A Healing Centre in Western Sydney
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of Western Sydney is the largest urban Aboriginal population in Australia and over time has been enduring numerous socio-economic issues and disadvantage, including poor education, low employment, alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness, high incarceration rates, a prevalence of domestic violence and child protection interventions. These issues are a direct result of the intergenerational trauma suffered by Aboriginal people due to past government policies that resulted in the stolen generations, and the loss of culture and identity. All this trauma has been suppressed and will only be resolved through a healing program to break the cycle of disadvantage, which the existing service system has not been able to effectively resolve. Breaking the cycle of disadvantage will have far reaching benefits for the Aboriginal community in Western Sydney and well as for the wider community in general.
Baabayn’s vison is to create a Healing Centre that will give Aboriginal people in the Western Sydney community a place to meet and reconnect with their cultural and spiritual identity. They can work on healing the intergenerational trauma, improve self-esteem and get on a positive path free from drugs, alcohol and the other issues of disadvantage synonymous with this community. It will provide support to individuals, families and carers and provide culturally appropriate counselling, mentoring, advisory work and cultural healers. The relevant service organisations will be able to come together to work as one.
It will also provide a unique connection between community Elders and young people (including parents) through various groups, talks and cultural events, which will pass on the cultural wisdom and knowledge.
The centre will be a unique, safe and culturally appropriate space where people feel they belong and can heal their spirit by participating in a wide range of Aboriginal cultural activities and events.
These events will re-educate the greater community about Aboriginal culture and spirit and will include:
- “yarn ups‟ and sharing stories around the campfire to learn about culture and lost knowledge
- cultural music, and film nights
- storytelling events
- language restoration
Lisa Charet, District Director Western Sydney, NSW Department of Family and Community Services says “The Baabayn women are an inspiring group of Aboriginal Elders who receive no funding, yet work tirelessly providing enormous support to younger members of the community, are fantastic role models and are actively building community resilience and healing. I have worked with the Baabayn women for many years and admire how their work encourages cultural participation of the Aboriginal community in Western Sydney”.
Ideally the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural and Healing Centre will be an environmentally friendly purpose built centre that will include a large space for cultural gatherings and smaller spaces for individual support and healing purposes. Important cultural features will include a large campfire space, tracks, photo library facilities, healing and bush tucker gardens and a nursery for the cultivation of traditional bush healing plants. The outside area will be a bush landscape providing a sense of connection to the land. A large welcoming kitchen and seating area will allow people to come for a cuppa and a chat. A number of smaller rooms will be used for a wide range of culturally appropriate services and a reflective healing room will be available for individuals and families to use when they are experiencing trauma in their life, such as loss of a family member known as “sorry business”. The centre will provide Aboriginal people with a place of their own, where people of all ages can gather and participate in cultural events, and seek support from Elders and services to heal.