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Hope For Life brings healing and remembrance to Palm Island

Hope For Life brings healing and remembrance to Palm Island

Hope For Life brings healing and remembrance to Palm Island

9 June 2016

The Hope For Life Lifekeeper Memory Quilt was part of the healing and remembrance ceremony held on Palm Island.

By SIMONE WORTHING

The Salvation Army’s Hope For Life, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries and the Palm Island community, hosted a two-day suicide postvention training program from 31 May-1 June.

Held on Palm Island, an Indigenous community 57km off the coast of Townsville in North Queensland, the training program included a presentation by Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson and a healing and remembrance ceremony. The events were held as part of National Reconciliation Week.

Prof Atkinson is a Jiman (Central West Queensland) and Bundjalung (Northern NSW) woman, who won the Carrick Neville Bonner Award in 2006 for her academic contributions to the understanding of  trauma-related issues stemming from the violence of colonisation and the healing/recovery of Indigenous peoples from such trauma.

“Professor Judy Atkinson provided a framework of theory and practice on suicide prevention and healing through her presentation on intergenerational trauma in relation to generational impacts and effects since Australia was declared Terra Nullius,” explained Shirli Congoo, The Salvation Army's Territorial Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministry Coordinator.

“She also suggested holistic models of healing and recovery and spoke of studies that show peoples’ lived experience of trauma may be inherited by future generations. The postvention training was well received, with the intention of building the capacity and capability for community people to practically support their community when they have been bereaved by suicide.”

The program concluded with the first healing and remembrance ceremony on Palm Island, commemorating the lives “of those who have passed on, and that they lived”. A number of local community members, service providers and local government councillors gathered to hear testimonies from those who had lost loved ones and words of encouragement.

“The Road to Emmaus and a spiritual and practical message of hope was shared by a Palm Island guest speaker and the service concluded with a candle-lighting ceremony in memory of those we have lost,” said Shirli.

Lynore Geia, a Palm Island community member, was deeply moved by the presentations and ceremony. “It was a meaningful and profound time for all who attended as we shared our experiences of grief and remembering family members,” she said.

“The healing ceremony was a safe space where some spoke for the first time about their personal loss and experience of suicidal ideation. After the ceremony we all gathered and shared a meal together and talked about the ceremony which was particularly therapeutic for us. We shared our mutual desire to see this first event as the beginning of more healing ceremonies for Palm Island.”

For more information on Hope for Life, go to suicideprevention.salvos.org.au


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