My Meeting Place: Re-arming ourselves with cultural knowledge, spirituality and community connectedness by Vanessa Davis

This video demonstrates the integration of Aboriginal Art with Narrative Practices to create culturally appropriate counselling for Aboriginal practitioners when working with Aboriginal children and young people. Thus creating indigenised therapeutic work, which contributes to the de-colonisation of Aboriginal people. Here Vanessa will also offer a step-by-step explanation of how she has used ‘My Meeting Place’ in a one-on-one counselling session, to create and guide narrative conversations.

Vanessa is an Aboriginal woman from Tennant Creek, Northern Territory Australia. Currently living in Brisbane and working as a Social and Emotional Wellbeing Counsellor with Aboriginal children and young women in the Brisbane Region.

Note: You can chose to turn captions on and off by clicking ‘CC’ on the bottom right hand side of the video.

Published February 24, 2017

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Aurora

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  2. David Newman

    We are a small group of workers doing community suicide prevention work in Kempsey, mid-north coast New South Wales. We found your talk inspiring and useful fro our work. One of us thought the My Meeting Place Map was a powerful way for students/ clients to be heard as there can be connection and the fact that it is on a map makes the story externalised already. Another of us said that people sometimes don’t realise how much they have achieved, but when there is an image like My Meeting Place the progress is clearer. Another of us said how much she appreciated that it is MY meeting place – that ‘I’ get to decide who is invited. The skills you used to find the ways that Kiarra is already connected to her culture, such as the painting she did that hung on the wall, stood out to one of us skilful and beautiful. And one of us was drawn to how calm and relaxed the approach seemed, and that it takes if off the person and puts it on the paper. We did wonder, when you said you do it along with Kiarra, whether you write your own Meeting Place or you just help her record her story. We were curious about this. And all of us imagined doing this as a group where each young person paints their own map and it would be a way for all to connect. Kempsey Community Suicide Prevention ( Melissa Joy:

  3. amy

    This is a wonderful and inspiring tool. I see this as an excellent way to cultivate culturally safe reflection with a beautiful strengths focus. I would like to please ask Vanessa’s permission to use ‘my meeting place’ in my counselling work with Aboriginal children and youth who have experienced family violence. I will seek a channel of direct communication to inquire further (if anyone has a direct communication for Vanessa please let me know) Thank you kindly.

  4. Filippe

    Hi Vanessa,

    I did enjoy listening to the story about your work with Kiarra. I liked the way you have presented it, tone of voice, clear structure, good questions.

    I can say that idea of meeting place is excellent, it can be used with different groups of people, simply because we all have our meeting places. It is good that you are creative and looking for individual approach.

  5. Sudha Coutinho

    Hi Vanessa
    Thanks for sharing your work and innovation. I am a non-Indigenous woman who has worked alongside Indigenous colleagues, clients and Communities to support them uncover their stories of strength, hope and resilience to support them stand strong when faced with the storms of life. I have been living and working in the north of Australia for the last 20 years. I wonder what your thoughts are about me as a non- Indigenous woman sharing your meeting place map with the people I work alongside and inviting them to consider their meeting place map? I am also interested in your thoughts about exploring the possibility of adapting the Meeting Place map as a collective practice for whole of Community to consider?
    Thanks for sparking my curiosity!

  6. michelle bates

    Vanessa, I sit on Warumungu country as I listen to you sharing your innovation. Wow! so beautiful, practical, accessible. As I listened to you describe the My Meeting Place map, I felt sparks of curiosity about how I can use your creation! several children came to mind, who might playfully engage, and then I started to think about some adults, some living with a disability, and then some young people for whom life has failed to give them much incentive to live on (Tatz, 2005). I am wondering about an ‘anchoring quality’ to the map, and then… some family groups, I could think of who would be interested in coming together to focus on a family member – in a possible outsider witness experience (what they know of and value about the person etc). The grace in the visual depictions, strong and sure symbols, lending themselves to generate preferred story development.
    thank you,

  7. Loretta Pederson

    Thanks Vanessa for this inspiring video. I really enjoyed hearing about this creative and de-colonising work. I appreciated your inclusion of example questions. Very useful to my work with parents. Thanks again.

  8. Melanie Murad Baldwin

    Dear Vanessa, thank you for sharing your practice innovation. I live in Tennant Creek and work with young Aboriginal children and families in my privileged role as an educator. I will be sharing your story with friends and colleagues in the community. Maybe you get to come to Tennant Creek to share your journey.

    Truly inspirational!

    Melanie Murad Baldwin.

  9. Manja

    Thanks Vanessa! As a non-Indigenous counsellor who sometimes works with Aboriginal young people in a youth mental health service, I am always looking for ways to offset the inevitable centring of my privilege and power in our conversations.

    Your video is one I will return to time and again as a strong inspiring reminder that while Decentred Practice describes a Narrative method, decentred practise is a verb and something that I need to actively do in every Narrative conversation I enter into.

    I really loved hearing about your work and I look forward very much to hearing more from you! When will you be making the next video? ☺

  10. Kylie Dowse

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful practice innovation, Vanessa. I really appreciate the care and careful consideration you encourage among non-Indigenous practitioners in not appropriating Aboriginal art symbology, instead urging identification of resonant symbols for individuals they are working with.

    Curiosity is piqued in wondering what ‘My Meeting Place’ might have evoked for Kiara, and the many others whom we, as Aboriginal practitioners, walk alongside. I’m really looking forward to trying out your ideas in practice, and thank you for your very practical ideas for delivery.

    Kylie Dowse

  11. Carolynanha Johnson

    Hi Vanessa I have been waiting for this to come through. It has further enlightened me as to how art can be used in narrative and through the Tree of Life. Cultural space, safety and culturally respectful considerations keep coming through. What a beautiful respectful way of supporting Kiarra to work through the dominant story of her not knowing much about her culture and having her to tear back the layers which have kept her in this space rather than her preferred story. Your work with her is very respectful, caring way of acknowledging her experience. I can see you having lots of conversations in this way with people like Kiarra going away with new insider knowledge of themselves. The use of artwork and narrative ways of creating space for the conversation make this journey possible for anyone that we work with.

    1. elizabeth feld

      Thank you so much! Your work is very inspiring!
      Elizabeth FELD, Paris, France

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