QUT was contracted by Oxfam to develop a toolkit for human rights defenders to communicate legal information to community groups. Legal information included topics such as human rights, child protection, gender-based violence and sorcery accusation related violence. The work included researching narratives and local understandings of key legislations among human rights defenders and communities, and the development of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials relating to PNG laws.
Key principles of the toolkit
The pedagogical approach of the toolkit is based on theories around participatory communication. We developed four stages for the toolkit in order to ensure that participants can develop their own understandings of the materials and have an opportunity to link it to their lives and lived experiences. These stages are: Experience — Empathise — Understand – Transform. In each of the five modules facilitators are provided with a repertoire of participatory exercises that, once facilitators are familiar with them, can be adapted to the given situation. Currently the toolkit predominantly utilises materials from the PNG highlands but this could be adjusted for other regions in Papua New Guinea. The core components and the background to the toolkit are documented in the introduction within the toolkit itself.
Facilitators’ training workshop including piloting of materials
A facilitators’ training took place from the 15-19 October 2018. Facilitators were taken through the final version of the toolkit. Each day they completed assessment to ensure that all aspects of the toolkit were reflected on and understood. After the training facilitators received a certificate from QUT and Oxfam. The week included a practice in the community. This was done in Banana Block. This collective experience of the group allowed us all to assess the value of the toolkit, as well as the challenges that might be experienced. In the evaluation facilitators commented on a number of key ideas.
Firstly, facilitators acknowledged that the process had helped them to understand the value of “talking less, and for participants to talk more”. They said that giving community members more opportunity to express themselves ultimately means valuing community participation and discussion. Facilitators commented on the way that visual materials such as photos and digital stories assist them in working with communities as people enjoys engaging with visual materials. Some stated that the training had increased their confidence in working with communities and facilitating training around the law. But they also mentioned the need for ongoing discussion and reflections among the facilitators so that the group can move forward as a team or network. The experiences at Banana Block highlighted the sensitivities around facilitating this kind of participatory communication with perpetrators and victims sometimes being in the same group, and facilitators highlighted the need for support structures to be in place to ensure that people who participated could be supported where necessary.
Overall, facilitators expressed a strong wish for the coordinated implementation of the toolkit in support of their ongoing work.