How this encyclopedia was created and how you can use it

The knowledge, ideas and stories of young people included in this encyclopedia were generated from small group discussions, often sparked by first sharing the ‘survival skills’ of another group of young people and asking for a response. In this way, there was always a particular reason for speaking, and young people were positioned from the beginning as making a contribution to others. There was never any pressure, or expectation, for young people to speak directly, in the first person, about hardships they may have experienced. Instead, the focus was on their ‘survival skills’.

The following questions were used as a guide:

  • What do you turn to in order to get through hard times/or to respond to discrimination? This might be something you do, or something other people do, or something you believe, or think is important.
  • Share a story of a time when this special value, belief, skill or knowledge has made a difference to you or to others.
  • Please speak about the history of this skill, value or belief. How did you learn this? Who did you learn it from? Or who did you learn it with? How long has this been important to you? How have you held onto this knowledge?
  • Is this linked in some way to any particular groups, family, communities or cultural histories of which you are a part? (see Denborough, 2008)

These questions help to make visible young people’s ‘survival skills’ or ‘life-saving tips’. Tracing the social histories of this hard-won knowledge generates a heritage or storyline of survival/endurance.

Significantly, when these tips were shared, they were always read aloud. There is something particularly significant about the experience of spoken word rituals. This use of the spoken word also made the process accessible for young people who are still learning English (a translator played an invaluable role in meetings with Syrian mothers at the Muslim Women’s Association meetings and with Syrian students at Adelaide Secondary School of English).


Sharing these stories and writing a message to the young people     

If you would like to share these stories and perhaps generate new ones, the easiest way to do so is to have someone read aloud whichever part of the encyclopedia is of most interest to you (and perhaps your friends or your class) and then create a message to send back to the young people who have shared their stories here. 

The following questions can assist in generating such a message:

  • Which ‘life-saving tip’ or ‘survival skill’ was most significant to you? Why was this one significant to you? Was there a particular part that stood out? Does this connect with something that is important to you in your life?
  • Have these stories made you think about anything differently, or helped you remember what is important to you?
  • What contribution have the words of these young Australians made to you?

Any responses you create can be sent to Dulwich Centre Foundation c/o and we will ensure they reach the original authors of the stories and tips in this encyclopedia. Or you can post them directly on


Earlier projects 

This is the third Dulwich Centre Foundation project to use a narrative approach to foster social cohesion and respond to broader racism/discrimination.

In 2010, as a response to the Cronulla riots* and an upsurge of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism throughout Australia, we developed the initial ‘Life-saving tips’ project which was supported by the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship through the Diversity and Social Cohesion program. A video and publication documenting 12 life-saving tips from young Muslim Australians were created and circulated through all NSW high schools and beyond. These can be viewed at

A second project, Letters of kindness and knowledge: Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Aboriginal young people share their ‘life-saving tips’, took place in 2014 and was funded by the Scanlon Foundation. These letters can be read at:

* For information about the Cronulla riots see:



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Julie Beer

    As a teacher, I use spoken word ritual whenever we write. My students, most of whom live in disadvantaged circumstances, now demand that they can share their writing in front of the group every day, especially when the writing is in some way personal. To stand in front of the group and speak your truth requires courage and bestows dignity and uprightness. It is this power to say ‘I’ that overcomes shame and disadvantage and builds resilience and joy.
    Thank you. The Encyclopaedia is wonderful.

  2. Patricia

    what an incredible section
    how brave of the young people to share their hurt, their anger, their love and their stories .

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