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Your Week

This week is NAIDOC week. The theme of this year’s celebrations --  'We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate' – is so important to us here at CASSE.

Our programs are very much aligned to the NAIDOC focus on highlighting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ strong spiritual and cultural connection to land and sea. Our Tjilirra Project for example, is based on the timeless and ancient Dreamtime practices and traditions of the people out west.

The NAIDOC theme was also specifically chosen to  highlight and celebrate a significant anniversary of one of Australia’s most iconic sacred places – Uluru. “2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the ‘handback’ of Uluru to its traditional owners on 26 October 1985 and we wanted to honor and share their story with the nation.” - Anne Martin, Co-chair of the National NAIDOC Committee.

A story about the Uluru handback

One key person in the story of the handback is Phillip Toyne, the lawyer and old friend of mine, who helped traditional owners convince the Hawke government to hand Uluru back to them in 1983. Phillip was friends with members of the band Midnight Oil and asked them to write the music for the handover (the song: The Dead Heart). Glimpses of the handover can be seen on the DVD 'Settle Down Country'.

This week’s stories

A new partner has joined the Tjilirri Project, allowing CASSE to extend its reach; our men’s shed program is growing strongly; and we have recently developed a new group prevention and treatment program. Read about these exciting developments and more in our newsletter today.

Our new website

And finally, we are about to launch our new look website. It will have heaps of information about CASSE programs and ideas that are designed to help you or someone you know. Be sure to visit soon!

Kurunna Mwarre (may your spirit inside you be good) to you all!

Pamela Nathan
CASSE Aboriginal Australian Relations Program


Kiwirrkurra Men with kulatas

Tools for living

A new partnership with the Remote Jobs and Community Program (RJCP) is allowing more men to join the the Tjilirra  Project, and  Kiwirrkurra, just over the WA border has joined theTjilirra Traditional Tools - Life tools Project.

The locally designed and community based Tjilirra Project is helping men to establish long term training, employment and business opportunities.

Project Manager, Jamie Millier, reports that he now has 25-35 men working alongside him, learning and making tjilirra! As Jamie reports, a story of strength and pride:

'It's been amazing to witness the reaction of community members. They tell me they “feel good, strong and proud”. They break out into ceremonial song and they are saluted by older men and women in the communities as they make their tools. Groups of young kids come, look and sit down to learn. Older people come, smile and talk to the young men in language The Aboriginal grader drivers have yelled from their grader as they drove past with big smiles on their faces. One old man came and sat with the men. He told me he gives them ideas of how to work on tjilirra. He was so proud as his grandson was sitting down working and learning from him.'

Click here for more information about the project.

Traditionally carved tjilirra - kalis - made by the men in Mt Liebig (Watiyawanu)


Traditionally carved tjilirra - kalis - made by the men in Mt Liebig (Watiyawanu)

Left and above: Traditionally carved tjilirra - kalis - made by the men in Mt Liebig (Watiyawanu)

Right: Carefully selected branches to be crafted into spears - kulatas

Carefully selected branches to be crafted into spears - kulatas

Men's Shed Research Project scoring runs and kicking goals

The Aboriginal Men's Shed Project in Central Australia in partnership with the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation (CAACAC) is establishing solid male support across organisations, language groups and traditional owners. Cultural legitimacy is considered to be the key determinant and Countrymen the key directors to date in the formation of male leadership groups.

Dr Liz Hemphill, in her senior research position at CAACAC, has been providing great research mentoring to the Men's Shed Research Project Officers, Shane Franey (a former cricketer) and, while Shane is on leave, Greg McAdam (a former footballer). In turn, Shane and Greg have been providing great cultural education.

Story to go forward

Greg says: 'if we are to be stronger, more caring and have better well-being then we need to look at culture and its laws, and in order to propel forward we need to go back! Well-being is from the bottom of our feet dancing!'

For more about the project, click here.


Group Prevention and Treatment Program

CASSE has developed a brief Group Prevention and Treatment Program called 'Breakthrough Violence'. The program uses a 'mentalisation' framework.

'Mentalisation is a psychoanalytic approach which focuses on the recognition of mental states in the context of secure attachment relationships fostering the  humanity and visibility of the Other,' explained Pamela Nathan.

The program will be implemented as part of the Men’s Shed Research Project and consists of 15 weeks of treatment.

The program can also be used by other services and communities at the frontline of delivery and CASSE can train clinicians to deliver the program. For more information, contact us.


Changing minds, saving lives - psychoanalytic insights


Welcome to Pamela Nathan's new monthly psychoanalytic talk, taking simple gems from the psychoanalytic dreamtime that may become tools for living....


On my way from the airport into Alice Springs recently I heard two Aboriginal female radio announcers from Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) talking about their jobs. They were saying how happy they were in their jobs now and congratulating each other on their courage to get jobs.

They each spoke to their profound sense of SHAME that had crippled them and prevented them from thinking they could or would apply for such jobs. I thought about the deadly power of shame and in turn, the creative possibilities if shame had no power...

So, what can we do about shame?

Click here to


Save the date - 8 December 2015

Noel Pearson, Jonathon Lear and a panel of experts, including CASSE's Pamela Nathan, will be sparking discussion and debate in Sydney University's Grand Hall on the 8th of December as they discuss Indigenous recogntion.

The event is being organised by Dr Talia Morag, Senior Lecturer at Department of Philosophy, Sydney University, and Damian Freeman, a writer, lawyer and philosopher who founded .Uphold & Recognise - an organisation which is  committed both to upholding the Australian Constitution and recognising Indigenous Australians.

CASSE and the Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis are co-sponsoring the event.

Jonathan Lear is a psychoanalyst and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago who has worked with the Crow Indians.

Noel Pearson is an Aboriginal Australian lawyer, academic, land rights activist and founder of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, an organisation promoting the economic and social development of Cape York.

Register your interest in this important event now!

Would you like to help?

If you would like to support the CASSE Aboriginal Relations Program, please click here to donate to our projects.

Keep up to date with CASSE Aboriginal Australian Relations Program:

Subscribe to the CASSE Blog: http://www.casse.org.au/casse-blog/

Like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CASSEAustralia)

Follow us on Twitter (@CASSEaustralia)

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Or contact Pamela Nathan:
Phone 0417 567 114
Email pamela.nathan@casse.org.au.