Skip to main content

Search

Chapter 4: Beyond the Apology - an agenda for healing: Social Justice Report 2008

Social Justice Report 2008

Chapter 4: Beyond the Apology - an agenda for
healing

Back to Contents

pdf icon Download in PDF
Word icon Download in Word


Part 1: Introduction

On 13 February 2008 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, on behalf of the Australian
Parliament, made a historic and long overdue national Apology to the Stolen
Generations. With eloquence and emotion, Prime Minister Rudd said what so many
Australians have wanted to say, and what so many Indigenous peoples have needed
to hear:

For the pain, suffering and hurt of the Stolen Generations, their descendants
and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up
of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a
proud culture, we say sorry.[1]

I was honoured to respond to the Parliament’s Apology on behalf of the
National Sorry Day Committee and Stolen Generations Alliance. In my response I
stated that:

By acknowledging and paying respect, Parliament has now laid the foundations
for healing and for a reconciled Australia in which everyone
belongs.[2]

More than this, I’d like to think that the National Apology was a
transformational event in Australia’s history. I draw comparisons to the
election of Barack Obama as the first African American President of United
States of America:

Just like many people will remember what they were doing when Barack Obama
was elected as the President of the USA, an overwhelming majority of
Australians will remember what they were doing when the Prime Minister
apologised to the Stolen
Generations.[3]

This transformational vision was shared by the Prime Minister. In the Apology
speech he said:

Let (the Apology) not become a moment of mere sentimental reflection. Let
us take it with both hands and allow this day, this day of national
reconciliation, to become one of those rare moments in which we might just be
able to transform the way in which the nation thinks about
itself...[4]

The National Apology was a ‘line in the sand that marks the beginning
of a new relationship and era of
respect’.[5] We now need to
build on this relationship and respect to move beyond the National Apology to
healing. This chapter will help outline an agenda for what is needed for this
healing to occur.

Healing has been taking place in many different Indigenous communities and
contexts. I have detailed just a few of these excellent examples in previous
Social Justice Reports.[6] An
Indigenous well-being model was also part of the Bringing them home report’s recommendations:

Recommendation 33a: That all services and programs provided for
survivors of forcible removal emphasise local Indigenous healing and well-being
perspectives.

Recommendation 33b: That government funding for Indigenous
preventative and primary mental health (well-being) services be directed
exclusively to Indigenous community-based services including Aboriginal and
Islander health services, child care agencies and substance abuse services.

Recommendation 33c: That all government-run mental health services
works towards delivering specialist services in partnership with Indigenous
community-based services and employ Indigenous mental health workers and
community members respected for their healing
skills.[7]

However, it is now time to develop a comprehensive understanding of healing
and look at ways that it can be systematically supported. In previous Social
Justice Reports
have found that many of the good examples of healing are ad
hoc and poorly funded, when what is needed is consistent, long term support to
heal the wounds of the Stolen Generations, their families and communities.

It is also timely to bring an agenda for healing to the fore of the national
agenda on Indigenous affairs. Since the National Apology there is substantial
good will and renewed political commitment to support healing. The following
series of events that have occurred since the Apology highlight how healing has
been elevated to the national political agenda.

Shortly after the Rudd Government commenced its term, the 2020 Summit was
held on 19-20 April 2008. The 2020 Summit was a national agenda setting event,
with participants from different sectors invited to identify their best ideas
for dealing with Australia’s future challenges. The ‘Options for the
future of Indigenous Australia’ discussion stream at the summit
recommended that the government should establish an entity that was an
independent, legally-based healing body funded for the long term. The first step
for such an entity would be to engage in programs, then build and lend support
for the Indigenous-controlled services across the country—for example,
health and child protection organisations. The participants also noted that the
fund or entity could have the same structure as the Healing Foundation in
Canada, though some concern was expressed about use of the word
‘healing’, and differences in opinion were expressed in terms of
what kinds of activities would be included in the body’s
mandate.[8]
On National Sorry Day,
26 May 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd spoke of the government’s
commitment to the ongoing healing of the Stolen Generations, and to working with
the Stolen Generations Working Group to advance this process. Prime Minister
Rudd said:

Today the Australian Government continues its commitment to the ongoing
healing of our Stolen Generations. It is so important that we build on the
goodwill and opportunities that were opened up by the apology. One of the main
concerns that have arisen through our engagement with the stolen generations has
been the critical need for healing services to help individuals and families
with their own healing.[9]

In his press release on the same day he also announced the government
would:

In June 2008, the Government will meet with Stolen Generations members,
professionals in women’s and men’s health, trauma, child protection
and mental health specialists and family reunion services to map a way forward
together.

The Department of Health will consult with Stolen Generations on the
development of a training program and materials for mainstream health services
providers on Stolen Generations
issues.[10]

In June 2008 the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee released
its final report on the Inquiry into the Stolen Generations Compensation Bill
2008 in which it recommended the federal government's 'closing the gap'
initiative be extended to establish a National Indigenous Healing Fund to
provide health, housing, ageing, funding for funerals, and other family support
services for members of the Stolen Generations as a matter of priority. The
Committee considered that the Canadian Aboriginal Healing Foundation may provide
a useful model for the establishment of that
Fund.[11]

The Department of Families, Housing and Community Services and Indigenous
Affairs convened a Forum on Indigenous Healing on 16-17 September 2008. The aim
of the forum was to bring national recognition to the impact of trauma and
grieving in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. The
Forum focused on healing of all Indigenous Australians, in particular Stolen
Generations survivors and their families, as well as on what healing encompasses
for Indigenous peoples and the educational and broader outcomes for children.
The forum concluded with an agreed resolution that supported in principle the
development of a national healing foundation and the formation of a working
party, funded by government, to manage the community consultations on
this.[12]

The Australian Greens also introduced the Stolen Generations Reparations
Tribunal Bill into federal parliament on 24 September 2008. The
Bill aimed to establish a Stolen Generations Reparations Tribunal with the
functions of determining reparations and/or ex gratia payments for the
historical injustice of the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples from their families; creating a forum and process for truth and
reconciliation; and considering proposed legislation and inquiring into
prejudicial policies and practices, both past and
present.[13]

The Bill identified different forms of reparation that could be made,
including funding for healing centres, community education projects, community
genealogy projects, and funding for access to counselling services, health
services, language and culture training. Separate provision was made for
monetary compensation for claimants who could prove that they have suffered
particular types of harm, such as sexual or physical
assault.[14] Like the Stolen
Generations Compensation Bill, this Bill was not passed.
Perhaps more
importantly, Indigenous communities are stridently calling for healing. This is
not new. There have been widespread calls for healing and healing programs to
meet the recommendations for the Bringing them home report. However, we
are now seeing renewed calls for healing to address broader issues like family
violence and alcohol and other drug use.

These calls are coming from all parts of the Indigenous community and
increasingly from Indigenous men. On 3 July 2008 a summit on Indigenous
men’s health in Alice Springs issued the Inteyerrkwe
Statement:

We as Aboriginal males from Central Australia and our
visitor brothers from around the Australia gathered at Inteyerrkwe in July 2008
to develop strategies to ensure our future roles as husbands, grandfathers,
fathers, uncles, nephews, brothers, grandsons, and sons in caring for our
children in a safe family environment that will lead to a happier, longer life
that reflects opportunities experienced by the wider community.

We acknowledge and say sorry for the hurt, pain and suffering caused by
Aboriginal males to our wives, to our children, to our mothers, to our
grandmothers, to our granddaughters, to our aunties, to our nieces and to our
sisters.[15]

The Inteyerrkwe Statement made specific recommendations for healing for
Indigenous men to assist them in combating violence in their communities:

2. Establishment of places of healing for Aboriginal men, including
men’s shelters/ 'sheds’, short term ‘drying out’ places
for men, and more resources for long-term rehabilitation of Aboriginal men with
alcohol and other drug problems, preferably within their own community. Also
‘half-way’ houses to either give ‘time out’ or time to
move slowly back into work/family/training, preferably to be run by Aboriginal
men.[16]

The Summit called on the Australian Government and the Northern Territory
Government to respond by the end of September 2008, but as at the date of
writing, the government was still considering its position.

While it is positive that government is beginning to look at healing options,
it is Indigenous community calls for healing that provide the most compelling
imperative to progress healing initiatives. As Gregory Phillips has stated,
‘healing is not a strategy, it is a
process’[17] and it is a
process that needs the full ownership of the Indigenous community if it is going
to work. I think the Indigenous community has been crying out for healing for a
long time and are ideally placed to take on the challenge of healing.
Developments like the Inteyerrkwe Statement show a community that is united in
its desire to face up to some difficult realities and heal.

We have a unique opportunity to capitalise on this combined government and
community momentum but it will be important for the discussion to be clear,
articulate and consultative to ensure a good outcome.

This chapter aims to assist the context for such a discussion by articulating
some of the common understandings of healing and healing programs and what can
be done to support and advance an agenda for healing.

  • Part 2 provides background information on definitions of
    healing;
  • Part 3 provides some examples of healing from around Australia;
  • Part 4 examines learning from Canada’s decade of healing work;
    and
  • Part 5 reports on our consultations with Indigenous experts and
    representative organisations on suggestions for a national Indigenous healing
    body.

top | contents

Part 2: Understanding healing

1 Defining healing

As I noted in my Social Justice Report 2007, healing can be hard to
define and consequently often not well
understood.[18] The breadth of
healing can lead to definitions that can seem vague, abstract and unempirical.
This undermines the complexity of healing, and can ultimately diminish the
credibility of programs that come under this banner.

To make healing a viable agenda that government will seriously fund and
support we need to crystallise the case for healing by explaining what it is for
Indigenous Australians. As Gregory Phillips notes:

Confounding the confusion over definition is the so called ‘new
age’ approach to healing. There are lots of charlatans, Aboriginal and
non Aboriginal, who assume the mantle of ‘healer’ and seek to sell
their dodgy charms and wares for money, ego or
prestige.[19]

This is not what healing is about. Previously I have defined healing as:

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.[20]

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’.[21]

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.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24]

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.

top | contents

2 Healing and trauma

Healing is a necessary response to address trauma experienced by individuals
and communities. So to understand healing we also need to understand trauma.
Trauma is a ‘sudden harmful disruption impacting on all of the spirit,
body, mind and heart’[25] that
requires healing. Psychologically, trauma has been defined as:

[A]n
emotional state of discomfort and stress resulting from memories of an
extraordinary catastrophic experience which shattered the survivor’s
sense of invulnerability to
harm.[26]

Trauma is qualitatively different from other negative life stressors as it
fundamentally shifts perceptions of reality. Negative stressors

leave an individual feeling ‘put out’, inconvenienced and
stressed. These experiences are eventually relieved with the resolution of the
stressor. In contrast, trauma represents destruction of the basic organising
principles by which we come to know self, others and the environment; traumas
wound deeply in a way that challenges the meaning of life. Healing from the
wounds of such an experience requires a restitution of order and meaning in
one’s life.[27]

Gregory Phillips talks about three areas of trauma experienced by Indigenous
peoples:

  • Situational trauma - trauma that occurs as a result of a specific or
    discrete event, for example from a car accident, murder or being taken away.
  • Cumulative trauma - it is subtle and the feelings build over time,
    for example racism.
  • Inter-generational trauma – if trauma is not dealt with
    adequately in one generation, it often gets passed down unwittingly in our
    behaviours and in our thought systems. For example, if you want to heal children
    and youth, you have to heal yourself as well to break the
    cycle.[28]

Importantly he notes that for Indigenous peoples who have
experienced trauma as a result of colonisation, dispossession and dislocation,
as well as the trauma of on-going racism, family violence and other events,
often all three forms of trauma are
applicable.[29]

Research has shown that the impacts of trauma are even more pronounced when
the trauma has been deliberately inflicted rather than a result of natural
circumstances. Text Box 1, based on an extract from Professor Judy
Atkinson’s work, illustrates these differences between deliberately
inflicted trauma and trauma as a result of natural events in the contexts of a
remote Indigenous community. On one hand, it tells a story of community
strengths and solidarity in the face of a natural disaster while on the other
hand, it tells the story of trauma experienced as a result of child sexual
assault and community disintegration. This example demonstrates that
deliberately inflicted trauma creates victimisation as well as all the
associated emotional, psychological, cultural and spiritual harm. Deliberately
inflicted trauma is much harder to recover from as it undermines the cohesion
and strengths of individuals and communities.

Text Box 1: Natural disasters versus human
atrocity
[30]

While visiting a group of Aboriginal people living in a small and remote
community of Western Australia (which I will call Everywhere) they
described to me what it was like for them the previous year, when a cyclone
ravaged their community. Before the cyclone, they said they had prepared for the
strong winds and the potential damage the cyclone could bring. They laughed and
joked about their preparation, and how they came out of their shelters and found
a changed world around them. After the cyclone, they said the country around
them was as if an army of caterpillars had stripped all the leaves off the trees
- making bare and raw the landscape, which surrounds their town.

The destruction of the physical environment was clear to see when flying into
the community after the cyclone had passed. More importantly they were able to
describe how they protected themselves from this natural disaster, which they
called, with a kind of glee at how funny the world can be - Cyclone
Caterpillar.
They were competent in managing the potential threat of this
natural event that in other related parts of the country, was called ‘a
disaster’.

During the same year a number of people in this small town called Everywhere committed suicide. Unlike other towns in Australia, impacted
by natural disasters and suicide, people received no counselling support after
the suicides.

Some months after the cyclone passed, a large number of arrests were made of
senior men within the community on child sexual assault charges. Arrests
continue at this very time, including children charged with abusing children. It
is not possible to see the physical damage that this man made catastrophe has
had on the people of Everywhere, let alone the emotional, psychological,
social, cultural and spiritual distress. Yet, this distress is very real, and
the social, cultural and spiritual fabric of Everywhere has been torn
apart.

While during the time of the cyclone, Australians generally noted the
progress and destruction of the cyclone, they did not take much notice. This was
just another town in a remote part of Australia, subject to natural, yet
devastating forces. It was far removed from the day-to-day lives of people
living on the developed east coast of Australia. However, the arrests of many
men from this small community made national and international headlines.

People from Everywhere had no idea that outside their community,
others were talking about them; judging them; without understanding any of the
circumstances with which they were living. They were struggling to understand
what was happening within their own community, let along outside their
community.

They had no context to this great disaster, this cyclone caterpillar within. They knew what to do with the threat of the cyclone. This was their
country. They had lived there, over hundreds of generations, through many such
natural disasters. They knew how to prepare and reduce the potential impacts of
the damage the cyclone would bring. They could not however, prepare themselves
for the deeper and more lasting damage that the arrests, had crept up on them,
and they had no contexts to its intrusion into the social fabric of the
community, nor means of working to recover from its damage.

top | contents

2.1 Historic and intergenerational trauma

Individual trauma reverberates across communities but also across the
generations. The concept of historic trauma was initially developed in the 1980s
by First Nations and Aboriginal peoples in Canada to explain the seeming
unending cycle of trauma and despair in their communities. Essentially, the
devastating trauma of genocide, loss of culture, and forcible removal from
family and communities are all unresolved and become a sort of
‘psychological baggage... continuously being acted out and recreated in
contemporary Aboriginal
culture’.[31]

In Australia, Indigenous researchers have also demonstrated the connections
between the historical experiences of colonisation and the forcible removal of
children to the disadvantage of today’s Indigenous peoples and
communities. Professor Judy Atkinson has worked on the intergenerational and
trans generational transmission of trauma arguing that many of the problems in
Indigenous communities, be it alcohol abuse, mental health problems, family
violence or criminal behaviour, are symptomatic of the effects of this
unresolved trauma reaching into the present
day.[32] Gregory Phillips also
speaks of trauma that is handed down spiritually. Using Canadian elder, Vera
Martin’s, reference to it as ‘blood memory’, he explains:
‘It is a collective memory of what has happened and what has not
happened’.[33]

This unresolved trauma is not limited to the forcible removal of children
from their families. Trauma can occur in response to exposure to family
violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, substance misuse and other
forms of experience that can harm an individual’s sense of self and
wellbeing. These traumas also find their way to influence subsequent generations
to come.

