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CASSE Aboriginal Australian Relations Program Newsletter


From the Director

Welcome to the December edition of CASSE's Aboriginal Australian Relations Program!

Since the September newsletter, we have signed off on two new projects. The Traditional Tools - Life Tools (Tjilirra) Project  supports male Elders passing on their traditional tool-making skills to young male initiates and developing mental health tools for living. The Keep our Songs Alive Project will aid the preservation of culture in Santa Teresa (Ltyentye Apurte). Read more about these projects below.

Last month Anne Kantor and I attended an outstanding, powerful and gut-wrenching play called 'Hipbone Sticking Out - MURRU', about an Aboriginal man, John Pat, who died in custody. His death triggered the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The performance told of the violent colonial invasion, massacres, rapes, leg irons and neck chains and brutal death in custody. I was re-inspired to continue to listen to the stories and to share them, so more and more people can understand the terrible trauma and injustices of the past, that stays with the Aboriginal people generation after generation and has adverse effects in many of their communities and on their way of life. Only when these past traumas are fully recognised and understood, can we start moving on towards reconciliation.

We have been putting a concerted effort into our social media over the past few months to both share our thinking, but more importantly, to listen to our audience and share stories. I urge you to follow/connect with us on social media, see all details at the bottom of this page. 

Kurunna Mwarre! And Season’s Greetings from the CASSE Aboriginal Australian Relations Program.

Pamela Nathan
CASSE Aboriginal Australian Relations Program


New Projects

The Keep Our Songs Alive (alyelhentye anwernekenhe itethe akwete anetyeke) Project is a partnership between CASSE and Atyenhenge-Atherre Aboriginal Corporation (AAAC) in the Santa Teresa - Ltyentye Apurte Community.

Keeping traditional songs and dances alive can conserve culture and strengthen spirit and connections between the generations.

Male elders have experienced a loss of role and identity, which, in many cases, has given rise to trauma and violence. Male elders are the keepers of male knowledge and wisdom of song and dance on country. This proposed project will gather the male cultural Elders to teach and also record traditional song and dance for country. It aims to facilitate conversations between elders and youth on the “problem-life” and the future. Through this project we also hope to develop long term business ventures using the traditional song and dance.

The Traditional Tools - Life Tools (Tjilirra) Project proposes to partner CASSE with Aboriginal Communities in Haasts Bluff, Mt Liebig, Kintore and Papunya, in collaboration with the Royal Flying Doctors Service. Talks are currently being held with another potential partner in the area of jobs and training.

This project fills a gap - there is no other specific program for males in these communities. The men in Haasts Bluff have informally commenced a tools making project and men in the other identified communities are highly motivated to do the same. The project combines both conserving and making traditional cultural tools while mentoring the cultural capabilities of young initiates and developing life skills. The project goal is to develop traditional cultural tools, which will in turn create tools for living and a space to talk between the generations about current problems and future possibilities.

Traditional tools and dreaming stories used in the past to save lives on country can now be used to develop life skills. The making of the tools (tjilirra) will provide a way of engaging different male age groups including young initiates and generations to open up and share psychological conversations. This, in turn, can deepen relations, connections, understandings, and respect for each other and their cultural knowledge, law, wisdom and past, present and future lives.

It is important for the young men to learn about traditional culture and skills, to keep their culture alive and strong into the future.

Jamie Millier has been appointed as Project Officer and brings years of experience working with these communities. He will commence this role on 14 January 2015. Jamie will collaborate closely with David Beveridge, a psychiatric nurse and Martin Juggadai a cultural consultant and traditional ngangkari.

Sutton Tools is very generously sponsoring this project by providing tools.  This is greatly appreciated by the project team and the Aboriginal people on the four communities out west. We are now in critical need of sponsorship of a vehicle. 


Update on the Men's Shed Research Project - Alice Springs

For those who may have missed the last newsletter - CASSE and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation (CAACAC) have teamed up to develop and evaluate a model of best practice for Aboriginal men of Men’s Sheds in Alice Springs/ Central Australia, using a particpatory action research or empowerment research program to promote emotional wellbeing. Providing support for men to heal from traumatic experiences and supporting the empowerment of men in their communities can help create safe and supportive communities for everyone.

The CASSE/CAACAC project has now appointed a Project Officer, Shane Franey, who begins this month. He is a senior Arrente man, Deputy Chair of Lhere Thepe and has worked on the Four Corners program at Tangenteyere. He brings commitment, experience and local and cultural knowledge to this project. We will tell more about Shane's story when he commences work and let you know more about the project when it is officially launched in February 2015.


User Friendly Psychoanalytic Guide

We are working on a user friendly guide to psychoanalytic principles such as mentalisation, working in the here and now and clinical subject matters such as suicide, for those working in the field who may be keen to learn more. This guide will be used for clinicians and for groups in the field. We will advise when this information is available on our website.


Sharing Stories, Changing Minds, Saving Lives

Through our projects, we have been listening to stories and filming interviews. There are powerful stories from people who have often faced many challenges and are now using their insights to help others on their journeys. Sharing stories can help to change minds and save lives – at a personal level, at a community level and as a nation. We urge you to visit our CASSEtv page regularly so that you can also share these stories.


CASSE Blog Updates

Recent highlights from the CASSE Blog are below. To view all of CASSE's blogs, and to subscribe to receive updates directly to your inbox, visit the CASSE blog.

Nomads Land

Yalti and nine other members of the Pintupi grouping came in from the desert as late as 1984. Think about it - twenty-four years ago only!! What an enormous adjustment! What incredible reliance and adaption to be able to straddle two worlds in this time!. Read blog.

A Town Called Alice

The problems faced by our Indigenous communities, for lack of a better phrase, lies at the heart of our country. I believe that our identity as Australians is incomplete if we turn our backs on the people living in places like Alice.  Read blog.

Results do matter

As Mundine points out, programs may be ‘great’ and have highly qualified people running them, but they won’t work if the kids aren’t at school. Improving literacy and numeracy is as much about addressing issues of health (mental and physical), incarceration levels, substance abuse, domestic violence, etc as it is about improving teaching methods. Read blog.

Improving Mental Health

The biggest step forward in overcoming a problem is acknowledging it, discussing it, and giving all who are affected by the problem a voice. This can be an incredibly empowering process. It also requires input from all involved – herein lies the problem. Often, those with the most power don’t see themselves as being part of the problem. Read blog.

The Power of We

This article raises the important issue when asking “Where do we go from here?”. That is, the (often) unspoken, unacknowledged tensions between ‘them’ and ‘us’ – the ‘whitefella’ and the ‘blackfella’. Read blog.


The importance of recognition, responsibility, truth, united reconciliation and race

Searching for the truth assumes that all have a voice, that we are all in a position to have a voice and that all voices can be heard. There are no biological races; they do not exist. What is required is an emotional communication that allows the interplay of ambiguity and uncertainty and which does not permit the control of absolute truths. Read blog.

First Contact - Reality TV with a Social Conscience

The three part documentary, ‘First Contact‘, was television at its best. It was a shining beacon that illuminated the ‘undiscussables’ of racism and the ongoing impact of the intergenerational trauma of colonialism. Read blog.

The Fertile Space Between Us

This is a wonderful essay gathering rich soul foods of imaginings, artistic expression, creative generative possibilities, united holding and hope. It's about the co-struggling between two peoples - Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal - and of the humanity in the space in-between incandescent in the Central desert. Read blog.


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 Aborginal Australian Relations Program:

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