East Gippsland Principals Network
The Meeting Space trained forty principals from the East Gippsland Principals Network in Leadership Skills and Teamwork. The training took place at the annual conference in Metung and was an opportunity for the Network to share honestly and connect in a meaningful way. Participants shared that they felt the impact of the work and could see it would help them support each other in a real way.
Young Adult Migrant Education Course- City of Yarra and NMIT
Working in partnership with YAMEC and the City of Yarra, The Meeting Space carried out a 6 week course with 25 young adults from refugee and migrant backgrounds. We worked with students from over 15 cultural backgrounds, with a variety of levels in English. We adapted our content to ensure every student was able to actively engage in the material. The sessions ran for 3 hours each and included a variety of activities that brought leadership to life. Each student graduated in front of 150 people where they were presented a certificate by the City of Yarra Mayor. Each student gave a speech at the graduation which enabled the audience to connect with them in a meaningful way. For many, the speech in English was in their third or fourth language.
Bridging Women's Worlds - Brotherhood of St Laurence & Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre
The Meeting Space worked with the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre on a project called, ‘Bridging Women’s Worlds’. The Meeting Space trained 15 women from a diverse range of refugee and migrant backgrounds in Teamwork and Event Management Skills. The group of women organised a dinner for over 300 women with the aim of uniting cultures and bridging the gap between cultural differences.
The genesis of Ladyfingers occurred at a Somali Women's Henna evening when women were dancing to traditional Somali beats. At one point in the evening, the women covered up, the male DJ had peaked over the partition and the women weren't happy. So Rachel came up with the idea to begin a Women's DJ collective. After receiving a Federal Government grant, Ladyfingers began. Twenty young women from over 12 different cultural backgrounds were brought together to share their music with each other, DJ at all kinds of events, organise events and develop some lifelong friendships.
Ee-Ha-Yeah - CMY
Building Bridges was a partnership project with CMY and Vic Health. For one year Rachel worked in Broadmeadows with 20 young women from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds with the brief: 'We want them to be friends at the end of this'. With camps to Anglesea, trips to St Andrews, the writing of a song, the performance of a dance and the organisation of a fantastic Women's Only Festival, Ee-Ha-Yeah (meaning 'yes' in three of the languages) was a huge success.
Bollywood Bhangra Nights - Polyglot
These dance parties were filled with Indian DJ's, traditional Indian dance, Bollywood, Bhangra, delicious food and a room packed with people from all over the world. This event was organised to help bridge the gap between local and international students. At the end of the night, students were exchanging numbers and breaking down barriers. One Indian student who had just arrived in Melbourne said, "This is the best experience of my life. I am so glad I am in Melbourne".
Diversity Festival - Polyglot
Working in partnership with Borderlands, Diversity Festivals happened throughout the year. They were an opportunity to bring different generations and cultures together to celebrate what it means to be human. Story, Song, Dance and Food carried these nights into mythical lands.
Creative Leadership Program - Bairnsdale Secondary College
For the past three years The Meeting Space has run six Creative Leaderships Courses at Bairnsdale Secondary College. We work with fifteen students from each year level, taking them on an interactive course where students get to discover more about themselves and each other. Working with the school for such a long time has enabled us to build strong relationships with students, teachers and their families. Last year we were able to train students to become co-facilitators and watch them work with Grade Six students from the local primary school (an idea generated by the participants themselves). This year will be our fourth year working at the school.
Creative Leadership Program - Mairehau High School
Working in Christchurch, New Zealand, with 18 young people from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds was The Meeting Space’s first project in New Zealand. To make this project possible we were supported by the Christchurch Youth Council and Te Ora Hou. The Creative Leadership program worked with young people who were surprised and excited to be chosen for the program. For many, it was their first opportunity to be seen and to be heard. The week long course finished with a special celebration in the Wharenui where students shared their speeches to a packed room filled with family, teachers and friends. Many were brought to tears as students expressed their love for family and the struggles and triumphs they had experienced. It was an evening filled with tears, laughter and song, not to mention a delicious traditional Maori hangi.
Creative Leadership Program - South Oakleigh, Wellington Secondary College - Polykala
This was a great project that we ran for two years where we worked with the Student Leadership Teams from two secondary schools in Melbourne. Working with two schools for two days each and then bringing them together for a day, gave a unique opportunity to build strong relationships between the two leadership groups. After the leadership course, the students came up with a project which they carried out for the year. This project was supported by the teachers in the schools.
African Street Theatre - Polykala
The African Street Theatre Project came about when a group of Somali young people wanted to address the taboo subject of Mental Health in their community. Rachel was asked to co-direct the group to devise and perform plays that we performed in many public spaces. The skill development of the group and the impact of these plays was truly inspiring.
Nourishing Body and Mind Program - Polykala and City of Darebin
The Nourishing Body and Mind Program was a partnership with the City of Darebin and Polykala. We ran two programs which ran for twenty weeks each. The program saw twenty participants at a time go through a process of developing an awareness around nutrition and emotional and physical wellbeing. The program was aimed at communities at risk of obesity and diabetes. Along with being informative for all, it was also a lot of fun. Participants cried at the completion of each program saying how they desperately wanted it to continue.
Homelands - CMY and LaTrobe University
Homelands was a partnership project with CMY and LaTrobe University. It was a program to connect refugee young people living in Australia with their friends and family who were still dwelling in refugee camps. Participants in the project made videos of their lives to send to each other. It was a powerful project that opened up the complexities of those relationships.
Culture Jams - Polyglot
Culture Jams were large events with the aim of bridging the gap between local and international students. These were events featuring artists from all over the world and included lots of feasting, dancing and activities to bring people together. Each event would attract over three hundred people from all over the world. People coming together to learn from each other whilst celebrating what it means to be human.
Young Leaders of Today - CMY
Working across Victoria, Young Leaders of Today was a leadership program aimed at local government areas (LGAs) that newly arrived refugees and migrants were moving into. These courses ran for five days and worked with year ten students from 5 major secondary schools in the LGA. Students from over 19 different cultural backgrounds went through a Leadership Program, culminating in a Graduation. Young Leaders of Today gave the wider community the opportunity to experience the incredible strengths and insights of these newly emerging communities, along with developing the confidence and leadership skills of the participants.
Hookah in A Guesthouse - Polyglot
Sharing the stories of three inspiring individuals, Hookah in a Guesthouse was a play based on Augusto Boal's work, 'Theatre of the Oppressed'. Over bowls of hot soup and bread, audience members were invited into the intimate lives of Hala, Mustafa and Ken. It was Ken's dream to be in a play and this was his opportunity to share his story before dying of Cancer. The process of devising this play was just as important as it's execution as the cast and production team journeyed into the unknown space of creating something from nothing. The conversations, questions, tears and laughter along the way made this an experience never to be forgotten.
Organisations Rachel and Ollie have worked with include:
Sports Without Borders, Brotherhood of St Laurence, City of Yarra, City of Darebin, City of Monash, South Oakleigh College, Wellington Secondary College, Christchurch High School, Bairnsdale Secondary College, East Gippsland Principals Network, Northern Metropolitan Institute of Tafe - Young Adult Migrant Education Course, African Street Theatre, LaTrobe Valley Council, Australian Multicultural Foundation, Centre for Multicultural Youth & Vic Health.