This program in our Centre at George St. Redfern is a multilayered initiative for the young Aboriginal mother, father and their children. The program will function at three levels:
Here the work aims to build Community Leadership in young Aboriginal mothers and mothers-to-be through an internationally renowned community-building program which teaches tools and ideas for creating self-reliant communities. The program will be designed and delivered by an experienced facilitator who has presented the programs over many years in a variety of cultural settings.
Through group activities, mothers have an opportunity to gain mutual support, friendship and to share experiences with others, all of which lessen isolation and strengthen the mother while learning new skills. The content of group activities will be decided by the mothers themselves according to their needs and desires. Programs offered include:
- Infant Massage: a specialist in infant massage will work with mothers and their children (infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers) creating a time and space for mothers to learn what centres, calms and communicates with their child. This creates pride in themselves as parents as well as bonding more closely with their child.
- Art Therapy: learning how to use art as a medium of expressing trauma and for freeing oneself emotionally.
- DVD Making: learning to share one’s story with others through the medium of film, as well as building the confidence that comes from achievement and learning a new skill. Mothers will learn how to film, edit and produce audio-visual material to DVD. (Gunawirra thanks the staff whose contribution through the Commonwealth Bank Staff Community Grant has made this possible)
- Group Outings: these may be social or educational, eg. going to the zoo, but also help to develop the planning skills required for a mother to organise and enjoy a day out with her baby.
- Nutrition Mornings: “Healthy Cooking for Baby and Me”. A fun morning with a nutritionist helping make food tasty and fun.
- Group Therapy Experience: This is a space to share emotions and anxieties. An earlier sewing circle became just such a group with women talking about childhood abuse and others about awful experiences including rape. A trained group worker will be part of this group with mothers who choose to be involved. (Gunawirra thanks Resmed for its sponsorship).
- Parenting: an opportunity for mothers to share their experiences of motherhood, to air concerns and difficulties, to receive input from each other and from social workers and therapists, thus developing their capacities as parents.
- Education: in conjunction with Eora College, education and training needs are assessed and a tailored individual learning program provided.
Individual psychotherapy is the soul of the program. This is deep work with a mother on the traumas and difficulties in her own life, to enable her to be more respectful of herself as an individual, more present and involved as a mother and to enjoy her baby. This service is provided by experienced and accredited psychotherapists.
We hope to make such sessions accessible to all the mothers.
All project processes will be jointly evaluated by a senior researcher from the Department of Social Work (Australian Catholic University) and by 180 Degree Consulting. Suitable KPIs are presently being developed.
This Inner Suburbs Project is now in the preparatory stage and expected to formally commence 1st October 2012. Twelve mothers are currently involved in the preparatory project. Donations are welcomed.