'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 peoples 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.
Society’s health care, social welfare and criminal justice systems do not address the core issue of trauma amongst Indigenous peoples. Rather, they just attempt to manage the symptoms, e.g. by prescribing medications (which often worsen the problem) or incarcerating peoples.
This ‘band-aid’ approach has further disempowered Indigenous peoples and created greater feelings of hopelessness, victimisation and shame. It has contributed to youth suicides, incarcerations and child removals amongst Indigenous people reaching current record levels. Trauma will pass on to another generation.
We have developed Sharing Culture to help Indigenous peoples heal from historical trauma, its consequences, and other adversities. Sharing Culture is based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness.
Our unique initiative is supported by an international network of over thirty Indigenous and non-Indigenous Advisors/Healers, the vast majority of whom are world leading experts in, e.g, Indigenous healing, trauma, addiction and mental health recovery.
The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection. Healing of trauma (and historical trauma), therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the person and the creation of new connections.
Sharing Culture empowers people to heal by giving them hope (that healing is possible), understanding (of the nature of the problem and how it can be overcome) and a sense of belonging. We aim to connect people to safe and supportive environments, where they feel accepted and supported, learn how to improve their health and wellbeing, and gain a positive identity.
Education and storytelling are central to healing. We are developing multi-faceted education and advocacy resources on healing which are based on the lived experience of Indigenous peoples and involve a powerful Indigenous voice. These resources will include an inspiring collection of written and filmed Healing Stories.
Indigenous peoples who have healed from historical trauma and its consequences (the lived solution) have shown great strengths and resilience, as well as the necessary coping mechanisms, skills and knowledge, to rise above adversity. They are role models and their Stories inspire other people and help them understand how they too can overcome their problems.
Our resources will also include Stories of successful Indigenous healing initiatives, to help individuals and communities learn from each other, as well as Cultural Stories that engender pride and facilitate cultural connectedness. We highlight key scientific research that shows how Indigenous peoples heal from historical trauma and its consequences.
An holistic approach to health and wellbeing is key, one which incorporates the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, social and environmental. Indigenous people must connect to their culture, land, spirituality, family, community and history to facilitate healing. Self-determinism is the central foundation of healing.
Our project empowers Indigenous peoples to heal at an individual, family and community level.
However, it mustn’t just be Indigenous peoples who are involved in this healing process. The environment in which we exist impacts on an individual’s health and wellbeing and, therefore, our education resources must also impact on non-Indigenous people. They must become more aware and understanding of Indigenous culture, the factors that influence Indigenous health and wellbeing, and the adverse impact that some government policies have on Indigenous peoples.
We are targeting people working in health, social care and criminal justice systems, young people in schools and higher education establishments, as well as government official and politicians. We aim to help improve care systems and influence policy makers in a way that facilitates the Indigenous healing process, and help reduce the racism and paternalism that exists in society.
We have developed an initial Sharing Culture website which uses the voices of Indigenous peoples to educate people about the healing of trauma, and on which David blogs regularly.
Our initiative has received a strong positive response from leading experts, as evidenced by the international network of Advisors we have brought together and by the fact that leading Indigenous people in Australia want to work with us.
To date, what we achieved has been done with no funding, but we now have to raise sponsorship funding to take this initiative further. The cost-effectiveness of our initiative will be substantial, not least because people will know that healing is possible and understand how it can be achieved.
Sharing Culture will highlight the multitude of ways that society can facilitate the healing of Indigenous peoples and spread these healing messages in innovative ways. It will create a ripple effect of hope and healing amongst Indigenous peoples. Eventually, healing will become contagious.
Our Stories and educational content will be passed on to our audience’s children and grandchildren, ensuring that it facilitates Indigenous healing across generations. Trauma has crossed generations - healing can do the same.
You can read more about Sharing Culture in the following sections:
>> Nature of the Problems
>> Nature of the Solutions
>> Sharing Culture Approach
>> Progress To Date