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Principle 3: Culture, country and community are embedded in healing

Through the development of Nargneit Birrang, we heard that connection to Aboriginal culture, Country and community is intrinsic to the wellbeing of Aboriginal people.

Culture underpins family violence holistic healing for Aboriginal communities. Knowledge of culture is recognised to be valuable and powerful. It includes knowledge about spirituality, stories, values, beliefs, cultural laws and customs.

Aboriginal culture heals by empowering people (individuals, families and communities) to recognise and understand their cultural identity. Culture provides a set of values and behaviours and standards that guide how the world is seen.

We just feel culture is the foundation. For us, we are talking about taking care of pain in an Aboriginal way. - ThinkCamp participant

It’s acknowledging that not everyone is from [this] country and it’s important what that then means - when I want Healing I have to go home [to country]. I can be welcomed and safe here in Victoria but if I want healing then I go back to my country - Research participant

Something intangible happens in those healing circles that can only happen in an Aboriginal group and only Aboriginal people can understand [it]. - Research participant

Connectedness to country is a further vital element for successful healing. We heard that holistic healing practices should be shaped by and strengthen Aboriginal people’s connections with their country to promote wholeness and wellness. Healing requires safe spaces to be available on traditional lands, where possible, in acknowledgement that healing cannot always occur within traditional clinical practice settings.

The collective knowledge and wisdom of Aboriginal communities is also important for holistic healing. Elders and other respected community members provide valuable healing guidance and mentoring, delivering appropriate community-led approaches and solutions. Where safe to do so, people should be encouraged and supported to come back into community for healing.

Through holistic healing approaches that are informed by Aboriginal culture and strongly connected to Country and community, we will build stronger, more resilient individuals, families and communities.

Something as small as a smoking ceremony can have a huge impact for people who have not grown up in culture - it brings the men and women together; everyone wrapping their arms around each other, supporting each other and getting back to country" - ThinkCamp participant

Service design characteristics

Aboriginal culture, country and community is vital in preventing and responding to violence and keeping Aboriginal people safe. Holistic healing approaches that are grounded in the strengths and interconnections between culture, country and community result in better outcomes for Aboriginal people. The following characteristics underpin the embedding of culture, country and community in the context of designing holistic healing approaches:

  • Aboriginal people are supported in further strengthening their personal, family and community identities and belonging.
  • Aboriginal people are connected to their spirituality and country.
  • Healing journeys are enabled to happen both on and off country.
  • Aboriginal cultures, identities, heritages, languages, beliefs, customs and experiences are utilised in healing.
  • Aboriginal Elders and community leaders are guides and mentors.

What does this look like in practice for?

Aboriginal people who need healing are provided with:

  • Support to learn about their cultural connections and connect to Country, including for children and young people.
  • Culturally safe spaces, such as yarning circles, to share stories and connect to culture, Country and community.
  • Support to find cultural connections and strengthen cultural knowledge.
  • Support to attend cultural events that provide opportunities for people to come together for positive purposes.
  • Support to make a return to country trip both financially and emotionally possible.

Aboriginal organisations and communities:

  • Understand the importance of connection to land, community and culture, and that it is a core component of healing.
  • Lead holistic healing approaches that connect Aboriginal people to land, community and culture.
  • Link Aboriginal people to Aboriginal cultural knowledge, heritages, languages and experiences.
  • Combine therapeutic modalities with Aboriginal cultural practices, including art and music.
  • Utilise Aboriginal Elders and community members to support cultural strengthening and healing.
  • Support Aboriginal people to return back to country.

Government:

  • Ensures that all funded holistic healing initiatives include approaches that connect individuals and families to culture, country and/or community
  • Supports places where Aboriginal people can access culturally appropriate supports and services, and access Aboriginal-led approaches to healing

Reviewed 21 January 2020

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