Professor Helen Milroy, an Indigenous psychiatrist specialising in child
psychiatry, describes how trauma flows through to Indigenous children:

The transgenerational effects of trauma occur via a variety of mechanisms
including the impact of attachment relationship with care givers; the impact on
parenting and family functioning; the association with parental physical and
mental illness; disconnection and alienation from the extended family, culture
and society. These effects are exacerbated by exposure to continuing high
levels of stress and trauma including multiple bereavements and other losses,
the process of vicarious traumatisation where children witness the on-going
effects of the original trauma which a parent or care giver has experienced.
Even where children are protected from the traumatic stories of their
ancestors, the effects of past traumas still impact on children in the form of
ill health, family dysfunction, community violence, psychological morbidity and
early mortality.[34]

The dynamic of transgenerational effects of traumas was borne out in the
results of the Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey. Of the
survey sample, 12% were looked after by a carer who had themselves been forcibly
removed. These children were 2.3 times more likely to be at high risk of
clinically significant emotional or behavioural
difficulties.[35] This is consistent
with the findings and recommendations of the Bringing them home report
which highlighted the devastating intergenerational effects of forced
removals.[36]

Such evidence of the transgenerational impacts of trauma also challenges us
to shift our thinking on the distinctions drawn between perpetrators and victims
as we understand how offenders are often victims of trauma or transgenerational
trauma themselves. For instance, in the unpublished thesis by Caroline
Atkinson-Ryan, cited in the Little Children are Sacred Report, over a
third of the Indigenous male prisoners interviewed had been sexually abused and
of these most could be diagnosed with post traumatic stress
symptoms.[37] The situation appears
to be even worse for female Indigenous prisoners with a NSW study finding that
70% of Indigenous women had been sexually abused as children; 78% reported being
physically abused as adults; and 44% reported being sexually assaulted as
adults.[38]

Professor Judy Atkinson argues that trauma becomes expressed as anger,
violence and criminal behaviour, where ‘rage turns inwards, but cascades
down the generations, growing more complex over
time’.[39] Anger,
hopelessness, worthlessness and lack of genuine opportunities and disconnection
run like a common thread through the experiences of both victims and
perpetrators of violence.

top | contents

3 Who needs healing?

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.

At the same time, specific healing services are needed to attend to the
distinct trauma and pain of members of the Stolen Generations. Stolen
Generations networks note that due to the past traumas experienced Stolen
Generations members are often reluctant to access services that are not
dedicated to them and their needs. Consultation projects such as ‘Moving
Forward’ conducted by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre found
that there was a desire amongst some Stolen Generations members for ‘a
discrete identity within the Indigenous community and recognition of their
special needs’.[40]

Partly this can be attributed to the poor targeting and implementation of
services for Stolen Generations members. For instance, evidence was given to the
Senate Inquiry into Stolen Generations in 2000 that some of the funding for
counselling, family and parenting support programs for Stolen Generations was
directed to mainstream services
instead.[41]

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. [42]

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.[43]

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.

top | contents

4 Healing and the
principles of reparation

Part of healing is making things right and ‘restoring the balance where
wrong has been done’.[44] The Bringing them home report put careful consideration into how to achieve
this, recommending a package of reparations to facilitate healing for Stolen
Generations. Recommendation 3 states:

That for the purposes of responding to the effects of forcible removals,
‘compensation’ be widely defined to mean ‘reparation’;
that reparation be made in recognition of the history of gross violations of
human rights; and that the van Boven principles guide the reparation measures.
Reparation should consist of

  1. acknowledgment and apology,
  2. guarantees against repetition,
  3. measures of restitution,
  4. measures of rehabilitation, and
  5. monetary compensation.[45]

The van Boven principles are also called the ‘Basic
Principles and Guidelines on the Rights to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims
of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of
International Humanitarian
Law’.[46] They are a
combination of agreed international human rights standards that articulate the
requirements for an effective remedy or reparation through restitution,
compensation and rehabilitation. These principles also fit with an understanding
of what needs to happen for healing to occur in response to human rights
violations. The Bringing them home report was clear about how these
principles could be put into practice:

  • Acknowledgement and apology was cast as the first step in healing,
    recommending the federal and state and territory parliaments as well as other
    relevant institutions like Churches, police forces etc formally apologise.
  • Guarantees against repetition included recommendations to establish
    the Indigenous Child Placement Principles, community education and incorporation
    of the Genocide Convention into Australian law.
  • Measures of restitution included recommendations to establish family
    tracing and reunion services, language and cultural centres and protection of
    historical records.
  • Measures of rehabilitation included recommendations for therapeutic
    services like counselling.
  • Monetary compensation was recommended to be paid to all Stolen
    Generations members for
    damages.[47]

Importantly, these measures need to be seen as complementary and
implemented as a whole:

[C]ompensation, while vital, is only one aspect of reparations...all
components of reparations, as set out in the Bringing them home report,
are 'inextricably linked, and all are required if there is to be an effective
model of healing' for those affected by the forcible separation policies.
Further, all the recommendations in the Bringing them home report, 'need
to be implemented, fully and holistically and with attention to additional needs
identified over the past
decade'.[48]

It is encouraging to see that some of these principles have been put in
place, but there are still glaring omissions in the form of lack of monetary
compensation and inadequate measures of rehabilitation, restitution and
guarantees against repetition.

The Commission noted in its submission to the Senate Standing Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the Stolen Generations Compensation Bill
2008:

Since Bringing them home was released in 1997, both State and Federal
governments have implemented a number of responses to its recommendations. In
particular, new funding and programs have been introduced for organisations such
as Link-Up; mental health counselling; family reunion services; parenting
support programs; programs to preserve Indigenous languages and culture; oral
history recordings; and for the archiving of records. Parliamentary apologies
have also now been made in every State and Territory, and in the Federal
Parliament.

Despite this progress, a number of the recommendations of the Bringing
them home
report are yet to be implemented. There is also evidence that
measures which governments have taken to implement the recommendations of Bringing them home have sometimes been
inadequate.[49]

The inadequacy of rehabilitation services has been well documented. In 2000 a
Senate Inquiry into the implementation of the recommendations of the Bringing
them home
report found that the ‘practical assistance’ measures
were not reaching members of the Stolen Generations and recommended independent
evaluation of the progress of all Bringing them home report
recommendations to ensure they are
met.[50] In 2007 the Urbis and Keys
Young Evaluation of the Bringing Them Home and Indigenous Mental Health
Programs
also confirmed that adequate services were not reaching members of
the Stolen Generation. They found that Link-Up and Bringing Them Home
counselling programs are chronically under-resourced for their high
workloads.[51]

Similarly, there have concerns about child removals in the context of child
protection and juvenile justice. While formal mechanisms like the Indigenous
Child Placement Principle have been established in all jurisdictions, it is hard
to have firm confidence in guarantees against repetition when nationally only
62% of all Indigenous children are placed in accordance with this
principle.[52]

However, there is concern that even these figures may not accurately reflect
the real incidence of Indigenous children placed with Indigenous carers. For
instance, in a recent Australian Human Rights Commission submission on a
national framework for children protection, we noted an example from NSW:

Even though the NSW government’s report to the commission inquiry
[Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW]
identified that ‘85% of Aboriginal children (are placed) in accordance
with the Aboriginal Placement Principles, the Department of Community Services
noted that ‘what that figure mentions is compliance with a process rather
than Aboriginal children in placements with Aboriginal carers, either
authorised foster carers or authorised kinships or relative
carers’.[53]

This low compliance rate can be attributed to Department of Community
Services workers not sufficiently investigating the cultural background of
children and appropriate placements. Because of this lack of investigation, in
some cases the Courts don’t even know that a child is Indigenous so there
is no chance of culturally secure
placement.[54]

The Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in New South
Wales in 2008 found that Aboriginal communities remain over represented in the
child protection system and that there was a lack of culturally appropriate
interventions for Aboriginal children, young people and their families among
agencies.[55] The Commission
recommended:

Recommendation 11.5 - DoCS should develop Guidelines for staff in order to
ensure adherence to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Young
Person Placement Principles in s.13 of the Children and Young Persons
(Care
and Protection) Act
1998.[56]

More worryingly, the number of Indigenous children under child protection
orders is still unacceptably high, with Indigenous children being 6 times more
likely to be under a care order than a non-Indigenous
child.[57]

Juvenile detention is the other form of contemporary separation from family
and community. Nationally Indigenous children are 23 times more likely to be in
detention than non- Indigenous
children.[58] On any given day,
Indigenous children and young people make up about half the juvenile detention
population nationally[59] and up to
90% in the Northern Territory.[60]

The issues of over representation in child protection and juvenile detention
are indicative of the failure of piecemeal attempts to tackle problems of
Indigenous disadvantage without getting the systemic and structural foundations
right. If we are to bring these rates down we need to be seriously looking at
the transmission of transgenerational trauma and embracing reparations and
community wide healing.

top | contents

5 Healing, reparation and compensation

The Bringing them home report recommended monetary compensation to
achieve reparation and healing for the Stolen Generations, their families and
communities. There is a clear link between the process of healing and forms of
acknowledgement of wrong doing though apology and compensation.

Since the Bringing them home report, there has also been considerable
consultation and debate on the issue of monetary compensation. Text Box 2
briefly outlines the recent key events in claims for monetary compensation,
including Senate inquiries, important legal cases and state based schemes. Three
of the state based compensation schemes are not Indigenous specific but some
Stolen Generations members are eligible, if they can prove a reasonable
likelihood that they experienced institutional abuse or neglect while in
government care. Schemes to repay stolen wages are also applicable given the
large number of Stolen Generations members who were placed in work situations
where the wages were kept from them.

Text Box 2: Key events in claims for compensation for the Stolen
Generations

31 July 1997

High Court of Australia dismisses the case of Kruger v
Commonwealth
[61] the first case
to be heard in the High Court that challenged the constitutional basis of
forcible removal policies of Indigenous children.

Alec Kruger claimed that the Northern Territory Ordinance under which
Indigenous children were removed from their families was invalid because it
violated a number of rights (explicit and implied) in the Constitution.
He also claimed that the Ordinance was an instrument of genocide and was
therefore unlawful.

The High Court found that the territories power in the Constitution (s122) could be exercised by the Commonwealth without regard to the rights of
Australians living in the territories, and therefore the Ordinance was valid. It
also found that the intent of the Ordinance was not to destroy Aboriginal
peoples, and so was not an instrument of genocide - regardless of its
impact.

11 August 2000 Federal Court dismisses the cases of Cubillo v Commonwealth, an
important test case for Stolen Generations compensation. Justice
O’Loughlin noted inbuilt barriers to successful Stolen Generations
litigation including:

  • availability of critical evidence;
  • loss and destruction of records;
  • difficulties in establishing the onus of proof with the passage of time; and
  • the frailty, illness and death of key witnesses for the
    defendant.[62]
November 2000 Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee inquiry into the implementation
of the Bringing them home report releases its report: Healing: a
legacy of generations.
The report recommends the establishment of a
reparations tribunal based on the model proposed by the Public Interest Advocacy
Centre (PIAC).[63]
PIAC proposed
the tribunal would:

  • be established by state and federal laws;
  • would not consider questions of legal liability, only eligibility for
    reparations;
  • would be open to individual, families, groups and communities affected by
    forcible removals;
  • would consist of a hearing process to determine eligibility but also offer
    the opportunity to have their story heard and acknowledged; and
  • would offer reparations in the form of counselling, money for family
    reunions and monetary compensation for individuals, while groups might receive
    funds for community programs to facilitate
    healing.[64]
May 2002

The Queensland Government offers $55.4 million in reparations for wages
stolen between 1890 to 1972.

The offer included:

  • $4000 to each person alive on 9 May 2002, who was subject to government
    controls over their wages or savings and who was born on or before 31 December
    1951; and
  • $2000 to each person alive on 9 May 2002, who was subject to government
    controls over their wages or savings and who were born between 1 January 1952
    and 31 December 1956.

The scheme was criticised due to the inadequate level of
financial reparation, lack of consultation with Indigenous communities, the
inability of descendants to claim and the scope of indemnity sought by the
Queensland government.[65]

By March 2008 $35.87 million was unspent as many eligible claimants refused
to agree to the terms of the offer, so a second round of payments was offered.
These are top up payments of:

  • $3000 to people who received a $4000 payment; and
  • $1500 to people who received a $2000 payment.

Applications
close 30 April 2009.

The remaining $15 million will be placed in the Queensland Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Foundation to provide scholarships to Indigenous
students.

July 2003

Tasmania announces a Redress scheme to compensate former wards who have
experienced abuse whilst in care.

Applicants may be granted ex- gratia payments of up to $60 000 in the first
three rounds of compensation. Applicants must have been aged 18 or older on July
11, 2003,

December 2004

Following NSW Government’s apology for the stolen wages under the Aborigines Protection Act 1909 (NSW) and subsequent laws until 1969, the
NSW Government announces an Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme (ATFRS).

The ATFRS is not compensation but is an evidence based process which finds
out how much money was put into the individual’s trust fund and never
repaid. If money is found to be owed it is repaid in full and indexed to the
current value.

Applicants:

  • May be either direct claimants or descendants;
  • Must apply before June 2010 (a two year extension of the
    deadline).
18 October 2006

The first Stolen Generations compensation scheme in Australia is set up in
Tasmania by the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal Children Act 2006 (Tas).

Applicants:

  • May be either direct claimants or descendants
  • May be awarded $5 000 per descendant with a cap of $20 000 per family for
    descendants. Direct claimants will be made up from the balance of the fund after
    descendants’ claims have been finalised.

Applications were
open for six months from the commencement of the Act on 15 January 2007. A total
of 151 claims were received, with 106 eligible for payment. 84 Stolen
Generations members received $58,333.33 each and 22 descendants either $5000 or
$4000 each depending on how many people were within the particular family
group.[66]

7 December 2006

Senate Legal and Constitutional inquiry into stolen wages releases its
report Unfinished Business: Indigenous Stolen Wages documenting many of
the barriers faced by stolen wages claimants.

he report recommended better access to archives and research,
modifications to the Queensland scheme and research and consultation in other
Australian states and territories to determine whether stolen wages compensation
is needed, and if so develop a scheme based on the NSW
model.[67]

May 2007 Western Australian Government announces a Taskforce to conduct
consultations and prepare policy options to address stolen wages. A report was
been submitted to Cabinet in June 2008.
1 August 2007 South Australian Supreme Court rules in favour of Bruce Trevorrow in a
landmark case to find that he was unlawfully and falsely imprisoned as a member
of the Stolen Generations. Mr Trevorrow is awarded $525 000 in
compensation.[68]
1 October 2007

In response to the Forde Inquiry into abuse of children in institutions the
Queensland government[69] opens
applications for the Redress Scheme to provide ex gratia payments to
children who have suffered abuse in State Care.

In July 2008 the scheme was extended to dormitories on the Aboriginal
reserves of Barambah/Cherbourg, Palm Island, Taroom, Woorbinda, Deebing Creek/
Purga, Yarrabah and Mapoon, enabling Aboriginal peoples who were housed in these
dormitories and suffered institutional abuse or neglect to apply.

