Indigenous Australia

QSA assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia to implement projects that are endorsed by and will benefit their local community. Funding is possible through the Quaker Service Australia Aboriginal Concerns Fund, which relies entirely on generous donations. In order to continue supporting valuable projects like these, we need your continued support.

A Quaker Statement 50 years after the 1967 Referendum

During the Yearly Meeting of Quakers in Australia held in July 2017, we remembered the 1967 referendum and the changes it brought, but also recognising that to create the peaceful co-existence with Aboriginal communities we seek, we need to acknowledge the past in all its complexities, provide reparation for past and current injustices, and recognize the wisdom in all our cultures, perhaps through a truth and reconciliation process.

Therefore, we commit to ‘Come and Care Right Way’ and seek in our daily lives to:

  • Educate ourselves about the history and present reality of the First Peoples of the lands we reside on, and uphold their right to self-determination; and

  • Understand the issues surrounding recognition and sovereignty; and

  • Learn from the history of the complex relationship between First Nations and other peoples, spanning massacres to cooperation,

  • Grow respect for sacred places and newer sites of significance e.g., Tent Embassies and city parks; and

  • Discern the racism within ourselves, and work towards justice, peace and healing for us all.

If you would like to read the whole of the document prepared by Quakers during the 2017 Yearly Meeting, please download here.

Annual Report 2013 - 2014:

Kornar Winmil Yunti located in Adelaide, using $20,526 from QSA's Aboriginal Concerns Fund

This project expands the work of earlier projects, which aimed to build and strengthen the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal families and communities via the running of an Aboriginal Men's Camp. The residential camp was very influential in addressing the needs of the men from all over the State, who then requested that interim support would also be beneficial, hence this current project which is expanding the training and support provided for the leaders of men's groups and programs so that they can play a crucial role in supporting the men in their own community to heal and grow. Kornar Winmil Yunti has expertise in running workshops and supports the Aboriginal community's desire for change. Aboriginal Elders are being encouraged to take a proactive role within this project.

Annual Report 2012 - 2013:

Kornar Winmil Yunti, based in Adelaide, South Australia. Project costs $60,445, using QSA's Indigenous Concerns Fund only.

Project results

QSA has provided funding to support the running of a second residential Aboriginal Men's Health Gathering, located at Tumby Bay. As a result of a literature review, and the experiences from the inaugural men's camp, there is a need to deal with many matters such as family and relationship issues, violence, grief and loss, and the complete breakdown of the social and emotional health of the men, and how it impacts on their families. The participants are encouraged throughout the camp to examine their own personal hurt and find alternative ways to address what for some have been lifelong patterns of violence, abuse and neglect.

Some of the men come from urban regions, others from remote rural communities. Together they discuss the issues, and share hurts and ideas in small group discussions, maintain a personal diary of their emotional and spiritual journey during the week, and take part in a video evaluation of the camp. Additional support is provided by various health workers who are able to offer diagnostic assessments, professional health advice and treatment.

It is also planned that a program of on-going support will be considered, by providing additional training to some of the men to become community leaders for more frequent and localised meetings of the camp participants. This is as a direct result of feed-back from the men that regionally based men's groups would provide the best model of engagement for them, to undertake a range of activities to deliver strong positive health and well-being outcomes effectively and efficiently. Aboriginal ownership of the groups is a must, as are strong positive role models that includes the Elders, to create a future for the young members of the community.

Challenges / Issues

  • Interest by health service providers is low, with little importance given to overcoming the culturally insensitive and intimidating nature of the experience for Aboriginal men.

  • Access and equity issues are largely ignored for Aboriginal people.

  • Many Aboriginal men are marginalised within the communities, often present with complex needs which are not met by mainstream health services

  • Mainstream services are largely inflexible, GP driven and structured so that management of chronic or ongoing health issues does not happen for Aboriginal communities.

  • Mainstream medical and support staff are rarely Aboriginal and / or male and in many cases there are poor cross cultural and social / behaviour skills for effective service delivery.

