Upper Hume Primary Care Partnership has now completed its inaugural season of ‘A Conversation hour’, which brought together people from across the Ovens Murray and beyond to explore ideas that matter. Hosted each week by Dr Kathleen Brasher, each online discussion featured two or more guest speakers with input invited from participants via chat or video/audio. The winter season of ‘A Conversation Hour’ began in late April and continued until the end of August 2020, spanning 18 sessions. Below are the recordings of most of the sessions, along with details of resources mentioned in each session. 

If any of these sessions have raised issues for you, please contact Lifeline on 131 114. Lifeline provides 24- hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.

Week 18: The consolations of art

In our final session Dr Kathleen Brasher chatted with musician Pete Denahy and Liz Zito, director of partnerships at Regional Arts Victoria, about artand the consolations it can and has provided over the last few months (Thur 27 Aug).

Resources mentioned

  • Regional Arts Victoria—Liz welcomes listeners to visit the website if they would like to keep in contact or talk about funding, noting there’s funding specifically available for North East Victoria at the moment.
  • de Botton, A.  & Armstrong, J. (2013). Art as Therapy. Phaidon Press.

Week 17: Community engagement—more than tea and biscuits?

In this session, Dr Kathleen Brasher talked community engagement with Liz Hare and Jill Craig, both members of the Albury Wodonga Diabetes Support Group and active participants in providing the perspective of community as UHPCP Consumer Partners. Also joining the conversation was Tricia Hazeleger (UHPCP and Ovens Murray–Family Violence Partnership) and Jodie Farrugia (Albury-Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council). Both Tricia and Jodie are long-time enablers of communities and consumers being engaged and contributing to a range of initiatives (20 August 2020).

Resources mentioned

  • Making Sense of Engagement and Participation (adapted International Association of Public Participation IAP2 Spectrum)—This diagram illustrates how the participation purpose determines the methods used to increase impact on a decision. 
  • Appreciative Inquiry—This adapted diagram shows how Appreciative Inquiry can be used to build relationships for change. 

Week 16: Becoming a different man

The incidence of family violence (FV) is of massive concern for our communities. Whilst there are female perpetrators, the majority are men. Led by Dr Kathleen Brasher, this discussion covered the work being undertaken to prevent men being violent against women, and how men can, must and do change their behaviour. Guests include Stephen Montgomery, Men’s Behavioural Change Coordinator\facilitator at Gateway Health as well as Coordinator—Family Violence Prevention for the Upper Hume Primary Care Partnership, and Rachel McKay, Training Coordinator at Women’s Health Goulburn North East (13 August 2020).

If you need someone to talk to, call:

  • Police Assistance Line on 131 444—Victoria Police provides a 24-hour police assistance phone line and online reporting service (non-urgent crimes and events)
  • 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 (operates 24/7)—National helpline and online chat/advice for people to speak with a trained counsellor. Supports people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse
  • Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre on 1800 015 188 or email safesteps@safesteps.org.au—Victoria’s 24/7 FV response service for women and children. Helpline and online chat. Call to speak to a FV support worker.
  • Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 (operates 24/7)—Helpline and online chat. Provides help and support for men concerned about their own behaviour or people concerned about the behaviour of the men in their lives. Referrals can be provided to local services including men’s behaviour change programs; in the event of waiting lists, men are encouraged to continue to use the referral service as a source of support.
  • MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78 (operates 24/7)—Helpline, online chat and video chat. A national support, information and referral service for men across Australia, specialising in family and relationship concerns

For additional support hotline numbers, visit the AlburyCity website. ​

If you need to talk to someone about local services and programs, call:

  • Centre Against Violence on (03) 5722 2203 (business hours) or call safe steps on 1800 015 188 (after hours). For crisis support and accommodation for clients at risk of serious harm from FV or sexual assault and for clients living in refuges and emergency accommodation. Also provides FV counselling and support. Operates in Wangaratta and Wodonga plus provides outreach to rural areas.
  • Gateway Health on (02) 6022 8888—Various counselling and support services including Men’s Behaviour Change groups. Operates in Wangaratta and Wodonga plus provides outreach to rural areas.

To find out about additional local services near you and programs, visit:

Resources mentioned

Gender & Disaster Pod (GAD Pod) was established to promote an understanding of the role played by gender in survivor responses to natural disaster, and to embed these insights into emergency management practice. It is an initiative of Women’s Health Goulburn North East and Women’s Health In the North—in partnership with the Monash University Disaster Resilience Initiative.

Week 15: The new Local Government Act

The new Local Government Act 2020 is the most ambitious reform to local government in over 30 years. The Act seeks to improve local government democracy, accountability and service delivery for all Victorians. The first principle of the new Act is Community Engagement. In this session, Dr Kathleen Brasher chatted with Cr Mary-Ann Brown, Chair of Rural Councils Victoria, and Kate McRae and Karina Bonnitcha, both from Projectura, about what this means for all of us (6 August 2020).

Resources mentioned

McRae, K. & Bonnitcha, K. (2020). Community Engagement: A guide to community engagement in rural and regional Victoria. Rural Councils Victoria.

