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.
A major foundation of our approach is based on highlighting and utilising the strengths and assets of Indigenous people and their culture.
Large numbers of Indigenous people live happy and successful lives, many of whom have healed from historical trauma and its consequences. They have shown great strengths and resilience, as well as the necessary coping mechanisms, skills and knowledge, to rise above adversity.
These people are the lived solution, the role models who Sharing Culture will work with to help inspire and teach other Indigenous people to heal. Their Healing Stories need to be told and widely distributed.
Sharing Culture also highlights the humane and holistic view of Indigenous health that incorporates the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, social and environmental.
This view, which has been in existence for tens of thousands of years, is far richer than the western view of mental health. The indigenous view focuses on ‘wellness’ rather than ‘illness’, ‘social and emotional wellbeing’ rather than ‘mental health’, ‘balance and harmony’ rather than ‘restoration of function only’, a ‘strengths’ approach rather than ‘reducing risks’, and a ‘collective’ rather than ‘individualistic’ approach.
Importantly, western-based scientific research is only just now recognising the key importance of factors like ‘relationships’, ‘self-determination’ and ‘Stories’ in underlying healing and recovery, factors that Indigenous cultures have known for many thousands of years.
Indigenous people have a diverse range of healing approaches that help heal historical trauma and its consequences. Some of these, such as the culturally-based Native American Wellbriety Movement, are impacting positively on many thousands of people’s lives.
However, far too few Indigenous healing initiatives receive adequate financial support from government. For example, the inspirational research of Professor Judy Atkinson in Australia has led to development of the highly effective We Al-li healing programme for helping people heal from historical trauma, which would have a major impact if it received adequate support.
Moreover, there is far too little communication across Indigenous communities about successful healing programs.
Sharing Culture will help change this situation, by developing an education resource and information network to ensure that communities across Australia (and further afield) learn from each other.
We will create an advocacy campaign that helps healing initiatives promote themselves and be better able to attract funding.
We will help western culture learn from Indigenous healing practices; people must be able to benefit from both western and Indigenous worldviews and practices.
>> Part 3