Riverbank setting for Healing Circle ceremony
The inaugural IWC Healing Circle to be held in North Burnett was celebrated in a traditional yarning environment – on the banks of the Burnett River.
IWC provides Healing Circle Work within its holistic model of whole-of-person care, and has been delivering regular Healing Circle group sessions in Bundaberg since 2015.
“Healing Circle Work is intensive,” said Aunty Cheri Yavu-Kama-Harathunian, who has developed the methodology over years of consultation with Traditional Owners and Elders from across Australia.
“It is not a therapy, but therapeutic outcomes manifest. It demonstrates Aboriginal Cultural ways of doing business ‘our’ way. Participants are motivated to deal with trauma and life challenges with honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, respectfulness, decency and fairness to themselves and others.”
The first Healing Circle Work sessions in Bundaberg were held in partnership with Bundaberg Regional Council, in the wake of the devastating 2013 floods.
“Healing Circle Work is equally suitable for Aboriginal and non-Indigenous peoples,” said Aunty Cheri. “It is about learning to experience a restorative and health-giving sense of wellbeing for themselves, and sharing that with those around them.”
IWC is Aboriginal community-controlled and a registered charity, offering health and wellbeing services to all – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – across the regions.
The Healing Circle which concluded early in October involved three participants and took place over five weeks. Up to five participants can take part in a Healing Circle.
Sitting on the banks of the Burnett at the Healing Circle Graduation Ceremony, IWC North Burnett Assistant Manager Cynthia George said the Healing Circle was a methodology designed to break the cycle of trauma or unresolved personal issues within a traditional group setting.
“It’s a very good circle of trust.”
One of the participants, Renee, said the five-week process had seen her reframe herself and change the way she treated herself for the better.
“I started from a position of putting myself down, telling myself I don’t deserve love or happiness,” she said. “I’m now looking at life differently. I’m now a lot happier within myself,” she said.
“I’ve never done anything like it before. I would recommend it to anyone; it’s been a big positive for me. I’ve learnt to reject the negativity.”
Healing Circle Work is part of a suite of Cultural Healing services delivered by IWC, including Cultural Responsiveness Training for workplaces. CRT is a 21st-century training package developed by the voices of Aboriginal people to build understanding and remove barriers to communication between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.