Published in August 2020, this Community Engagement Toolkit has been developed to support rural councils as they adapt to changes initiated in the Local Government Act 2020.

Week 14: What makes a story historically significant?

In this session, Dr Kathleen Brasher talked with Ashleigh Giffney, Collections Manager from the Bourke Museum, Indigo Shire; and Trevor Matthews from the Yackandandah Historical Society (Thur 30 July). Listen in and find out more about Memory Bank, being run by State Library Victoria to archive what everyday life in Victoria is actually like now, during this time of collective isolation. Also mentioned was Significance 2.0, a guide used to determine the significance of cultural and heritage objects. And what is The Dictionary of Lost Words? 

Week 13: Bringing about change: the role of power & leadership

Would you like to find out more about community builders versus community leaders, and the concept of shared leadership as opposed to elected leadership? Do you agree that the role of local government is not to service the community but to strengthen the community? Has your local government performed an asset audit of your local commmunity? Find out more in this discussion between Dr Kathleen Brasher, Cr Jenny O’Connor, Mayor of Indigo Shire Council; and Mr Peter Kenyon, founder and Director of the Bank of IDEAS, an international community and economic development consultancy (23 July 2020)

Week 12: Healthy land, healthy communities

Dr Kathleen Brasher looked at the health of land and its relationship with healthy communities with Mr Lachlan Campbell (Catchment Coordinator, Regional Landcare Facilitator—Agriculture, North East Catchment Management Authority) and Mr Paul Dahlenburg (Winemaker—Eldorado Road, and Baileys of Glenrowan) (16 July 2020).

Resources mentioned

  • Woinarski, J. & Lewis, D. (2017). My country, our Outback: voices from the land on hope and change in Australia’s heartland: A report from the PEW Charitable Trusts. The Pew Charitable Trusts: Maleny, Queensland.

Week 11: Social connection and loneliness

In this session, Dr Kathleen Brasher discussed social inclusion and social connection with Professor Jane Farmer, Director, Social Innovation Research Institute, Swinburne University of Technology; and Ms Sophie Rhys, Engagement and Participation Coordinator, UHPCP (9 July 2020).

Resources mentioned: Professor Deborah Warr

Resources mentioned: Professor Jane Farmer

  • Staff Profile: Professor Jane Farmer
  • Swinburne Social Innovation Research Institute (2018). Healthy Social Connections. Swinburne Social Innovation Research Institute.
  • Model of Social Connection infographic
  • impact2020 Webinar Seven: Activating social connectedness—What, why and how during COVID-19: Professor Jane Farmer from the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne and Ebony Gaylor from the Australian Red Cross presented this evidence-informed webinar, harnessing multiple disciplines to show how complex, yet simply fundamental social connection is—and how to make more of it happen.
  • Carolyn Wallace’s work on community connectors—This framework illustrates how health and community care professionals can tap into the boundary spanning activities of ‘community connectors’ to improve access to health and community services.
  • LinkedIn group ‘Advancing Social Connection’ via Jane Farmer’s LinkedIn
  • Farmer, Jane., Jovanovski, N., De Cotta, T., Gaylor, E., Panah, A. S., Jones, H., & Farmer, Joanna. (2019). Healthy social connections: A multi-disciplinary exploration. Social Innovation Research Institute, Swinburne University of Technology. This review explores the relevance of social connection to contemporary discussions of social isolation and loneliness and produces a practical tool for considering social connectedness.
  • Farmer, J., Gaylor, E., De Cotta, T., Panah, A. S., Jovanovski, N., Adler, V., & Knox, J. (2018). Healthy social connections: briefing paper. Social Innovation Research Institute, Swinburne University of Technology. The Social Connection model reflects key aspects of social connection that have been raised by a diverse body of research and acknowledges the changing nature of contemporary social life.
  • Wilson, S., Sivasubramaniam, D., Farmer, J., Aryani, A., De Cotta, T., Kamstra, P., Adler, V., Knox, J. (Everyday humanitarianism during the 2019/2020 Australian bushfire crisis. Social Innovation Research Institute, Swinburne University of Technology.

Week 10: Living locally post-COVID

In this session, we talked about the idea of what makes for good local communities—both their built environments and their social environments—as that local community space has now become more important to us in the time of COVID-19. What is it about our local community that can keep us healthy if most of our living is going to be local for quite some time? Dr Kathleen Brasher heard from our returning conversationalist Dr Rachel Winterton, rural ageing researcher at La Trobe University with the John Richards Centre, along with Dr Melanie Davern, Director of the Australian Urban Observatory and CoDirector of Healthy Liveable Cities at RMIT University (2 July 2020).

Resources mentioned

The two books Kathleen mentioned were both by Richard Sennett: Building and Dwelling (2018), on the relation of urban design to urban life, and an early book, Flesh and Stone (1996), which gives a wonderful, captivating overview of the design of cities from ancient to modern times.

Week 9: How big are the holes in the World Wide Web?

