Learn how to be an active bystander

How often have you asked, ‘Why doesn’t someone do something?’ That someone is you.

Motivating Action Through Empowerment (MATE) is an education and intervention program teaching us to be leaders when we are faced with problematic behaviour. It was devised by Griffith University in Queensland.

The Forest Kirk Uniting Church, as a joint sponsor, is running a fee-free MATE active bystander train-the-trainer workshop for 30 people at the Forestville RSL this May.

Julia Poole is the leader of the church’s domestic violence and abuse response group. Julia, a retired clinical nurse consultant, trained as a MATE facilitator in 2020.

“I was really interested that somebody was trying to do something to prevent domestic violence, not just mop up the awful results,” Julia says.

She needed to register the program through an organisation, which is where the church stepped up.

“They jumped at the opportunity to help fight the wrongs in the community,” says Julia. “So, while it’s not a religious program, I am backed by the church.

“Once you know something’s happened, you are a bystander,” Julia says. “There’s no choice about it. But are you an active or an inactive one? Do you turn your head and walk away, or do you think, ‘What can I do to help?’ And the model has a framework that you work through about how you might safely and effectively approach the issue so that you don’t just walk away.”

Griffith University is sending two facilitators to the Beaches for $30,000 (funded by a grant from an anonymous organisation), and Forestville RSL has provided free use of rooms through the ClubGRANTS scheme.

The workshop will equip people with the skills to make a difference. On completion, attendees will gain a Griffith University micro-credential to facilitate MATE cultural change workshops to others, such as a workplace.

“What hurts most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander,” Julia quotes Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. “That underpins this whole program.”

The workshop will be held at the Forestville RSL on Melwood Avenue on 22, 23 and 24 May from 10am to 5pm.

For information email forestkirkuc@gmail.com or call 0419 593 568.