Strengthening communities – Stronger Together

SWIRLS project ‘stronger together: stronger families and stronger communities’ is a partnership between researchers from the University’s Social Work Innovation Research Living Space (SWIRLS) and the Adelaide Mosque Islamic Society of SA Inc (AMISSA).

Researchers will work with AMISSA to design and document the development of culturally sensitive workshops (A – Strengthening Couples; B – Effective Parenting; C – Youth Matters and D – Encouraging Education through Child Rearing) aimed to strengthen and enhance the resilience of AMISSA’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community; to develop tools to monitor progress and outcomes of the workshop programs and evaluate the project; and make recommendations for sustainability beyond the life of the project.

SWIRLS researchers will work together with the AMISSA community using a participatory approach to co-design the workshop programs and AMISSA will deliver them using a place-based approach (PBA), where ‘place’ is the AMISSA community itself. The co-design workshops will be undertaken to develop the content in the workshops bringing together academic social science knowledge with Islamic cultural and religious knowledge and beliefs to develop the content for the workshops. The researchers will document the content and process used during the co-design workshops for publication and to develop an evidence-base in the area.

The primary significance of this project is the opportunity it provides to bring together Islamic cultural beliefs and practices with western and social science approaches to relationships, parenting etc with a view to strengthening Islamic communities and enhancing the resilience and family relations of its members in a way that is culturally sensitive.

The project has the potential to make significant contributions to knowledge around approaches to enhance social wellbeing in Islamic communities, and about the process of co-designing such approaches with the communities involved. The project aims to challenge ideas around ways to enhance social wellbeing in Islamic communities, but do so in a supportive environment that is sensitive to those communities’ needs and beliefs.

The project uses a participatory method of developing workshops that will be delivered using place-based approach (PBA), where the AMISSA community is the ‘place’. It has been recognised that place-based approaches are well suited to addressing complex social problems, because they target an entire community rather than focusing on the problems of individuals (Wilks et al 2015). They are also a good model for delivering integrated services that enhance family and community resilience and connectedness (CCCH 2011).

The model of this research project is significant in that it enables two of the SWIRLS researchers to engage with a ‘closed’ community via an ‘insider’ researcher (ie the third researcher), who is part of the AMISSA community itself.

Research will be conducted 2020-2021 and publicly released in 2021.

Findings from the project will be disseminated to inform the social services sector re working with Islamic/CALD communities and the Australian Association of Social Workers. Findings will also be incorporated into the Bachelor and Masters of Social Work programs being run at Flinders University to influence future social workers.

This project has been funded by Multicultural Affairs Grant, Department of Premier and Cabinet and in-kind support is being provided by AMISSA.

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