Above: Double selfie! Jade (left) and Adelle (Right)
Story and Pics by Adelle Salter
My favourite parts of the conference included being around culture. That includes bringing cultures together and working side by side with the Aboriginal people.
It makes you feel included, a part of something bigger than yourself, to learn more about our Aboriginal Culture and to be welcomed into an environment as someone who does not identify as being Aboriginal.
I also learned how to best connect with young Aboriginal people and their families: trust and being yourself gains respect. Everyone’s story is important and we all have one.
Paul Callahan is an amazing speaker who grasps your attention right away. He has everyone involved and working together as a part of his talk on the dreaming tree. I purchased his book because I was so interested in learning more about him.
Paul also spoke of his own story where he burnt out working in this type of field and lived with depression. Because my work is in the same field of social and emotional wellbeing, this helped me to feel as if it happens to more people than I realized. It showed me how important self-care is, and that it’s ok to talk about it among ourselves and to listen to others. Sometimes you can see signs of burn out in others before they see notice it in themselves.
I saw other presenters including;
• Janine Cattanach Founder of The Cultural Consultancy Group. She spoke about Strong Connection, Strong Spirit, Strong Culture which is understanding the emotional development across a person’s life span, the impact of trauma, and ways of healing from an Aboriginal perspective. She further covered Broken Spirit to Strong Spirit which talked further about trauma symptoms.
• Mel Brown Director of Spirit Dreaming spoke about Family Group Conferencing – Empowering the Family. My understanding is that Aboriginal families are participating in decision making that affect them, though it appears that the Department of Families and Community Services still has a lot of power. She also spoke about maintaining your well-being around work related stress.
• Nyssa Murray, Project Manager, Lead My Learning, University of Sydney spoke about Educational Promotion Strategies for parents with young children. It was created through a partnership between child and family service and university researchers; Barnados Australia – South Coast NSW and an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship project. Their lead My Learning campaign rolled out to support parents in teaching them how to teach their kids in everyday tasks to help them grow; the importance of relationships between an educator, parents and children; and how supported playgroups facilitate innovative ways to connect parents with education.
• Marc Daley Facilitator – FGC gave us some useful tools for group facilitation/Engaging Aboriginal Communities including making paper aeroplanes with an embarrassing story and a paper fire allowing each person to talk about what’s written on their piece of paper when they’re ready. He was a great speaker who believed in working together both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in our wider community. He also openly spoke about burning out twice before and how he made it through those times.
• Sunrise Aboriginal Health Corporation – Ngukurr, Northern Territory was an amazing, remote service. It had been training two local women conference attendees as health workers who will continue the work once they leave. Absolutely fantastic presentation.
• Sarah Decrea spoke about New Way? Let us Reclaim ‘Old Way’ which looked at what it looks like growing up traditionally with secure attachment, love and wellbeing, growing up healthy and safe. We went over the effects of invasion on Aboriginal and Torres Strait families and the loss of culture and connection to family. Healthy spirit: Strong mind.
The most important message from all this which I’d like to share is; “Be who you are, understand that we all come from different cultures and we are better when we are working together. Take the time to get to know someone. If that means taking off your shoes and sitting under a tree; connection is what is important and what makes the world go around.”