1) The Healing Foundation was established one year after the Apology.
On 13 February 2009, the first anniversary of the Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples acknowledging the legacy of trauma and grief as a result of colonisation and policies of removing children from their families, the Government announced that it was going to establish an organisation that would address trauma and aid healing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
After a nationwide consultation process, the report Voices from the campfires was produced, which made several recommendations about how the organisation should be set up. In October 2009 the Healing Foundation was officially incorporated. The Federal Government has committed $26.6 million over four years to support the Healing Foundation.
2) The Healing Foundation supports and promotes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing initiatives across Australia.
Colonisation, forced removals, and other past Australian government policies have resulted in trauma and grief for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, across generations. Many people have spoken of the ongoing pain they feel as a result of past government practices:
It never goes away. Just ‘cause we’re not walking around on crutches or with bandages or plasters on our arms and legs, doesn’t mean we’re not hurting. Just ‘cause you can’t see it doesn’t mean … I suspect I’ll carry these sorts of wounds ‘till the day I die. (Confidential Evidence 580, Queensland. Bringing Them Home Report.)
The Healing Foundation envisages a future where those affected by this legacy have “broken the cycle of abuse, and have enhanced their capacity as individuals, families, communities and nations, to sustain their wellbeing and that of future generations.” To achieve this goal, the Healing Foundation funds culturally strong community programs that are locally designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, delivers education and training programs, and promotes public awareness of healing issues. The organisation will also conduct research and evaluation to find out what healing practices are working best.
The Healing Foundation’s priorities include:
3) The Healing Foundation is a community controlled organisation.
The Healing Foundation is a not-for-profit, community controlled organisation. This means that the organisation’s priorities are developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, rather than by the government or another outside body. It also means that the Healing Foundation is governed by an Indigenous board.
The Healing Foundation’s Chairperson is Florence Onus, a Berrigubba woman from Queensland and an Indigenous Support Coordinator at James Cook University.
4) Healing is a complex process with many different aspects.
The Healing Foundation continues to work towards understanding what healing is, as defined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and individuals. Some of the different aspects of healing that have emerged from the Foundation’s consultations include:
The process of healing can take place on the level of the individual, the community, or on the level of culture more broadly. The Healing Foundation supports practices that are strongly grounded in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditions, values and cultures, but which can also incorporate Western viewpoints.
5) There are many different kinds of healing projects.
The Healing Foundation offers support to many different kinds of initiatives. These initiatives might deal with trauma recovery or prevention, short-term crisis response, or relationship building. Some examples of community healing projects that received funding in the Healing Foundation’s 2010/11 grants round include:
For more information about the Healing Foundation visit: http://healingfoundation.org.au