Applicants:

  • Must lodge between 1 October 2007 and 30 June 2008.
  • Sign a deed of release to prevent further legal action.
  • May be awarded $7 000 for ‘first level’ payments and up to $40
    000 (including first level payment) for more serious abuse as assessed by a
    panel of experts.

The Forde Foundation has a grants program,
through which former residents are able to access services or items such as
family reunification, education, training and personal development, health and
dental care and other items or services to facilitate improve their quality of
life.[70]

17 December 2007

Western Australian government announces a Redress Scheme to provide
ex gratia payments for children who have suffered harm in State Care. Claims may
only be brought by direct claimants.

Applicants:

  • Must lodge between 1 May 2008 and 30 April 2009.
  • Sign a deed for release to prevent further legal action against the
    government of Western Australia.
  • May be awarded $10 000 for a ‘reasonable likelihood’ of abuse
    and/ or neglect in State care and up to $80 000 if they can provide medical and/
    or psychological evidence of abuse and/ or neglect in State care.
4 February 2008

The Tasmanian Premier announced that the redress scheme for children abuse
in care will be re-opened for a period of three 3 months.

The scheme is for those who were in ‘care’ in Tasmania and who
missed out on the original review in 2004/2005. The re-opening will allow for a
fresh look at cases of those who would have qualified for consideration under
the previous scheme but did not apply for legitimate reasons.

The eligibility requirements were as per the previous scheme.

June 2008

The Standing Committee of Legal Constitutional Affairs into the Stolen
Generation Compensation Bill 2008 recommends that the Bill should not proceed.

The Committee notes the majority of support for monetary compensation but
is:

[M]indful of the strong arguments that monetary compensation is only one
component of reparations... and considers a holistic, nationally consistent
approach is the most appropriate means of addressing the specific needs of
members of the Stolen Generations and of actively promoting an effective model
of healing.[71]

The committee recommends the Australian Government establish a National
Indigenous Healing Fund.

There have been positive steps towards compensation and reparation,
exemplified by the Tasmanian government’s compensation package for Stolen
Generations members. But this action is unfortunately the exception to the rule.

Even the generalised redress schemes in Queensland and Western Australia stop
short of acknowledging the specific harm done to the Stolen Generations.
Further, there are unresolved legal questions as to whether recipients under the
redress scheme are prevented from pursuing other litigation or compensation for
forcible removal issues.

The objective of achieving compensation still needs to be taken forward
because it is so intrinsically linked to a holistic view of reparations and
healing. The Australian Human Rights Commission continues to actively advocate
for these measures. Most recently the Australian Human Rights Commission made a
submission and gave evidence in favour of monetary compensation at the Inquiry
into the Stolen Generation Compensation Bill. It argued that:

The failure to adequately compensate Indigenous people who were removed
from their families and communities remains a significant human rights issue
in Australia[72]

The Commission recommended that the Bill be passed. The submission also
commended the Bill for allocating funding to healing centres as a
‘collective approach to redress in recognition of the harm suffered by
whole families and communities affected by past laws and
practices’.[73] At the same
time the submission cautioned that ‘healing programs should in no way be
construed as an alternative to mechanisms for financial
compensation’.[74]

There are important reasons for advancing the issues of therapeutic and
cultural community healing services separately from the issue of compensation.
One compelling reason for advancing healing and compensation separately, is that
broad sections of the Indigenous community desperately need access to healing
services, not just Stolen Generations members. Approaching the two issues
separately will facilitate healing services being provided for a broader part of
the community as soon as possible. This was echoed at the FaHCSIA Indigenous
Healing Forum where participants emphasised the need for a clear delineation
between healing and compensation.

However, it is also not ideal to have compensation without healing services.
The experience of Canada will be discussed further in Part 4 but it is clear
from the Canadian experience that compensation without healing opened up old
wounds and often left recipients in situations where they were vulnerable to
financial abuse.[75]

Indigenous peoples participating in the WA Redress Scheme have also reported
being retraumatised as a result of going through the process for claiming
compensation. In such circumstances, it is crucial that compensation claimants
have access to support services and healing programs to ensure that they are
able to manage the process in a way that provides closure, not
re-traumatisation.

top | contents

Part 3: Examples of
healing programs in Australia

Definitions and theory around healing are an important foundation for
understanding healing but real examples provide an extra dimension that show how
healing actually works. This section will briefly profile a small selection of
healing programs to illustrate what healing looks like in practice and some of
the positive impacts in the lives of Indigenous individuals and communities. A
more extensive list of healing programs reported from our consultations can be
found at Text Box 7.

This is not the first time that I have profiled promising practices in
healing. The Social Justice Report 2007 looked in depth at some promising
healing programs related to family violence and child
protection.[76] The Social
Justice Report 2004
examined some healing programs for Indigenous women
exiting prison.[77] Given this
previous research, this section will only very briefly outline a few examples of
healing approaches in order to illustrate the breadth of healing work that is
already taking place in Australia.

Another way of understanding the different examples of healing programs is
looking at them through the ‘three pillars’ of healing that have
been developed by the Canadian Aboriginal Healing Fund. The three pillars are:

  • reclaiming history;
  • cultural interventions; and
  • therapeutic healing.[78]

These three categories are not always mutually exclusive but do
help distinguish between healing approaches and other social and emotional and
therapeutic models.

Reclaiming history involves learning about the impact of specific
events in history such as forcible removals, and allowing individuals to
understand their experiences and trauma in a broader social context. These
approaches:

[R]educe self blame, guilt and isolation. Understanding
history can be both a catalyst for healing as well as pave the way for mourning
what was lost- a recognized stage in the trauma recovery
process.[79]

Examples of reclaiming history approaches are oral history projects that
document the experience and history of the Stolen Generations and commemoration
and memorial activities that mark the losses of the Stolen Generations.

Arguably the first step in reclaiming the history and healing for many Stolen
Generations members was telling their stories to the National Inquiry into the
Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families
and seeing these stories acknowledged and valued in the Bringing them
home
report. Text Box 3 outlines another Australian Human Rights Commission
project that gives voice to the experiences of Stolen Generations members to
reclaim history on the occasion of the ten year anniversary of the Bringing
them home
report.

Text Box 3: Reclaiming history: Us Taken Away Kids

In December 2007 the Australian Human Rights Commission launched Us Taken
Away Kids,
a magazine to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the Bringing them home report.

When it was launched I noted the important connection between story telling
and healing:

The story-telling tradition of our peoples is one of the great strengths of
our cultures. It contributes to our resilience as peoples as it has throughout
millennia.

But we don’t tell stories for the sake of it.

For the stolen generations, story telling is an indispensible part of
both recognising the suffering of the past and its impact into the present;
and of creating the basis for the journey of healing to
begin.[80]

Us Taken Away Kids tells the stories of the Stolen Generations, by the Stolen
Generations. It contains the stories, poems, artwork and photos of the stolen
generations and reflects on life in foster-care and homes, trauma and loss,
discovering family and identity and healing, in a way that reclaims the history
and reaffirms resilience.

Cultural interventions are activities ‘that engage people in a
process of recovering and reconnecting with their culture, language, history,
spirituality, traditions and ceremonies to reinforce self-esteem and a positive
cultural identity’.[81] Examples of cultural interventions in Australia are:

  • Link-Up programs that help Stolen Generations members reunite with family
    members and culture;
  • programs that help connect young people with Elders to learn about culture
    and law;
  • language preservation and renewal programs; and
  • programs that help individuals and communities maintain links to country.

Text Box 4 provides some examples of culturally based healing
programs around Australia.

Text Box 4: Cultural interventions

Yorgum Healing Centre Grandmother’s Group

Yorgum Healing Centre in Perth provides counselling and healing services to
Aboriginal victims of family violence and sexual assault. One of the innovative
cultural interventions run by Yorgum is the Grandmother’s Group which
links Indigenous young peoples with Elder women.

The Grandmothers group has a dual purpose of allowing Elder women to share
their knowledge and culture and keep active in the community, as well as
providing nurturing to the younger generation. This group helps build community
and intergenerational connection by keeping family and culture alive.

Balunu cultural camps

Balunu cultural camps are run by the Balunu Foundation in Darwin. The camps
target ‘at risk’ Indigenous young peoples. Young people are taken on
country to remote cultural camps where they learn about traditional culture and
law from Elders and program workers. This knowledge is used to build self
respect and respect for others.

Anecdotally, some of the young people have achieved good results and made
real improvements to their lives. A recent evaluation by the Menzies School of
Medicine has shown improvement in the life quality of participants in the
cultural camps.

Tirkandi Inaburra Cultural and Development Centre

Tirkandi Inaburra is an Aboriginal community controlled early intervention
centre in Coleambally, Central Southern NSW that provides a culturally based
residential program for Indigenous boys between the ages of 12-15 years. The aim
is to reduce the likelihood of Indigenous young people becoming involved with
the juvenile justice system.

It is a unique program as it combines cultural awareness activities along
with education and support services to strengthen self-worth, resilience and
cultural identity.

Tirkandi Inaburra Cultural and Development Centre was a finalist in the 2008
Indigenous Governance Awards in recognition of their good work over the past two
years.

Therapeutic healing includes a combination of traditional and Western
therapies to help individuals and communities recover from trauma. The success
of these approaches seems to be the melding of cultural interventions and
therapeutic work to facilitate healing. Some examples of therapeutic healing
are:

  • yarning circles;
  • individual counselling;
  • group therapy programs;
  • men’s and women’s groups;
  • community wide healing circles;
  • traditional ceremonies and nangkari (traditional healer); and
  • residential programs and retreats.

These approaches are commonly adapted to target a wide range of
different groups needing healing including:

  • Stolen Generations members;
  • young people who have experienced abuse or family violence;
  • women and other victims of family violence and sexual assault;
  • people involved in the criminal justice system; and
  • people with alcohol and other drug issues.

Text Box 5 highlights a few examples of therapeutic healing
models.

Text Box 5: Therapeutic healing

Community Capacity Building Program in Kalumburu

In 2007 sixteen men and boys were arrested on sexual assault charges,
devastating the remote community of Kalumburu in the Kimberleys. To initiate
healing, the community approached Professor Atkinson to work with them. The
project has been funded by the Australian Government.

Professor Judy Atkinson and her team from the Collaborative Indigenous
Research Centre for Learning and Educare (CIRCLE) at Gnibi College of Indigenous
Australian Peoples, Southern Cross University have commenced a two year program
of community healing and capacity building through a series of workshops.

Professor Atkinson’s healing work with Kalumburu is based on her ideas
around transgenerational transmission of trauma and previous work with other
Indigenous communities. Importantly, it is based on consultation and finding out
how the community is coping and what they want to get out of the healing
process.

It is a slow process of building trust and creating a safe place for people
to share stories of abuse and hopes for the future. This safe place is a healing
circle, embodying connection and inclusion of strong Indigenous community
models.

The healing circle utilises therapeutic individual and group tools that allow
participants to tell their stories through:

  • narrative therapy;
  • making
    sense of the stories by ‘feeling the feelings’ through emotional
    release and ‘body work’ like massage, and relaxation methods;
  • reclaiming culture; and
  • art and music therapy.

To achieve longer term goals, community capacity development is intrinsic to
healing. This involves building the confidence and strengths of individuals and
community that can support the healing process when Professor Atkinson and her
team have gone.[82]

Red Dust Healing

Red Dust Healing is a cultural healing program developed by Tom Powell and
Randal Ross, experienced Indigenous workers, delivered through group sessions
and individual case management and support systems.

The Red Dust Healing program deals with areas significant to healing
including; identity; family roles and structure; relationships; Elders roles;
men’s business; Indigenous history and the impacts of colonialism; drug
and alcohol use; family violence; grief and loss; stress and mental health
issues; anger management; education and employment; housing issues; and
meetings, community contribution and governance.

Red Dust Healing has been run for a wide range of participants, including
young people in juvenile detention centres, groups including men and women, high
school students and mens' groups. Red Dust Healing has also been adapted for
delivery to doctors, police and legal practitioners to increase cultural
awareness and explain healing.

The cultural and therapeutic elements are strengthened by practical case
management and support systems to place the gains made from healing in a
socially sustainable context. Each participant develops an individual case plan
that will help continue the healing work. This can include referrals to relevant
services and a buddy or mentor for informal support.

In some locations, formal links have been made with employment opportunities.
For instance, a partnership has been developed with North Queensland Water which
has resulted in employment for some participants.
To date, around 156
participants have completed the program. Participant feedback has shown some
powerful positive outcomes.[83]

Gamarada Men’s Group

Gamarada is an example of a strong men’s group taking up the issue of
healing and life skills development. Men’s groups have gained increasing
support in Indigenous communities and are now seen as a powerful way for
Indigenous men to look at issues of healing and
identity.[84]

Gamarada, meaning ‘comrades or friends’ in the Gadigal language,
is based in Redfern, NSW and is a 10 week group program that incorporates
traditional Indigenous culture and healing with Eastern methods of self healing
and self control.

While most group programs are based around ‘talking therapies’,
Gamarada teaches participants practical skills as well, like relaxation,
breathing, visualisation exercises and awareness in connection to Indigenous
spiritual concepts like Dadirri (deep listening and quiet stillness) and anger
management or as it is termed in Gamarada ‘non-reaction’ techniques.
The program shows participants how they can apply these skills in their own life
and discuss issues like anger management, substance use and family violence.

Gamarada coordinator Ken Zulumovski says funding and administrative support
is crucial to the sustainability and expansion of the Gamarada program and
others like it. There are hundreds of men who are beginning to look to the
Gamarada model for support and daily enquiries from community and government
services are adding to the list. These men and their boys sometimes pass up
mainstream services to opt for something cultural.

Gamarada also creates a great opportunity to encourage and educate the men
and inturn their families about the importance of regular health checks with
their GP. This is fundamental to closing the gap in Aboriginal health and
stifling the cycles of poverty that lead to crime, prison and low socio economic
status. Ken Zulmovski says:

The Gamarada team are doing the ground work and the Aboriginal and non
Aboriginal communities of Redfern and Sydney acknowledge the results but we
need significant support. The benefits to the community at large will be ten
fold to any financial support received, the research is evident to this. The
question around funding shouldn’t be if but rather when. We have a
dynamic & talented team on the ground with the skills and networks in place
and they are ready to do their
work.[85]

Another crucial area in the development of healing programs in Australia has
been the emergence of appropriate training to skill workers to conduct healing
programs. This is still a fledgling area with a small number of Indigenous
training modules that explain healing and culturally appropriate responses to
trauma. Gregory Phillips argues that:

Many biomedical mental health programs lack understanding of spirituality
and how to deal with feelings in their training programs. Even some
‘Indigenous’ social and emotional well-being centres often are
simply delivering a Western diagnostic and treatment regime in an Aboriginal
setting.[86]

Text Box 6 captures a few examples of training and education programs that
are successfully achieving this.

Text Box 6: Training and education

Murumali

Murumali is a healing model to assist Indigenous and non Indigenous
professionals who work with Stolen Generations members and their families. The
Murumali healing model was developed by Lorraine Peters, a member of the Stolen
Generations, in 2000.
The healing model is holistic and culturally secure. It
provides workers with the tools to assist Stolen Generations members along their
own path of healing. Different workshops are held for Indigenous and non
Indigenous workers to ensure cultural safety and encourage discussion of
sensitive issues.

Additional workshops have been developed about risk management and suicide
prevention and general awareness of Stolen Generations issues.
Healing
workshops have also been run for Stolen Generations and their families, notably
Indigenous prisoners. Despite the success of these workshops, the bulk of
funding and demand is for training programs for workers.