So much of our world is now online and it can be life changing for many people when they make a step forward in relation to accessing technology. However, what happens if that online environment, for a whole lot of reasons, doesn’t work well for you? Dr Kathleen Brasher explores why an increase in digital inclusion needs to be a whole-of-community effort with Jess Perrin, Head of Social Innovation and Digital Inclusion at Infoxchange, a not-for-profit social enterprise, and Amanda Aldous, Coordinator at Wangaratta Digital Hub (25 June 2020).

Resources mentioned

  • An example of a hi-tech coach is that used by Tim Gentle, founder of Think Digital, who facilitated free digital marketing workshops in a 14-metre coach in Tallangatta, Corryong and Mitta Mitta in late 2018. The workshops were part of the Think-Start-Grow program in Towong Shire.

Week 8: Providing health and social care during the pandemic

Social gerontologist Dr Kathleen Brasher led a discussion on providing health and social care during the pandemic with Mr Mark Ashcroft, CEO of Beechworth Health Service, and Ms Jacki Eckert, General Manager, Population Health Planning and Performance, at Gateway Health (18 June 2020).

Who gets invited to sit around our campfires, and who gets left out? Whose story shapes the stories told around our campfires, and what stories are not permitted to be told? Kathleen Brasher led this discussion by quoting American author Ursula Le Guin: ‘Why are we huddling about the campfire? Why do we tell tales, or tales about tales—why do we bear witness, true or false? We may ask Aneirin, or Primo Levi, we may ask Scheherazade, or Virginia Woolf. Is it because we are so organized as to take actions that prevent our dissolution into the surroundings?’

Ms Amanda Kelly, CEO of Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE), and Mr Errol Obran, youth worker at Corryong Neighbourhood Centre, discussed with Dr Kathleen Brasher the value of collecting stories and how communities can draw on a diversity of voices to forge new paths forward (11 June 2020).

Resources mentioned

  • Le Guin, Ursula K. (1981). It was a dark and stormy night; or, why are we huddling about the campfire? In On narrative. W.J.T. Mitchell, ed. pp. 187-96. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
  • WHGNE is currently collecting stories about how COVID-19 has impacted people in the Goulburn Valley and North East Victoria. Women, men and gender-diverse people are invited to share their story as part of the Reflections from a Distance project—lodge your response here.

Week 6: How can we ensure resilience continues to matter?

Dr Kathleen Brasher once again spoke with Ms Sarah Crosthwaite (Community Resilience Co-ordinator, UHPCP), along with Mr Paul Ryan (Australian Resilience Centre), who has recently presented a Resilience webinar series for community members on behalf of the Goulburn Broken CMA. This session, held on 4 June 2020, extended some of the themes commenced in last week’s session, building on the comment made by Michelle Dunscombe (Fire Foxes Australia, Kinglake)—‘I’m over resilience’.

Resources mentioned

  • Penny’s book reference: Gelfand, Michele J. (2018). Rule Makers, Rule Breakers—How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World. Scribner
  • Penny’s radio reference: Sana Qadar. (9 June 2019). ‘The power of social norms—rules to make or break?’ In D. Dean (Producer), All In The Mind. Australia: ABC Radio National.

Week 5: Authentic disaster recovery and post-traumatic growth

Dr Kathleen Brasher discussed ‘Authentic disaster recovery and post-traumatic growth’ with Michelle Dunscombe (the Fire Foxes, Kinglake) and Sarah Crosthwaite (Community Resilience Co-ordinator, UHPCP) (28 May 2020).

Resources mentioned

  • Michelle’s Ted Talk reference: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! (16 minutes): ‘When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. He proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you’re trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit.’
  • A short video on empathy from RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce): Brené Brown on Empathy (3 minutes)

Week 4: Community Wellbeing in a Post-COVID World

Dr Kathleen Brasher discussed ‘Community Wellbeing in a Post-COVID World’ with Dr Rachel Winterton, Senior Research Fellow at the John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing, La Trobe University, and Dr Geoffrey Woolcock, Research Fellow (Regional Community Development) at the University of Southern Queensland (21 May 2020).

Resources mentioned

Week 3: Working in a different way

Dr Alana Hulme (Department of Health and Human Services) joined Ms Brydie Donnelly (UHPCP) and Dr Kathleen Brasher to discuss ‘Working in a different way’ (14 May 2020).


Week 2: Virtual meetings—pitfalls and challenges

Dr Kathleen Brasher hosted a discussion of virtual meetings—and their pitfalls and challenges—with staff from Charles Sturt University, leaders in this space for some time (7 May 2020).

Resources mentioned

Prof. Katharine Hayhoe’s advice on giving virtual presentations—via Twitter thread

Week 1: An Age-Friendly Approach to Disaster Recovery

At our very first ‘A Conversation hour’, on 30 April 2020, Dr Kathleen Brasher and Ms Loretta Carroll discussed ‘An Age-Friendly Approach to Disaster Recovery’. Launched in April 2020 by Helen Haines MP, this report was prepared by the collaborative partnership of Age-Friendly Northeast Victoria and Dr Kathleen Brasher.

Resources mentioned

Brasher, K. (2020). An Age-Friendly Approach to Disaster Recovery. Central Hume Primary Care Partnership.