Listening Circles began in 2012 when a small group of people sensed the deep silence in the Catholic Church when it came to talking about child sexual abuse within the church. Since that time thousands of people in Australia and the USA have experienced how this form of listening and speaking can provide a safe space where all voices are heard.
WHAT ARE LISTENING CIRCLES?
Listening Circles provide time, a safe space and an authentic audience where the voices of those who have been impacted by the sexual abuse crisis within the Catholic Church.
Listening Circles are restorative in nature and they provide time, space and an authentic audience for the voice of those who have been impacted in some way by this crisis.
The created space must be both sacred and safe. The voice of the process says, ‘we all care’ and ‘you matter’. The process has agreements that guide interactions. The agreements are transparent and help establish and maintain respect and equity.
Listening Circles are NOT occasions for discussion or debate or decision making. Within this domain, there are no attempts to solve problems or to level blame.
Lead Facilitators to be Male and Female (Recommended)
They will be fully trained with an understanding and an awareness of the whole Listening Circle process and the nature of the sexual abuse crisis as they work with the community.
Small Group Facilitators
Leads small groups of six persons
Guides the listening process using the script and the talking ball
Lead Sharing Duo
One Male and One Female share with all those attending the Listening Circle process – How they have been impacted by the sexual abuse crisis within institutions and in other settings.
Prior to beginning the sharings in the groups, the Small Group Facilitator requests that a volunteer in the groups acts as a scribe. Scribes will record the themes as they are being expressed during the small group sharings. Scribes will feed back their recorded themes for agreement from the small group. No confidential information is shared by the Scribe. These themes will be shared by either the Facilitator or the Scribe with the whole group during the plenary.
This person is one of the Lead Facilitators who continually observes and moves around the circles as appropriate and is available to the Small Group Facilitator or anyone in need. The Roaming Observer may call on the counsellor for support if required.
Each facilitator will have a small spongy Talking Ball. This ball will be handed to the person who agrees to share first. The ball is then passed IN SEQUENCE AROUND THE CIRCLE as each person holds it to speak. While each person holds the ball to speak – No Other Person in the Circle Will Speak. This is to ensure each person is free to speak without fear of being interrupted or needing to explain themselves.