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Yarning circle gives voice to healing

February 26, 2020

Indigenous leaders have taken part in a yarning circle at Bond University to help shape a healing strategy for Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The gathering was one of six throughout the state organised by the Healing Foundation with the aim of breaking a cycle of intergenerational trauma, including the over-representation of Indigenous children in the child protection system.

Deputy chair of the Healing Foundation, Leann Wilson, said ideas from the yarning circles would help develop programs to be rolled out with the support of the Queensland Government.

“The government has recognised that they need to speak with us so that we have a say in bringing those numbers (of children in care) down,” the Bidjara and Kara-Kara woman said.

“The stats say that out of 1000 children in a non-Indigenous community, five are taken away. But if you’re from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community, it’s 65 out of 1000.

“So this is a time to come together and truly collaborate on this problem.”

Several of those taking part in the Gold Coast yarning circle have links to Bond University including academic Clinton Schultz, Indigenous engagement advisor Narelle Urquhart and alumni Jenaya Ward, Sinead Dumas and Jessica Fiddler.

Ideas raised included:

  • Safe spaces for cultural practice.
  •  A curriculum that accurately reflects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history.
  • Embedding Indigenous culture in young children.
  • Incorporating traditional healers and medicine in hospitals.
  • Better support for new mothers.

Bond University Vice Chancellor and President Tim Brailsford addressed the yarning circle at its conclusion.

“I'm very pleased this workshop is being held on this campus because we have a very strong and proud record of engagement with our Indigenous students,” Professor Brailsford said.

“We try to make sure they have a holistic learning experience and are able to blossom personally as well as academically.

“The result of that is our Indigenous students progress their studies at a rate which is at least equal to that of the non-indigenous student cohort and we are really proud of our high retention of students.”

Yarning circles are also being held in St George, Inala, Rockhampton, Cairns and Yarrabah.