FROM THE BEGINNING
The Blue Wren Foundation – How we got started
Oftentimes, it is good to start at the beginning, so people get to understand the foundation on which everything stands. In the case of The Blue Wren Foundation, there is certainly a good story to tell …
On Sunday 11th October 2015, Adrian was talking with his wife Arleen about Domestic Violence and Rosie Batty’s book – A Mother’s Story – a book about her journey with DV and the build-up and final death of her son at the hands of his father …
With tears flowing down her face Arleen said to me – ‘Please Adrian, for me, and all the women out there, take the DV Prevention work that you have been creating and talking about for some time, out into the world.’ In that moment he promised her that he would. He made a commitment to do it. So now he is committed to doing it – and with your support it will get done.
The following day, he was talking with a client via Skype. The client, David, was out in his garden at the time and whilst talking to Adrian had a small flock of Blue Wrens come near to him. He told Adrian the story of how Blue Wrens are very protective. Later that day it became clear to Adrian to name and start The Blue Wren Foundation.
The Blue Wren Symbol – and what it represents
The Blue Wren is a small bird that generally lives in a flock with two adult male and female birds as the flock ‘leaders’, along with as many as a dozen other birds with them. All the birds assist in defending the territory and feeding and rearing the young, however it is the dominant male that can most generally be seen standing out and standing up against other larger birds that may enter their territory and threaten the flock. That is partly why the Blue Wren symbol has been chosen. It is to symbolize and express that men can learn to be bold and courageous and stand up to protect others without having to be big, hard or violent. It can remind us that, as men, we can all stand up and stand our ground when it is required of us.
What do we do, and what is our social, political and philosophical standpoint?
This is quite a complex thing to answer in a couple of paragraphs and as we develop and grow these may expand or even change to some degree. However, our current focus and work, and our social, political and philosophical standpoints can be read below.
Our Focus right now
We predominantly offer support for men in and around Relationship Education. On saying this, we also offer some support for women with counselling and through our referral networks.
We offer support on both sides of the equation for men when it comes to relationship or family conflict or violence. Our work is focused on supporting and empowering any man who feels he is not feeling supported or empowered to make some positive changes in his relationship or life.
1. We work with men who have been asked or challenged, or know for themselves, that it’s time to make some changes about their attitudes, feelings, emotions, actions or behaviours. This is our core work and work that we do well.
2. We also offer services to men who have been, or are being, violated against in some way in their relationship. That could be by a female or same sex partner.
Our view and standpoint
By focusing and working more directly with men, does not mean that we are a one sided, or a one gender stanced organisation. It means that this is our main focus. We cannot cover all areas of this expansive topic of relationships and relationship conflict and violence – that is simply not possible – so we focus on what we know we can do well from our collective skills and experiences.
There are many other organisations filling the gaps in the other services identified. Yes, much more needs to be done to bring the equation of male and female support into balance, and yes, there are many statistics and findings that are being used for political and self-interest purposes – but we try to steer clear of this and focus on putting out good intentions and services.
We support all organisations, working and bringing positive outcomes in this field, without judgement and try to only focus on the aspects of the work that they do well. We are also clear that at anytime we feel or experience that someone, or some organisation is not in alignment with offering positive services, we certainly do not remain silent – we do speak out!
Our unique and empowering ‘Line in the Sand’ programs for Men
We offer ‘Line in the Sand’ programs for men who wish to enhance their currnt or future relationships, and perhaps heal some from the past. We especially encourage men to join us who are at risk of, or currently engaged in, actions or behaviours that may negatively impact on themselves and other people in their lives.
As men we can learn what this ‘Line in the Sand’ is, and then use this to gauge our thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, attitudes, actions and behaviours. It gives us a platform; a foundation, from which to work from to help us better understand ourselves. It is a very empowering process and one that we invite, encourage and positively challenge all men to do.
Imagine, for a moment, being clear about where you are with your own ‘Line in the Sand’; knowing exactly where you are with your own understanding, thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, attitudes, actions and behaviours in your relationship. Imagine using this to help you to form, and be in, a much more conscious and harmonious relationship with those around you, especially with your partner if you have one. Imagine how those around you will feel, knowing that you have done some good work to support being in a better relationship, and through this work supporting or stopping any current or potential future relationship or family conflict or domestic violence. What an amazing thing to do for yourself, your family and the whole community.
The honour and privilege of being in the company of men willing to ‘step into their stuff’ is an amazing experience. We know that when men find the courage to step into a circle or group with other men, or even if they have been mandated to do so through the legal system, as a ‘perpetrator or attend identifying as a ‘victim’, something ‘magical’ happens for them. In this space men learn that it is safe to talk, share and even express their feelings and emotions.
Our approach through The Blue Wren Foundation is to get men back into circles – back into spaces where men can open up and talk, share and express their feelings and emotions in a safe environment without being shamed, made to feel guilty or belittled in any way.
Our programs are designed to work with men from all walks of life, and it would seem fitting for men from all ‘levels’ or ‘walks’ of life to attend. There is no economic, political, religious or social divide when it comes to this work. The list includes: lawyers, professors, builders, butchers, bakers, electricians, therapists, cleaners, magistrates, police officers, artists, military, politicians, doctors, real estate agents, dentists, miners … and so on. It includes all men.
Relationship Education for Men, Women and Couples
We offer one on one counselling and guidance for men and women and also counselling and guidance for couples.
We also have women in our network that we recommend and work with and we also have a gay man as pat of our team, who can help gay men.
