want. We find the artists and coordinate it, and having those offices means the people there talk with the community … and we sort of just do the ground work.”

CANWA’s youth programs are well established throughout the Perth metro area; the program has run in conjunction with the City of Gosnells over the past three years and won an Australia Business Arts Foundation award last year.

Ms Kane said that because of the consultative nature of the programs, they lent themselves to being easily expanded and customised for what organisations like local governments wanted to focus on.

 

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