Collective Healing Initiatives: report shows great results

In 2022, The Healing Foundation compiled a report into Stolen Generations Collective Healing Initiatives undertaken during six rounds of funding provided by the organisation over 10 years from July 2012 to June 2022.

This followed a longitudinal impact evaluation of Stolen Generations Collective Healing Initiatives and built on our findings from Healing for our Stolen Generations: Sharing Our Stories (2015) that covered rounds one and two.

The Stolen Generations Collective Healing Initiative Round 1-6: impacts and findings report (The Report) outlined some heartening outcomes for Stolen Generations survivors, their families, and communities, including three important findings:

  1. Community and survivor-led collective healing initiatives have supported the strengthening of connections to self, others, organisations, services, culture, Country and land. Findings align with what we know about the holistic Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) model: it is in these strengthened connections that healing takes place.

2. Within the healing process, greater empowerment and self-determination are strengthened as Stolen Generations survivors take control of their own journeys and regain strength and optimal         resourcefulness within family, and within service the settings of the community.

3. The Collective Healing Initiatives have built stronger organisations that are not only better positioned to respond to survivor’s needs but are able to ensure survivors themselves determine               future policy directions within organisations and at the government, both State and Commonwealth level.

In our evaluations we came across enthusiastic statements and voices like this one from a service provider:

“We have people now that embody empowerment and they know where to go to take control in a crisis for them or their family. They take control of their situations and make what they believe are better and right choices. They have become empowered to talk about the pain and overcoming it and restoring family structures.”

Commenting on the positive findings, CEO Fiona Cornforth said, “It shows a lot of good being achieved when healing initiatives are determined by those in the know: the community-controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations Organisations and healing services.”

Across the six funding rounds:

  • 42 organisations were supported to deliver an estimated 90-plus projects
  • more than 8,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have participated
  • more than 600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been employed across projects
  • more than 650 services have been delivered
  • the total investment across the six rounds of funding was $3.75 million.

The report teaches the wider sector and funding providers (eg. governments and philanthropic bodies) that four essential elements should be present to create a positive and impactful healing environment:

1. Coming together with other survivors and sharing stories of pain, hope, and renewal:

Stolen Generations survivors provide a community of care for each other and a support system that cannot be replicated by any other professional means.  Sharing their own stories and bearing witness to others’ stories in a supportive environment helps participants to reduce their sense of isolation and increase their strength.

2. Reconnecting and strengthening culture and cultural identity:

 Reconnecting with cultural values, knowledge systems, and practices and restoring a sense of pride in one’s cultural identity is a critical factor for healing. The inclusion of traditional arts, crafts, music, dance, and song as ways to connect brought great joy and pride to participants, as did being on Country and connecting with land and significant sites.

3. Trauma-aware, healing-informed services and responses:

Increasing knowledge about trauma and its impacts enabled project workers to provide trauma-aware, healing-informed responses and helped Stolen Generations survivors and their families to better understand their healing needs. This allows participants to better manage their trauma and grief in more positive ways. Engagement with medical and counselling services, drug and alcohol programs, traditional healers and Link-Up services all increased.

4. Healing solutions led and developed by Stolen Generations survivors:

Stolen Generations services and organisations worked directly with Stolen Generations survivors to restore self-determination and aid participants in their recovery from trauma. Activities ranged from forums and gatherings to strengthening organisations that represent former residents of institutions.

Activities that took place under this funding initiative included:

  • structured workshops and programs
  • healing gatherings and camps
  • day trips to Country and important cultural sites
  • documenting survivors’ individual or group stories through poetry, song writing, storytelling, art, and drama, culminating in the production of books, paintings, murals, plays, song collections, and films
  • peer support groups and yarning circles.

The review and report found that the Stolen Generations Initiative have led to enhanced healing for Stolen Generations survivors and positive outcomes for survivors at the individual, organisational, and national levels. It’s what we’ve known for some time, but now others making decisions about the best ways to invest can know it too. Collective healing is definitely making healing happen!

Read the full Report here.

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