The bigger, broader picture – The Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence (FADV)
With more awareness and education around FADV their is much more emphasis on naming it for what it is.
The terms and language in this are now very clear. When people are in a conflict situation, depending on its degree, this might now be classed as family or domestic violence. It is good to be clear on this as it can become a very difficult and challenging road if the police and/or courts get involved. FADV can be physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, sexual, psychological, there are many ways for us all to cross the line into some sort of way. This is called abuse; whether that is subtle, not so subtle, conscious or unconscious. Either way, it is something that you/we can choose to change.
At The Blue Wren Foundation, we are trying to create new, more usable terms and phrases that do not weaken or water down the issues of FADV, but create more clarity and support to help get more men on board with this huge topic. We wish to encourage men, not frighten them. We want men to step into this work with a sense of empowerment, trust and support. We are simply trying to get more men to step in to do some inner work to prevent and stop it!
As men, we are (nearly) all capable of stepping over our own ‘Line in the Sand’. In fact, it would probably be true to say, it would be very difficult to find a man who has not stepped over this line in some way in the past. By shaming and blaming other men, when we are probably guilty ourselves of crossing the line in some way ourselves is not very useful and could also be very hypocritical, so we men at the Blue Wren Foundation try to steer away from blaming and shaming. We know from the many years of work that we have done between us, that it take courage to step in and do inner work. It also takes some amount of vulnerability and commitment. This is why we want to support men. We do not want to blame and shame them and keep them in the proverbial cave – We want all men to know that whatever it is they have done, or are doing – they will get supported to change their behaviour in a professional, compassionate, understanding and solid way.
As Michael, in a Melbourne program, said: “I know I am a good man – but I want to be a better man”. And this is true for most men if we give them the opportunity to step in and look at and explore their own ‘Line in the Sand’ and then work with it to change it.
Sadly, Michael passed away in his sleep recently, after a caring deed of delivery firewood to one of his neighbours .. He certainly moved up the ranks of being a good man to being a better man ..
In the Not Now, Not Ever Family and Domestic Violence Report from Dame Quentin Bryce and her task force (Mr Ian Kaye MP, Ms Anne Cross, CEO, UnitingCare Queensland, Ms Ada Panawya Woolla, Aurukun Local Commissioner, Ms Heather Nancarrow, CEO, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, Mrs Desley Scott MP, Mrs Liz Cunningham MP, Ms Kerry Millard MP) – they identify significant areas that need to be overhauled, receive a change in policy or need to be created and/or implemented.
Some of the content from the Not Now Not Ever report has been used to highlight the links from what the report has outlined and/or recommended and the correlation to what The ‘Line in the Sand’ Blue Wren Relationship Education Programs for Men will offer. There are many aspects of the report that can certainly be addressed through a process of well delivered programs.
The Task-force’s recommendations to bring about cultural and attitudinal change are based on three key aspects – 1 – increasing awareness and reinforcing intolerance of domestic and family violence through education and engagement; 2 – preventing domestic and family violence by building respectful relationships; and 3 – supporting victims/survivors of domestic and family violence by empowering the community to intervene and hold perpetrators to account. The first aspect that this report recommends (increasing awareness and reinforcing intolerance of domestic and family violence through education and engagement) is the major focus for the Blue Wren Foundation. Our professionally facilitated programs will address and deliver, in essence, ways to help men to change their more negative attitudes, thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions towards women to more positive ones.
We are a registered charity with the ACNC
Counselling & Coaching
Programs & Workshops
YEAR BLUE WREN WAS
COMMITMENT TO YOU AND YOUR
I was lucky enough to have completed the LITS program in November 2016, after going through several difficult events in my life. Adrian’s program was literally life changing in helping me open my eyes to the man I wanted to become and giving me the tools to be able to deal with different situations as they arise and being able to step back and see situations from different angles.
Adrian's program taught me to have better relationships in my life, not only with others but myself and how to better deal with stress, anger, fatigue, anxiety and many other feelings that life throws up along with taking responsibility for my life.
I am grateful for the tools I have acquired and look forward to attending more programs in the future.
I believe by doing these weekends, it has lead me to a fuller and more satisfying life where I’m not afraid to express my feelings, hesitant yes but also cognizant of the fact that when expressed fully it has led to far deeper connections and a far more open and honest relationship.
To quote Emerson;
“To know even one life has breathed easier Because you have lived, This is the meaning of success.”
I wish Adrian all the best in the wonderful work he does.
Regards, Shane Long
Attended a LITS program held in Brisbane in May 2017. This was the first program of this nature I have ever attended, at age 54. I was quite apprehensive and not sure what to expect. The three day program was very intense and I was able to identify several key areas in my life that were negatively affecting my relationship and communication style with my wife and 11 year old son.
Since completing the workshop with Adrian, I have been able to work on those aspects of my life and significantly enhance my relationship with my immediate family and my self.
I highly recommend the work of Adrian Hanks and the Blue Wren Foundation. This was a very professional weekend workshop holding a strong, compassionate, nurturing and challenging space for men to get clear about who they are within them selves and with in their relationships.
For me, I gained a clearer understanding of the ways my relating style does not serve me or my relationship as well as how my strengths and gifts do make me good man growing better all the time. There is not a hint of blame or shame and I did not feel for one moment any negative judgement about who we are as men even though we were all guided to dive deep to tap into our inner world.
After two Blue Wren 'Line in the Sand' programs, I have now committed to helping other families learn how to cultivate and maintain conscious and mindful relationships, and further stay on the path of growth and enlightenment. As member of the Blue Wren Advisory Board, I hope to further these goals.