The Murumali Program is now accredited as a component of Aboriginal Primary
Health Care and is a core unit in the Certificate IV and Diploma in Aboriginal
and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health (Community Stream) - Social and
Emotional Wellbeing offered by the Aboriginal Health College.
Over 100
workshops have been run and 1, 000 people trained since 2000. The Marumali
Program has received good feedback and has been cited as an example of best
practice in the Evaluation of Bringing Them Home and Indigenous Mental Health
Programs
.[87]

Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Southern Cross
University

The Gnibi College has developed a range of university level
courses on Indigenous healing, including the Bachelor of Indigenous Studies:
Trauma and Recovery; and Graduate Certificate, Graduation Diploma and Masters in
Indigenous Studies: Wellbeing.

These courses provide innovative Indigenous approaches to education, where
according to Professor Judy Atkinson, ‘the teacher and the taught create
the teaching’. This takes place through experiential healing, where
participants experience and actively participate in many of the healing
processes to develop a broad set of skills and critical reflections that they
can take out in their work.

There is an emphasis on engagement with Indigenous communities. Students are
encouraged to undertake field placement to develop healing skills and give back
to the community.

Indigenous community members are actively encouraged to participate in the
courses and there are pathways for Indigenous community members who may have had
little formal education. Because the program is taught from an Indigenous
framework and with a greater emphasis on experiential learning than traditional
academic assessment, it has been successful in supporting Indigenous students
who may have struggled give a previous lack of educational experience.

To date, 45 students have graduated from the Masters program and 37 are
currently completing the program.

Red Dust Healing training

Part of increasing the sustainability and reach of the Red Dust Healing
program is the training component of the program. Participants are encouraged to
become trainers so they can run the program in their own communities and provide
mentor support to other participants.

This training requires that individuals attend two blocks of program. The
first assists the participants to deal with their own healing issues and
familiarise themselves with the program. The second time they take a more active
role in the program as mentors and co facilitators under the supervision of the
program authors, Tom Powell and Randal Ross.

Participants are left with all the program content and materials and can
access additional support from Tom Powell as required.

This training is increasing the number of people who are able to access the
program. For instance, an Aboriginal Liaison Officer from Lismore Police has
since participated in the training and has now run the program in the local high
school.

Gamarada train the trainer

Gamarada also provide a train the trainer component where they encourage
participants to gain the skills to run sessions themselves in the community. Of
note, one of their graduates, David Leha, a former prisoner, has now gone on to
be paid to facilitate a session, ‘Anger Management and Healing’ for
the NSW Department of Corrective Services.

What is common to all of these examples is the necessity to ‘heal the
healers’ before they can go on and effectively help others heal. This
means that some of the training and education is outside the mainstream paradigm
because it focuses on individual healing. However, as we see in the Gnibi
College Programs, Gamarada and Red Dust Healing, this becomes experiential
learning that students then take back to their communities and use in their
healing and therapeutic work.

Training is also an important element of making these healing programs
sustainable. Currently, there are very few people trained in the provision of
Indigenous healing services, and this limits the number of locations where such
services are available. Increasing the number of people who are able to run
these programs and understand the fundamentals of healing ensures that knowledge
and skills are not tied up with individuals but become part of the broader
community capacity. Healing is not the exclusive domain of health workers,
social workers, psychologists and other professionals. Instead, healing can be
best achieved when we:

[T]rain the natural helpers (grandmothers, brothers, aunts and parents) in
basic suicide prevention, addictions intervention and meaning of
healing.[88]

The development of these skills can lead to individual and broader community
healing, and to the provision of a range of healing services and programs across
all areas of Australia.

Another common element in all of these practice examples is the centrality of
cultural renewal. This comes about in a two pronged way. Firstly, the programs
create an environment of cultural safety. Cultural safety, like healing, is one
of those terms that is liberally thrown around but often poorly understood.
Cultural safety is:

[A]n environment, which is safe for people; where there is no assault,
challenge or denial of their identity, of who they are and what, they need. It
is about shared respect, shared meaning, shared knowledge and experience, of
learning together with dignity, and truly
listening.[89]

It is more than accommodating cultural difference; it is about creating a
space where culture is respected and valued.

The second component of cultural renewal in these programs is actively
celebrating culture and educating program participants in culture. This
recognises that many Indigenous peoples may have lost touch with aspects of
traditional culture. Learning about traditions can be grounding and a source of
pride.

Culture isn’t limited to traditions and the past, it is a living,
breathing thing. These programs foster identity and pride, dispelling the
negative stereotypes that many hold about Indigenous peoples. By giving
participants, especially young people, a different way of understanding where
they come from, they are actively creating a new culture of pride and
possibilities. To this end, it is important to have Indigenous healing programs
that are delivered by Indigenous peoples.

These examples also highlight the diversity and complexity of needs that
healing can address. Healing by its very nature is holistic and can therefore
assist individuals who have multiple and complex needs. Many of the people who
participate in healing programs have been in and out of a number of mainstream
services. Often it isn’t until they attend healing programs that look at
the cause, rather than just the symptoms, of their issues, that they make
progress.

Text Box 7 below provides a list of healing programs and approaches.
Although not comprehensive, it includes examples that have been reported in our
consultations for this chapter, as well as other examples from my previous
research.

Text Box 7: Examples of healing programs in Australia

Healing program/ approaches Description
Bringing Them Home and Indigenous Mental Health Programs (Australian
Government - Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health)
  • Link-Up Program- provides a national network of services supporting
    and assisting Indigenous peoples affected by past removal policies in tracing
    their family history and potentially reuniting them with their families.
  • Bringing Them Home (BTH) Program, which provides counselling to
    individuals, families and communities affected by past practices regarding the
    forced removal of children from Indigenous families.
  • Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Regional Centre (RC) Program,
    which funds SEWB RCs around Australia to provide professional support to Link-Up
    and BTH staff as well as other workers, especially mental health workers, to
    develop, deliver and purchase training, and to conduct activities to support
    this including developing cross-sector linkages and maintaining information
    systems.
  • Mental Health Program, which funds Mental Health Service Delivery
    Projects in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) nationally
    to develop and evaluate culturally appropriate approaches to mental health
    service delivery.[90]
Central Northern Adelaide Health Service Family and community healing
Program
The Family and Community Healing Program addresses family violence by
building community capacity to support safe families. It comprises a complex and
dynamic set of group activities for Indigenous women, men and youth.
Family Wellbeing Project The Family Wellbeing Project in Queensland is a community driven group
project that aims to heal relationships and build stronger families and
communities. It has been evaluated as part of the Empowerment Research Project,
a partnership including local community organisations and the Cooperative
Research Centre for Aboriginal Health (CRCAH).
Seven Phases to Cultural Healing Model Healing model developed by Indigenous psychologist, Rosemary Wanganeen, to
address contemporary social and health issues. Courses are run to enable health
workers, social workers and psychologists to use the model in their practice
with Indigenous clients.
Rekindling the Spirit Family centred healing service in Lismore, NSW that addresses the harm of
family violence and abuse.[91]
Yorgum Aboriginal Family Counselling Service Perth based Indigenous controlled and staffed counselling and community
development service assisting victims of family violence, sexual abuse and
Stolen Generation members.[92]
Western Australian Healing Project A collection of healing projects run in a variety of urban, rural and
remote Indigenous communities aimed at addressing sexual
violence.[93]
Men’s groups Men’s groups are an important healing tool. There are many examples
across the country including:

  • Yerli Berko, the Spirited Men Group and Tau Ngaraldi
    Program;[94] and
  • Mount Isa Men’s Group run in conjunction with the Mount Isa Murri
    Court to deal with
    offending.[95]
  • Evaluation and research for support men’s groups/ men’s sheds is
    being coordinated by the CRCAH in the Mibbinbah project with sites across
    Australia.
Yula Panaal Cultural and Spiritual Healing Program The Yula Panaal Cultural and Spiritual Healing Program is run by Yulawirri
Nurai, and is an accommodation facility/ healing centre for Indigenous women
exiting the NSW prison
system.[96]

I have started to detail in this chapter the foundations for the healing work
that needs to take place among Indigenous communities throughout Australia.
These foundations for healing need to build on the experiences of trauma
experienced by Indigenous peoples, as well as the cultural and spiritual
responses to trauma being generated by Indigenous peoples.

Many Indigenous peoples, both individually and collectively, have already
started the work of healing in their lives. What is needed now is a national
Indigenous healing body, to ensure that the value of the healing work that
remains to be done is understood and adequately resourced. The question that
people have been deliberating over with regards to this national body is what
kind of body it should be, which I will go on to discuss in part five of this
chapter.

top | contents

Part 4: Learning from the Canadian healing
journey

Australia is not the only country in the world with a history of
dispossession and violence towards their indigenous population. But
unfortunately, Australia lags behind other comparable countries in the journey
to provide redress for historical and contemporary traumas. There is a great
deal that Australia can learn from the progress of other countries further down
the road of Indigenous healing.

Canada provides an interesting model of healing that points to lessons and
strategies that can be applied in the Australian context. Although Canada is not
the only country pursuing healing, [97] it does seem to be the most
advanced and thoughtful model of healing at this point of time. Of course, it is
not perfect but I believe the limitations of this model also provide crucial
lessons for developing a better approach to healing in Australia.

top | contents

1 Towards healing in Canada

The developments in healing in Canada have emerged in response to the 1996
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The Royal Commission covered a broad
range of issues relating to Aboriginal peoples and their relationship with the
Canadian government. Special urgency was given to addressing the impacts of
abuse in residential schools.

Like Australia, generations of Aboriginal children were taken away from their
families. In Canada between the 1800s and 1990s, over 130 government funded
church run industrial schools, boarding schools and hostels operated for
Aboriginal children. Many of these children suffered physical and sexual abuse,
as well as the loss of family, community and cultural connection. It is
estimated that there are approximately 86 000 survivors of the residential
schools alive in Canada today and 287 350 people are estimated to have been
intergenerationally
impacted.[98]

In 1998 the Canadian government issued a ‘Statement of
Reconciliation’ and the ‘Gathering Strength - Canada’s
Aboriginal Action Plan’. There has been some debate about whether the
Statement of Reconciliation constitutes a true apology given that it only
apologises for the physical and sexual abuse suffered by children in the
residential school system, rather than the entire policy of forcible removals.
Much like the Australian situation, the status of the apology remained an open
wound for many, until 11 June 2008, when the Prime Minister of Canada gave an
official national apology to former students of Indian residential schools for
Canada's role in the Indian residential schools system.

However, part of the Gathering Strength Action Plan was a one-off
$350 million grant for healing programs to address the physical and sexual
abuses that occurred in the residential schools. This led to the development of
the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

top | contents

1.1 Aboriginal Healing Foundation

Three months later, in March 1998, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF)
came into being. The AHF was established as an independent, Aboriginal run
corporation separate from government. Subsequent funding allocations have seen
the AHF extended until 2012.
In 2000 the AHF also established a charitable
organisation, Legacy of Hope, to work in conjunction with AHF and eventually
take over operations when the AHF mandate ends.

(a) Aims, representation and governance

Before the Canadian government agreed to fund $350 million to the AHF, there
was intense negotiation with Aboriginal representatives about the scope of the
foundation, its representation, governance and accountability. Despite robust
advocacy on the part of the founding board members, the government was
determined that the healing should be limited to respond only to the legacy of
physical and sexual abuse suffered in residential schools, echoing the
sentiments of the Statement of Reconciliation. As a concession, the government
broadened the scope to include the intergenerational impacts of this physical
and emotional abuse.

The AHF developed robust representation and governance structures. The AHF is
made up of board of directors of 17 Aboriginal peoples, many of whom are either
survivors or family of former residential school students and also represent the
main Aboriginal groups across Canada. The board of directors are appointed by
‘Aboriginal political organisations, the federal government and the
Aboriginal peoples
at-large’.[99]

It should be noted that the consultation period for the development of the
AHF was very short. Aboriginal groups were in a difficult position: either they
came together quickly to form some sort of body, or they risked losing the
promised funds forever.[100]

A large conference representing most of the Aboriginal groups in Canada was
held in July 1998. This conference was the first real opportunity for the
community at large to engage with the concept of a healing foundation and be
involved in setting its direction. Text Box 7 reproduces the recommendations
that the conference made to board members. These goals have largely been
included in the mission statement and used as a point of reference for
evaluation and strategic planning (with the exception of the recommendation
about the composition of the board being made up soley of survivors and one
Elder). The conference also provided an opportunity for the board to begin the
process of building up trust with Aboriginal communities.

Text Box 8: Recommendations to board members of the Canadian Aboriginal
Healing Foundation[101]

1. Board members should be on their own healing journey: sober, drug free and
walk their talk. Board members need to be role models.

2. Board and staff should have a code of ethics.

3. Survivors need to be strongly recognized on the Board.

4. The Foundation must establish and build trust.

5. There should be ownership of the Foundation by the communities it
serves.

6. The Board should stay at the grass roots level and not place too much
priority on administration. Professional help is needed by all members of
survivors’ families.

7. The Board membership should be restricted to survivors and one Elder.

8. The Board communicate with survivors by a communication which is truthful,
honest and open.

9. The way of operating be traditional and holistic.

10. Foundation bylaws should not conflict with existing treaties and research
should be done with respect to any conflict with the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms.

The AHF is accountable through its Funding Agreement with the
Canadian government which requires full annual reporting and independent audits.
To date, the AHF has managed large amounts of money in a transparent and
accountable way and has become a model of good governance in Aboriginal
organisations in Canada.[102]

(b) Program Funding

The AHF has had an enormous task allocating and managing funding to healing
programs across Canada, with 1,345 grants to date. There is a diversity of
healing projects that have been funded but all have had to meet mandatory
criteria requiring that they:

  1. Address the legacy of physical and sexual abuse in residential schools,
    including intergenerational impacts. This must be reflected in the
    project’s goals, description and work plan.
  2. Show support and links. A project must have community support in order to be
    funded. It will have more impact when it is linked with health, social services
    and other community programs.
  3. Show how it will be accountable to Survivors, to the community where the
    project will take place, and to the target group who will benefit from the
    project.
  4. Be consistent with Canada’s Charter of Rights and
    Freedoms.[103]

The projects fall into the categories (mentioned previously in Part
3) of ‘reclaiming history; cultural interventions; and therapeutic
healing’ and include:

  • sweat lodges;
  • spiritual and cultural ceremonies;
  • healing circles;
  • counselling by Elders;
  • traditional healers;
  • medicine wheels;
  • western style individual and group counselling;
  • alternative therapies like massage and reiki;
  • education about the residential school experience and legacy; and
  • research.

The largest proportion of funding, 62% goes to direct healing
services such as counselling and culture based activities; 14% goes to
prevention and awareness initiatives; 8% goes to increasing knowledge about the
residential school system; 7% goes to training; 3% for needs assessment; 1% for
project design support; and 2% for
conferences.[104]

Following difficulties in the first funding cycle due to community
organisations not meeting the funding proposal guidelines, Community Support
Coordinators were employed. The Community Support Coordinators were placed in
the major regions and included native Inuktitut and French speakers to
accommodate non English speakers. Special efforts were made to help communities
‘access writers and skills to translate good ideas into fundable
proposals’.[105] Oral
communication styles were also accommodated by allowing oral video submissions.

(c) Research and evaluation

Although the research arm of the AHF is only small, with only three core
employees and an additional three contract workers, the impact and output of
their research has been significant. The AHF has undertaken innovative research
on issues related to healing such as suicide, addictions, foetal alcohol
syndrome, family violence, elder abuse and perpetrator programs. The AHF
research on healing is unique and utilised internationally to support healing
initiatives with indigenous peoples.

