LESSONS healing from grief in the wake of Rwandan genocide could help those grappling with their own loss, a man who helped pioneer approaches in Africa.
Those insights are especially important as many Australians deal with traumatic events ranging from bushfires to family violence and suicide, former aid worker John Steward says.
The author and consultant will come to Bendigo to share lessons in hope next Tuesday.
His talk will take place as the Bendigo Soldiers Memorial Institute exhibits Changed Forever: Legacies of Conflict, which delves into the affect of conflict on veterans and refugees.
"Those stories have so many similarities and connections with those from Rwanda, which is where my focus has been over the last 20 years," he said.
All three groups have been through difficult times, all survived when others were not so fortunate, Dr Steward said.
"These are people who are aware of a disruption and change in their lives. Things have happened for them which mean they can't come back to that thing they once thought of as normality," he said.
"All those three groups have required assistance - whether through counselling or small group processes - to process that and when they go through that kind of work hope takes time to emerge."
Mr Steward encouraged everyone in Bendigo to go to the exhibition and said experiences of those he had worked with in Rwanda could people heal after traumatic events in their own lives.
The former World Vision worker and his wife arrived in Rwanda in 1997, three years after Hutu extremists killed 800,000 people in 100 days.
That genocide, the following war and revenge attacks left people fearful, dislocated and struggling. The Stewards helped recovering communities by helping them create space to heal.
"World Vision wanted someone to go and find out what could be done in terms of peace and change," Dr Steward said.
"They felt they could do all their other good things in Rwanda but if conflict broke out again it would all be destroyed overnight."
The eventual approach was to help people find peace through approaches developed in both Rwanda and South Africa.
It helped people from both sides of the conflict who were still raw with fear, separated from their old communities and struggling with what they had experienced.
"Those experiences and processes worked in Rwanda but they are, I believe, are human processes, for human beings to change," Dr Steward said.
He will outline the approach on Thursday and introduce both a new book and a free study guide for groups of three or more people to do over 10 weeks.
"In the end, the message I want to give at the talk is that small groups of people can get together with a copy of the book and study guide themselves and can gain a lot out of the things they discuss," Mr Steward said.
His free talk takes place from 4.30pm at the La Trobe Art Institute in View Street.
The Changed Forever exhibition continues at the Memorial Institute until 22 March.