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Community engagement

Department of Psychology

During the period under review, the Department of Psychology was involved in the following CE activities:

1.    Capacity development in township schools project

This project is run in partnership with the Education and Research Foundation (ERF) and aims to empower township learners to attain their utmost potential and thus to improve their overall academic performance.  The approach used is holistic in nature as it encompasses the learner’s intellectual, psychological and social functioning as embedded within broader communities and contexts. The department of psychology’s involvement includes:  a) Working with learners and teachers to enhance personal growth and social skills development. b) Facilitating the process of introducing the ERF programme to additional communities. Envisaged research outputs include an implementation guidelines document and peer-reviewed journal articles describing the process.

2.    Victim empowerment project

The Centre for Applied Psychology, in collaboration with a team of consultants recently completed a baseline study of the South African Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP), spanning ten years of service provision. The VEP Programme is well established and currently focused on consolidation of sector knowledge and collaboration of services. The main objective is establishing an accessible community based directory of services for the public and service providers alike. In order to achieve this aim the Centre draws on established relationships with the South African national, provincial, and local government, as well as Civil Society Organisations

3.    The Marc Room project

This project aims to develop an online system to facilitate collaborative work in the community of students, former students, lecturers and practitioners associated with the MA (Research Consultation) programme. The system will formalize and facilitate various forms of interaction within this community, including practical placements in industry for students, collaborative research projects involving practitioners, lecturers and students, and the establishment of mentoring relationships. Envisaged academic outputs include a reflective workshop/conference and an edited book.

4.    Minority sexuality project

This project is concerned with the empowerment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and communities, by applying the principles and techniques of community psychology. We are in the final stages of a study being conducted in the North-West province, collaborating with OUT LGBT-Wellbeing and Gay Umbrella, a community based organisation concerned with LGBT issues in that province. This study will establish the levels of empowerment of LGBT persons in this province as well as what their needs are in terms of establishing and strengthening their community. Simultaneously we are developing a proposal for a similar study to be conducted in Botswana, in collaboration with the University of Botswana and LeGaBiBo, a community based LGBT organisation.

5.    Bataki ba Tswhane project

This project aims to provide support for local artists and to explore the psychological dimensions of their work. Members of the department provide logistical support to the group, including helping to organize exhibitions. They also collect information from them on how to interpret their work, as well as their views of their lives as artists, pre- and post apartheid. Future plans include an exhibition at Unisa and a website.

6.    Hate crimes project

The Centre for Applied Psychology is a member of a multidisciplinary workgroup that was established to address the paucity of data on the prevalence, nature and psychological impact of hate crimes on individuals and society. Other organisations that form part of the workgroup are the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, OUT, Amnesty International, WITS, The Scalabrini Centre, Lawyers for Human Rights, Human Rights Commission, POWA and TLAC The workgroup is striving towards meeting international standards of reporting hate crimes, and informing legislation and policy to ensure that hate crimes are dealt with effectively. The Centre is responsible for developing a questionnaire about hate crimes and for training service providers.

7.    Family advocate support project

Clinical psychology students and lecturers assist the family advocate on a weekly basis in determining child residency. According to the new child Act, both parents have shared care and responsibility for the child, but the child’s residency still has to be determined. The department assists in this regard by providing recommendations in the form of reports.  We are also developing a project that will assist in providing training to family counsellors regarding parental access to children of different age groups. Research outputs are in the form of MA dissertations.

8.    Cleft palate support group project

The department provides support and training on a bi-weekly basis to parents with children who are born with cleft lips and palates. The parents are trained to become supporters of other parents within a support group. Research outputs are in the form of MA dissertations