Loss, Grief & Trauma Care Pilot Project for Aboriginal Women

 

Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship Australia (AEF) and Anglican Deaconess Ministries (ADM) have come together to design a Loss, Grief and Trauma Care Pilot Project for Aboriginal Women.

 

The 11-month project – beginning on 31 July 2017 – will be rolled out initially across Queensland, NSW and Victoria. It aims to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to explore their experiences of loss, grief and trauma, and facilitate healing through the use of creative tools – all within a biblical framework.

 
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have experienced, and continue to experience, profound loss, grief and trauma. Losses are at a personal level through experiences such as family violence, substance abuse, children removed into care, incarceration, suicide, and unemployment. Losses are also at a societal or community level, through experiences including intergenerational loss and grief, loss of land, loss of culture, loss of language, stolen generations, racism, and legal exclusion.
— Kathie Naden, Secretary, AEF Eastern Area Ladies
A workshop held at ADM in May 2017, at which women from AEF and ADM worked on the development of the pilot project.

A workshop held at ADM in May 2017, at which women from AEF and ADM worked on the development of the pilot project.

Background

The idea for the project stemmed from the AEF Women’s National Conference in November 2016. Speaking at the conference, Keren Masters, clinical counsellor and lecturer, addressed the historical and clinical contexts for Aboriginal experience of loss, grief and trauma, and outlined a biblical foundation for understanding and responding.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have experienced, and continue to experience, profound loss, grief and trauma,” said Kathie Naden, Secretary, AEF Eastern Area Ladies. “Losses are at a personal level through experiences such as family violence, substance abuse, children removed into care, incarceration, suicide, and unemployment. Losses are also at a societal or community level, through experiences including intergenerational loss and grief, loss of land, loss of culture, loss of language, stolen generations, racism, and legal exclusion.”

In helping to address these traumas at the conference, AEF member and artist, Ngardarb Francine Riches, worked with the women present using tools of creative expression for healing.

The Project

The Loss, Grief and Trauma Care Pilot Project will take the learning and skills taught at the conference and share them with women (both Christian and non-Christian) throughout the AEF Women’s network in the Eastern states. Under a train-the-trainer structure, around six pairs of women will be trained as volunteer Master Trainers, who will then carry out training in their local communities. Training materials will be developed – including a manual, workbook, presentation resources, and creative expression tools.

An AEF Project Manager will assist with implementation of the project, while ADM will provide project design expertise, implementation guidance, and finances. After 11 months, AEF and ADM will together evaluate the impact of the project and consider expanding it in the future.

We hope this project, with possible continuation beyond the pilot, will be a small step toward wholeness and flourishing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in AEF’s networks.
We believe that by seeking to recognise, acknowledge, understand and help process these losses, women will take positive steps forward on the path towards healing. When we place this experience of loss within a Christian theology – with ultimate hope being found in the radical love and healing of Christ – women can experience a deeper, holistic healing that recognises past and present experience, yet brings hope for the future.
— ADM's Director of Mercy & Justice Ministries, Margo Leach

MASTER TRAINER WORKSHOP

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ADM was privileged to host 13 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women for a two-day Master Trainer Workshop on understanding the Aboriginal experience of loss, grief and trauma, on 18–19 November 2017.

Christian Aboriginal women from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria came together to be trained by clinical counsellor Keren Masters (from Perth) and artist Ngardarb Francine Riches (from Melbourne).

The participants learned how to deliver a program that will enable Aboriginal women to understand their historical and personal losses, learn about psychological and emotional responses to those losses, and to develop healthy coping strategies for managing loss and grief. The program is grounded in a biblical framework for understanding loss and grief, and the joy of healing found in Christ.

The participants, who have been trained in pairs, will now deliver the program in their own communities across Queensland, NSW and Victoria in the first half of 2018. There was much enthusiasm and excitement for the difference the training might make in their home communities. Several of the women shared how the training had already been significant in helping to understand their own experiences of grief and trauma. By the end of the workshop, all participants expressed greater confidence to deliver a workshop in their communities.

