• Print this page

Accentuating life

Positive Lifestyle ProgramTerritorial Positive Lifestyle Program (PLP) coordinator/trainer Major Christine Pickens shares some good news about helping others.

The Positive Lifestyle Program (PLP), designed initially for use with people in a justice setting, was introduced from Canada to Australia by Major Ashley Davies decades ago.

PLP has impacted many lives since then, and now has diverse versions, including a group PLP, and modules designed specifically for youth, Aboriginal Australians, African- Australians, and Mandarin- and Korean-speaking Australians.

In the past 12 months (writing in December 2013), 311 people have undertaken a PLP course in the Australia Southern Territory.

While the PLP is Christian in origin, as with the origins of AA, a more-actively ‘Christian’ module is currently being written for corps use, which is tied more explicitly to the Judeo-Christian scriptures.     

Whether it’s dealing with sole or multiple issues, be it self-awareness, depression, stress, anger management, problem solving, loneliness, grief and loss, assertiveness, self-esteem or goal setting, PLP is a proven tool to help people who are in pain. People who are hurting. People who want peace, understanding and coping strategies.

My role is to train people in the use of PLP and to facilitate its implementation and adoption where appropriate and helpful. The PLP material is broad enough to allow people to apply it where the people they are working with ‘are at’; it may be that other corps and social services may look to adapt PLP down the track also for their specific use.

Which bring me to some good news. In the second half of 2013 we had several such adaptations.

Firstly, the mental health unit of Salvos Connect in Geelong, formerly Kardinia, has had its staff trained in both the PLP and the group PLP resources.

Secondly, the CEO of South Australia’s Mount Gambier prison approached me and began a 12-month process of discussion about implementing PLP in that state. We have been invited by Chaplaincy South Australia to train prison chaplains to deliver PLP. Of the seven representatives throughout the state, two are Salvation Army chaplains, the others stem from the Baptists, Catholic, Assemblies of God denominations and traditions. All are happy to utilise helpful Salvation Army material.

In the sector there are different models and ways of treating prisoners. I see the option of introducing PLP as something of a breakthrough. This is especially the case in light of legislation underway in South Australia to ban the smoking of cigarettes in prisons, which while a good policy for health factors may also exacerbate stress, as inmates deal with withdrawal form a highly addictive drug, and mental illness. (A correlation that health authorities have noted is that people working through mental illness have a higher incidence of smoking.)

A third piece of good news from late 2013 is the partnership between three Western Australian churches – Albany Corps, Albany Lighthouse Ministry, and Church of All Nations – to deliver PLP to members of their local communities.

This will be an equal partnership across the board, and the Salvation Army officer will help to coordinate the delivery of the PLP program in the community. We are allowing other Christian denominations and not-for-profits to Access the material and be trained up; it’s good to share what we have. The WA churches have asked me to return for further training in 2014. 

PLP is not an instant answer to people’s pain; it’s a tool for people to help understand life, others and themselves. A TSA worker from Campbelltown (SA) called me to let me know that, after 12 months’ work with an individual, that person was ready to work through the PLP.

Salvation Army chaplain Graeme Hallett, known almost universally as Moose, works at Moorabbin Court and is often asked to supervise students on placement at Kingston Gardens Corps (Vic.). On day, Moose saw someone he’d helped years ago and asked what he was ‘in for’ (the young man had undertaken a court-ordered PLP three years previously).

Now doing a degree, the man wants to contribute to society and help others. That’s a changed life.

That’s the hope and secret of PLP: that change is possible, desirable and achievable.

Download the information