Narratives of Hope

Narratives of Hope group

A message from the Associate Vice-Chancellor (Queensland) Professor Jim Nyland:

The successful launch of ACU’s new strategic plan to the Brisbane Campus community by the OPSM team during their national conference last month refreshingly provided a narrative around ‘hope’ as one of its key principles.  Last week I had the great privilege of seeing this part of our strategic plan brought to life through the community engagement project ‘Narratives of Hope’, now in its fourth year of operation in Brisbane.

Narratives of Hope gives a voice to a range of socially and culturally diverse people who are not often heard – those who live with a disability, who have experienced homelessness, who had an addiction, who live with mental health challenges, who have been forced to leave everything that is familiar to them, or who are marginalised for a number of reasons. Each participant is mentored by an ACU staff member to help them share their challenges, their hopes, their courage and the perceptions of them that they would like to change.

This year we heard many hopeful stories that were told through medium of words, dance and song, including Robert ‘Bomber’ Perrier’s keynote that reminded us about the importance of reconnecting with a loved one, in his case his brother after they had both experienced childhood domestic violence and trauma that saw them lose touch with one another over the years;  Risa who refused to let schizophrenia define her as a person (watch her story below); and Peter who has lived with a disability overcoming homelessness and the worst of institutional living to arrive at his current ‘safe’ supported community at L’Arche, where he lives happily.  There were many more narratives of hope shared through the day and my thanks go to everybody involved in this fabulous engagement program including academic mentors, professional administrators and participants.  Special thanks go to Keith Skelton, a nursing academic on the Brisbane campus of 22 years, for his superb leadership in coordinating this project.

Narratives of Hope is an innovative engagement learning program that transforms the lives of all involved.  Yet, it is fair to say that the radical growth and transformation of mass higher education itself and the explosive power of the internet have both occurred within the last twenty years without a corresponding change in our approach to learning.  Placing the key principle of hope front and centre of our planning process presents the University with the opportunity to build upon the outstanding work of our exceptional staff involved in Narratives of Hope. We can address these issues more centrally as a ‘Leitmotiv’, a guiding thread of concern and critique for all learners and staff, since all people are impacted by them.

Can I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year that is full of hope.


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