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Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation


We are always looking for innovative and out of the box tools we can promote to the Victorian SEWB workforce to help them in the healing of not only their clients but also themselves. After seeing a small snap shot of what Wendy and Vicki do at the national Social & Emotional Well-being (SEWB) conference held in Brisbane I knew this would be something the Victorian SEWB workforce could benefit greatly from, and with the backing from a well-respected senior Victorian SEWB worker in attendance it verified my thinking.

We invited the STARS ladies to do a workshop to the SEWB workforce in the Victorian town of Mildura during the last week of November 2014. Working in the SEWB field, many of us forget to keep ourselves in a good space while trying to help others, so when organising gatherings for the workforce, we at VACCHO put a huge emphasise on who cares for the carers…?

Even though we had to cut the workshop to 3 hours it was enough for everyone to get something out of it, whether it be a new tool, how to manage stress, a laugh, thinking out of the box or getting out of their comfort zone, it was well received by all involved (and don’t get me wrong, there were a few very hesitant people to begin with)

Wendy presented in a way which had everyone engaging and getting involved, but the most important thing is it all came back to culture, which is huge to our mob.

The gathering in Mildura was the largest we have held since the inception of the SEWB workforce Support Unit back in 2010, with 62 people in attendance over the 2 and a half days. Following the conclusion of the gathering 92% of people had given STARS highest marks on the evaluation forms, with the remaining 8% giving the 2nd highest rating, which is a testament to the work the ladies do. Some comments given include:

  • This was excellent and the two presenters delivered in a fun way. Really makes you look at yourself in a holistic sense & group sense
  • This is what I like to see, more programs like this!!
  • Absolutely awesome! Would love these ladies to visit our organisation!
  • Lots of fun and great facilitators
  • Exceptional!

I have recently learnt that one of the services in attendance at the gathering has since acquired the services of the STARS Institute to deliver to their organisation, which really shows how much of a mark it did leave on people.

Working with Wendy and Vicki was great, their bubbly personalities just shine, and you can’t help but feel that in the way they deliver the workshops. I would recommend to any organisation out there to really have a look at the work these ladies do and to try it for your service, it’s done in a fun, culturally appropriate, engaging way that can’t help but make people get involved.

Craig Holloway Senior Team Leader

Njernda Aboriginal Corporation Echuca Victoria

logoNjernda Aboriginal Corporation:  Is an ACCHO with a medical practice with related ancillary health services attached, Social, Spiritual and Emotional WellBeing programs, including 2 residential programs, 1 for families to strengthen families and the other is an AOD Healing place for young Aboriginal men, a child care centre, sporting programs under the title of Warma Sports and a host of support services. We are based in Echuca Victoria on the land of the Wollithiga people of the Yorta Yorta nation. Wollithiga translates into ‘where the waters meet’ as the town of Echuca sits within the bounds of the Murray River to its north, the Campaspe on its west and the Goulburn to its east. Njernda has been operating now for 40 years.

I found out about the STARS Institute and their work when I attended the VACCHO – SEWB Gathering in Mildura VIC in early December 2014 and at this gathering where we were trained in the skills and distinctions of the STARS Institute.  It was to be one of the most impactful experiences in my life.

Njernda did the 1 in-service program of "Building Up Your Wellbeing Muscles" and it proved to be very valuable and highly engaging training. The program along with their Book Out of the Box Thinking on Indigenous Leadership (a very valuable resource) is culturally based and culturally safe.

Building Up Your Wellbeing Muscles works for Aboriginal people and for non-aboriginal people who work with Aboriginal people such as myself. It helps us to truly understanding our Indigenous brothers and sisters and the truth of what they continue to experience as a result of  colonisation and the modern day impacts this has on their collective health and wellbeing.  In addition it also helps us develop a better understanding of ourselves and how we to have been impacted by colonization - and how this unconsciously plays out in our workspace.

Everyone in this country should experience this type of program.

What impressed me most about the workshop conducted by the STARS Institute was that in my perception, based on how ‘inaccurate’ we perceive ourselves through our talk, and self talk including the thoughts we have of ourselves, for example; ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I am useless’, etc…… This is something I have been studying and practicing in various guises now for nearly 30 years and come across very few people who understand, or get, the importance of this change. Most importantly though was the fun and dynamic way Wendy & Vicki presented their workshop in providing lots of laughter while at the same time confronting our limitations of ourselves and providing valuable and effective tools for us to take with us to practice regularly.

Having experienced this and also having met Wendy and Vicki, and then taking into account Njernda’s programs and workforce I felt it imperative to have the Stars Institute conduct a workshop for our staff at our inservice held in February 2015. This was supported by 3 of my colleagues who also attended the gathering in Mildura and experienced the workshop.

In addition to this is the professionalism which the STARS Institute girls, Wendy and Vicki, conduct themselves from the point of making first contact right up until we are waving goodbye is impeccable. And this is also another wonderful thing both Wendy and Vicki teach us and this is simply in them being themselves is that in being the absolute professional in what we do and how we do business, we can still have lots of fun, great belly laughs and enjoyment without losing our sense of dignity and integrity.

I have undertaken many educational, training and self development programs over the past 30 years for either professional or personal interests and in that I highly recommend the STARS Institute to assist any individual, business or organisation for personal and professional development.

Michael Moran

Drug & Alcohol Worker Njernda Medical Centre Echuca Victoria

Michael participated in Building Up Your Wellbeing Muscles1 day Staff Training Workshop


Njernda Medical Centre Staff Training Day,  Echuca, Victoria

Hello Beautiful Ladies (Aunty Wendy / Aunty Vicki)

I must write this email to let you both know just how Deadly you both are.  I was just captivated by the pair of ya's.  So much emotion was flowing through my body throughout the whole day.  I wanna say thanks.

Thank you for being so open.  After watching and listening to you both I'm now 100% sure my calling is to empower our people to live in wellness and balance using the teachings and practices of our old people (Aboriginal Ancestors).  Kinda like weaving the old in with the new way.

I'm just so inspired by what you ladies do I can't send enough love & gratitude.  Once again thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Yours truly in good spirits, Nolita Edwards Counsellor Echuca xo

Norlita Edwards

Hello Beautiful Ladies (Aunty Wendy/Aunty Vicki),

 I must write this email to let you both know just how Deadly you both are.  I was just captivated by the pair of ya's.  So much emotion was flowing through my body throughout the whole day; I wanna say thanks.  Thank you for being so open, honest, truthful, transparent & loving. 

 There is just so much I could've yarned with ya's about, our yarning circle could have went on for days ay!  

 Watching & listening to you both I'm now 100% sure my calling is to empower our people to live in wellness & balance using the teachings & practices of our old people (Aboriginal Ancestors).  Kinda like 'weaving the old in with the new' ay.  Im just so inspired by what you ladies do I can't send enough love & gratitude. 

 I really hope to cross paths again sooner than later.

 Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 Yours truly in good spirits,

Nolita Edwards xo