Michael was committed to developing respectful narrative approaches to working with Aboriginal workers in Australia. In addition, we’d like to show here other narrative initiatives working with Aboriginal and Indigenous people, as well as Community Workers such as in Burundi and India.
‘Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger’ by Barb Wingard and Jane Lester
This is an extract from the book Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger (Dulwich Centre Publications, 2001)
As Indigenous people of this country, we have faced so many losses due to past and present injustice. Grief’s presence has been with us for a long time. Now we are seeking ways of speaking about Grief that are consistent with our cultural ways of doing things. We are remembering those who have died, we are honouring Indigenous spiritual ways, and we are finding ways of grieving that bring us together. We are telling our stories in ways that make us stronger.Dealing with our grief, with all of the losses we have experienced, is not about moving on and forgetting. It’s about remembering our people and bringing them with us wherever we go.I’ve lost a brother, my father, my grandmother too, but I believe that they’re still with me. I carry a lot of their ways. I acknowledge them.We Aboriginal people have had too many losses. Sometimes it seems as if we are moving from one death to another. Our people just get so weary; at times it’s too much to go to one more funeral.We simply have to find ways of grieving together because it’s far too hard to do it on our own.
Healing stories: Partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
In recent years, the significant challenges facing Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have received much attention: youth suicide, child abuse, violence, reduced life expectancy, alcohol and drug abuse, and so on.
However, the wide range of ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are responding to these problems have received far less attention – community actions to reduce harm from alcohol and violence, practices of remembrance and honouring, local child protection initiatives, rich healing traditions, among many others.
The Dulwich Centre Foundation facilitates the telling, documentation, and sharing of ‘healing stories’ between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. These are particular sorts of stories that include the skills and knowledge that community members are putting to use to try to deal with the current difficulties that are being faced. Senior traditional owner, Djuwalpi Marika, described these stories as ‘like a healing, like a medicine’.
Dulwich Centre has worked in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for more than 20 years. One early project was the ‘Reclaiming our stories, reclaiming our lives’ counselling project, initiated by the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Since then, we have worked with a range of communities, from Port Augusta (South Australia), to Yirrkala (Arnhem Land), Ntaria/Hermannsburg (Central Australia), Cape York, and many others.
Our work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is led by Barbara Wingard, Senior Aboriginal Health Worker.
Narrative Practices Adelaide
One of the last meetings in which Michael participated the day before he left Adelaide for teaching overseas was with the education team at Nunkuwarrin Yunti. At this meeting Michael and Maggie Carey discussed with the team the possibilities of creating a more visible link between their new centre and the teaching that was taking place in this course. Since then, Maggie Carey, Shona Russell and Rob Hall have taught for many years as facilitators for the Diploma of Narrative Approaches for Aboriginal people (counselling, group and community work), a TAFE accredited diploma that is run through the Regional Centre at Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia. The photo shows graduates of the two year Diploma in Narrative Approaches for working with Aboriginal communities.
Collaborative and Indigenous Mental Health Therapy: Tātaihono – Stories of Māori Healing and Psychiatry
This book examines a collaboration between traditional Māori healing and clinical psychiatry. Comprised of transcribed interviews and detailed meditations on practice, it demonstrates how bicultural partnership frameworks can augment mental health treatment by balancing local imperatives with sound and careful psychiatric care. In the first chapter, Māori healer Wiremu NiaNia outlines the key concepts that underpin his worldview and work. He then discusses the social, historical, and cultural context of his relationship with Allister Bush, a child and adolescent psychiatrist. The main body of the book comprises chapters that each recount the story of one young person and their family’s experience of Māori healing from three or more points of view: those of the psychiatrist, the Māori healer and the young person and other family members who participated in and experienced the healing. With a foreword by Sir Mason Durie, this book is essential reading for psychologists, social workers, nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, and students interested in bicultural studies.
Wiremu NiaNia was apprenticed as a child to a spiritual healer of the NiaNia whānau. In 2005 he became the cultural therapist at Te Whare Mārie, the Māori mental health service at Capital Coast District Health Board. He is now an independent healer, writer and consultant.
Allister Bush is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Te Whare Mārie, the Māori mental health service in Porirua, and at Health Pasifika (integrated Pacific mental health service, Capital Coast District Health Board).
David Epston is an honorary clinical lecturer at University of Melbourne and an affiliate faculty member at North Dakota State University.
Community Workers – Mumbai, India