Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Part 4)

3702998I recently wrote three blogs about my other initiative Sharing Culture – which is focused on the healing of Indigenous people – and what we are trying to do [Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3]. It is time to continue with another part, which will focus on our activities over the past 18 months.

Progress To Date
The first development was the Sharing Culture website, launched in late-2013. We set out with the aim of developing a small website focusing on historical trauma, healing and culture, primarily using the voices of Indigenous people (which is why you see so many quotes) within an organised framework. We wanted our audience to gain a basic understanding of key issues relating to Indigenous healing.

The information (written and film) I provided was obtained from web pages, books, science papers and personal communications. A considerable amount of research, reading and watching of films was involved in bringing this content together. In addition to this content, I included Stories, both of individuals (e.g. Professor Judy Atkinson) and initiatives (e.g. the Native American Wellbriety Movement).

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Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Parts 2 and 3)

42115582. Working towards solutions with Sharing Culture
We developed Sharing Culture as a way to help tackle historical trauma (and its consequences) and facilitate Indigenous healing.

Sharing Culture is a grassroots initiative based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness. We use a strengths-based, solution-focused approach that celebrates success and fosters positivity, acceptance and cultural pride.

We recognise that self-determinism is a central foundation of healing – solutions must come from Indigenous communities. At the same time, non-Indigenous people can contribute to this healing process in a variety of ways.

One major way that Sharing Culture will facilitate this healing process is to generate high quality educational content and Stories about Indigenous healing and the healing of trauma, and distribute it in the most effective manner to as wide an audience as possible.

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Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Part 1)

3702998“Indigenous people possess a gift. This is a gift of healing, strong relationships and a deep connection to land, from a culture that has flourished over many thousands of years.” David Clark and Michael Liu

1. Nature of the Problems
As a result of the historical experiences of colonisation (and associated violence and control), forcible removal of children, and loss of culture and land, Indigenous people of Australia (and other countries) have suffered a trauma that has been passed unwittingly down through the generations.

The consequences of this historical, or intergenerational, trauma include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence and abuse, self-harm and suicide.

Today, the impact of historical trauma is exacerbated by economic and social disadvantage, experiences of racism and paternalism, and ongoing grief resulting from multiple bereavements. It is exacerbated by closing down of remote Indigenous communities, destruction of Indigenous sacred sites, and turning over of Indigenous land to the mining industry.  

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Understanding Indigenous Wellbeing

TristanSchultzArtwork“Indigenous people have a holistic view of health and wellbeing that incorporates the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, scial and environmental. It does not just focus on the individual, but also on the health and wellbeing of the community.”

Indigenous Heath and Wellbeing
To appreciate the many ways that society can facilitate the healing of Indigenous people, we must understand the Indigenous view of health and wellbeing. It is different to that of western culture.

Indigenous people have a holistic view of health and wellbeing that incorporates the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, social and environmental. It does not just focus on the individual, but also on the health and wellbeing of the community.

This view, which has been in existence for tens of thousands of years, is far richer than the western concept of mental health, which comes from an illness or clinical perspective.

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20 Ways To Facilitate Indigenous Healing, Part 2

P4061087-220x1646. The Healing Ritual of Storytelling
Storytelling is a healing ritual amongst Indigenous people.

In a culturally safe environment (e.g. healing circle), Indigenous people can share experiences by telling their Story (which is often a trauma Story), help each other come to terms with the emotional pain caused by what has happened to them in their past, and make sense of their personal story in relationship to the collective, communal Story.

7. Pride in Surviving Colonisation
Learning history from an Indigenous perspective, illustrating how conditions for social and psychological discontent have developed, helps Indigenous people understand why they have problems.

It also shows them that they retain the necessary agency to change their lives for the better. It helps them deal with shame and blame, factors that impact negatively on social and emotional wellbeing.

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20 Ways To Facilitate Indigenous Healing, Part 1

2007_0118walpole01151-220x164Some of you will know I also run the Sharing Culture website, which focuses on Indigenous healing. Today, I thought I would upload the same blog onto both websites. My action reflects the importance I attach to this area.

