The main objectives of Red Dust Healing are to:
- Restore the role of Indigenous men in their families and communities by providing an understanding of rejection and an avenue for healing;
- Provide Indigenous people with an understanding of identity, to equip them with self-evaluation skills, to develop future role models and fathers, and to restore family relationships; and
- Equip Indigenous people with the tools to confront the problems that are relevant to their own lives and address any ongoing patterns of negative behaviour.
Quoting the founder of the organisation, Red Dust Healing is best described as a ‘self-evaluating awareness program coming from an ancient Aboriginal perspective that gives individuals tools that empowers them to be part of their own solutions’. It achieves these objectives in a range of diverse community settings and with different populations groups addressing specific needs. Red Dust Healing only work with communities that have requested their assistance, respecting the community’s volition in determining the need for the program. They have delivered the program directly in response to community suicide and self-harm as well as addressing the precursors of suicide including alcohol and substance misuse, incarceration, family violence and community wellbeing. In addition to delivering the program in each community, the organisation also trains community workers, who were former recipients of the program. Upon training, these workers receive intellectual property rights to deliver the program to other people in their community, emphasising the program’s aim to empower local communities and provide sustainability towards the work of Red Dust Healing.
Red Dust Healing examines the intergenerational effects of colonisation on the mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing of Indigenous individuals and families and addresses issues and the determinants of wellbeing directly. It provides a culturally safe environment, mechanisms for healing, a shared discourse and language, and tools to enable people to gain a sense of understanding and control over their lives. The program encourages individuals to confront and deal strategically with the impact of rejection, hurt, and anger in their lives. The program facilitates the understanding of rejection as the foundation of all hurt. Participants examine the hurt and rejection they have experienced in their lives while growing up and reflect on how that hurt and rejection is manifested in their own actions towards people around them. Participants are encouraged to examine their own personal hurt in order to heal it themselves and as the first step in addressing the hurt they inflict on others in their family, personal relationships and patterns of violence and abuse.
The participants engage in contemporary forms of Aboriginal knowledge and reconnect with aspects of culture in order to strengthen their sense of self and their Aboriginal identity. This reorients them to a new meaningful existence. Cultural knowledge is seen as the mechanism for Aboriginal people to understand their actions, their work and how to live their life. Although the main target of the program is Aboriginal people, the program does not discriminate against assisting non-Aboriginal populations. The program emphasises taking personal responsibility for making the best possible choices as essential to the healing process and transformation of the individual, and facilitates self-respect and meaningful connections to others.
The program is designed to acknowledge the need to approach the healing journey in an individualised and personalised manner so that participants can apply the tools and learnings to their own circumstances. This is done so using narratives from the individual’s life encourages them to reflect on their own situation while applying the messages delivered by the program.
Red Dust Healing links the impact of colonisation on Indigenous men with the loss of their:
- Identity – their image of who they were was distorted through the harsh practices of assimilation;
- Responsibility – men were stripped of their traditional roles and their abilities to provide for their families by hunting, making tools, shelter, canoes etc; and,
- Relationships –men and women were taken away from their families, which have left many men not knowing how to show emotion and build relationships within their own families and amongst other men.
Although the program is available to all communities, it mainly targets Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in recognition of the disproportionate suicide rates among Aboriginal male population due to the additional oppression they face. Because of the extra authority that the father figure often holds, addressing the high suicide rates among father figures also helps to establish harmony in the whole family.
The program promotes the importance of individuals being empowered to define their own solutions. One of the key tools is POUCH – a solution-based, problem solving concept that allows participants to deal with issues and difficulties in their own lives. It stands for identifying what Problems U have, what Options
U have, what Choices U have and How U are going to deal with them. Discussing this tool encourages participants to look at solving some of the concerns that they may have and helps put the responsibility back on the person without blame.