Profile: Joselle Has Truly Found Her Place

by Brighton Council

Joselle Griffin, or Joey as she is known to her friends, grew up and has lived in Bridgewater for much of her life. She was 11 years old when she moved to Bridgewater and went on to attend the old Bridgewater High School. Joselle and her family never really left the 7030 postcode after that move and she has maintained a very strong connection to the people and place ever since.

Joselle is a champion of placebased participatory community building and is a natural practitioner of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), she knows her ABCD that’s for sure! In fact she has dedicated most of her life to it and it is inherent in who she is and how she was brought up.

What is ABCD? ABCD and placed-based participatory community building may sound like a lot of ‘touchy feely’ jargon but to see this in practice and Joselle’s work in our community makes you realise it is anything but. So let’s get the definitions out of the way and get down to what these things mean in real life and in Joselle’s life, as the case may be.

According to the Jeder Institute, participatory community building is about supporting authentic social change through increased community engagement and participation. The aim is to engage, inspire and activate community to support a connected community, empower community members by strengthening relationships and shift the community mindset to one of positive discovery rather than focusing on the negatives.

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) complements this through:

  • Focusing on community assets and strengths rather than problems and needs
  • Identifying and mobilising community and individual assets, skills and passions
  • Building community leadership
  • Building relationships.

How is Joselle an ABCD champion?

A chat with Joselle over coffee and some lunch at the local Bean to Brew café reveals pretty quickly why she is so good at what she does.

Joselle currently works for Australian Red Cross Tasmania as a place-based worker in the Brighton Municipality. This role is all about listening to the community voice, hearing what is being said and empowering community to act, which includes providing funding where possible.

She is a proud Tasmanian Aboriginal woman and sees her work as an extension of her culture. She has a strong commitment to First Nations people and cultures. She doesn’t have an office out here; the community is her office and guides her on where she needs to be at any given time.

“My work is a ground up rather than top down approach, it is the only way that lasting change happens. I have seen it works and the power of community. I have always believed solutions come from the people themselves,” explains Joselle.

The creation of the Brighton Community Food Hub, by community for community, is an example Joselle feels really epitomises what ABCD work is all about and how her work at Australian Red Cross was able to support this.

“You listen, you support, you let people take control and become self-sufficient and then you move out. We consulted with community on what was most needed, we asked what people wanted us to do to support. This started with Aboriginal community members explaining what they thought was most important. Ultimately what effects the Aboriginal community members will affect everyone else. Red Cross assisted with the months of planning and the trial for the ‘Food Security Alliance’. A proposal was then pulled together and taken to the Brighton Lions Club who agreed to take it on, and the Brighton Community Food Hub was born! We didn’t jump in and take control. It needed to be owned by community members.”

Joselle has great memories of her time at the local high school and remembers an intense sense of pride in the school, the people and the place amongst the students and teachers. Joselle along with other local students were able to be part of a Junior Council facilitated by Brighton Council to teach students about local government, decision making and democracy. “I was the Secretary of Junior Council and there was a strong connection to Council and schools in those days, with the opportunity to discuss issues that were affecting us directly with Council. We knew life was tough for many but it didn’t stop us from achieving. The Brighton Youth Action Group or BYAG is not a new thing to our area but young people taking on a leadership role as a group like this did slip away for a while and I’m so excited to be part of supporting the BYAG to achieve their goals all these years later.” Joselle said.

When Joselle finished school, she went to UTAS and after completing a Bachelor of Arts she went on to complete a Social Work degree. She believes this was the start of ‘the fire in her belly’ to achieve justice for those who need it most. “While I was at uni, I wrote to Cris Fitzpatrick, who was a mum living here in our area doing what we now call ABCD. She was a strong local woman who wanted to make lasting change and a difference for her community. I thanked her for being a role model and lighting the fire in my belly for change and justice. She wrote back to say how proud she was of me and I didn’t realise the impact that had on me until much later on. I never planned to stay and work in Bridgewater.” she says.

After Joselle graduated, she spent 10 years in crisis work at the Hobart Women’s Shelter. She left to start her family and her journey into more formal place-based participatory community development began. Eventually this took her into the world of ‘Connected Beginnings’, a Federal Government supported program to help prepare 0-5 year olds to get ready for school. This was an ideal way to focus on making change in her local community as a mum and she was part of listening and learning through gathering ‘1000 voices’ from community members and families to understand the real strengths and opportunities available to instigate change. ‘1000 Voices’ revealed a really simple juxtaposition of thinking in the community. There were those who said, “We need to do something about these kids playing up all the time!” and there were those who said, “We need something for our kids to do too!”

“I tend to focus on just two community needs at any one time and these things are things I have always been asked to get involved with and support so my focus at the moment is young people and in particular the BYAG, and cultural connection, which involves a cultural craft group,” Joselle says.

Joselle holds dear a learning from her training with the Jeder Institute that focuses on the importance of relationships and drives how she works everyday – “Change in community runs at the speed of trust.”

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Profile: Joselle Has Truly Found Her Place
Profile: Joselle Has Truly Found Her Place
Profile: Joselle Has Truly Found Her Place
Profile: Joselle Has Truly Found Her Place
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Profile: Joselle Has Truly Found Her Place
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Profile: Joselle Has Truly Found Her Place
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