In May 2012, The Healing Foundation held a healing forum on Horn Island in the Torres Strait. More than 30 participants from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities, including government and non-government agencies, came together to discuss healing needs and start a healing process to address the pain caused by colonisation in the region.
The forum led to the development of the ling Sidaun, a healing gathering, in May 2014. More than 60 community members from across the Torres Straits attended and more than 600 people from across Island communities contributed to the gathering’s design. It was an opportunity for community members to share their stories, identify causes of disharmony in the community, articulate healing needs and aspirations, and suggest ways to achieve healing objectives.
The input from these two gatherings, along with further consultations across the islands, informed the development of the Torres Strait and Kaurareg Aboriginal People’s Healing Strategy, which was launched in 2015.
The strategy identified five key areas for healing:
- child safety and wellbeing
- community safety
- spiritual healing
- leadership and governance.
In 2017, The Healing Foundation formed a partnership with Mura Kosker Sorority to further the healing priorities outlined in the strategy, by implementing community healing forums. Torres Strait communities were invited, through an expression of interest process, to volunteer to host their own healing forum.
Healing forums were then held on Kaurareg (Thursday Island), Iama Island, and Masig Island. The forums were designed to be a place for interactive and constructive discussion between a diverse range of key stakeholders, including community members, leaders, Elders, and representatives of government and non-government agencies.
After the success of the 2018 forums, the communities of Kerriri, Dauan, and Saibai Islands were keen to partner with The Healing Foundation and Mura Kosker to hold their own healing forums. These were scheduled for June/July 2020 but were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They took place in a COVID-safe environment in September 2020.