by Phil DeVol

Those who are familiar with Bridges Out of Poverty will be interested to know that Bridges in Australia is developing poverty reduction in very much the same way that it did in the U.S.

Of course, it didn’t happen overnight in Australia—but from a distance it seems like it. Marie McLeod, senior training associate for Hawker Brownlow Professional Learning Solutions, has been busy doing Bridges workshops and promoting Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’-By World for the last couple of years. Nairn Walker of Social Solutions has been hard at it since 2005. “Suddenly” there are Bridges organizations and communities popping up that are reporting good results. Already there is so much going on that it’s hard to keep track of it all. In other words, Australia is ready to form a Bridges Community of Practice.

One of the key milestones is when there aren’t just a few trainers but many out doing Bridges Day 1 presentations. Thanks to Hawker Brownlow, Australia has just reached that milestone by sponsoring a certification event for Bridges trainers, and simultaneously, a Framework certification event with Dr. Ruby Payne.

Phil'sThis took place February 25–27 in Melbourne with 24 people in attendance. (See the Bridges Facebook page for more.) Phil DeVol and Marie McLeod did the Bridges training. On the third day, a panel made up of Getting Ahead graduates, facilitators, and sponsors discussed the experience and value of Getting Ahead. The Getting Ahead graduates were from Northern Futures in Geelong and Benalla, and the team from Maryborough shared the results of their experience. Click the link to view the Mayborough evaluation report.

At lunch Benalla was recognized as Australia’s first Bridges Community. It is expected that other Bridges initiatives will qualify for the Bridges Community designation as well. To qualify as a Bridges Community, these four criteria are needed:

  1. Two or more organizations in the community are applying Bridges concepts.
  2. Getting Ahead is being used to engage people in poverty in planning and decision making.
  3. A collaborative made up of organizations from more than one sector (government, social services, education, health, criminal justice, business, etc.) that uses the Ten Core Bridges Constructs is addressing poverty in a comprehensive way.
  4. The local collaborative will join and help create an Australian Bridges Community of Practice to share best practices and to learn from others. The Bridges Community of Practice will be supported by Hawker Brownlow.

1st GA grads 2012Maryborough AustraliaI invite the communities in Australia that already meet the criteria or are close to qualifying to post your stories on your Facebook page and “tag” our Bridges Out of Poverty Facebook page. Your stories will be a spring-loaded way for new communities to move quickly from attraction to application of Bridges concepts.