Evaluation has been built into all AHF processes and the activities have been
extensively evaluated as part of the final report in 2006. These evaluations
have drawn some powerful lessons about what healing is and how the healing
process can be supported and improved. Evaluation of the AHF has led to research
that has mapped what the healing journey has been for communities and
individuals, what supports healing, how to engage communities that might not be
ready for healing and what makes a good healer. This evidence is invaluable
because it builds theory on healing that is grounded in real life practice.

The experience of the AHF has also demonstrated a good model of evaluation
for healing programs. The AHF has been able to develop meaningful evaluation
measures that reflect the impact of their work. Initially, there was an
expectation that the research process would be able to evaluate whether healing
was leading to improvements in key indicators around physical and sexual abuse,
children in care, suicide and
incarceration.[106] However, the
AHF took the approach that these things would take much longer to change than
the evaluation period. This led to much more sensible measures of progress
revolving around:

  • Increased awareness of the legacy of physical and sexual abuse in
    residential schools;
  • Increased numbers engaged in healing with positive results;
  • Increased capacity to facilitate healing;
  • Increased partnerships; and
  • Increased support from related organizations and community
    leadership.[107]

The evaluation has also been influential in documenting the reach
of the AHF programs. It is estimated that 204 564 people had participated in
healing projects up to 2004. Of those, only 33% of participants had been engaged
in healing before.[108]

In interviews with participants, 57% noted an improvement in their goals with
improved self-awareness, relationship with others, knowledge and cultural
reclamation. The majority of participants reported feeling better about
themselves through improved self esteem and the opportunity to work through
trauma.[109]

The AHF has also looked at the community wide healing process. Based on the
level of understanding and awareness of the legacy of the residential schools;
number of participants in healing; and the level of capacity to deliver healing
programs:

  • 20% of communities are just beginning healing;
  • 69.5% of communities accomplished a few goals, with much work remaining;
    and
  • 14.1% of communities accomplished many goals but with only some work
    remaining.[110]

The evaluation also captured the magnitude of the need. 56% of
funded projects could not meet healing needs and 36% maintain a waiting list. It
was estimated that an additional $140 855 595 would be required to meet these
needs.[111] This sort of evidence
has been instrumental in arguing for funding extensions for the AHF.

The message from evaluation was loud and clear, healing is a long term
process and needs to be funded commensurate with the level of need.

(d) Sustainability

Given the time bound nature of the AHF, part of the funding criteria has been
to demonstrate how the program would be sustained after the funding period draws
to a close. Partnerships have been strongly encouraged with 72% of projects
being linked with other
organisations.[112] This has also
meant organisations accessing funding from other organisations and federal and
provincial/ territory governments.

top | contents

1.2 Compensation for residential school survivors

Despite a similar history to Australia, Canada has a dramatically different
experience in provision of compensation to residential school survivors. In
response to the Gathering Strength Action Plan the Canadian Government began
exploring options for resolving the large number of compensation claims
regarding abuse. In 2001 a federal government agency, Indian Residential Schools
Resolution Canada (IRSRC), was established to oversee this process.

In 2002 the IRSRC released a National Resolution Framework. The centrepiece
of this framework was alterative dispute resolution (ADR) to achieve monetary
compensation for survivors of the residential school system without the need for
litigation.

There were high hopes for ADR as a way to deal with a large number of claims
in a speedy way. In 2002 already 8 000 claims had been made against the Canadian
government. The Government estimated it would take the court 53 years to process
these cases, at a cost of $2 billion in administration costs alone.[113] Further, given the advanced age
of survivors, the likelihood of them achieving compensation in their lifetimes
was slim.

Unfortunately ADR failed to deliver on its promise. In 2005 only 93 cases had
been processed. At that rate, it would take 30-53 years to process all the
claims and the administrative costs would be four times greater than the actual
cost of settlements.[114]

There was also dissatisfaction about some of the fairness of the process with
large discrepancies in settlement outcomes depending on location and who was
responsible for the school. Concerns were also raised about how the Canadian
government applied the relevant tort law in the claims. For instance, Dr Greg
Hagen a legal expert who has worked extensively on settlement issues cited the
example of Flora Merrick who:

[W]as awarded a measly $1,500 award for
being beaten and locked in a small, dark room for two weeks for escaping the
school’s inhumane treatment. Canada is appealing the finding on the basis
that the school’s behaviour met the standards of the day with litigation
fees likely much higher than the award
itself.[115]

In 2005 the Canadian government commenced negotiations with survivors of the
residential system and churches to come to an agreement for all survivors, not
just those who had suffered physical and sexual abuse.

In May 2006 the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was
announced.[116] The agreement was
reached between the Canadian government; the Assembly of First Nations (the
national representative body for indigenous peoples of Canada); legal
representatives of residential school survivors; and legal representatives of
the churches who ran the residential schools. It is the largest settlement in
Canadian history, worth $1.9 billion in compensation alone.

Key features of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement are:

  • A common experience lump sum payment to survivors of $10 000 for the first
    year plus $3 000 for each year after;
  • An Independent Assessment Process for survivors who have suffered physical
    and sexual abuse, or abuses that have resulted in psychological harm;
  • Advance payments for claimants over 65;
  • Establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
  • Additional $125 million for the AHF to extend its work by five years;
  • $20 million for commemoration activities; and
  • $100 million contribution from relevant churches towards healing
    initiatives.

top | contents

1.3 Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), an outcome of the Indian
Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, began its work on 1 June 2008. It is
still in the setting up phase, so we can’t ascertain how it is progressing
yet. Nonetheless, the model is unique and has some interesting features.

The TRC is a court- ordered body, with the court playing an ongoing role in
the implementation and supervision of the
TRC.[117] This is the first time a
TRC has been set up in this way. Other TRCs around the world (South Africa is
the most well known example, set up to deal with the atrocities of apartheid)
are government bodies. Many other TRCs also have powers to bring criminal
charges, the Canadian TRC does not.

The Canadian TRC is voluntary and victim focused. Its primary goal is to give
survivors of the residential school system an opportunity to share their
stories. These stories will be documented and contribute to the Canadian
TRC’s other goal of developing a comprehensive historical, public record
to inform the nation.[118]

While other TRCs around the world are also victim focused, there is also an
emphasis on engaging those who perpetrated violence and abuse. In the Canadian
model, those involved in the running of the residential school system are
welcome to share their stories but it is not a specific focus. The larger focus
seems to be on reconciliation and commemoration through raising public awareness
and ensuring the legacy of the residential schools system is understood.

top | contents

2 Lessons from Canada for Australia

The situation in Canada is by no means perfect and there are fundamental
problems in grafting a Canadian model onto the Australian Indigenous landscape.
However, I believe that there are some valuable lessons that can guide our own
progression towards healing in Australia, particularly through a national
Indigenous healing body. Sometimes these lessons come out of the successes, and
other times they come out of the challenges, but they should always be viewed
within the context of Australia’s social, political and economic
realities.

top | contents

2.1 Adopt a broad scope and realistic time frame for
healing

One of the first battles of the AHF was negotiating a sufficiently broad
scope to address community wide healing needs. The Canadian government
originally only wanted the AHF to address the healing of residential school
victims of physical and sexual abuse. The AHF board members successfully
negotiated for an expansion to the intergenerational effects on the
survivors’ families. Given what we know about the intergenerational
effects of trauma, this has covered a broad range of individuals and issues.

The focus on physical and sexual abuse omits other significant losses
inherent in the residential school process, like loss of family relationships,
language, culture, identity and self esteem. However, the AHF has been
sufficiently flexible to accommodate a broader vision of healing but it is a
shame that comprehensive recognition of what healing entails wasn’t
established from the beginning.

In developing an Australian model consideration should be given to looking at
healing in its broadest terms, not just for Stolen Generations, but their
families and communities. Healing should not only address the forcible removal
but trauma arising from other sources and the related issues like family
violence, alcohol and other drug use and incarceration that flow from
trauma.

The AHF has a limited term. Although the initial period has been extended out
until 2012 that is still a relatively small period of time given the magnitude
of the healing needs. The AHF research suggests an average of 10 years is
required for a community to ‘reach out, dismantle denial, create safety
and engage participants in therapeutic
healing’,[119] and this is
just the beginning of the process. Similarly, in Australia we need to undo over
200 years of trauma. This will take a significant period of time and we need to
be realistic about this or we will not meet the expectations, the therapeutic
need and we will be setting healing processes up for failure.

top | contents

2.2 Create an independent, indigenous controlled healing
body

Part of the success of the AHF is its independence from government and its
community control. This is an expression of self determination and empowerment,
which in and of itself is a powerful step in the direction of healing and
reconciliation. The AHF has been well managed, with good governance and
accountability and is considered a model of excellence in Aboriginal controlled
organisations in Canada.

Whether or not a healing body in Australia has a direct funding or service
provision role is not clear, but regardless it should maintain its independence
from government and be managed by Indigenous peoples.

top | contents

2.3 Compensation and healing are related but can be pursued
separately

The Canadian government, in conjunction with the relevant churches have gone
down the road of providing compensation through the Indian Residential Schools
Settlement Agreement. This is a momentous agreement and provides a model of good
negotiation but it also shows that healing and compensation need not be pursued
together. The Canadian Aboriginal organisations were pragmatic enough to know
that the offer of funding for a healing fund was a once in a lifetime
opportunity and would meet a deep need in their communities. The strategy of
remaining separate from the protracted legal processes of compensation helped to
secure this offer of funding for healing services.

top | contents

2.4 Proper consultation and engagement

The AHF had a ridiculously short period of three months to set up the
foundation. This did not leave enough time for proper community consultation and
engagement. Consequently, the AHF board had a difficult road to acceptance. They
held a major conference with community members shortly after, but even then
there were still misplaced community expectations about what the AHF could
do.[120] This was also reflected
in the first round of funding proposals, where it was clear that some
organisations did not have a clear idea about what the AHF could
fund.[121]

This points to the clear need to conduct extensive consultation and
engagement in the Australian context. Again, not just consultation with Stolen
Generations groups but a broad range of community stakeholders. I would also
suggest Indigenous men’s groups be particularly involved. Indigenous men
are often painted as the problem by mainstream media when in fact many have
shown a real commitment to individual and community healing.

top | contents

2.5 Credible, respected leadership

The AHF has been strengthened by good moral community and professional
leadership since its inception that has provided the foundation for advancing
the AHF’s work. In Canada, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) enjoyed
twenty years experience, national leadership and credibility, and thus was an
appropriate auspice agency for the creation of the AHF. In Australia, since
we currently have no credible national equivalent to the AFN, it will be
even more necessary to ensure the independence, moral leadership,
professionalism and credibility of the Board.  Commentators in
Australia have noted the importance of having a strong community-based and
professional leadership at the helm, driven by Indigenous peoples with the
relevant healing, professional therapeutic and management experience and skills.
This will be more likely to ensure that the work of the foundation
comprehensively addresses the different areas of
need.[122]

Similar to the role played by the Assembly of the First Nations, Indigenous
leadership in Australia would also be assisted by the creation of a National
Indigenous Representative Body.

Similarly, in the Canadian experience the presence of a Treaty formed an
important basis for negotiations with the government on the establishment of an
independent Aboriginal controlled healing foundation. Respondents to our
consultations in Australia have similarly reflected that there is a need for a
treaty to provide a foundation for establishing a framework for healing and for
ensuring government accountability for Indigenous issues.

top | contents

2.6 A central role of research and evaluation

Research and evaluation have been built into the AHF from the very outset,
not as a hurried add-on towards the end of a funding cycle. This has led to
accountability by assessing if funded programs are delivering outcomes.
Research and evaluation create an evidence base that justifies and sustains
programs. Providing evidence on the efficacy of healing programs increases its
acceptance with government and other funders. The Australian Government has
repeatedly spoken of the need for evidence based policy. These sorts of
authoritative evaluations are our way of responding to ensure that healing
programs get funding in the first place and are sustained into the future.

The research arm of the AHF has also led to significant new knowledge.
Healing is an area of innovation, especially in Australia, so there is a lot of
fresh research ground for a healing body in Australia. The research generated
could have utility in evaluating programs; developing the theory on healing in
the Australian context; and undertaking historical and commemorative work about
past racist policies.

top | contents

2.7 Building partnerships

AHF funded projects are usually run in conjunction with other organisations,
and frequently provincial, territory and federal government agencies. This
promotes joint work, prevents siloing of healing services and builds the
sustainability of the programs in the long term. This should be a guiding
principle in any Australian healing body.

Beyond the AHF projects, Legacy of Hope, the charity associated with the AHF
has created some good links to the corporate and philanthropic sector. There is
good will and generosity in the corporate sector in Australia too. A healing
body should strongly engage with these alternative sources of support.

top | contents

2.8 Creating acceptance for healing in mainstream services

One of the best outcomes of the AHF has been the promotion of healing
recognised as a legitimate approach to a wide range of problems. Mainstream
organisations and government departments have adopted healing approaches in
their programs based on the success of AHF healing programs and the evidence
that supports them.

A powerful example is the Stan Daniels Healing Centre, which is actually a
federal correctional centre based on Aboriginal spirituality and healing models.
It almost seems a contradiction in terms to have a ‘healing’
correction centre but the Stan Daniels Healing Centre was favourably evaluated
in 2006[123] and now accepts
non-Aboriginal residents.

A healing body in Australia could have similar capacity to educate about
healing and promote programs and approaches that are successful for integration
into mainstream service delivery.

top | contents

Part 5: A national Indigenous
healing body

The literature review, case studies of healing programs in Australia and a
consideration of the Canadian healing experience provide a knowledge base for
progressing healing in Australia. The next step in moving healing forward on the
national policy agenda is consultation with the Indigenous community.

As part of the research for this chapter I sought feedback from individuals
and representative organisations with expertise and experience in Indigenous
healing programs, policy and research and related areas on the development of a
national Indigenous healing body in Australia.

This was not a community consultation nor was it comprehensive due to the
limited resources available. I sought information from 43 individual and
organisations and received 18 responses in writing as well as through phone
calls, meetings and forums[124] as
appropriate. The respondents included a number of Stolen Generations
organisations, researchers, policy makers and practitioners in the field of
Indigenous healing.[125]

While this consultation should in no way be considered complete, it still
provides some valuable initial thoughts on what is important in healing and how
we might move forward. As a starting point I asked respondents:

  1. What should be the main roles and functions of a national healing body?
  2. What kind of relationship do you see a national healing body having with
    existing healing programs and Indigenous-controlled health services?
  3. Do you believe a healing body should be federally based or state/ territory
    based?
  4. Apart from a healing body, are there any other policy models that you
    believe would advance and support healing programs in Aboriginal communities?
  5. Please provide examples of initiatives and/ or research that have been
    undertaken to date by Indigenous peoples to advance the development of policy/
    programs or projects relating to healing in Australia.

This section will summarise the key issues raised in response to
these questions.

top | contents

1 Concepts of Indigenous healing

The responses are consistent with the concepts of healing presented in Part 2
of this chapter and highlighted that any discussion of Indigenous healing needs
to start with an understanding of what the concept of Indigenous healing is.

The key themes that emerged in relation to the concept of healing were:

  • Indigenous healing is a long term response to address the trauma resulting
    from colonisation and forced removal of children from their families.
  • While Indigenous healing overlaps with other areas including social and
    emotional well being, mental health, and medical based therapeutic models, it is
    also distinct from these. Elements of these other areas contribute to healing,
    but healing is not limited to any of these.
  • Cultural identity and cultural renewal are central features of Indigenous
    healing processes.
  • Healing is a very personal process, and necessarily requires different
    approaches and processes for different people.
  • Healing is not limited to the individual. It extends to healing of the
    family, the community and of the nation.

Text Box 9 provides a selection of quotes from respondents on what
healing means to them.

