A workshop brought together a dynamic group of South Sudanese community leaders in Australia to consider ways to build and sustain peace in Africa.

Emerging leaders of the South Sudanese community in Australia are working on a way to secure a long-lasting peace in their African homeland.

A peacebuilding initiative held in Melbourne could be the first step.

South Sudanese Community in Australia Work on Building Peace

In January, the Melbourne School of Government from the University of Melbourne hosted a four-day pilot workshop in collaboration with the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), the Initiatives of Change organisation, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The event brought together a dynamic group of peacebuilders, and emerging community leaders from the South Sudanese community in Australia who are passionate about driving positive and peaceful change.

Charlie Allen, Director of Partnerships at IEP, introduced the Positive Peace framework to the group and its theoretical basis known as “systems thinking”.

Positive Peace defined by IEP, is the attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies. The Positive Peace model, devised by IEP, is a holistic approach to developing peace in any society. It not only reduces violence and the level of grievances, it also provides a model for robust human development.

The eight pillars of the Positive Peace framework interact in complex ways and systems thinking provides an appropriate non-linear theoretical foundation. Systems theory first originated while attempting to better understand the workings of biological systems and organisms, such as cells or the human body. Through such studies, it became clear that understanding the individual parts of a system was inadequate to describe a system as a whole, as systems are much more than the sum of their parts. Applying systems thinking offers an alternative to traditional understanding of change.

Dr Peter Pal, a participant at the workshop and member of the South Sudanese community in Melbourne said that Positive Peace will be useful.

“The Positive Peace framework is very relevant to the situation in South Sudan. It is a framework that makes sense and is easily understandable and very helpful for building sustainable peace,” Dr Pal said.

Over the four-day peacebuilding pilot program, the group discussed peacebuilding opportunities, practices and challenges with Dr Tania Miletic from the Melbourne School of Government, Mr David Nyuol Vincent from the Initiatives of Change group, a representative from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

Dr Santino Deng, another workshop participant, said the analysis and work of IEP is relevant to development and peace.

“The work of the Institute for Economics and Peace is very vital in measuring peace and economic performance of every country. I think every state should take the work of the institute positively and use the assessments and evaluations that it provides to help them improve their economic, peace and development,” Dr Deng said.