LIFE CHANGING: Aboriginal Elder Aunty Cheri Yingaa Yavu-Kama-Harathunian helped design the Healing Circle Work program.
LIFE CHANGING: Aboriginal Elder Aunty Cheri Yingaa Yavu-Kama-Harathunian helped design the Healing Circle Work program. Simon Young

Ancient Aboriginal wisdom healing modern wounds

ANCIENT Aboriginal healing practises are transforming the lives of both indigenous and non-indigenous adults, with the latest program participant's set to start next year with new-found optimism.

In September, four Bundaberg community members entered a Healing Circle Work program, delivered by Aboriginal community-controlled organisation IWC.

Aboriginal Elder Aunty Cheri Yingaa Yavu-Kama-Harathunian said just before Christmas, after an intensive three months of regular sessions, those four participants graduated.

"Healing Circle Work is based on ancient aboriginal healing practices and while it is not a therapeutic program, participants experience their own transformational outcomes," she said.

Aunty Cheri designed the program in consultation with other aboriginal healers across Australia to help people deal with trauma and life issues, and came to the fore in Bundaberg region after the 2013 floods.

"Following the disaster, IWC was asked, and funded, by Bundaberg Regional Council in 2015 to deliver Healing Circle Work to community members suffering ongoing trauma,"Aunty Cheri said.

"Through the HCW program, indigenous and non-indigenous community members were able to let go of their past and embrace their future."

Since then, regular Healing Circle Work sessions have been delivered by IWC in Bundaberg, to both indigenous and non-indigenous adults.

"IWC focus is on a holistic, whole-of-person model of care. This incorporates health and medical, community and family services. Healing Circle Work addresses underpinning issues that can be barriers to receiving support from services that empower them and their families," Aunty Cheri said.

"The sessions are delivered in small groups, and participants deal with trauma and life issues with honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, respectfulness, decency and fairness to themselves and to others.

"The outcomes are life-changing."

At last week's closing ceremony, one of the participants said they were able to trust people again.

"To be able to have the freedom to speak and to be understood ... it is hard to explain because it's spiritual not just emotional and mental," they said.

The next Healing Circle Work sessions are set to begin early next year.

For anyone who wants to take part, expressions of interest can be sent to

IWC has also developed youth-focused Healing Circle Work, titled Gentle Footprints.