Stacey De Calmer Workforce Consultant
Thursday 26th May was National Sorry Day, a day to remember specifically the past policies of the Australian Government that led to the removal of Aboriginal children and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.
Have you ever received an apology that felt like it was just lip service? I have. It made me frustrated and left me feeling like the person giving it didn't value me enough to understand why the were apologising. They wanted to move on and get on with it without acknowledging my hurt. It wasn't a real apology, and they weren't genuinely interested in righting a wrong. I'm sure you can think of a similar scenario from your own life. Needless to say, those relationships don't get very far.
In my experience, true reconciliation has never happened without a heartfelt apology. An authentic gesture that includes the word "sorry" and is paired with a commitment to healing. But here is the crux of it - it is a commitment to healing, knowing that their healing may not be a process you understand, and certainly not one you can put a time on.
If you have ever had a significant physical or emotional hurt, you will know what this means. Some people just seem to heal quickly and without complications, for others it can be a lifetime journey with multiple setbacks. Healing is what it is.
Over the last few years Sorry Day has become a day to reflect on my own responsibilities when it comes to the healing of Australia. For many years I have had a mind frame that we need to move forward, there are tasks to be done, there are goals to be met, there's a Reconciliation Action Plan to complete.
We need all these thing; I haven't changed my mind about that. However, this Sorry Day I was privileged to be part of a group who got to "Walk On Country" on the Land of the Quandamooka people as part of the Workforce Council's Yarn Up Tok Blo Yumi program. We were led by Aunty Judy Watego and her daughter Wendy, and I reflected a little differently. We begun to see a familiar landscape through the eyes of someone else, and shared stories of old times. We began to understand what brought us together, what things made up who we are.
What songs led you here? What are your stories about the earth, the land, sea and wind? What are your ways of being, belonging and becoming?
I realised in my rush to move forward I had forgotten to look back. Not in a way that only dwells on the horrors of policies past - although I do believe that time to sit with that history is critical - but in a way that acknowledges who we are as a nation. How did we get here? What does healing look like for us? How do we weave our past into the stories our children hear now, so that they too can be part of the healing?
I am a non-Indigenous woman, born on Gangula Land, raised on Darumbul Land and living and working on the Lands of the Yuggera peoples and Turrbal Peoples. I acknowledge the hurt that has happened in these places. For children torn from the arms of their parents, and for families never again reunited. For a nation still grieving these things, I am sorry. I'd like to thank Aunty Judy and Wendy for sharing Quandamooka with us - you helped me see things I didn't see before.
The Workforce Council is an organisation committed to providing quality professional development and support across Health and Community services. Yarn Up Tok Blo Yumi is just one of the opportunities they provide.
Stacey De Calmer Workforce Consultant Health & Community Services Workforce Council.
Children at Bay Terrace Long Day Care Centre - Wynnum
"Yurra Yurra lovely ladies. Janet and I would just like to share our implementation of our Quandamooka Bajarra odyssey within our centre with you all. We are very proud of our jarjums as they gain better understanding of their own self identity through our QuandamookaBajara Journey. Our parents have been so accepting and encouraging that it makes us more confident as we travel along. It's been amazing and we are gaining even more momentum in our knowledge as the weeks go by. "
Zara Lucker Lead Educator & Janet Mulholland Assistant Educator
Lorna Bowie Divisional Engineering Coordinator
"During the 2nd Dada Gana Leadership School on Minjerribah what really worked for me was being reminded of the importance of staying connected to country and being grounded and balanced. I learnt the importance of having integrity and how to communicate with intentionality and impact..."
Lorna BowieCoordinator Torres Strait Island Regional Council Divisional Engineering Coordinator Torres Strait Island Regional Council
Calvary Christian College Year 6 Student Exhibition
Wendy Watego officially opened our recent year 6 Student Exhibition and undertook the Welcome To Country. She generously stayed and interacted with our students, sincerely listening to what they had learnt and encouraging them enormously. We are so blessed to have her experience, expertise and vision for Indigenous Education as a resource for our school community. Wendy is an inspiration to everyone she meets. She brings a leadership quality that is engaging and leaves her audience wanting more, inspired by her passion for building learning and leadership into others.
Lisa Coles, PYP Coordinator, Calvary Christian College
Calvary Christian College Carbrook Campus QLD
Wendy Watego assisted us with our Green Week theme for 2014, which was Water is Life. I invited Wendy to introduce to the College, an Indigenous perspective on our theme. Wendy did a number of engaging presentations on the "Sacredness of Water To The People Of Quandamooka," during our junior, middle and senior school assemblies. She also visited with students in their classrooms to share her personal life stories, stories from the Nation of Quandamooka about water, and on the history of Australia from an Indigenous perspective. Wendy even provided some bush tucker from Quandamooka Country in the form of a pipi dish which the students were able to taste for themselves. Students and staff were fascinated by the richness of Quandamooka culture that Wendy shared, and the experience really developed our awareness, as a College, of our local Indigenous story.