Text Box 9: Selected quotes from respondents on the concept of
healing

At its heart healing is about restoring balance where wrong has been done, -
a spiritual process that includes therapeutic change and cultural renewal. It is
about protection and care for the victims of violence and abuse as well as the
development of correctional services for perpetrators that are based on healing
and change, not stigmatisation and
shame.[126]

Healing is an education process of awakening, learning about the self, having
an ever-deepening self-knowledge and a returning to wholeness that leads to
transformation, transcendence and integration. It happens through the experience
of safety, community support, re-building a sense of family and community, using
ceremony and strengthening cultural and spiritual
identity.[127]

The main principle of healing is about being connected to country. Healing is
about working with indivudals, families and community. It is about changing
unhealthy relationships with each other... about having a vision of getting
well[128]

Healing is a holistic, intergenerational experience of coping and surviving
past injustices.[129]

As noted in Part 2 of this chapter, healing is not always well understood. It
was reported that the term ‘healing’ is not widely used by all
Indigenous communities because there isn’t a clear understanding of what
it entails. However, this is starting to change. For instance in Western
Australian Indigenous communities, some practitioners noted that there has been
a growing awareness of the concept of healing and a corresponding increased
demand for healing programs and services. Dorinda Cox from the Western
Australian Healing Projects notes:

People didn’t used to talk about healing or even the process, or they
might talk about the process without having healing. Now people are saying we
want more healing in WA.[130]

To address this knowledge gap, it was recommended by respondents that there
needs to be widespread community consultations and awareness raising sessions
with Indigenous communities about Indigenous healing. This would develop an
understanding of what healing is, the manifestations of healing not taking
place, and how needs for healing can be met.

Respondents raised concerns that there is equally a lack of understanding
among parliamentarians, government departments and service providers about
healing, and what it means in the Indigenous context. There needs to be training
and education for government officials among others about the traumas that
Indigenous peoples face and what Indigenous healing is. This should then inform
government’s capacity to develop effective healing strategies. Glendra
Stubbs from NSW Link-Up stated:

[T]here was a generally positive response to the parliamentary apology.
Despite this, some people still can’t understand the wide affect on
Indigenous people from enforced loss of family. How can these removal policies
have had such a large affect on individuals across Australia and how can this
correspond to the social problems of Indigenous people today? There is the grief
of parents, interruption of family and community structure where people have
been taken and ties of children to their family and culture. We see the turmoil
of people trying to fit back into their families’ lives and the pain when
this does not happen. It has an affect on lives and impacts on the family
structure, on parenting skills and social
behaviour.[131]

The respondents supported a wide ranging definition of healing, so that the
intergenerational effects of trauma are recognised and healing is not just
limited to issues of forced removal. Nonetheless, respondents also noted the
importance of healing for Stolen Generations members, as a distinct and
important part of healing for Indigenous communities generally. Helen Moran and
Sally Fitzgerald state:

For Indigenous people individual well-being is related to the well-being of
the entire community. Thus the healing of the Stolen Generations impacts on the
healing of the entire community. Judy Atkinson speaks of the historical layering
of transgenerational and intergenerational traumas of which the Stolen
Generations are a contemporary core, and to be truly holistic, the historical
and compounded complex traumas shared by all Indigenous Australians must be
addressed – as must the associated healing of non-Indigenous Australians
as well. The Stolen Generations are the corner stone for healing Indigenous
Australia. The specific healing needs of the Stolen Generations are integral to,
yet distinct from the healing needs of the wider Indigenous communities; with
the healing for one tied inextricably to the
other.[132]

The respondents expressed a diversity of views on how to define healing and
what purposes it can fulfil, but there is a consensus about the need for
healing in order to address the intergenerational impacts of colonisation and
past policies. Further, healing is commonly conceptualised as part of the
restorative and reparation process spoken of in the Bringing them home report.[133]

top | contents

2 What are the Indigenous healing needs?

The need for Indigenous healing was seen by respondents as fundamental to
enabling Indigenous communities to provide the firm foundations from which to
develop and advance. One respondent used the analogy that putting in place
measures in Indigenous communities that have not accessed healing is like
building a house on quicksand. Alternatively, putting in place measures with a
community that has recaptured their cultural identity and healed is like
building a house on firm earth.

Respondents stated that Indigenous healing is not a side issue, but central
to and a necessary precursor for governments’ to meet their commitments to
overcoming Indigenous disadvantage and ‘closing the gap’ in health,
education, employment and other areas.

There are four critical needs in Indigenous healing that the respondents
identified. Firstly, that there must be a wide range of healing options because
healing is such an individual process. Having a range of therapeutic, narrative
therapy, cultural and spiritual approaches available enables the individual to
choose the healing service or program that best suits them. The key factor here
is having a choice among a diverse range of healing options, that are culturally
informed and community based.

Having a choice is also important because people may need different services/
programs at different stages of the healing process. As one respondent noted,
healing is a process, and often people with trauma need to first build their
self-esteem and confidence and their trust in the people involved in the
process, before they commence the healing aspects of the process. These
preparatory stages can often take a couple of years, during which time people
can often be involved in a range of cultural renewal programs and other
activities. This builds up to therapeutic and other healing activities when they
are ready.

A wide range of healing programs means that options can also be responsive to
provide healing for families, communities, for elderly, for youth, for men, for
women, and for the nation.

The range of healing programs suggested by the respondents reflects the
variety of examples highlighted in Part 3 of this chapter. In summary,
services could include:

  • targeted healing programs and services for Stolen Generations peoples and
    their families (that address the impacts of forced removal and intergenerational
    trauma stemming from the forced
    removal);[134]
  • healing programs and services for the wider Indigenous community, not
    limited to addressing impacts of forced removal, but extended to address trauma
    arising from other situations such as drug and alcohol abuse, family violence,
    and rehabilitative programs for incarcerated Indigenous peoples;
  • crisis healing – short term, individual, immediate trauma relief on a
    daily basis;
  • longer term restitutive/ rehabilitative healing process for individual and
    community based healing; and
  • therapeutic, narrative, cultural or spiritual healing programs.

Text Box 10: Specific healing needs identified by Stolen
Generations respondents

  • Crisis services to address immediate healing needs, including a 24 hour
    telephone counselling line.
  • Drop-in centres and outreach support models of service delivery.
  • ‘One stop shop’ providing multi-disciplinary services for Stolen
    Generation members in each state.
  • A ‘gold card’ for Stolen Generations members to access health,
    healing and counselling services at concessional rates, similar to the provision
    for defence force veterans.
  • Training and skills development programs to encourage Stolen Generations
    members to deliver healing programs.
  • Former mission sites to be managed by Stolen Generations members or
    Indigenous organisations.
  • Memorials to be erected in significant sites such as former institutions to
    commemorate members of the Stolen Generations who have passed away.
  • Financial support for people to go to their country and do ‘finish up
    business’.
  • A brokerage fund to support Stolen Generations members to undertake
    activities related to healing that are unavailable to them due to lack of
    resources, for instance education, support to publish their story, or assistance
    to purchase a computer.
  • Modification of intake forms for social services to include a question on
    whether a client is a member of the Stolen Generations. This could assist with
    determining demand for services by Stolen Generations members and ensure they
    receive appropriate service responses.
  • Increased funding for Link-Up caseworkers, commensurate with level of need.
  • There is an urgent need for Link-Up service to expand in the short term due
    to Stolen Generations members and family advanced age. In NSW alone, Link-Up
    conducted nine grave side reunions were conducted in 2007.
  • Increased funding for administration support in Link-Ups, including
    data-entry, upgrading data management systems, to ensure compliance with
    reporting requirements. This will free up caseworker’s time to spend with
    their clients.
  • Funding for researcher positions, including genealogists, in Link-Ups to
    deal with records only inquiries. Other measures to facilitate more efficient
    research are permission to access key Electoral Commission information online
    and permission to use Medicare in forwarding requests to contact.
  • Expansion of the Family Link positions in Link-Up to include identification
    of for kinship placements for Indigenous children requiring out of home care, in
    accordance with the Indigenous Child Placement Principle.
  • Training programs for all mental health workers to increase their capacity
    to meet the specific needs of the Stolen Generations.
  • Early intervention and family support programs to keep families
    together.
  • Support for Indigenous peoples involved with the criminal justice system and
    in particular, juvenile justice clients, to reconnect with their families.
    Reports indicate that one third of all Aboriginal inmates in NSW had been
    removed from their parents as children; 31% of female inmates in NSW and 21% of
    male inmates reported that their parents had been forcibly removed from their
    families as children.

Secondly, healing services and programs need
to be complemented by health and other support services and infrastructure,
particularly in rural, regional and remote areas. Where possible local people
need to be trained and employed to provide these services. Experience has
repeatedly shown fly-in-fly-out options are not adequate to meet the
community’s needs on a daily basis.

Thirdly, respondents repeatedly noted that many Indigenous peoples
organisations have been developing and delivering Indigenous healing programs,
that are culturally appropriate and community based, for some years
now.[135] However, the lack of
on-going funding has limited the extent to which such programs and services are
made available or accessible to Indigenous peoples. It is now time to resource
these services properly and find ways to use existing knowledge and resources in
other communities.

Lastly, respondents stated the need for skilled Indigenous personnel and
workers to actually provide healing services and provide training. It is
necessary to put in place programs that develop the capacities and skills of
Indigenous peoples to provide a full range of healing services. In some
instances this may mean providing interim training for people to become support
workers, as waiting for people to obtain professional credentials can take too
long. Once again, experience has shown that training someone from the local
community who is regularly available and accessible to deliver the service is
often more beneficial than flying in a professional on an occasional basis.
What is needed is the development of a discrete workforce to work with
individual Indigenous organisations and communities to develop their own local
programs.

top | contents

3 A national Indigenous healing body

There was widespread support among the respondents for a national Indigenous
healing body to provide a national coordinated response, informed and controlled
by Indigenous Australians.[136] To
be expected, there were a range of views on what this should actually look like,
ranging from those who argue for a funding body similar to the Canadian
Aboriginal Healing Fund (AHF), to those who suggest a body with more of a
research, education and advisory function.

3.1 Common ground

There was also a lot of common ground in the responses. In general, the
respondents were adamant that a national healing body should be independent from
government, possibly a statutory body, with an Indigenous leadership. The
national healing body should also be adequately resourced to carry out its
functions with long term funding. Funding should be sourced from the federal,
state and territory governments and private funding.

Finally all the respondents found value in learning from the Canadian AHF
experience to ensure the problems are not recreated but the strengths can be
replicated. In particular, unlike the Canadian AHF, an Australian national
Indigenous healing body should not be finite or linked to the lifetime of the
Stolen Generations members, but extend beyond to address the healing needs of
their descendants. This is particularly important given the inter-generational
trauma that has resulted from the forced removal policies. Respondents also
identified some key principles that should underline a national healing body,
provided in Text Box 11.

Text Box 11: Key principles for a national Indigenous healing body

  • Self-determination - the body should be independent with a board
    consisting of Indigenous members. The body should actively represent Indigenous
    communities and set its own priorities, whether that be through program funding;
    research and evaluation; or an educative and advisory role.
  • Human rights - the body should promote the recognition, protection
    and realisation of Indigenous rights, as recognised in the Declaration on the
    Rights of Indigenous Peoples
    and international treaties ratified by
    Australia.
  • Community development approach - developing community based
    initiatives which respond to community identified priorities and empower the
    community. Supporting community initiated, strengths based preventative
    interventions which rebuild community, family and individual
    capacity.[137]
  • Reconciliation - healing is needed for the nation to acknowledge the
    harms of the past and address the inter-generational effects of historical
    trauma for Indigenous peoples to achieve equality in life chances.
  • Grounding healing in Indigenous culture and identity - restoration of
    cultural provide, positive identity and understanding histories, ceremonies,
    languages and traditions promote collective healing and a sense of belonging.

Some of the common roles and functions identified for the body
include:

  • developing a national healing framework or strategy;
  • consulting with Indigenous communities and other stakeholders (e.g. federal
    and state/ territory government departments, parliamentarians, etc.);
  • funding Indigenous community controlled healing programs;
  • researching healing programs currently with Australia and internationally,
    identifying and promoting best practices in Indigenous healing in Australia, [138] with a possible a clearing
    house role;
  • public education for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities,
    fostering a greater understanding in the broader community of issues confronting
    Indigenous peoples, and particularly Stolen Generations;
  • promoting reconciliation through community based cultural events and social
    activities that promote inter-cultural understanding and awareness;
  • capacity building, professional training, accreditation and benchmarking
    for Indigenous community based healing programs, Link-Up and Bringing Them Home
    counsellors and other healing support workers;
  • lobbying and advocacy for Indigenous healing and Stolen Generations;
  • reviewing federal government’s policies on healing and policies
    relevant to Indigenous healing ;
  • monitoring and evaluation of a national Indigenous healing framework/
    strategy, other relevant policy areas and implementation of the Bringing them
    home
    report recommendations
  • reporting to Parliament on Indigenous healing.

top | contents

3.2 Alternative models

The consultations drew out some of the pro and cons of the main possible
national healing body models that have been suggested so far. Some respondents
saw the body as being responsible for delivering Indigenous healing programs.
Within this approach there was an emphasis on the body funding Indigenous
community controlled services, and the government funding government services
separately. [139]Other respondents
felt that, akin to the Canadian model, the body should not be responsible for
delivering healing programs but for coordinating the funding of Indigenous
healing programs across the
nation.[140]

On the other hand, some respondents felt that a healing body should not be
responsible for delivering healing programs or disseminating funding for
Indigenous healing projects. Instead it should play a strong role in advising
governments about the development and implementation of a national healing
strategy. This strategy would involve the government funding a range of healing
programs to be delivered by organisations across Australia. This sort of
national body would also have a key role in research, education and evaluation
to promote healing.

An advantage of the body taking an advisory role outlined by the respondents,
is that responsibility for the provision of Indigenous healing services is
retained as a government responsibility. This prevents healing being siloed off
to another body that bears all the responsibility but without the full resources
available to government. A strong advisory role the body could play an important
part in guiding the development of a national healing strategy and ensuring it
is implemented effectively. The body could act as a bridge between Indigenous
communities and service providers and government to enable community directives
and priorities to inform government funding. Conversely, some respondents
suggested that a funding or service delivery model would be more responsive to
community needs and be a step towards self determination.

top | contents

3.3 Who is the healing body for?

Some respondents had an expectation that the foundation would be specifically
for addressing the needs of Stolen Generations members and their families.
However, some of these expectations seem to have been as a result of
communications with the government along these lines, rather than indicative of
a desire to limit healing to Stolen Generations members.

Other respondents felt that as almost every Indigenous family has in some way
been impacted upon by the forced removal policies. Therefore, any healing
strategy for Stolen Generations should be inclusive of their families and
communities, and such a scope would necessarily cover all Indigenous peoples.
Other respondents extended this view further and argued that Indigenous peoples
are experiencing a range of traumas, not only of forced removals, but also the
wider impacts of colonisation, which have manifested in high levels of stress
and disadvantage, drug and alcohol abuse, family violence, incarceration,
poverty and racism.

