Healing Circles

The Narinya Circle is an environment that enables each participant to identify and complete their own journey in relation to unfinished business of grief and trauma caused by death, divorce and separation, domestic violence, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. This Healing Circle and Narinya Program is endorsed and fully supported by the Woddi Woddi traditional owners of Illawarra area and Elders. It has been developed and implemented by Joyce Donovan, a strong advocate on breaking the silence in Aboriginal Communities.

This is an experiential workshop that explores issues of grief, loss, trauma and better ways to work with Aboriginal families in your own area. Participants will:
•    experience and discuss rituals that promote good mental health and deal with grief/loss issues
•    increase understanding of this significant emotional experiences on families that access family support services on a regular basis
•    reflect on how these skills can be applied at the local level.

The Narinya Healing Workshop uses symbolism, metaphor and ceremony to provide an experience for participants that focuses on mutual support and the process of healing from past trauma. It is an initiative developed by Aboriginal leaders in the field of Health specifically for Aboriginal people.

Well established fields of study show that early life childhood experiences impact upon an individual’s development and functioning through into adulthood and that when these experiences have been characterised by trauma the effects can be significant: "Traumatic stress can have profound impact on the emotional, behavioural, cognitive, social and physical development of children, in some cases resulting in lifelong loss of potential and chronic mental and physical health problems. These injuries cost the individual, their family, community and, ultimately, society" Bruce D. Perry, 2000.

The health status of Aboriginal people lags well behind non-indigenous people in Australia and such inequity is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that "Life expectancy for Aboriginal people is roughly 20 years less" while measures of psychological distress are nearly double that of non-indigenous people across the lifespan (NSW Public Health Bulletin 2004). Further, "Indigenous Australians experience an earlier onset of most chronic diseases" and it follows that they "experience widespread disadvantage across a range of socioeconomic indicators" that are health-risk factors for these chronic diseases. (ABS. 2005)

 The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study demonstrates that "stressful or traumatic childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic violence, or growing up with alcohol or other substance abuse, mental illness, parental discord, or crime in the home (which we termed adverse childhood experiences—or ACEs) are a common pathway to social, emotional, and cognitive impairments that lead to increased risk of unhealthy behaviors, risk of violence or re-victimization, disease, disability and premature mortality (see diagram)." Many of these determinants of health have been disproportionately experienced by Indigenous populations. While these factors contribute to the picture of health disadvantage from a broad Population Health perspective it also vital to acknowledge that such experiences can directly contribute to individual psychological pathology and the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

For Aboriginal people the causes of such inequity lie in a history of interpersonal, institutional and societal abuses that remains a reality despite the best intentions of public policy and government protocol. In taking responsibility for healing and enacting self determination the Narinya process is helping large numbers of people to overcome the effects of trauma and is growing rapidly in popular demand. Narinya, the spirit fish, is riding a great wave of recognition.

Symbolically, Narinya is the spiritual guide on a journey of healing. Imagery of the spirit fish as a guide through the waters of life invokes a sense of gentle calm and deliberate purpose. It acknowledges that the healing journey requires navigation around obstacles in present life that can distract from the process. It allows for recognition of grief in relation to trauma, abuse and violence as turbulent ripples to be swum through, not alone, but in the company of supportive others.

Contact us for more information.


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