By Merv Thomas
Within the past year, CAAN was able to adapt and develop the Community Readiness Assessment and Implement Culturally Appropriate Interventions model and is currently in process of delivering the training to the National Association of Friendship Centres. This model first identifies where the community is at on the Community Readiness Spectrum and in turn should give them a sense of where to begin in terms of implementing risk reduction strategies and activities to address the risks associated with HIV and AIDS.
The following was taken from the Final Evaluation Report by Dave Pranteau.
CAAN has used the Community Readiness Model developed by the Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research housed at the Colorado State University and adapted the model for use in Aboriginal communities. In 2009-2010 fiscal year Assessing Community Readiness project assisted four agencies to assess their stage of readiness focusing on four target groups. The project was very successful and this short-term project aimed to bring this training to two First Nations on-reserve communities. First we plan to engage a First Nation community, which will be, designated the Local Host Agency, who will be responsible for helping the project coordinator establish rapport, trust and cooperation within the local First Nations Community.
In 2010-2011, CAAN piloted community readiness assessments with Aboriginal organizations and First Nation communities. As a result, CAAN documented lessons learned from the pilot projects. What was lacking was capacity to move forward from assessment to planning culturally appropriate intervention approaches and implementing the plans in the communities. Community engagement, momentum, and building trust are key to success.
Community readiness is a concept that recognizes that Aboriginal communities cannot be forced into addressing issues but must be prepared physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It takes into account the broader realities that can make readiness challenging such as colonization, intergenerational trauma, family violence, racism, coping mechanisms i.e. substance abuse, silence and shame. Likewise, communities have their unique strengths and resources that can be assessed and included in a strategy such as traditional beliefs and the wisdom of Elders.
Assessing Community Readiness and Implementing Culturally Appropriate Interventions within Aboriginal Communities 2011– 2012 is a model for community change that integrates its culture, resources and level of readiness to more effectively address an issue, any issue. In this regard, the issue is harm reduction. It brings the community together, builds cooperation and increases its capacity for prevention and intervention.
All communities are unique and therefore are at different stages of willingness and ability to implement harm reduction approaches to address HIV and AIDS prevention. Readiness is “the degree to which a community is prepared to take action on an issue”. Dimensions and stages define the foundational concepts of readiness. A Community Readiness assessment can also bring to light and honour the work that is already being done.
An assessment is designed to help community’s scope out the problem and define it in your own community’s context, help the community take ownership of the problem and increase the community’s capacity to move forward. Best of all, the benefits outweigh the costs; conducting the assessment is straight forward and not resource heavy or time consuming.