"Here on country, we give them a safe place to let the pain out. We give them a safe place to talk through the problems, to work through the confusion. This way, they can understand where they are, where they want to be and how they can get there. That’s what this healing program is all about…"
‘The healing circle is where we spend most of our time. It’s the place where we do our talking and listening, where the kids can be heard. It’s where we sit and express our problems and ourselves. It’s where we let things go. It’s where we share our knowledge.
It’s a safe place, a powerful place. The kids respect us when they come and sit here. Most of the time we create a fun, happy environment. The more they laugh, the better it is for them.
The deeper purpose is cultural connection. We give the kids a chance to deal with their trauma, their pain, their challenges and all the stuff that’s happening in their lives. It’s also a chance for them to reconnect and remember who they are on a deeper level.
It’s a place to let go of problems and pain, to let go of the challenges they have. It’s a place to clear their mind so they can work out what’s happening in their life, where they are going and how they going to get there…’
‘The kids are caught in two worlds. Many of them understand that culture is important, but they live in this Western world, which is about education, employment, and monetary things. A lot of the young ones sit in a state of confusion.
Then we have the intergenerational trauma. Most of them don’t understand why they have to go through this, many of them self-medicate. They turn to gunja and grog to manage the pain or the confusion.
At the end of the day, too many of our young people take their lives to escape the pain. That is the sad reality of what we are dealing with…’
‘Here on country, we give them a safe place to let the pain out. We give them a safe place to talk through the problems, to work through the confusion. This way, they can understand where they are, where they want to be and how they can get there. That’s what this healing program is all about…’
‘Not enough resources are being committed to this area. We need to take action now. Things need to move quickly. We cannot sit around talking for the next 10 years. We will lose too many young people.
I think we are seeing a continual rise in suicide rates because we are not seeing community based solutions being supported adequately in remote and urban areas. We need culturally appropriate suicide prevention programs, which are developed by Indigenous communities.
Until we have these programs in place, until Indigenous people are given the right and opportunity to implement the solutions they know will work, we are going to see suicide rates increase.
‘The Elders are the most critical part of the program for healing – especially the Elders who hold Lore because the greatest healing aspect of our program is culture.
Getting someone to reconnect with who they truly are is the basis for building self-belief, self-confidence and self-respect.
The Elders are the most important part of this healing process. Without their knowledge we cannot reconnect the kids to who they truly are.
We cannot give them that link to identity, to culture. The Elders are the ones who hold on to the culture and the Lore. They are the most important part of the healing process for our people…’
‘Our program is a community-based, grassroots developed and culturally appropriate. Some bureaucracies struggle to understand how this fits into their boxes. We need to bridge that misunderstanding. It’s the same vision just a different language.
Once they can understand the importance of doing this properly through community and through culturally appropriate programs then we can start to move forward together.
Many resources are allocated to address the issues confronted by Indigenous people across this country. The reality is these resources create a whole industry that rides on our suffering and fails to achieve the outcomes required to end our pain.
Until those resources reach the grass roots, the situation is never going to get better. We need ensure accountability for the resources allocated to address the issues we face, because right now they are failing. Right now we are being blamed for that failure when we have no control over the process.’ David Cole, Central Desert, Northern Territory
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