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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Behaviour change program reconnects families

Date posted: 3 April 2013

The Helem Yumba Central Queensland Healing Centre is supporting people to address violent behaviour and substance use through the Gatharr weyebe banabe program.

Helem Yumba is a community organisation in Rockhampton, Queensland, which has developed a close and respectful relationship with local traditional owners, Elders, and many of the community's families. The Gatharr weyebe banabe program (meaning 'Aboriginal man's life change' in Darumbal language) is built on culturally appropriate and respectful engagement practices, with an emphasis on helping clients address important needs such as housing, connections with family, financial situation, experienced racism and legal matters.

When Aaron (not his real name) was referred to the Gatharr weyebe banabe program, he struggled with violent behaviour and substance use, losing the custody of his children and appearing in court several times. Male behaviour change program facilitator, Edward Mosby, said when Aaron was referred to the program following his second breach of his domestic violence order, he was unemployed and showed signs of poor health. His accommodation was unstable, he had a record for being aggressive towards family and community members and had trouble following probationary orders.

'Like many men, Aaron didn't like the idea of counselling or case management, and was unwilling to admit he had a problem,' Edward said. Helem Yumba welcomed Aaron to several irregular yarning sessions. After a while, staff noticed he showed up more regularly and got more involved in his formal counselling sessions.

When he was ready, Aaron attended the program's four-day intensive healing retreat with several other Indigenous men who were facing similar family and domestic violence related matters in court. Edward said that during those four days, Aaron developed an understanding about his violence and anger.

By the end of the retreat, Aaron had accepted responsibility for his actions and made a commitment to change his behaviour. He developed his own ongoing healing pathway, involving regular formal counselling sessions, and working with his case manager to find a job and improve his relationships.

'Past experiences of grief and loss were a key factor in Aaron's violent behaviour but he has put a stop to it and is on the road to kicking his substance abuse problem for good. Most importantly for Aaron, he is reconnecting with his children and other significant family members. His journey isn't over, but he's on the right path,' Edward said.

Source: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs 


Last updated: 3 April 2013
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