This case study opens at the beginning of a community development partnership involving the Samoan community in Logan, a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The Samoan community is represented by the Voice of Samoan People (VOSP) and this organization has endorsed GULL and embraced the GULL system with the objective of achieving change in its community. The project is set in the context of numerous challenges facing migrant communities in Australia and the Samoan community project highlights (among other issues) the under-performance of its youngsters in the traditional educational system. The VOSP leaders felt that to find solutions, a different approach was needed and so they led the way by engaging with GULL and action learning in order that they might understand the process and begin to identify the wider applications for their community as a whole.
Header photo by: Thechannelc
Actioning change: Early outcomes
Griffith University announced the second phase of its community partnership programme, Actioning Change, a celebration with the Samoan community in Logan City on Thursday, 28 October. Throughout 2010 the University partnered with the Voice of Samoan People (VOSP) in a series of workshops and projects to unlock the potential of the local Samoan community. Projects involving school and church communities targeted positive change.
As a means of sustaining change, project teams embedded a system for action learning using the Global University for Lifelong Learning (GULL) model of community engagement. This model has been introduced in many countries around the world in the last three years, often in partnership with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The model is based on equality and inclusivity rather than hierarchy and has been piloted for the first time in Australia with the Samoan community of Logan City.
(Left) The VOSP logo: Actioning change a community partnership with the Voice of Samoan People, Griffith University and GULL in Brisbane, Australia
Addressing community challenges by action learning
“We originally got together because one of our leaders had arranged a meeting with Griffith University to discuss ways in which the institution might assist Pacific Islanders and specifically, Samoans and to seek advice on how to encourage and inspire the youth to stay on at school and aim to secure entrance to university. At Griffith, we met Judith Kearney and later Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt who introduced us to the concept of action learning. We are using action learning to address the main challenges that our community is experiencing and in particular the fact that our youngsters are under-performing in educational attainment. It won‟t be easy and it will require a sustained effort by many people, with the active participation of our community leaders, but we are determined to mobilize our community so that we can advance and improve.” Sala Telemete Tito, Leader VOSP
Discovering the potential for self-directed action learning
“When we started with GULL we had a lot of questions about the process and role of a personal learning coach and the wider web of support. We have discovered that the power of the process lies in the self-directed journeying process together with the wider team of participants and supporters. When we come together as a team, we feel empowered to sort out our own issues and we have learnt to work and learn together as a team. Once the concept is clear and your mind is set in an appropriate way, honest and personal daily reflections begin to make sense. Thereafter, the weekly summary is easier to compile and the process of reflection becomes a habit. We have also been discussing how the GULL process can help refugees and migrants, especially as they work to improve their spoken English and find a role in the host society. Action learning has opened a new door for me because the GULL process is founded on daily and weekly reflection on activity and events. Strategically, the process encourages you to challenge yourself at a deeper level so as to develop the ability to analyze a problem from every perspective and make the necessary adjustments to address it. These are the main reasons why I am enjoying my GULL journey.” Lemalu Felise Tautalasoo, Leader VOSP
(Above) Members of the Samoan community, Logan, Brisbane at the VOSP-GULL graduation event, 28 October 2010.