The weekend was a wonderful time of making new connections, or reconnecting for some, with many of the participants linked through kinship or church fellowship ties. There was a celebration of the numerous First Nations represented. There was deep encouragement in coming together as Aboriginal women with a sense of shared purpose and mutual support. There was joy in depending on God for the task ahead of bringing his healing to Aboriginal women and their families. Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) Women’s Fellowship and Anglican Deaconess Ministries (ADM) partnered together to design and implement a Loss, Grief and Trauma Care Pilot Project for Aboriginal Women, titled ‘Our Story: Finding Hope Beyond Grief’. The 11-month pilot project is now halfway through implementation.

It is a privilege and blessing for ADM, through our Mercy & Justice Ministries, to walk in partnership with our Aboriginal sisters in Christ.


 

Syrian Refugee Response

Five years of violent conflict in Syria has triggered the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since World War II.  Millions of Syrians fleeing from war in search of safety have lost their homes, loved ones, and any normality of life they once knew. In 2015 the Australian Government agreed to permanently resettle 12,000 additional Syrian refugees currently in refugee camps in the Middle East. Syrian refugees have started arriving in Australia and many are settling in Greater Sydney.

“I am calling on Sydney Anglicans in parishes all across our diocese, not only to pray for these victims of persecution, but to step up and be prepared to do whatever is within their power to provide a warm and generous welcome, coupled with practical assistance, to ensure that those who come to find safety in Australia are afforded the best possible chance to make a new start and benefit as fully as possible from the peace, freedom and opportunity that far too often we take for granted.”

— Dr Glenn Davies, Archbishop of Sydney

 

ADM AWARDS $50,000 TO SUPPORT REFUGEES

Anglican Deaconess Ministries (ADM) is delighted to announce the recipients of over $50,000 in small grants for programs to support refugees in their local communities.

Grants have been awarded to eight Anglican churches in the greater Sydney Diocese, with sums ranging from $1,300 to $16,000. The grants form part of the Syrian Iraqi Refugee Response, led by Anglicare in collaboration with four other Anglican agencies, including ADM. Churches receiving the grants will use the funding to run English classes and playgroups, provide accommodation and employment support, and even to help run an Arabic church service.

Margo Leach, Director of Mercy & Justice Ministries at ADM, said: “We are thrilled to provide funding to these churches, enabling them to help meet the needs of refugees in their communities. Through these grants, we hope these churches will lead the way in welcoming, supporting and demonstrating the love of Christ to refugees who have fled Syria, Iraq and other nations in conflict.”

Several of the grant recipients will share about their refugee ministries at the Mercy & Justice In Action workshop, run by ADM and Hope for Sydney on 18 May. As part of a Q&A panel, recipients will answer questions about the programs and discuss possibilities for others to get involved. “This will be a great opportunity for the Christian community to discover practical ways in which they can serve refugees,“ said Margo.

The following churches will receive ADM grants to support refugees through targeted programs:

St Barnabas Anglican Church, Ingleburn ($2,000)
English as a second language (ESL) class and playgroup

St Matthew’s Anglican Church, Ashbury ($4,550)
Ashbury Anglican Refugee Initiative and ESL program

Gymea Anglican Church ($4,100)
Property alterations to accommodate refugee family under Anglicare's SHIFT program

St Michael's Anglican Cathedral, Wollongong ($1,300)
ESL resources and equipment

St Andrew's Anglican Church, Lakemba ($16,000)
‘Joining the Community Initiative’ – including welcome BBQs and dinners, a playgroup, ESL classes and a food pantry

Bankstown Anglican Church ($4,000)
English conversation class and employment support

Good Shepherd Anglican Church, Greenacre ($2,500)
The 'Sadiq' group – a homework club and ‘Easy English Friendship Group’

Hoxton Park Anglican Church ($16,000)
Syrian and Iraqi refugee ministry, including an Arabic church service

 

OTHER WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

The involvement of church congregations within Sydney Diocese and beyond is a key component of the Syrian Refugee Response. You and your church can get involved in the Syrian Refugee Response through:

●      prayer

●      donating financially to the Response

●      volunteering your time in ministries for refugees

●      working with your church to ‘propose’ a Syrian or Iraqi family for migration to Australia

●      establishing a ministry to care for refugees arriving in your area

●      providing short or long term housing accommodation for arriving refugees

Please contact Anglicare directly to let them know of your interest.