Photo credit - Kornar Winmil Yunti

Maparu Community, East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory

This project has been funded by QSA in consortia with Habitat for Humanity.

Mapuru is home to about 100 people from the Yolgnu nation, living in a dry community who have a strong desire for their children to receive a good education and develop their sense of cultural connection. The community is located in an isolated area with some reliance on light aircraft for access for the provision of supplies and services. During the wet season the community can be cut off by both air and road for months.

The community identified the need for a shelter and storage shed adjacent to the airstrip as a priority. A team from Habitat for Humanity comprising a builder, engineer and three volunteers helped rain community members in construction work. The cyclone proof prefabricated building was made by the Marrara Christian College and they also provided transport to the site as their contribution. 20 community members actively participated in the construction of the building, which tool an estimated 650 volunteer hours to complete.

The security now has the shelter and storage shed close to the airstrip, which will be of benefit to the community for decades to come.

Kornar Winmil Yunti

Supported with $15,568 QSA funds only October 2015-September 2016.

Project results

This Indigenous project partner, based in Adelaide but working throughout South Australia, has a key focus in reducing violence, especially violence towards women and girls. Following on from a successful project supporting men’s groups by providing a safe culturally appropriate space for them to share their stories as a way of addressing their sense of anger and hurt, there emerged an idea to work more with male youth.  A project called ‘Club Connect’ was run as a pilot project and delivered a series of workshops to football clubs at which depression / suicide and Domestic and Aboriginal Family Violence were discussed. The project was linked to existing football clubs where there is a high percentage of Aboriginal youth and also with the national White Ribbon campaign, of which the project partner organisation is an accredited organisation.  Awareness of these issues have been greatly helped by the very public appointment of Rosie Batty, anti domestic violence campaigner and 2015 Australian of the Year, and Arman Abrahimzadeh, Young South Australian of 2016 who was a very powerful presenter at some of the workshops.

This project has benefitted from the association with the White Ribbon campaign and has been able to invite some of its ambassadors to speak to the clubs. One football club reported that they ‘really get a lot out of the events and at the end of the day all clubs are little micro-communities that deal with the same issues that bigger community deals with on a daily basis. So educating themselves around those issues cannot be anything else but a good thing’.

663 male youth attended the workshops. The feedback was that the presenters were articulate and considerate when discussing such sensitive topics. They spoke from their own experiences, explaining how when a line is crossed in relationships, it becomes easier to cross it repeatedly, and the need for mutual respect within families and other relationships to address gender inequality. Players were offered support if the topic was part of their lives, and KWY gave out its details to the clubs in case anyone wanted to talk to someone later on. Some additional follow up with each club was necessary to ensure that the club and the players felt supported, and some referrals to external support services were also provided to address specific issues.


Project challenges

There were some initial difficulties in gaining access to the targeted clubs within the timeframes of the project and this was eventually overcome but the timing was affected. In the end, far more people attended the workshops than the 500 than had been anticipated. 
The work achieved in this project has highlighted the need for a social welfare worker to work with families and in particular the women and girls, to support the social and emotional state of the members, and this will be the topic for a future project.

Kornar Winmil Yunti

Supported with $36,102 QSA funds only October 2014-September 2015.

This Indigenous project partner, based in Adelaide but working throughout South Australia, has a key focus in reducing violence, especially violence towards women and girls. A project which concluded during the year was supporting men’s groups by providing a safe culturally appropriate space for them to share their stories as a way of addressing their sense of anger and hurt, and helping them develop healthier behaviours and roles within their families and communities. From within these groups came the suggestion to work more with youth and a second project is supporting the provision of workshops on depression and suicide, domestic and Aboriginal family violence. These workshops are part of a pilot campaign being presented to existing soccer clubs where there is a high percentage of Aboriginal youth. It is linked with the national White Ribbon campaign, of which the project partner organisation is an accredited organisation and staff involved have all had appropriate training.

Aboriginal Men’s camp

Aboriginal Men’s camp. Photo credit Kornar Winmil Yunti.