Community voices vital for healing in Queensland

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The Healing Foundation is calling on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to have their say in the first ever Queensland Healing Strategy. 

The strategy is a chance for people to dream big about the future for themselves, their children and their communities and tell us what healing means for them. 

The Healing Foundation Deputy Board Chair Leann Wilson said the responses to the strategy have been very enthusiastic.

"Communities are sharing their stories and lived experience with passion – we're hearing consistent themes about what healing means to individuals, families and organisations at yarning circles and through survey responses," she said.

"We're hearing directly from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples on what they need and want and that they are ready to lead healing solutions for themselves, their families and communities."

Despite having the lowest rate of removal, Queensland has the highest population of Stolen Generations survivors, all of who will be eligible for aged care in 2023. 

Almost a third of Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are Stolen Generations descendants – the second highest proportion of descendants in Australia. 

Individuals are encouraged to complete a short online survey, phone us to have a yarn about healing or submit a creative piece such as poetry, art or song to communicate what aspects of healing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities need to achieve real change. 

Organisations are encouraged to submit case studies about healing initiatives that have had positive results in their communities or to complete an organisational response to tell us what they need. 

Every submission we receive is vital to ensure the strategy represents what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need for healing to thrive in Queensland.

These responses give us the opportunity to learn from the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to address the ongoing effects of forced removal on Stolen Generations, their families and communities. 

Queensland Healing Strategy Knowledge Holders Co-Chair David Wragge highlighted the importance culturally informed and community led healing initiatives have in creating sustainable pathways to address the ongoing effects of colonisation and forced removal policies.

"Healing is a journey and there are many different pathways but at the end of them all, healing is about making the spirit feel good," he said.

"It's about working together with individuals, communities and government to create hope for a better future for our children and giving people renewed energy, strength and an enthusiasm for life." 

The Queensland Healing Strategy is informed by Our Way: A generational strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017-37. 

Our Way is a strategy developed jointly by the Queensland government and Family Matters Queensland that aims to close the gap in life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

Queensland Healing Strategy Knowledge Holders Co-Chair Sheryl Lawton said the intention of Our Way is to eliminate the disproportionate representation of Indigenous children in the child protection system by 2037.

"The increasing levels of contemporary child removal from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families was an issue that the Bringing Them Home report canvassed in depth," she said.

Yarning circles have been held in St George, Inala and the Gold Coast to hear from Elders, young people, families and community organisations about what is working in their communities and what some of the biggest issues and priorities are for healing. 

Virtual yarning circles will be held online for Rockhampton, Cairns and Yarrabah communities, along with a number of other ways for people to get involved. 

To have your say in the Queensland Healing Strategy please visit www.healingfoundation.org.au/queensland-healing-strategy/ before 30 April.  

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to heal trauma caused by the widespread and deliberate disruption of populations, cultures and languages over 230 years.  This includes specific actions like the forced removal of children from their families.
 
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