This article was kindly written by Dean Bayliss, CEO of Healing Works Australia.
A positive and much anticipated change is occurring in the political landscape of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander SEWB health space.
The 2020 New National Agreement on Closing the Gap signed by Pat Turner AM, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations / Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peak and Ken Wyatt, the then Minister for Indigenous Affairs was an act of self-determination for Indigenous Australians.
This was the first time Indigenous leaders were granted a seat at the table and the first time they were equal partners in agreement making with all governments.
One of the keys agreed-upon reforms in this agreement is the need for Indigenous control of funding to complete work on Indigenous health.
This is gives me, an Aboriginal man, a Kamilaroi man, and my organisation, Healing Works Australia (HWA) the opportunity to deliver culturally sensitive and useful services to community members, across Australia – nothing about us without us.
HWA was established in 2019 as an Indigenous led social enterprise delivering social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention training.
The needs of communities are significant. Indigenous Australians carry a burden of disease 2.3 times that of other Australians.
We are still dying much younger. We suffer rates of suicide twice that of the non-Indigenous population and endure four-times the rate for youth. Consequently, wave after wave of grief, loss and sorry business are almost constant realities for our families.
Indigenous peoples have always known the solutions to our unique challenges, and we are empowering ourselves to deliver these solutions.
Our resilience and commitment to the cultural determinants of our health is why we are still here. We are resilient people.
HWA engages with communities in a respectful and safe way by following cultural protocols. HWA takes a cultural approach to delivery.
Our services are underpinned by first winanga-li (listen to) community needs. We deliver services and we follow up thereby building and respecting enduring relationships. We deliver a wide array of social and emotional wellbeing workshops, most of which focus on suicide prevention and putting important skills back into our communities.
We have multiple partners across Australia allowing us to build a strong connect between Organisations, Primary Health Networks and community, striving to remove the silo approach we have seen in the past. We are currently partnering directly with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations in multiple regions in NSW to deliver to their communities.
The suicide prevention training HWA delivers in communities results in an increase in the agency, self-determination and competency of community members to respond to suicide risk themselves with less reliance on external agencies.
Over the past 12 months we have delivered workshops in 25 communities as diverse as Cohen, Taree, Broken Hill, Dareton and Lismore.
Collaborations are crucial and working with the PHNs and NSW Government Ministry of Health’s Towards Zero Suicides initiatives allows for all stakeholders to have a shared and ambitious focus.
When communities are empowered!... “Healing works”.