Whatever the reasoning, a majority of respondents recommended a wide scope
for healing that could address the full gambit of Indigenous healing needs
within a single body. However, within this wide scope, there was acknowledgement
that special attention, programs and funding needs to be allocated for
addressing the specific needs of Stolen Generations members, and priority needs
to be given to meeting these needs in light of the life expectancy of many
Stolen Generations members.

top | contents

3.4 Relationship with existing programs and Indigenous-controlled
health services

There was consensus that a national body support and complement the work of
Indigenous community based healing initiatives, such as the Indigenous
controlled health services. The body could make an important contribution
through its capacity building function to support the development of Indigenous
community controlled services and programs. Peak organisations such as NACCHO
will be important stakeholders for the body to liaise with but a national body
should also link with regional and state/ territory bodies and
organisations.

top | contents

3.5 Relationship with governments

A majority of respondents felt that a national body would be best placed to
put in place and coordinate a national healing framework that ensures
consistency across the country. Some respondents felt this could be supplemented
by state level healing bodies, with the possibility of representatives from the
state healing bodies represented in the national body, or alternatively the
national body could have state affiliates.
Given the breadth of areas that
Indigenous healing can be linked with (for example health, mental health, social
and emotion well-being, family violence, child protection, and offender programs
to name a few), respondents noted the importance of having coordinated responses
by federal and state/ territory governments. This could help overcome the
current confusion about government responsibilities between federal and
state/territory governments departments. This is particularly important given
the need for cross-departmental holistic programs that address Indigenous
healing. The national healing body would need to work with all levels of
government.

Respondents also suggested that the COAG reconciliation framework could be
revived as a means of securing a joint federal / state and territory agreement
to jointly fund the establishment and operations costs of the body.

All of the respondents recommended extensive consultation as part of the
process in developing a national healing body. A comprehensive national
community consultation process is needed to ensure that Indigenous communities
have an informed position on the scope, role and functions of the national
Indigenous healing body. The consultations need to be conducted with Indigenous
peoples and communities, Indigenous elders, Stolen Generations members,
Indigenous organisations and representative bodies. Consultations need to be
conducted in culturally appropriate
ways.[141] One of the concluding
resolutions from the FaHCSIA Indigenous Healing Forum was for the formation of
a working party to manage the community with government funding. Similarly, an
interim body may also be tasked to undertake consultations.

Consultations on the formation of a body also need to be undertaken with
federal, state and territory governments, federal government departments,
private and NGO sector stakeholders. There is no point establishing a body that
will not be able to work effectively with these stakeholders.

top | contents

Part 6: Conclusion and recommendations

There is no doubt about the need for healing in Indigenous communities. You
only need to listen to the stories of members of the Stolen Generations; the
stories of Indigenous women escaping family violence; the stories of Indigenous
peoples in custody who know about the thin line between victim and perpetrator;
and the Indigenous children that carry all of these stories around, to know that
we need healing urgently.

This need is not new, but I have argued in this chapter that I do think we
have a rare confluence of events at the moment. The National Apology has stirred
real compassion and understanding amongst Australians. Many are looking for ways
that they can try and ‘make good’ for the past, but in a way that is
also about achieving a better future. Healing holds that promise and I think it
is something people will get behind if we put it firmly on the national
agenda.

This chapter has reviewed some of the literature to get to an understanding
of healing in the Indigenous context, looked at real life Australian examples,
presented lessons and strategies from the Canadian experience and reported on
our consultation process. This ground work can guide and inform the agenda we
need to set for Indigenous healing.

However, I urge that action not be at the expense of proper consultation.
This is too important an issue to rush in and develop healing policy without
real community engagement. Experience tells us that this could be a once in a
life opportunity so let’s do it in a way that respects human rights and
will ultimately lead to better policy and outcomes.

For this reason I make the following recommendation to the Australian
Government.

Recommendation 15:

That the federal government establish an independent, Indigenous controlled
national Indigenous healing body following extensive consultation, which is
responsible for developing and then implementing a coordinated National
Indigenous Healing Framework. The Framework should be developed in conjunction
with the federal and state/ territory governments and Indigenous organisations
and communities..

The national Indigenous healing body should:

  • be based on the key principles of self-determination, respect for human
    rights, reconciliation, and adopt a community development approach that is
    grounded in Indigenous culture and identity;
  • have adequate resourcing for long term community generated, and culturally
    appropriate Indigenous healing services and programs, commensurate with
    need;
  • have a broad range of possible roles and functions including: research,
    public education, capacity building, training, accreditation, policy review,
    public reporting and monitoring and evaluation;
  • engage with state and territory governments to develop a nationally
    consistent approach in the provision of financial redress (compensation) for the
    Stolen Generations.

The national Indigenous healing body should also be funded to conduct
educational activities about Indigenous healing to Indigenous communities,
service providers and relevant government departments to ensure that the purpose
of a national Indigenous healing body is clearly understood.

 

top | contents


[1] Commonwealth,,Parliamentary
Debates
, House of Representatives, 13 February 2008, p 167 (The Hon Kevin
Rudd MP, Prime Minister).
[2]T
Calma, Let the healing being: Response to government to the apology to the
Stolen Generations (
Speech delivered at the Members Hall, Parliament House,
Canberra, 13 February 2008). At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/media/speeches/social_justice/2008/20080213let_the_healing_begin.html (viewed 17 October 2008).
[3] T
Calma, Essentials for Social Justice: The Future (Speech delivered at the
Hawke Centre, University of South Australia, Adelaide, 12 November 2008). At http://humanrights.gov.au/about/media/speeches/social_justice/2008/20081112_future.html(viewed 13 November 2008).
[4] Commonwealth, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 13
February 2008, p 167 (The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Prime
Minister).
[5] T Calma, Essentials for Social Justice: The Future (Speech delivered at the Hawke
Centre, University of South Australia, Adelaide, 12 November 2008). At http://humanrights.gov.au/about/media/speeches/social_justice/2008/20081112_future.html (viewed 13 November 2008).
[6] For previous discussions of healing in relation to family violence see Social
Justice Report 2007
; in relation to women exiting prison see Social Justice Report 2004; and in relation to the principle of
reparations in international law see Social Justice Report
2000
.
[7] Human Rights and
Equal Opportunity Commission, Bringing them home: Report of the National
Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children
from Their Families
(1997) p
396.
[8]Options for the future
of Indigenous Australia
, Australia 2020 Summit Final Report (2008), p
221-252. At: http://www.australia2020.gov.au/docs/final_report/2020_summit_report_6_communities.pdf (viewed 1 December 2008).
[9] K
Rudd, Apology Calligraphy Unveiling, (Speech delivered at Parliament
House, Canberra, 26 May 2008). At http://pm.gov.au/media/Speech/2008/speech_0269.cfm (viewed 1 December 2008).
[10] Prime Minister with Minister for Indigenous Affairs, ‘Artwork Unveiled to
Mark the Apology’ (Media Release, 26 May 2008). At http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/media/pressrel/SDKQ6/upload_binary/sdkq62.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22PG6%20%22rudd,%20kevin,%20mp%22%22 (viewed 1 December
2008).
[11]Standing Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Parliament of Australia, Stolen Generation
Compensation Bill 2008
(2008) par 3.131. At http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/legcon_ctte/stolen_generation_compenation/report/index.htm (viewed 17 October 2008). See part four of this paper, which identifies
concerns among Stolen Generations groups for the need for specific funding and
programs to be allocated to healing for Stolen Generations people, rather than
being built into general Indigenous health initiatives such as the close the gap
initiative.
[12] FaHCSIA, Papers of the Indigenous Healing Forum, Indigenous Healing Forum,
Canberra (16-17 September
2008).
[13] Explanatory
Memorandum, Stolen Generations Reparations Tribunal Bill 2008 (Cth). At http://www.comlaw.gov.au/ComLaw/Legislation/Bills1.nsf/0/6EE5378346464B5FCA2574D000050D5C/$file/S0654EM.rtf (viewed 1 December 2008).
[14] Explanatory Memorandum, Stolen Generations Reparations Tribunal Bill 2008 (Cth).
At http://www.comlaw.gov.au/ComLaw/Legislation/Bills1.nsf/0/6EE5378346464B5FCA2574D000050D5C/$file/S0654EM.rtf (viewed 1 December 2008).
[15] Aboriginal Male Health Summit, ‘Inteyerrkwe Statement’ (Media
Release, 3 July 2008). At http://www.caac.org.au/malehealthinfo/malehealthsummit2008sorry.pdf (viewed 13 November 2008).
[16] Aboriginal Male Health Summit, ‘Inteyerrkwe Statement’ (Media
Release, 3 July 2008). At http://www.caac.org.au/malehealthinfo/malehealthsummit2008sorry.pdf (viewed 13 November 2008).
[17] G Phillips, What is healing? – Appropriate public policy responses (paper for the FaHCSIA Indigenous Healing Forum Canberra, 16-17 September 2008)
p 2.
[18] Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007,
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2007) p
52.
[19] G Phillips,
‘Healing and Public Policy’ in J Altman and M Hinkson (eds) Coercive Reconciliation (2007) p
142.
[20] Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2004, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2004) p
57.
[21] G Phillips,
‘Healing and Public Policy’ in J Altman and M Hinkson (eds) Coercive Reconciliation (2007) p
142.
[22] J Atkinson, Communication with Social Justice Commissioner’s Office, 27 August
2007.
[23] G Phillips, What is
healing? – Appropriate public policy responses
(paper for the FaHCSIA
Indigenous Healing Forum Canberra, 16-17 September 2008) p
2.
[24] G Phillips, What is
healing? – Appropriate public policy responses
(paper for the FaHCSIA
Indigenous Healing Forum Canberra, 16-17 September 2008) p
7.
[25] H Moran & S
Fitzpatrick, Healing for the Stolen Generations – A Healing Model for
All
(Paper for the FaHCSIA Indigenous Healing Forum, Canberra, 16-17
September 2008).
[26] C Figley, Trauma and its wake, Volume 1: The study and treatment of post-traumatic
stress disorder
(1985) p
xviii.
[27]J Atkinson, C Atkinson
and T Goreng Goreng, Trans- and Intergenerational Trauma Study Guide,
Gnibi College Southern Cross University (2008) p
12.
[28] Paraphrased from G
Phillips, What is healing? – Appropriate public policy responses (Paper for the FaHCSIA, Indigenous Healing Forum, Canberra, 16-17 September
2008) p 1.
[29] G Phillips, What is healing? – Appropriate public policy responses (Paper for
the FaHCSIA, Indigenous Healing Forum, Canberra, 16-17 September 2008) p
2-3.
[30]J Atkinson, C Atkinson
and T Goreng Goreng, Trans- and Intergenerational Trauma Study Guide,
Gnibi College Southern Cross University (2008) p
19-20.
[31]C Wesley-Esquimaux and
M Smolewski, Historic Trauma and Aboriginal Health, Aboriginal Health
Foundation (2004) p 3.
[32] J
Atkinson, Trauma Trails Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects
of Trauma in Indigenous Australia
(2002).
[33] Gregory Phillips, What is healing? – Appropriate public policy responses (Paper for
the FaHCSIA Indigenous Healing Forum, Canberra, 16-17 September 2008) p
3.
[34] H Milroy,
‘Preface’ in S Zubrick, S Silburn, D Lawrence, D Mitrou, R Dalby, E
Blair, J Griffin, H Milroy, J DE Mario, A Cox and J Li, The Western
Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey: The Social and Emotional Wellbeing of
Aboriginal Children and Young People
(2005) p
xxii.
[35] S Zubrick et al, The Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey - The Social and
Emotional Wellbeing of Aboriginal Children and Young People
(2005) p
25.
[36] Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission, Bringing them home: Report of the National
Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children
from Their Families (1997) p
222-232.
[37] C Atkinson-Ryan
cited in P Anderson and R Wild, Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle ‘Little
Children are Sacred’ Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry
into the Protection of Aboriginal Children for Sexual Abuse
(2007) p
67.
[38] Aboriginal Justice
Advisory Committee, Speak out, Speak strong (2003), p
5.
[39] J Atkinson, Trauma
Trails Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in
Indigenous Australia
(2002) p
82.
[40] A Cornwell, Moving
forward: Achieving reparations Interim Report,
Public Interest and Advocacy
Centre (2001) p 4. At http://www.piac.asn.au/publications/pubs/interim_20010801.html (viewed 1 December 2008)
[41] Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Parliament of Australia, Healing: a legacy of generations (2000).
[42] P Dodson, In
Search of Change, Robed in Justice
(Speech delivered upon acceptance of the
Sydney Peace Prize, Sydney, 5 November
2008).
[43] G Phillips, What
is healing? – Appropriate public policy responses
(paper for the
FaHCSIA Indigenous Healing Forum Canberra, 16-17 September 2008) p
2.
[44] G Phillips,
‘Healing and Public Policy’ in J Altman and M Hinkson (eds) Coercive Reconciliation (2007) p
149.
[45] Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission, Bringing them home: Report of the National
Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children
from Their Families (1997) p
651.
[46] The van Boven
Principles were adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nation on 16
December 2005, Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Rights to a Remedy and
Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and
Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law
, GA Resolution 60/147
(2005). At http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N05/496/42/PDF/N0549642.pdf?OpenElement (viewed at 28 January 2009). For a more detailed discussion of the van Boven
Principles in relation to Indigenous Australians see Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2000,
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
(2000).
[47] Human Rights and
Equal Opportunity Commission, Bringing them home: Report of the National
Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children
from Their Families (1997), ch
14.
[48] National Sorry Day
Committee Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs on the Inquiry into the Stolen Generation Compensation
Bill 2008
, p 2, cited in Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs, Parliament of Australia, Stolen Generation Compensation Bill
2008
(2008) 3.74. At http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/legcon_ctte/stolen_generation_compenation/report/c03.htm (viewed 1 December 2008).
[49] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Submission to the Senate
Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the Inquiry into the
Stolen Generation Compensation Bill 2008
(9 April 2008) pars 6-7 At http://humanrights.gov.au/legal/submissions/2008/080409_compensation.html (viewed 1 December 2008).
[50] Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Parliament of Australia, Healing: a legacy of generations (2000).
[51]A Wilczynski, K
Reed-Gilbert, K Milward, B Tayler, J Fear and J Schwartzkoff, Evaluation of
Bringing Them Home and Indigenous Mental Health Programs
, Report prepared by
Urbis and Keys Young for the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Health, Department of Health and Ageing (2007) p
70.
[52] Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare, Child Protection Australia 2005-2006, Child Welfare
Series Report No. 40 (2007) p
70.
[53] Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission, Submission to the Department of Families, Communities
and Indigenous Affairs
on the Discussion Paper ‘Australia’s
children: safe and well- a national framework for protecting Australia’s
children’
(14 July 2008) par
90.
[54] Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission, Submission to the Department of Families, Communities
and Indigenous Affairs
on the Discussion Paper ‘Australia’s
children: safe and well- a national framework for protecting Australia’s
children’
(14 July 2008) par
91.
[55] Hon James Wood AO QC, Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in
NSW
(2008) p iv. At http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/Special_Projects/ll_splprojects.nsf/vwFiles/Report_Executive_Summary_Recommendations.pdf/$file/Report_Executive_Summary_Recommendations.pdf (viewed 1 December 2008).
[56] Hon James Wood AO QC, Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child
Protection Services in NSW
(2008) p xxiv – xxv. At http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/Special_Projects/ll_splprojects.nsf/vwFiles/Report_Executive_Summary_Recommendations.pdf/$file/Report_Executive_Summary_Recommendations.pdf (viewed 1 December
2008).
[57]Australian Institute
of Health and Welfare, Child Protection Australia 2005-2006, Child
Welfare Series Report No. 40 (2007) p
x.
[58] Steering Committee for
the Review of Government Service Provision, Overcoming Indigenous
Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2007
, Productivity Commission (2007) p
46.
[59]Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare, Juvenile Justice in Australia 2006-2007, Juvenile
Justice Series No. 4 (2008) p
45.
[60] Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare, Juvenile Justice in Australia 2006-2007, Juvenile
Justice Series No. 4 (2008) p
52.
[61]Kruger v Commnwealth (1997) 190 CLR 1.
[62] Cubillo and Another v Federal (No. 2) (2000) FCA
1084.
[63] Senate Legal and
Constitutional Affairs Committee, Parliament of Australia, Healing: a legacy
of generations
(2000).
[64] A
Cornwell, Moving forward: Achieving reparations Interim Report, Public
Interest and Advocacy Centre (2001) p 8-9. At http://www.piac.asn.au/publications/pubs/interim_20010801.html (viewed 17 October 2008).
[65] Social Justice Commissioner Dr William Jonas, Statement by Dr William Jonas
AM on the Qld ‘stolen wages’ issue
(2002). At http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/stolen_wages.html (viewed 16 January 2009).
[66] Office of the Stolen Generations Assessor, Stolen Generations of Aboriginal
Children Act- Report of the Stolen Generations Assessor,
Department of
Premier and Cabinet (2008) p 2. At http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/53770/Stolen_Generations_Assessor_final_report.pdf (viewed 16 January 2009).
[67] Senate Standing Committee of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Parliament of
Australia, Unfinished Business: Indigenous stolen wages (2006) pars 8.23-
8.28.
[68]Trevorrow v. State
of South Australia (No 5)
(2007) SASC 285. Other documented cases can be
found in C Cunneen and J Grix, ‘Chronology of the Stolen Generations
Litigation 1993–2003’ (2003) 17 Indigenous Law Bulletin. At http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/ILB/2003/17.html (viewed 21 January 2009).
[69] Other responses to the Forde Inquiry have included an apology to people abuse in
state care and the establishment of the Forde Foundation Trust Fund. The Forde
Foundation Trust Fund provides grants to former residents to help them overcome
the disadvantages they now experience as a result of childhood treatment that
affected their education, employment, health and general well being. These are
small grants for things like education costs, personal computers, dental
services and personal development services. This is not restricted to people who
suffered institutional abuse and neglect and grants from the Foundation are not
regarded as compensation.
[70] Queensland Government, Redress Scheme - Support and Services, http://www.communities.qld.gov.au/community/redress-scheme/support-services.html (viewed 1 December
2008).
[71]Senate Standing
Committee of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Parliament of Australia, Stolen Generation Compensation Bill 2008 (2008) pars 3.121- 3.122.
[72] Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission, Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional
Affairs Committee on the Inquiry into the Stolen Generation Compensation Bill
2008
(9 April 2008) par
2.
[73] Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission, Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional
Affairs Committee on the Inquiry into the Stolen Generation Compensation Bill
2008
(9 April 2008) par
26.
[74] Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission, Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional
Affairs Committee on the Inquiry into the Stolen Generation Compensation Bill
2008
(9 April 2008) par
26.
[75] M Dion Sout and R Harp, Lump Sum Compensation Payments Research Project: The Circle Rechecks
Itself
, Aboriginal Healing Foundation (2007) p xii. At http://www.ahf.ca/pages/download/28_13247 (viewed 24 October 2008).
[76] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social
Justice Report 2007,
Australian Human Rights Commission (2007) p
21-179.
[77]Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2004, Australian Human Rights Commission (2004) p
57-65.
[78] L Archibald, Final
Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume III: Promising Healing
Practices in Aboriginal Communities
, Aboriginal Healing Foundation (2006), p
16.
[79] L Archibald, Final
Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume III: Promising Healing
Practices in Aboriginal Communities
, Aboriginal Healing Foundation (2006), p
16.
[80] T Calma, Essentials
for Social Justice: Sorry
(Speech delivered at the launch of Us Taken Away
Kids, Sydney, 11 December 2007). At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/media/speeches/social_justice/2007/essentials_sorry20071211.html (viewed 31 October 2008).
[81] L
Archibald, Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume III:
Promising Healing Practices in Aboriginal Communities
, Aboriginal Healing
Foundation (2006) p 16.
[82] J
Atkin, Communication with Social Justice Unit staff, September
2008
[83] T Powell, Communication
with Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Commissioner and Social Justice Unit staff, 23 October
2008.
[84] For a more extensive
discussion of men’s groups and case studies see Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007,
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2007) p 92-113 and p
179-186.
[85] K Zulumovski,
Communication with Social Justice Unit staff, 26 November
2008.
[86]G Phillips,
‘Healing and Public Policy’ in J Altman and M Hinkson (eds), Coercive Reconciliation (2007), p
146.
[87]A Wilczynski, K
Reed-Gilbert, K Milward, B Tayler, J Fear and J Schwartzkoff, Evaluation of
Bringing Them Home and Indigenous Mental Health Programs
, Report prepared by
Urbis and Keys Young for the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Health, Department of Health and Ageing
(2007).
[88] G Phillips,
‘Healing and Public Policy’ in J Altman and M Hinkson (eds), Coercive Reconciliation (2007) p
146.
[89] R Williams,
‘Cultural Safety- what does it mean for our work practice’ (2008)
23(2) Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, p
214.
[90] A Wilczynski, K
Reed-Gilbert, K Milward, B Tayler, J Fear and J Schwartzkoff, Evaluation of
Bringing Them Home and Indigenous Mental Health Programs
, Report prepared by
Urbis and Keys Young for the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Health, Department of Health and Ageing (2007) p
i.
[91] Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007,
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2007) p
55.
[92] Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007,
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2007) p
64.
[93] Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007,
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2007) p
69.
[94] Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007,
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2007) p 97,
105.
[95] Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007,
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2007) p
179.
[96] Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2007,
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2007) p
64.
[97] Other countries such as
New Zealand and United States have developed healing programs that involve
traditional healing methods, combined with Western therapeutic methods. A more
detailed examination can be found in: L Archibald, Decolonization and
Healing: Indigenous Experiences in the United States, New Zealand, Australia and
Greenland
, Aboriginal Healing Foundation (2006). The Social Justice
Report 2000
gave an overview of the principle of reparations in
international law and examples from overseas jurisdictions. This included
examples of Indigenous healing initiatives undertaken in other countries such as
Canada, New Zealand and South Africa: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2000, Human Rights and
Equal Opportunity Commission (2000), p 133-154. In addition to healing programs,
reparations models have been established in the wake of internal conflicts and
state crimes in the form of truth and reconciliation commissions. South Africa
is usually held up as the model for truth and reconciliation commissions but
they also exist in Ghana, Liberia, Morocco, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, East Timor,
South Korea, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Peru and Fiji.
[98] Aboriginal Healing
Foundation, Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Fund, Summary of Key
Points
(2006) p
26.
[99]Aboriginal Healing
Foundation, 2007 Annual Report (2007). At http://www.ahf.ca/about-us/annual-reports (viewed 7 November 2008).
[100] M Castellano, Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume I, A Healing Journey: Reclaiming Wellness, Aboriginal Healing
Foundation (2006), p14.
[101] M
Castellano, Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume
I, A Healing Journey: Reclaiming Wellness,
Aboriginal Healing Foundation
(2006), p 19.
[102]M
Castellano, Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume
I, A Healing Journey: Reclaiming Wellness,
Aboriginal Healing Foundation
(2006), p 14.
[103]M
Castellano, Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume
I A Healing Journey: Reclaiming Wellness,
Aboriginal Healing Foundation
(2006), p 44.
[104] Aboriginal
Healing Fund, An Update on the work of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (2008). At http://www.ahf.ca/ (viewed 11 November
2008).
[105] M Castellano, Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume I A Healing
Journey: Reclaiming Wellness,
Aboriginal Healing Foundation (2006), p
42.
[106] M Castellano, Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume I A Healing
Journey: Reclaiming Wellness,
Aboriginal Healing Foundation (2006), p
94.
[107] M Castellano, Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume I A Healing
Journey: Reclaiming Wellness,
Aboriginal Healing Foundation (2006), p
95.
[108] Aboriginal Healing
Fund, The Aboriginal Healing Foundation: Summary Points of the AHF Final
Report
(2006). At http://www.ahf.ca/publications/evaluation-series (viewed 13 November 2008)
[109] Aboriginal Healing Fund, The Aboriginal Healing Foundation; Summary Points of
the AHF Final Report
(2006). At http://www.ahf.ca/publications/evaluation-series (viewed 13 November 2008)
[110] Aboriginal Healing Fund, The Aboriginal Healing Foundation; Summary Points of
the AHF Final Report
(2006). At http://www.ahf.ca/publications/evaluation-series (viewed 13 November 2008)
[111] Aboriginal Healing Fund, The Aboriginal Healing Foundation; Summary Points of
the AHF Final Report
(2006). At: http://www.ahf.ca/publications/evaluation-series (viewed 13 November 2008)
[112] M Castellano, Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume I A Healing Journey: Reclaiming Wellness, Aboriginal Healing
Foundation (2006), p
101.
[113] G Hagen,
‘Commentary: on ADR for residential school claims’, Lawyers
Weekly,
1 April 2005. At: http://www.lawyersweekly.ca/index.php?section=article&articleid=62 (viewed 12 November 2008).
[114] G Hagen, ‘Commentary: on ADR for residential school claims’, Lawyers Weekly, 1 April 2005. At: http://www.lawyersweekly.ca/index.php?section=article&articleid=62 (viewed 12 November 2008).
[115] G Hagen, ‘Commentary: on ADR for residential school claims’, Lawyers Weekly, 1 April 2005. At http://www.lawyersweekly.ca/index.php?section=article&articleid=62 (viewed 12 November 2008).
[116] The complete agreement, court documents and commentary can be found at http://www.residentialschoolsettlement.ca/english_index.html (viewed 12 November 2008).
[117] Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Truth, Healing and Reconciliation (2008). At http://www.trc-cvr.ca/pdfs/20080818eng.pdf, (viewed 13 November 2008).
[118] Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Truth, Healing and Reconciliation (2008). At http://www.trc-cvr.ca/pdfs/20080818eng.pdf, (viewed 13 November 2008).
[119] Aboriginal Healing Fund, The Aboriginal Healing Foundation; Summary Points of
the AHF Final Report
(2006). At: www.ahf.ca/pages/download/28_13239 (viewed 13 November 2008).
[120] M Castellano, Final
Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation
, Volume I A Healing Journey:
Reclaiming Wellness,
Aboriginal Healing Foundation (2006), p
20.
[121] M Castellano, Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Volume I A Healing
Journey: Reclaiming Wellness,
Aboriginal Healing Foundation (2006), p
21.
[122] G Phillips, Personal
communication with Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social
Justice Commissioner, 11 November 2008.

