"Grounding healing in Indigenous culture is another important aspect which distinguishes Indigenous healing from other forms of social and emotional wellbeing. This can mean connecting to traditional Indigenous spiritual stories, practices that form traditional law and connection to country, as well as locating the healing process within the Indigenous history and context."
Social Justice Report, 2008, Australian Human Rights Commission
Healing and trauma
"Indigenous concepts of healing are based on addressing the relationship between the spiritual, emotional and physical in a holistic manner. An essential element of Indigenous healing is recognising the interconnections between, and effects of, violence, social and economic disadvantage, racism and dispossession from land and culture on Indigenous peoples, families and communities.
An even simpler definition is borrowed from the Canadian and Native American experience but resonates with the Australian Indigenous experience: Healing is a ‘spiritual process that includes therapeutic change and cultural renewal’.
Both of these definitions include a spiritual aspect as well as a strong cultural aspect. Spirituality is largely outside the dominant paradigm of policy makers and funding bodies in Australia, yet it is an intrinsic part of healing. Perhaps this is part of the misunderstanding and reticence of government to truly engage with Indigenous healing programs.
Without getting into a metaphysical debate, spirituality is central to healing because it is a way of expressing and accessing the deepest part of the self that has suffered and needs to be made whole again. As Professor Judy Atkinson explains:
People don’t come to me and say they want social or emotional well being or mental health. They say they want healing, they need something deeper that connects with their spirit.
Grounding healing in Indigenous culture is another important aspect which distinguishes Indigenous healing from other forms of social and emotional wellbeing. This can mean connecting to traditional Indigenous spiritual stories, practices that form traditional law and connection to country, as well as locating the healing process within the Indigenous history and context.
Indigenous healing, combined with its spiritual and cultural elements is about promoting wholeness and connection to move beyond the impact of the harms. As Gregory Phillips argues:
Healing is a process, it is not just a strategy and a nice formula of a funding program.
Healing is a spiritual process that includes recovery from addiction, therapeutic change and cultural renewal. It can’t just be one, it must be all of those things.
However, what is striking about the definitions above is how healing is different from health services, housing, aged care, or family support. These are crucial services that can help establish the foundation for healing to take place and support people during the healing process, but they are not healing in and of themselves.
Similarly, unless healing services reach the crux of therapeutic change and cultural renewal, they will not achieve their aims and could be construed as a rather cynical attempt to re-badge basic entitlements. Primary health care, housing, aged care and family support are basic services and opportunities that all Australians should be entitled to." Social Justice Report, 2008
Who needs healing?
Some of the paragraphs below are repeated from an earlier page, but I make no excuses for this as they contain such important statements [DC].
"The theory of intergenerational transmission of trauma; the findings of major reports like Bringing them home; the daily realities of abuse, suicide and mental illness, alcohol and substance abuse and sky rocketing incarceration rates among Indigenous communities, all point to the imperative for community wide healing. All Indigenous peoples have been touched by trauma in some way. All Indigenous peoples deserve the opportunity to work through this trauma to heal...
... There are good reasons for supporting dedicated services for Stolen Generations. However, if we are serious about healing, it cannot stop with the Stolen Generations, because the trauma does not stop with the Stolen Generations. We have learnt that tightly targeted specialist services like Bringing Them Home counsellors barely scratch the surface of need and have their excellent work undermined when clients are faced with partners, families and communities who also need healing.
The challenge is to develop inclusive and holistic healing approaches that have to capacity to assist members of the Stolen Generations, as well as their families and communities.
Finally, healing is not just about Indigenous peoples. Healing is part of reconciliation. It is not about attributing blame or a 'black arm band' view of history but honestly facing up to the mistakes of the past and acknowledging our shared history and shared future. The National Apology was an important step in recognition, healing and reconciliation. In his Sydney Peace Prize lecture, Patrick Dodson, one of the leaders of the reconciliation movement in Australia stated:
With the National Apology the nation has been given a wonderful opportunity to begin to make justice possible not only for the Aboriginal people but for all the people of this nation. Justice denied one group within the nation is a diminishment of us all and the nation will remain diminished until the wrong is righted. 
Commentators such as Gregory Phillips have noted the need for a truth and reconciliation process, similar to South Africa or Canada. This would enable both perpetrators and survivors of the forced removal policies to share their stories, and generate wide community acknowledgement for trauma and harm that occurred. This could be an important aspect of non-Indigenous healing, moving towards reconciliation.
Broader Australian society must also deal with questions around history, identity and justice to heal. This means coming to terms with past policies but also current policies to ensure the mistakes of the past are never repeated and Indigenous peoples have equal life chances." Social Justice Report, 2008
> What is Healing to Me?