Voices from the campfires: Establishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation

Voices from the campfires: Establishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation Report

  • Author(s): Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation Development Team,
  • Published: 2009
  • Publisher: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Abstract: This report documents the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation Development Team’s findings from a national consultation process, conducted from May to August 2009, regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing and the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation. While the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples and its acknowledgment of the legacy of colonisation, forced removals and other past government policies was an important first step on the road to healing, it must now be followed by concrete policy responses — including the provision of culturally-appropriate healing services to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to begin the process of recovering from trauma. The research demonstrates that there is an overwhelming need among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for services that are designed and run by communities to address the underlying causes of dysfunction in a manner that is holistic, safe and culturally appropriate. The international experience shows the effectiveness of this approach and its potential cost benefits. Participants in the consultation process agreed that healing is a spiritual journey that requires initiatives to assist in the recovery from trauma and addiction and reconnection with family, community and culture. Healing services must be culturally appropriate and take a capacity-building approach. They need to be multi-disciplinary and mix modern therapeutic practices with traditional methods. Healing services must also be available to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are experiencing, or have experienced, trauma and its effects — particularly members of the Stolen Generations and their families. There was consistent support for the establishment of the Foundation, which participants agreed should have three broad roles: supporting grassroots healing initiatives by providing funding and workforce development; health promotion, education and skills training in the prevention and treatment of trauma; and evaluating and documenting best practise in healing. The overwhelming preference of participants was for the Foundation to operate independently of government. The most common suggestion regarding how the Foundation could become self-sustaining was through partnerships with philanthropic organisations, universities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and other bodies. However, many also suggested that the Government has an obligation to provide the Foundation with ongoing funding. Participants agreed that appointment to the Foundation’s Board must be based on merit and by a transparent selection process. While board membership should be open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 18, consideration should also be given to gender, age and regional diversity and ensuring representation from members of the Stolen Generations.

Research Notes: Funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

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Suggested Citation
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation Development Team,, 2009, Voices from the campfires: Establishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, Report, viewed 15 June 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=17506.

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