Rob Hawkin, Sustainability Co-ordinator, Calvary Christian College)
Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council
Wendy ran a workshop for our annual Queensland Social and Emotional Wellbeing Workforce State Gathering called “Simple And Fun Things You Can Do Revitalize Your Emotional Well Being.” 45 people attended her workshop and in their evaluations they stated that her workshop was rated as excellent. That was the highest of the evaluation rating scale.
People commented on the workshop as being;
- Fantastic very appropriate
- Simple and fun and very deadly
- Laughter is the best medicine
- Bring Wendy Watego back
- One person said that Wendy’s workshop was what they like most about the Gathering.
Due to the positive evaluations we received from Wendy’s workshop we invited her to run a similar wellbeing workshop for the National SEWB Conference. It too was a huge success, and as a result Wendy and the STARS Institute have been invited by other States to run workshops for their SWEB organisations.
Dion Tatow, Manager - Social & Emotional Well Being Worforce Support Unit
Burrun Dalai Aboriginal Corporation Kempsey
40 staff participated in 1 day Laugh Your Way To Wellness Training Program - This is one of our Wellbeing Programs. Here is what the group said;
Thoroughly enjoyed the training. We were not fully aware of what wellbeing exhaustion was and the impacts it has on us as individuals, on our families, organizations, community and the country. Laughter is the best medicine, the day was upbeat, interesting, to the point & strangely educational. Wendy and Vicki were excellent, respectful and eye opening facilitators. Other organizations and community people would benefit from the training day because it can help people break the cycle of trauma and stress. We learnt lots of easy ways that cost us nothing that we can use to look after our wellbeing and health and the wellbeing of the organisation. We enjoyed learning about how to train the brain and the power of positivity. We would love to do more training with you.
Dana Clarke, CEO Burrun Dalai Aboriginal Corporation Kempsey
CentaCare Wilcannia - Forbes
The respectful, fun and engaging way Wendy and Vicki work with people is outstanding. They bring out the best in people and they teach them very specific skills in how they can continue to empower themselves and their families. What they teach and the innovative ways they teach it will stay with people forever. Vicki and Wendy have now worked with CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes for three years to deliver their three day Bootcamp 4 Life Program in Wilcannia (twice), Lake Cargelligo, Narromine, Broken Hill and Bourke. Thanks Ladies we love and value your work for the difference it is making to the lives of our women.
DOWNLOAD FULL TESTIMONIAL Jane Kemp
Jane Kemp Family Worker Team Leader Parent Child Services
Aboriginal Child, Family and Community State Secretariat
“Great course and I feel I learnt a lot about myself and my grieving. People don’t currently have these skills and that’s why I want you to come and deliver the program for AbSec agencies in NSW.”Bill Pritchard, CEO of Aboriginal Child, Family and Community State Secretariat (AbSec), Sydney
"In witnessing how the program enthrals the participants I have been impressed by the quality and practicality of STARS. Everyone who is keen to develop their own personal growth should be a part of it."
“We need more programs like Wendy and Vicki do. It is only through education and self-belief that Aboriginal people will run their own affairs.”
"STARS is not just a great idea - it really does makes a difference in people's lives, for the better. And that makes it special. It's about giving people back their dignity and self-respect. It's a help up, not a hand out. The fact is we all need a helping hand, when we stumble and fall. So often, the answer lies within. We just need some help to find it. STARS is about helping people create who they want to be. "
Great Big Events
The STARS tagline – Making the Difference – is the facts for the end result of working with this organisation. The STARS directors are hands on, passionate and caring about every detail not only for the total experience but for the deep rooted meaning required for the best outcomes. The STARS team’s ability to work with every level of management, workers, general public, Government Departments and event stakeholders is implemented through a personal touch, professional experience and proven process. Great Big Events feels truly honoured to have stood beside them on a number of occasions, including producing a community concert on Palm Island in 2009, and are proud to recommend the STARS team to any organisation.
Palm Island Community Company
STARS expertise in project management and mindset training resulted in one of Palm Islands biggest and most successful community events. In addition, their high level of professionalism and expertise in project management and their unique training style in human relationship education, particularly in how to eliminate trans-generational grief and trauma from the workplace, and mindset training, has helped PICC change the way it does business. It would be difficult to find this combination of high level training anywhere else.
DOWNLOAD FULL Rachel Atkinson - Testimonial
Rachel Atkinson General Manager Palm Island Community Company