A Week in the West

In August this year a team from The Healing Foundation finally got to visit the important healing champions and partner survivors and organisations in Western Australia.

“It was the first time we’d had a proper visit to Western Australia since before the pandemic,” CEO Fiona Cornforth said, reflecting on the visit, “and we really enjoyed meeting our colleagues of partner organisations in person; there’s nothing like it”

The visit was an opportunity for staff to reconnect in person and on country with partners and Stolen Generations survivors in Perth and Broome. We gained great insights during visits with Yorgum Healing Services, Yokai’s executive, as well as board members from the Bringing Them Home Alliance. We also got to spend a special evening with the formidable Professor Pat Dudgeon after meeting some of her research team at the University of WA. THF are proud partners of the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing research project and it was great to spend some time at the project’s headquarters at UWA.

As guests of Yokai’s Uncle Jim Morrison, and THF’s Stolen Generations Reference Group Member Tony Hansen, we visited Curtin University, to take in the Carrolup Mission exhibition tracing the art done by young people stolen and take to Carrolup and experience the Missions Connect virtual reality truth-telling project, The team were immersed in mission history and survivor stories and are very grateful for the experience.  We also spent some time with Elders hearing about the petition and the campaign for redress driven after THF’s Make Healing Happen: It’s Time to Act report and the AIHW report was launched. We then got to speak with the WA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister Buti about it all. Though there has not been an announcement concerning redress just yet, we add our voices to the many in WA who call for it, and amplify voices in all national forums on healing responses. We had positive discussions about possibilities for redress in Western Australia, and how The Healing Foundation’s experience and expertise could assist with exploring meaningful and impactful options. We look forward to more interaction with the minister in 2023. Still in Perth, Yorgum CEO Laurel Sellers also shared some insights on the issues survivors are facing with the Redress Scheme, which included being under-resourced and undervalued with regard particularly to cultural healing expertise.

We also visited Sister Kate’s block in Queens Park and heard about their plans to turn this significant bush block into a special place of healing for survivors and their descendants. A $3.2 million grant from the West Australian Government will go towards the first stage of redevelopment at the 2.7-hectare bush block adjacent to the original Sister Kate’s Home, where many Stolen Generations children were placed between 1934 and 1975. Click here to read more about the redevelopment.

We rounded off the Noongar Boodjar visit with a 60 minute radio interview with Jim Morrison on Moorditj Mag Radio that was a fun way of updating listeners on THF initiatives. The interview was broadcasted on both 92.1FM and on Noongar Community Radio.

In Rubibi (Broome) the team saw first-hand the healing work happening in the Kimberley and in particular the efforts of Kimberley Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation for collective healing. We loved learning about their 21st birthday portrait exhibition documenting stories of Stolen Generations survivors of the Kimberley, and projects like the Stompem Ground Festival featuring Midnight Oil. The Healing Foundation was able to sponsor Perth Stolen Generations survivors to attend the significant event.

Still in the Kimberley, after a moving Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony delivered by Yawuru Lore Boss, we spent time being hosted by the Nyamba Buru Yawuru executive team, who invited us to a gala dinner to celebrate the opening of their new office location. The dinner provided an opportunity to reconnect with Senator Pat Dodson, who is convening the Referendum Engagement Group meetings.

The visit to Western Australia was an emotional and enriching experience. There is so much more we could talk about and some stories will be carried by THF staff members throughout their lives now. It’s a special experience to be entrusted with survivor stories. Fueled by them, our staff have been able to see some immediate input, contributions and supports THF could offer to lighten the loads for community organisations as well as peaks.  We are grateful for our partnerships in the West. Thank you to Yokai, WABTHA, Yorgum and Sister Kate’s.

We look forward to another visit to Western Australia soon.

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