“In Search Of Your Warrior Program was created to treat traumatic experiences, to heal the scars of abuse, to get rid of the blinding rage and anger that inmates carry deep inside.”
The In Search of Your Warrior Program Identity at the heart of healing.
Enhanced capacities to provide effective interventions for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders.
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) provides a continuum of culturally appropriate interventions that address the specific needs of First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders in a way that contributes to safe and healthy communities. In particular, over the last decade, CSC has created eight healing lodges across Canada. Let’s Talk writers recently visited one of them, the Pê Sâkâstêw Healing Lodge in Alberta, where staff and offenders spoke of the benefits of the holistic approach and the rehabilitation programs, in particular the In Search of Your Warrior Program (ISYW).
Effective strategies to strengthen the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Issues paper no. 12 produced for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse
Pat Dudgeon, Roz Walker, Clair Scrine, Carrington Shepherd, Tom Calma and Ian Ring November 2014
What doesn’t work
- Programs that fail to take account of Indigenous values, lifestyles, aspirations, family and differing needs and capacities of Indigenous people in diverse, complex economic and social circumstances.
- Programs and services developed with inadequate timeframes, funding and program support that fail to address health in a holistic manner and focus on the individual without regard for the family and community context.
- Provision or adaptation of mainstream programs by mainstream providers for Indigenous people without Indigenous community involvement or consultation.
- Programs that are short-term, inflexible and designed and delivered without consultation, engagement and partnership with the community and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service sector.
- Poor engagement with research evidence by the mainstream sector can lead to systemic racism, lack of cultural understanding and appropriateness, and a reliance on ‘one size fits all’ approaches.
- Performance indicators and reporting requirements, developed in accordance with the values and principles of the mainstream mental health system, that do not always align with Indigenous cultural ways of working and views of social and emotional wellbeing.
There is evidence that programs that are developed or implemented in accordance with the 9 guiding principles underpinning the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Well Being 2004–2009 (SHRG 2004) are more likely to be effective and have positive outcomes than those that do not.
- Programs that show promising results for Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing are those that encourage self-determination and community governance, reconnection and community life, and restoration and community resilience.
- Important program features include:
– a holistic approach
– a focus on recovery and healing from stress and trauma
– a means of empowering people to regain a sense of control and mastery over their lives
– strategies that are Indigenous-led, family focused, culturally responsive, and context specific
– interdisciplinary approaches that provide outreach services and transport
– partnerships with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector and local communities.
- There is evidence that both mainstream and Indigenous-specific programs and services that adhere to the Closing the Gap service-delivery principles of engagement, access, integration and accountability are more effective than those that do not.
- ‘Participatory action research’ approaches provide an effective mechanism for involving Indigenous families and communities in developing, implementing and evaluating programs. Programs that adopt participatory action research tend to be more culturally responsive to local contexts and foster a culturally safe environment for program participants.
- Engaging in cultural activities is an indicator of positive cultural identity that is associated with better mental health among Indigenous Australians.
FULL REPORT HERE :
Australasian Evaluation Society Conference – Indigenous Speaker notes from Final Plenary Session
Introduce that a workshop was held on Monday for Indigenous people only
- Mix of ages, gender, occupations, experience, nationalities, ethnicities, tribes and clans
- Even with this diversity, some key common themes arose from our discussions, some of which have already been presented in Steve Larkin’s keynote and no doubt will also be picked up in Peter Mataira’s keynote
Power and control (and the relationship to ethics)
- Who has the power?
- Who controls the evaluation?
- At what point are community brought into the evaluation?
- And once brought in are they able to truly exercise any control over the information collected about them?
Theme 2 (Related to Theme 1)
Concerns around knowledge and expertise
Whose knowledge is privileged?
Who are the experts?
What happens when knowledge is shared in an evaluation process?
How much is ever returned to community to enable transformation and change?
Lots of discussion around the politics of evaluation and what happens when this is played out in the community.
And the purpose of evaluation:
- Is evaluation activity simply to ensure continuation of programme funding?
- Or are there bigger goals – wellbeing of a community for example”
Wrap-up and recommendations
- In addition to these high level, systems level issues participants also offered a number of directions to AES, from things it could do immediately to support community and Indigenous, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander evaluators
- An indigenous ethical framework, code of conduct, guidelines for those working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities Greater emphasis on two-way learning
- Greater contact with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, including NACCHO More visibility in the community More training, education and support – from formal courses/workshops through to mentoring (for Indigenous and non-Indigenous)
- More Indigenous evaluators!
Attending the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development
At the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation, ‘A culturally responsive social work application of Indigenous and western ways of thinking and doing when responding to Indigenous sexual diversity in a young, Indigenous male client’, the fourth in a series of five presentations I am undertaking this year. These presentations have been thematically linked to the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous people who fit the description of gender variant and sexuality diverse, or the more common acronym of LGBQTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, intersex). Two presentations have been on suicide prevention for this particular group and the third looking at the intersectionality of Indigeneity, gender variance and diverse sexualities and how to identify the social determinants of health affecting this group.
