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Working with Aboriginal families adds to Tweddle's healing spirit.

Posted by Kerrie Gottliebsen | 06/03/12

Working with aboriginal families adds to Tweddle's healing spirit.

Tweddle staff embraced Cultural Competence Training this week with Uncle Reg, elder of the Melbourne aboriginal community.  Uncle Reg exuded an aura of warmth, care and knowledge.  He has the rare ability to weave a story that touches your soul and has you asking questions of yourself, your community, your culture, your identity. We were in good hands.

Born in Queesland, his experience includes decades in senior levels in paid and unpaid positions within the Aboriginal Community, Peak body organisations, all levels of government and non-government agencies in policy and program coordination and management.  

To kick start the day, we paid our respects to aboriginal elders past and present and participated in a negative energy cleansing ceremony.  This involved walking through the wafting white smoke of smouldering gum leaves and later, eyes closed, meditating on the deeply evocative sounds of Uncle Reg playing the didgeridoo.   

Throughout the day, Uncle Reg shared with us stories of the past and present and inspired us with hope for the future and how we could embrace change.  We travelled through a time line which covered European settlement, extermination and protection, segregation, assimilation, integration through to aboriginal self determination and self management today.   We spoke about massacres, genocide, ethnic cleansing, the stolen generation and exploitation.  Facing the truth of Australia’s dark history was confronting for everyone.

In many ways Uncle Reg held a mirror up to what is absent the lives of aboriginal and non aboriginal people, a spiritual connection to the land, a deep sense of community, respect for elders and how we tend live life according to the story we tell ourselves.

Together with Aunty Zeta, Uncle Reg currently runs the men’s family circle, a weekly key component of the Healing Program run by the Gathering Place Aboriginal Health Service in Melbourne’s west.  The program combines western medicine with Aboriginal healing and helps men and women affected by drugs, alcohol and long term incarceration.  

We were fortunate enough to experience personal stories of courage and adversity from a panel of three Gathering Place clients.  Sharon, Darlene and Brian shared inspirational and sometimes heart breaking stories and reflected on what has helped and hindered them and how they came to be where they are today.

The afternoon was spent working on our mission statement, an action plan and a vision statement.  We look forward to respectfully connecting with the aboriginal community and providing safe and trusted parenting support to families and children.  We look forward to delivering thoughtful, welcoming and culturally sensitive services that honour and acknowledge history and past trauma.

When Europeans first settled in the Port Phillip region, it was already occupied by five Aboriginal language groups.  The people are The Wurundjeri People, The Boonerwrung People, The Wathaurong People, The Taungerong People and the Jaara People.   Tweddle provides its services on the land Wurundjeri and we pay our respects to elders past and present.


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