June 29th 2022

People and Communities make sense of their lives through stories. Our lives are made up of many stories; no single story defines us. Telling Story supports individuals, and communities, ‘thicken’ their preferred identity stories through narrative practice.

The narrative practice seeks to be a respectful, non-blaming approach to community work, which centres on people as the experts in their own lives. It views problems as separate from people and assumes people have many skills, competencies, beliefs, values, commitments and abilities that will assist them to reduce the influence of problems in their lives.

ALPA and Telling Story partnered together to bring Narrative Practice to CDP participants in Minjilang through the Tree of Life: Growing Up Strong Children Our Way program. The program helps individuals unearth and elevate often hidden stories of strength, resilience and hope, and trace the history of how these were developed.

Sudha Coutinho from Telling Story relayed her experience with the Minjilang people.

“It was a privilege to sit and share a story with the CDP participants in Minjilang about their wisdom, connection to country and culture, and ‘skills in living’ which they put into action to grow up strong families able to ‘stand strong and weather the storms of life”. 

Initially, there was uncertainty in participants as this was something brand new but as the program progressed participants warmed to the project and began to ‘stand tall’ once they realised that Telling Story was not there to ‘teach’ or ‘judge’, instead they were there to help centre the participants as the ‘expert’ in their own lives. In line with narrative practice principles, Telling Story wanted to support participants unearth stories from their lives which reminded them of their skills, strengths, and ‘know-hows’ to open possibilities to their preferred ways of being.

Stories can be told, and everyone can learn from how we listen to others and remember our own. The Tree of Life: Growing up strong families our way program invites participants to tell their stories in ways that make them stronger.
Telling Story and ALPA hope to support other communities engage in the Tree of Life program to widen their lens and re-author people’s stories to find strength, resilience and hope.