Attending the conference provided me the opportunity to use the decolonisation framework in Lorraine Muller’s text, ‘A theory for Indigenous Australian health and human service work’ (2014), in my presentation. The six stages of decolonisation in the book are: (1) Rediscovery and Recovery, (2) Mourning, (3) Healing/Forgiveness, (4) Dreaming, (5) Commitment and (6) Action. The six stages of decolonisation present a culturally responsive understanding that can be applied to social work; one that feels safe to use. This is important. It will be a framework that I will use time and time again as an Indigenous social work practitioner when working with an Indigenous partner. I use the term ‘partner’ in the context of a partnership with the individual, family or community we are working alongside. I am not a fan of the term ‘client’ as I believe it implies a power balance that is not conducive to an anti-oppressive space of interaction. Social work and social workers should not be interventionist(s) but rather sharers of practice, skills and theory through application not intervention.
My presentation was within the ‘Strengthening social and cultural wellbeing: Indigenous perspectives’ stream. It was great to catch up again with Michael Hart, who presented a paper titled ‘Indigenist social work: Culturally safe means to overcoming oppression and supporting wellbeing’, as well as network with the other local and international Indigenous delegates. When Marina Marcela Herrero, from Brazil, presented ‘Revitalization of Indigenous cultures at risk’ it was in her native tongue and although I couldn’t understand any of what was being said the accompanying video and the tones of her voice did assist in telling her story and her presentation. However, as I was sitting there I was reminded of how privileged I am being a speaker of English. It also reminded me that when it comes to Indigenous social work and our giving and receiving care styles we should not have to be in constant explanation mode. It should not always be up to us to explain, but that others need to make the effort to understand.
Prior to the conference I logged onto the live streaming of the IFSW General Meeting and was extremely happy to see ‘Indigenous knowledges’ included in the new definition of social work. I give full credit to the IFSW and the international organising committee of the SWESD gathering, as the live stream was a great idea. The inclusion of ‘Indigenous knowledges’ in the definition did set up quite a bit of expectation of Indigenous peoples’ inclusion throughout the three days. It is great when a local Indigenous person gives the Welcome to Country, I always feel deeply about hearing another Indigenous person’s language. I would have liked to have seen Indigenous content in the opening plenary session itself. There is perhaps a bias that I carry in regards to Indigenous content because I do believe it to be an emerging area of social work theory and practice.
I also believe it to be very exciting, especially for Indigenous students of social work, that we now have two texts to draw on, Lorraine’s, mentioned above, and ‘Our voices : Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social work’, edited by Bindi Bennett, Sue Green, Stephanie Gilbert and Dawn Bessarab. These books need to be essential texts across all tertiary teaching institutions. Indigenous people, particularly in the Australian context need to be more recognised within social work as researchers, authors, practitioners and educators. This needs to be imbedded in social work education rather than placing us consistently as ‘clients’. I will also use this opportunity to advocate for the inclusion of more assessments tailored toward responding to the needs of Indigenous people. We are not a homogenous group and our needs are as diverse as the people we are.
I have to tip my hat to the AASW for providing these scholarships. I took away more from the conference than what I can write about here. It was great that once the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags did arrive they were displayed prominently at the AASW booth.
They certainly coloured the place in. Both ‘A Theory for Indigenous Australian Health and Human Service Work and Our voices: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social work’ were available to buy at the conference or online. Lorraine’s book sold out to local and international guests, which I think is just fantastic. There is no doubt that more can be done to enhance and strengthen social work in Australia and if there is a discussion that is interested in outcomes and changes influenced by the Indigenous voice, you can count me in.
This was originally published in the print edition of the AASW Spring Edition Bulletin
Decolonisation and Neo-Cultural Gender Expression and Identity
Within Indigenous Australian cultures the discourse on sexuality and gender outside of western constraints is extremely limited. When sexuality is discussed it is more often than not in the registers of pathology that in turn speaks to a heterocentric discourse. This session will use a six stages of decolonisation process, by Dr Lorraine Muller, as a response to the cultural challenges and to identify strengths in Indigenous *LGBT people. LGBQT is presupposed as counterfeit descriptor that misconstrues pre-settler colonial Indigenous gender variance and diverse sexualities. This session will explore the idea of “Neo-Cultural Gender Expression and Identity” as a dynamic part of our cultural evolution.
Reflections / Book reviews
Creating agency in Aboriginal health
Med J Aust 2014; 201 (9): 540.
PAT ANDERSON, chair of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, provides generous praise to the authors of this work for their valuable contribution to research and practice of empowerment in Aboriginal health (http://www.lowitja.org.au/promoting-aboriginal-health-family-wellbeing-empowerment-approach). When you read this text you will find that the praise is well deserved.
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