[123] Correctional Service of
Canada, Evaluation Report: The Section 81 Agreement between the Native
Counselling Services of Alberta and the Correctional Service of Canada
, The
Stan Daniels Healing Centre (2006). At
http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/pa/ev-sdhc-394-2-30/toc-eng.shtml#ack (viewed 12
November 2008).

[124] Such as the FaHCSIA
Indigenous Healing Forum, Canberra, 16-17 September
2008.
[125] Respondents were:
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation; Balunu Foundation; Cooperative
Research Centre for Aboriginal Health; Link-Up (NSW); Link-Up (Wyndham);
Nunkuwarrin Yunti (South Australia); Red Dust Healing Program; Secretariat of
National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC); Spirit, Body, Mind and
Heart Working Group (Chair- Helen Moran); Stolen Generations Alliance; Telethon
Institute for Child Health Research; WA – Bringing Them Home Committee;
Stolen Generations Victoria; David Hollinsworth; Dorinda Cox; Gregory Phillips;
Judy Atkinson; Lorraine Peters, and Rosemary Wanganeen.

[126] G Phillips,
‘Healing and public policy’ in J Altman and M Hinkson Eds. Coercive Reconciliation. North Carlton, Arena Publications Association,
2007, pp141-150, cited in Melisah Feeney, ‘Reclaiming the Spirit of Well
Being: Promising healing practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people – Discussion Paper’, Stolen Generations Alliance, August
2008.
[127] J Atkinson, In
discussions during FaHCSIA Indigenous Healing Forum, Canberra, 16-17 September
2008.
[128] Yorgum Healing
Centre, Yorgum Healing Centre (Paper for the FaHCSIA Indigenous Healing
Forum, Canberra, 16-17 September
2008).
[129] N Yunti,
Correspondence to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Social Justice Commissioner,
Australian Human Rights Commission, 22 September
2008.
[130] D Cox, Phone
conversation with staff of Social Justice Unit, Australian Human Rights
Commission, 22 October
2008.
[131] G Stubbs, The
context of healing
(Paper for the FaHCSIA Indigenous Healing Forum,
Canberra, 16-17 September
2008).
[132] H Moran & S
Fitzpatrick, Healing for the Stolen Generations – A Healing Model for
All
(Paper for the FaHCSIA Indigenous Healing Forum, Canberra, 16-17
September 2008). The need for distinct healing programs for Stolen Generations
members, developed in consultation with Stolen Generations members were also
reflected by the Stolen Generations
Alliance.
[133] Human Rights
and Equal Opportunity Commission, Bringing them home: Report of the
National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Children from Their Families (1997), p
392-396.
[134] See Text Box 10
for a list of healing needs identified by respondents for Stolen Generations
members.
[135] See Text Box 7
for a list of existing healing initiatives identified by
respondents.
[136]One of the
concluding resolutions from the FaHCSIA Indigenous Healing Forum was the in
principle support for the development of a National Healing Foundation. FaHCSIA, Papers of the Indigenous Healing Forum, Indigenous Healing Forum,
Canberra (16-17 September
2008).
[137] Other principles
and values that were identified as important for Indigenous healing generally
included: focus on Indigenous culture and tradition, family based, linking
therapeutic approaches to spiritual and cultural approaches, community support
for healing and recovery, connection with country, trust, courage, connection,
culturally appropriate, diversity, flexibility, respect for Indigenous
protocols, recognition of Indigenous community knowledge, cultural
safety.
[138] A possible model
to look to for how this function of the body could be fulfilled is the
‘Canadian observatory on the justice system response to intimate partner
violence’ - an international network of researchers, practitioners and
policy-makers from across many disciplines. It is a vehicle for conducting
national research projects and international comparisons, and identifying future
collaborative research directions (more information is available from their
website at: http://www.unb.ca/observ/index.php).
[139] The Spirit Body Mind and
Heart Working Group put forward a model that allowed for three funds – the
Stolen Generations fund (which would fund healing programs for Stolen
Generations members), the Community/ Family/ Individuals Fund (for funding
programs for broader related Indigenous healing) and the National Healing
Awareness fund (for funding awareness and education activities on healing, as
well research on achieving restitution, rehabilitation and healing): H Moran
& S Fitzpatrick, Healing for the Stolen Generations – A Healing
Model for All
(Paper prepared for the FaHCSIA, Indigenous Healing Forum,
Canberra, 16-17 September 2008).
Gregory Phillips noted the option of
creating a financial base for the body (perhaps $500 million) that can
be invested in a fund and managed professionally with a sound financial
management plan. The interest and annual disbursements from the fund could
be used to make grants to Indigenous healing programs - the priorities
and criteria for which should be decided by the independent Indigenous
professional and community-based Board: G Phillips, Communication with
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 11 November
2008.
[140] The WA Sexual
Assault Resource Centre is another example of a funding model for healing
programs. The Centre annually provides $100,000 per region, and the use of
funds evolves as a fluid process through community consultation and community
identified solutions.
[141] The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples highlights states’
obligations to consult with Indigenous peoples in Article 19:
“ States
shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned
through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free,
prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or
administrative measures that may affect them” (United Nations
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,
GA Resolution 61/295, UN
Doc A/61/L.67 (2007). At http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf (viewed 1 December 2008). The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social
Justice Commissioner has also commented on a central element of a human rights
based approach being Indigenous peoples participation and engagement in
government laws, policies and programs (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice Report 2006, Human Rights and
Equal Opportunity Commission (2006), p 5-6.) See also Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission and United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous
Issues, Guidelines for Engagement with indigenous peoples, United Nations
Conference on Engaging Communities (2005). At http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/conference/engaging_communities/index.html (viewed 1 December 2008).