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Reconciliation and Trauma

Ben Matthews, Sector Development Officer

I recently attended a training event in Sydney last week to discover more about Aboriginal trauma Informed Care and I was fortunate enough to have Roxanne Brown from CIT come with me.

Roxy was the Executive Manager of Social Medicine at Winunga Aboriginal health services and now lectures a suit of indigenous courses at CIT.

The event was held at the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW. This training was provided by We al-Li which is a small indigenous training organisation the name translates to fire and water.

Aboriginal people used fire to cleanse the earth, to make way for new spring growth, which was an act of caring upon country. In the Woppaburra language ‘Al-li’ means water. Water is the source of all life. Without water we die. Our bodies comprise 70% water. In spiritual literature water is often used as a metaphor to describe mystical states of consciousness.

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The training was more a process of spiritual enlightenment than what we would typically expect. We had a wonderful group of both First Nations and non-Indigenous participants, I learned as much from the group wisdom as I did from the training which was no surprise for me. As an experienced trainer I always see this process in action and it is a genuine and joyful thing to see evolve.

While not being planned as such the universe provided and we were there for both Sorry Day and the first day of Reconciliation Week. This was a bonus I had not considered and a privilege to be part of. There were Elders, young ones and lots of wonderful people from the local community in attendance. It was a good show with bush tucker, some beautiful artwork and we all contributed to a hand painting where we all painted our hands and fingers and created a collective artwork for the event.

The following day we were part of a ceremonial flag raising to celebrate the first day of Reconciliation Week, of which my personal highlight was an amazing digeridoo performance. I must confess I was very touched by these ceremonies and even shed a tear or two.

What stood out most for me over the two days was the incredible generosity that our First Nations peoples offer in such good faith and kindness. I still lament though that this generosity is not retuned in the same good faith in so many cases. I hope Australians can remember how undeserving we are of this generosity and recognize that it is this stuff that makes us the lucky country.

– Ben

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