The Mothers Groups are part of the The Young Aboriginal Mothers Project (YAMP), based in Gunawirra House, Rozelle. YAMP is an early intervention service for Aboriginal women from pregnancy through to their child starting school.
Some groups are made up of women aged 25 and older with their babies and preschoolers. Other groups are referrals from Aboriginal ante natal care RPA, for teenage mums with their new born babies.
The program reflects the interests and needs of the women. Transport, meals and food parcels are provided. We offer a number of group activities including:
Belly Casting: The young women make a decorated model of their pregnant “tummies”, helping them to find pride in their pregnancies and to explore the change and growth taking place.
Infant Massage: A professional massage therapist teaches the women soothing and settling techniques for themselves and their babies. They come to value the importance of touch and enjoy the close bonding with their babies.
Cooking and Nutrition: The women join together to learn how to cook nutritious budget meals while the children have fun growing herbs and veggies. They also get a bag of fresh fruit and veggies to take home every week. Infant nutrition and cooking simple meals are carried out every week at the centre. Learning about nutrition for their babies, some mothers said, “It’s too late for us, but it is not too late for our babies. They won’t grow up on fast food.” (When you think of additives in fast food and one in three Aboriginal women having diabetes this is an important program. ) This changes completely with the fun experience of cooking at the centre, at home, creating a recipe book. The group has created a recipe book to share with others in the community.
Craft: The group members learn weaving, jewellery making, knitting and crochet. As they make beautiful objects they begin to weave their stories together.
Film and Photography: The women produce short films and photo montages that relate their experiences of motherhood and the changes that it brings.
Art and Ceramics: Aboriginal artist and cultural advisor, Graham Toomey, finalist for 2013 Aboriginal Parliamentary Art Award, leads the group in art and pottery, incorporating traditional techniques and Aboriginal culture. Gunawirra recently held an exhibition showcasing the group’s artwork. Making aboriginal art and pottery is a therapy for trauma.
Leadership Skills: The group explores personal development and self-care, social justice issues, rights, how government departments work and conflict resolution.
Group therapy: The mothers learn to sit and watch their infants and talk about them, from this they often develop trust that helps them speak about their own situations and their own problems.
Settling techniques for sleep problems: Mothers with very young infants are provided with guidance on ways to settle newborns with sleep difficulties.
Social work support: The women are supported to access a range of support services available to them such as health, housing, employment, eduction, or financial services.
Culture, Dancing and Yoga: for health and wellbeing with Eve White, our women’s cultural facilitator
The mothers in our group involve themselves in initiatives which they themselves created. Eventually they will own, manage and decide on their own programs in the Gunawirra centre.
Each group session is conducted so that there is a balance between structured and unstructured time. There are opportunities for the women to share their worries and struggles with the group, receive support and begin to build healthier emotional lives.
We also focus on the relationship between the women and their babies, providing opportunities for them to know, understand and express their own emotions and to develop space in their minds for their particular baby’s personality and needs.