30 November 2015 | General Interest
A new report from the Healing Foundation evaluates the implementation and early development of a men’s healing project that was run as pilot programmes in three remote Northern Territory communities.
Developed and delivered in conjunction with local organisations, the Our Men, Our Healing project is designed to strengthen, support and empower Aboriginal men through cultural, educational and therapeutic healing activities; assisting men to increase confidence and capacity to gain meaningful employment, and overcome issues such as family and domestic violence, incarceration, and poor health and wellbeing.
The three pilot men’s healing projects were carried out in the remote Northern Territory communities of Maningrida, Ngukurr and Wurrumiyanga from 2013 to 2015.
The project has seen 14 Aboriginal men employed by the programme, while 448 men have consistently and directly participated in programme activities, with many more attending community events run by the men.
All three communities have delivered counselling services, family support, advocacy and cultural brokerage, case management and coordination, cultural day trips (e.g. fishing trips), camps and group programs, yarning groups and community events and celebrations.
Following the release of the report, Professor Steve Larkin, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Leadership at Charles Darwin University and Chair of the Healing Foundation, spoke to Radio National about the success of the pilots and results seen in the communities.
“The most significant aspect of the programme is the way it was designed. It wasn’t about the Healing Foundation coming in a prescribing or imposing a set way of doing this work; it was actually done in negotiation with each of the men’s groups and each of the communities. So they’ve had degrees of control over what should be done and how it should be done, and when and where,” Professor Larkin said.
“It probably signals some lessons for the future, where we think that things are just too hard to achieve a result on – that the same results keep perpetuating – that quite a different approach, based on relationships and trust, can achieve these sorts of results.”
Professor Larkin spoke to Radio National on White Ribbon Day, 25 November – a national day on which we come together to focus on stopping family and domestic violence.
The introduction of the targeted men’s healing programme in these communities has seen promising breakthroughs in this area.
“The significance of it is, within the short time frame of two years, [the programme] is showing some very promising results. We’re seeing the incidence of family violence being reduced; we’re seeing people’s rates of reoffending being reduced by as much as 50 per cent in some areas; we’re seeing women reporting that they’re feeling safer, and not having to access shelters,” Professor Larkin said.
“We’d argue that things such as family violence and the trauma that goes with it can be intergenerational. So having older men in the group with the younger men, and getting younger men to engage with the programme, means that, to a large extent, they can see some practical role modelling and some support from Elders about how these young men ought to conduct themselves in the future of their lives.
“The programme invests that sort of engagement with men of all ages, but particularly I think it’s very pleasing to see that younger men are increasingly engaging in the programme – bearing in mind that it’s voluntary engagement, so they’re opting to come into the programme to change their lives because they’re going to be future fathers and uncles and brothers and leaders in that community.”