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Video: Royal Commission Healing Camp

The Royal Commission into Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory team at RA provided services to those affected by the Royal Commission. One such program was Healing Camp which engaged with Arrente elders to share cultural knowledge with young people. The Healing Camp brought together people from the Akeyulerre Healing Centre and a group home visiting program in a culturally safe and careful way.

The importance of belonging in social and emotion wellbeing (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council, 2004) indicates the need for keeping people connected to their culture and communities. Healing Camp resulted from understanding the cultural and social needs of young people. Aside from developing the team’s capacity to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, RA’s Aboriginal and Indigenous Cultural Advisors carried out camps that engaged youth with culture and community.

By working to resurface culture with young people, RA’s Royal Commission team have offered something unique to young people. These experiences are a resistance to the degradation of culture experienced by Aboriginal people through colonisation. It is argued that by presenting powerful associations with land, traditional stories and family responsibilities, these programs have the potential to foster resilience and support positive choices. Highly skilled workers developed a culturally active therapeutic practice that was well accepted by participants.

One participant noted, “They should have more of this. More workers. Workers that can show us how to be. There should be more cultural activities, show them how to do things they can’t do at home, and art programs.”

Young people who have been in contact with the justice system have in other forums been described as ‘difficult to engage’. Healing camp demonstrated that when the content is culturally active and the supports are in place, young people can be very engaged. They learnt real skills and real knowledges that can be translated into their lives and used to guide. This work is grown from Indigenous knowledge. It is innovative and presents an excellent model for future design and warrants further interest.

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