Case Studies 

Empowerment and justice





Case Model – Empowerment and Justice


1. Gamarada Healing Program for Victims of Crime and Family Violence Prevention

The Gamarada Healing Program for Victims of Crime has been developed as a healing and empowering life-skills program to effectively support Aboriginal men and women who have been victims of crime. A 15 week group program has been developed based on the successful model of groupwork Gamarada has been recognised for.

The program incorporates Indigenous-specific healing strategies developed to restore social and emotional wellbeing following the ongoing intergenerational effects of trauma among Aboriginal peoples, and the effects of being victims of crime. The program incorporates traditional Indigenous healing with Eastern and Western methods of recovery. It is supported by a communication strategy for the dissemination of information about Victims Services provided by Government, including compensation, counselling, referral and support.

GUIR is a leader in Indigenous mental health and has experience in effective violence intervention. We are able to adapt this expertise to assist victims of crime. And work closely to strengthen other initiatives that have failed. Gamarada’s holistic model engages support services as well as family and key community members and a wide range of service providers and other supports. The Gamarada anti violence and victims of crime Healing Program is designed to run over 15 weeks, with sessions of 1.5 hours contact time and weekly followup. The program incorporates the following key elements:

  • Creating a safe place through establishing and adhering to group rules, ensuring referral and follow up support beyond the program, with overarching trauma-informed care principles
  • Cultural safety through respecting and implementing Aboriginal culture and healing traditions
  • Holistic approach which recognises the body, mind and spirit and the links with the social determinants of health and well-being consistent with Aboriginal definitions of health[1]
  • Development of leadership and mentoring
  • Unconditional love and acceptance and respect for each individual and their experiences and views
  • Acknowledging and nurturing strengths
  • Self determination and self empowerment as integral to growth and development.

The activities in the Program aim to focus on building self esteem, increasing awareness and understanding of social and emotional well being and mental health and the social determinants of health and well-being, strengthening spirituality, identity and relationships, stress and anger management, and men’s health issues. Recently information about legal issues, rights and services has been included in the sessions.

The sessions are led by two qualified and experienced Gamarada facilitators with a consistent format for the weekly sessions and introduction of different information and support sessions over the 15 weeks. The program environment allows for inclusion of a range of guest speakers, such as General Practitioners and lawyers to address specific topics and enhance the education and therapeutic quality of the program for victims of crime. The program is open-ended and all effort will be made to ensure that all participants attend the 15 sessions form beginning to end however flexibility must exist for clients to enter at any stage of the 15weeks. Below is an overview of the Gamarada Healing Program for Victims of Crime:

Week 1 Program overview and participant introductions. Introduction to Dadirri deep listening. (Evaluation as part of the therapeutic process1) what it means to be Aboriginal.
Week 2 Group development including introduction to Aboriginal culture, leadership, Dadirri deep listening process. (Evaluation as part of the therapeutic process2)
Week 3 Victims of crime: issues, information, compensation, counselling, referral and support
Week 4 Why warriors lay down and die, why do the men give in and give up? (empowerment for education about colonization and the impacts on Aboriginal men)
Week 5 Understanding of lateral violence; traditional dance lesson and corroboree
Week 6 Making changes in our lives: drawing inspiration from the Mad Bastards film and group discussion resources
Week 7 Relationships 1 – interpersonal dynamics, healthy modelling drawing inspiration from the Mad Bastards film and group discussion resources
Week 8 Relationships 2 – accessing support drawing inspiration from the Mad Bastards film and group discussion resources
Week 9 Transformation: drawing inspiration from the Mad Bastards film and group discussion resources
Week 9 Transformation: drawing inspiration from the Mad Bastards film and group discussion resources
Week 10 The language and experience of letting go and recovery from trauma
Week 11 Surrendering to peace. Acceptance, forgiveness and mapping your journey back to spirit. Healing the healers. (Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs)
Week 13 Leaders leading (good leaders lead from the back). Training the trainers
Week 14 Staying strong: drawing inspiration from the Mad Bastards film and group discussion resources
Week 15 Group closure, referrals, follow up processes, evaluation


2. Community consultation workshop to develop 2 day portable model

Gamarada also provides a train the trainer component to increase the sustainability and reach of the program through encouraging participants to gain the skills to run sessions themselves in their communities. Training of graduates involves attendance at the 15-week-structured program, participation in community events (indigenous and non-indigenous), leadership and intensive mentor training. There is an emphasis on time management and personal organisational skills.

