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Starting the healing through yarning on White Ribbon Day

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Young Aboriginal man in pale blue shirt stands in front of Indigenous artwork displaying dark brown and white animals on a red and yellow background.
Men’s Business Support Worker, Thomas Goody
24 Nov 2017

Each year, White Ribbon Day (25 November) calls upon men to respect women and their right to live in safety, ‘free from all forms of men’s abuse’. (White Ribbon Australia)

One organisation that is working hard to reduce violence against women is Rockhampton based Helem Yumba Central Queensland Healing Centre.

Lynette Anderson, Manager of Helem Yumba said it was established in response to high rates of domestic and family violence amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Central Queensland. Abnormally high youth suicide rates in the communities also contributed to its creation.

‘Helem Yumba offers a range of therapeutic services which includes male behaviour change counselling, victims of domestic violence counselling, relationships counselling and family mediation,‘ Lynette said.

‘Importantly, all therapeutic services are based on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values. We hold regular traditional healing activities to support spiritual healing in our communities and families.’

Lynette said their approach differs from other domestic and family violence services by acknowledging that Aboriginal people’s dispossession was not only about a physical removal from country. It is also about the forced disconnection from culture and consequently from their spirituality.

Male staff like Thomas Goody, a Men’s Business Support Worker have been very successful in engaging with men and supporting them as they commence their Healing Journey. Role modelling leadership, he runs the Men’s Yarning Circles and takes men on off-site cultural gatherings.

Helem Yumba will promote White Ribbon Day by hosting a Community Yarning Circle. This will provide opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to yarn with Elders and the community about their thoughts and actions around stamping out domestic and family violence.

Group of hands reach upward forming a circle. There are tree branches in the background and a white sky.

Sam’s story

29 year old Sam* came to Helem Yumba in July 2016. Raised in a single parent family, he shared the same issues as his family members: drug use, domestic violence, homelessness and overcrowding, unemployment, health issues and a criminal record.

Helem Yumba helped Sam identify the issues and pressures in his life. Yarning sessions allowed Sam to connect to other Indigenous men. He came to realise that unhealthy and ill-informed choices were leading him down a path of self-destruction.

He wanted to change and become the person he knew he could be. Through support from his yarning group and the Men’s Business Counsellor, he was able to identify reasons for change and the risks of not changing.

Today, more than a year after starting his journey, Sam and his family have their own accommodation. He is positive about securing employment and taking steps to increase his employability by doing courses and working towards obtaining his driver’s license.

His relationship with his partner is much healthier and stable as well as with his mother and siblings.

*Sam’s name and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Find out more

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet supports the Helem Yumba CQ Healing Centre through the Safety and Wellbeing program.

For more information, visit White Ribbon Australia.