Society has the knowledge to facilitate Indigenous healing. This knowledge comes from individuals who have overcome great adversity and undergone a healing process (the lived solution); successful Indigenous healing initiatives, and scientific research demonstrating key principles underlying healing.

Sadly, however, this knowledge is neither disseminated well, nor implemented enough by government and health care, social welfare and criminal justice systems. As a result, society is not helping Indigenous people improve their health and wellbeing to the level it should.

In this and forthcoming blogs, I shall briefly describe 20 ways to facilitate Indigenous healing. Here are the first five.

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Merry Xmas… and some words of Native American wisdom

IMG_0142I’m going to take some time off, so this is my last blog until the New Year. I’d therefore like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and relaxing Christmas break and all the best for 2015.

I hope you’ve found this website of some value. If you haven’t already done so, you might like to visit my other website, Sharing Culture, which is a part of an initiative focused on Indigenous healing I have developed with filmmaker Michael Liu.

I’d like to end this year with some pearls of wisdom written by Don Coyhis on the basis of what he was told be a Native American Elder in New Mexico:

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Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People

4323131_origSince moving to Australia, I’ve become increasingly saddened, concerned and angered by the way that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are treated by many non-Indigenous people (including government). As a friend said the other day, it has to be seen to be believed.

The damage that has been done to Indigenous people here (and in other countries) as a result of colonisation is huge and it continues today. It is a great demonstration of the resilience of Indigenous people that they have survived.

I’ve decided to devote most of my time from now on to working with Indigenous people. I’ll be running this website and working on recovery-related projects.

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Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing

imagesIndigenous people have a holistic view of health that incorporates the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, social and environmental.

It includes healing oneself and relationships with others, such as family and community members. It recognises the importance of connecting to land, culture, spirituality and history, as well as the importance of bonds of reciprocal affection, responsibility and caring.

The Indigenous view of health people also recognises the importance of healing the community, rather than just focusing on the individual.

Indigenous people focus on social and emotional wellbeing, rather than on mental health. They view social and emotional wellbeing problems arising from a broad range of circumstances – unresolved grief and loss, trauma and abuse, domestic violence, removal from family, substance misuse, family breakdown, cultural dislocation, loss of land, racism and discrimination, and social disadvantage.

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Balunu Foundation Cultural Healing Program

I love the look of this healing programme in northern Australia.

‘The Balunu Foundation Cultural Healing program delivers cultural healing programs to many at risk youth. The healing retreat and program are located in Darwin, NT and youth have attended the program from all over Australia.

Although the program was established to help address the many challenges faced by Indigenous youth, it has had as great an impact with non-Indigenous youth who have attended the program.

Balunu adopts a holistic and culturally appropriate approach to strengthening the youth with a major focus on suicide prevention, substance abuse, emotional, mental and physical trauma, intergenerational trauma, family disruption, homelessness, crime and education.

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Sharing Culture

rsz_img_2891Please check out my new website, Sharing Culture, which focuses on Aboriginal healing. Here is what we say on our home page:

What is Sharing Culture?
Sharing Culture is a unique initiative to empower Aboriginal people to heal and develop resilience to historical trauma and its consequences. These consequences include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, abuse  and suicide.  

Sharing Culture is based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness.

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Sharing Culture: Healing Historical Trauma

Yesterday, I began promoting a new website that I have launched with two colleagues, Professor Marion Kickett and Perth filmmmaker Michael Liu. Here is what we have said on the home page of the website:

‘What is Sharing Culture?
Sharing Culture is a unique initiative to empower Aboriginal people to heal and develop resilience to historical trauma and its consequences. These consequences include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, abuse  and suicide.  

Sharing Culture is based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness.

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Promoting community led solutions to indigenous youth suicide

I have just received the email below. Last week, I attended an aboriginal healing retreat and had spiritual experiences that confirmed my commitment to helping the Indigenous people of Australia tackle addiction and mental health problems and other consequences of historical trauma.

This email reminds me of the scale of the problem. The video touched my inner soul. I am so happy I have made this commitment. I know the journey ahead is a long one.

Please support this cause, first by sending this blog and the website link out to as many people as possible. Thank you.

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