The community consultation workshop participants gain the following skills:

  • Mindful awareness (Dadirri)
  • Self esteem and self confidence
  • Safe space to be vulnerable, strong warriors, empowered
  • Unconditional love and acceptance
  • Meaningful roles
  • Acknowledging what we do well
  • Nurturing our strengths
  • Being validated by self and others


Case Model – Empowerment & Health and Mental Health


Mental Health Legal Services Project

Gamarada worked with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in 2009 on a project funded through the Public Purpose Fund (PPF) to establish a two year Mental Health Legal Services Project (MHLSP). The projects aims where to increase access to justice for disadvantaged community groups. Indigenous men who have experienced trauma was a focus. The broad aims of the MHLSP were:

  • To explore the unmet legal needs of people in NSW who are mentally ill
  • Through piloting innovative strategies, to initiate sustainable, effective processes to meet those legal needs; and
  • To systematically identify and respond to the barriers to justice facing people in NSW who suffer mental illness.

The Indigenous Men’s Access to Justice (IMAJ) was established as a MHLSP pilot program to work closely with the GIHLSP. An Indigenous mental health worker was appointed who is a graduate of the Djirruwang Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health program at Charles Sturt University. He was experienced in Indigenous healing, mental health and social-emotional well being.

During the period of the MHLSP through the IMAJ pilot the GMHP has developed considerably and established itself as a non profit foundation, with charity status and a constituted Board; it has also implemented a number of linked initiatives and programs.


Case Model – Healing and Life Skills



1.  The Gamarada Indigenous Healing and Life Skill Program (GIHLSP) was established in Redfern in 2007 by group of local volunteers Aboriginal leaders under the guidance of Ken Zulumovski who was also working at Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern as the Aboriginal mental health worker. This community initiative was a proactive response to an increased recognition of the need for healing and programs that reached the crux of community challenges. The program was underpinned by Indigenous concepts of holistic well being, empowerment and trauma informed care. The program placed emphasis on improving mental health and community engagement and decreasing contact with the criminal justice system and family violence. The GIHLSP was based on a peer support and self-healing and empowerment model with a strong underpinning of cultural renewal and spiritual growth. In its early development the program had become well recognised for its positive impacts on Aboriginal male participants and expanded to whole of community with a special focus on youth and children.


Case Model – Empowerment & Justice


Community Healing and Life Skills

The inner Sydney suburb of Redfern is the urban stronghold of Aboriginal Australia. In recent years, Redfern is changing and so are the men in its community. An innovative healing and leadership group of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men has been meeting regularly to confront their issues with anger, addiction and loss of culture. Using a combination of traditional eastern, western and Indigenous healing techniques and philosophies, the group is transforming the lives of men at risk; some recently released from jail others fighting addictions and isolation. The program empowers these men of all ages to find their voice and to regain connection to community, their Aboriginal identity and culture.

The GAMARADA story is a prime example of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men across the country are taking back power and place in community, lost through decades of European colonisation. This is the story of their individual journeys and the regaining of their roles as men in community. Gamarada’s programs are increasing the capacity of men around NSW to deliver healing and empowerment programs that promote well-being in their communities, this ensures knowledge and skills are passed on from leaders to individuals and thus become part of the broader communities capacity to achieve self-determination.

“For most people, when they come into a healing environment, if they sit down, listen and share stories, they find that Culture re-emerges.” – Dr Tom Calma, AO.