Healing past hurts to move forward

ADDRESSING ISSUES: Encouraging a strong cultural identity within the Clarence Aboriginal community is an important part of the healing process.
ADDRESSING ISSUES: Encouraging a strong cultural identity within the Clarence Aboriginal community is an important part of the healing process. Adam Hourigan

A COUPLE of weeks ago in an article regarding the Apology to the Stolen Generation, I briefly talked about the centre I coordinate - the Clarence Valley Aboriginal Healing Centre, a service of Gurehlgam Corp.

This week I'd like to tell you a little bit more about our centre and some of the upcoming projects and events that we will be involved in.

Firstly, I want to talk about an event that we held last December - the Clarence Valley Aboriginal healing forum. This forum was one of five healing forums held around NSW. Our forum gave Aboriginal community members the opportunity to discuss issues of concern and to create strategies to address these problems. So why would these healing forums be able to provide answers when many other attempts to solve our community's problems have not been overly successful?

The answer is that there has been a change of focus by governments, service providers and Aboriginal communities.

Consideration is now given to what actually created these problems in the first place - the underlying grief, loss and trauma that has impacted on Aboriginal communities since colonisation.

Until these are dealt with, Aboriginal communities will continue to face issues like high incarceration rates, domestic violence, child abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, mental and physical health problems. Addressing the grief loss and trauma is exactly what our healing forum (and our healing centre) were set up to do.

We are now awaiting the report from the Healing Foundation which will outline the strategies that were compiled from our healing forum. We hope to put the strategies into an action plan to work through our issues, with the continuing assistance of the Healing Foundation and Aboriginal Affairs. We believe that the proposed action plan will work in conjunction with the existing Healthy Clarence Strategy (this strategy is set up to focus on mental health and suicide prevention in our Valley).

So exactly how can grief, loss and trauma be addressed?

One of the biggest losses that Aboriginal people have faced is the loss of our cultural identity, something Aboriginal people continue to grieve for.

Also without a strong cultural identity, negative events can have more of a traumatic impact. By building a strong foundation based on Aboriginal culture, our healing centre promotes the different aspects of Aboriginal culture so true healing can begin. Aboriginal people can become strong again by reconnecting with their culture through lore, art, music, dance, language, bush tucker and bush medicines etc.

The healing centre also acknowledges there are many other activities and therapies besides those based on Aboriginal culture, that can promote healing. Our healing centre's definition of healing is anything that will improve the quality of life of (Aboriginal) people, individually and collectively.

So some of the events that the centre will be involved in in the coming weeks include:

  • Harmony Day celebrations to be held at Grafton showground on March 24, 2018
  • The commencement of the Sister Girls program, a six weekly capacity-building program for young Aboriginal women
  • Clarence Valley Native Bee Association workshop to be held at the healing centre on March 17 2018
  • Creative writing workshop as part of the Plunge Festival on 8 April 2018
  • Official opening of our healing garden - date to be announced
  • Provision of cross-cultural awareness training to the Clarence Youth Action Group

The Clarence Valley Aboriginal Healing Centre is located in the Gurehlgam Complex, 18-26 Victoria Street, Grafton (old Catherine McAuley College building). Phone: 6642 8677. Website: www.gurehlgam, Facebook: Clarence Valley Aboriginal Healing Centre.

Giinagay Jinggiwahla ('hello' in our first nations languages) is a weekly column written by the indigenous communities of the Clarence Valley covering a variety of topics, opinions and events across our first nations areas, Bundjalung, Yaegl and Gumbaynggir.

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