“The GULL concept is a revolutionary idea. I always want to learn and this model for active or action learning will help us to think differently and explore new aspects of community development. I know that by re-discovering myself, I can do a better job and find new ways to learn. In terms of my community and a proposal that I should like to make to the President, Voice of Samoan People, I plan to involve the Ministers of all the Christian churches in Logan in an action learning group and thereafter to cascade our experience to the members and congregations of these churches.” Pastor Samuela Afamasaga for the Samoan community churches
Community mobilization in Logan: Reflections on progress by the President, VOSP
“GULL has enabled me to re-connect with my training as a theologian and this helps me to reflect on the question „Who am I?‟ – as a father, a husband and a leader of the community. I have realized that if my answers are the same today and tomorrow, it means that I am not progressing on my action learning journey. The journey to greater self-awareness and improvement drives me onwards and it is my hope that by trying to do better and discovery more about myself that I‟ll be able to help others by sharing my experience of this process. For me, GULL is a vehicle and a light to help illuminate my journey and I have spoken to so many people about my experience – even to those of our community who are in jail. I have been telling them that this is not the end of the road for them, and when you come out, the GULL programme will be waiting for you.“
“I‟m sure that action learning is the way forward for the community – it liberates people, in the sense that at the outset, participants might have relatively low self-esteem and as they journey with this, they can move forwards and strengthen their self-image and self-worth. I also think that action learning offers the prospect of liberty from poverty because it facilitates a change in mindset. It is my belief that unless and until people are liberated from what holds them back, they will not develop and progress and I have discovered that the GULL action learning process does this.” Fairmalotoa John Pale, President, VOSP
Extending the collaborative partnership: GULL, Griffith University and TAFE Queensland
An outcome of a meeting at the Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE on 19 April 2011 was the emergence of a broader collaborative framework. The aim is to widen access to further education via the Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE and additionally, provide both direct entry and continuing pathways to TAFE and to Griffith University, Logan. The collaborative framework was supported and endorsed by Professor Lesley Chenoweth at a meeting held at Griffith University, Logan campus on 20 April.
In mid-May, members of the Voice of Samoan People (VOSP) committee met at Griffith University to launch the collaborative partnership between GULL, Griffith University and TAFE Queensland. In compliance with Australia’s Higher Education Act (2008), Griffith University is serving as the lead agency and will utilize the GULL system (together with TAFE Queensland) to develop access pathways. In order to retain and develop the GULL concept, Griffith University is using the phrase: ‘Griffith University Life Long Learning’ (GULLL) and the four organizations will focus on broadening the Pacific Island community’s access to and success in Queensland’s further and higher education system.
Compliance with Australia’s Higher Education (General Provisions) Act 2008
In Australia, the Global University for Lifelong Learning (GULL) is focused on assisting marginalized community groups. In compliance with Australia’s Higher Education (General Provisions) Act 2008, GULL does not advertise, work with individuals or companies, charge fees or award degrees. GULL’s approach is to work in partnership with Griffith University and TAFE Queensland with the objective of widening access to Australia’s further and higher education system by designing direct entry and continuing pathways to TAFE and to Griffith University courses. To facilitate this, GULL has provided its action learning system to Griffith University and in order to retain and develop the GULL concept, Griffith is using the term ‘Griffith University Life Long Learning’ (GULLL). Our objective is simply to enable all community participants to work towards recognized Australian qualifications. GULL’s role is to assist in operationalizing its system which is primarily designed to develop skills and confidence in self-directed learning.
As an example of our work, Brisbane’s Samoan community is using GULLL to enable the entire community to participate in the development process. This initiative is facilitated by its representative body ‘Voice of Samoan People’ (VOSP) . The goal is to create a learning community that will encourage children and adults alike to advance and improve their learning and life circumstances. There are some 25,000 Pacific Islanders living in Logan, Brisbane where relatively few youngsters continue in further and higher education and young offender rates are very high. In response, an array of agencies are supporting our efforts to foster a culture of lifelong learning in order that parents are better equipped to encourage their children.
|Actioning Change: A partnership with the Samoan community to promote educational opportunities - (PDF)|
|‘Actioning change and lifelong learning in community development’ by Judith Kearney and Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt - (PDF)|
How can my organization get involved?
Thank you for reading this case study. Do please think about what you can offer and how you might inspire others in your organization to get involved. Together, we can bring hope and opportunity to the many people around the world who do not have access to lifelong learning. GULL works with organizations that share our vision for universal access to learning in the workplace and in the community. If you would like to affiliate with GULL's network movement, please review the 'Affiliation' section at the GULL website - www.gullonline.org. There are no membership fees or other barriers to participation - we'd like to work with you to harness all the skills and abilities that your organization can offer in order to help others to learn, grow and develop. Please note though that GULL does not have the resources to support individual learners and it is for this reason we can only correspond with organizations via their nominated representative(s).
GULL is a not-for-profit foundation registered in California, USA. GULL is recognized by the Government of Papua New Guinea & endorsed by other Governments, Leaders & Institutions.