Students in discussion
Image: Singing Bowl Media
Source: Museum Victoria
Laying the Foundations for the Bridge – Creating a safe, respectful space to share
Aim of the session
‘I need a safe environment to share personally.’
Participants decide together how they will relate, behave and participate in the program, in order for the sessions and groups to be safe, respectful and worthwhile. They then form mixed school but single-sex groups to begin sharing stories from their own lives.
Effective facilitation is crucial to ensure that a genuine, sustainable bridge of trust and understanding is built between the participants.
Facilitators need to model values such as trustworthiness, empathy, respectful listening, openness and a non-critical attitude to a wide range of cultural and religious expression. They also need to demonstrate competency in managing diverse groups, handling conflict appropriately, and encouraging genuine dialogue. Preferably, facilitators do not hold positions of authority over participants, (e.g. employer, school principal), as this may inhibit the participants from sharing honestly.
Facilitators who wish to run a Building Bridges Program in their school need to apply to and be approved by the WellSpring Centre’s Director of Reconciliation, Dr Tim McCowan (http://www.wellspringcentre.org.au or firstname.lastname@example.org). Generally, facilitators attend a facilitator training workshop where they receive a copy of the Building Bridges Facilitator’s Handbook.