Kultchafi healing training rolls out across Australia

  • Ara ‘Julga’ Harathunian, Managing Director, Kultchafi.
    Ara ‘Julga’ Harathunian, Managing Director, Kultchafi.
  • People putting hands together

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, causing shockwaves of isolation and trauma throughout Australia, Kultchafi Managing Director Ara ‘Julga’ Harathunian made a commitment to support the healing of individuals and communities right across the nation.

Two years later, an innovative and ground-breaking Healing Circle Work Facilitator Training program has been officially launched at the 13th National Closing The Gap Indigenous Health Conference held on the Gold Coast in May 2022.

The training will be showcased again at the National Rural Health Alliance’s 16th National Rural Health Conference in August and at the 23rd International Mental Health Conference being held by the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association (ANZMA) in September.

‘My wife, Aboriginal Elder Aunty Cheri ‘Yingaa’ Yavu-Kama-Harathunian, devoted her life to the development of Healing Circle Work right up until her passing in December 2019. We had always committed to share this work for the highest good of others,’ says Ara.

‘Healing Circle Work is not a therapy, but therapeutic outcomes are experienced. It is a healing process based on an ancient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander methodology.

‘Participants learn to live life in the moment, recognising and understanding their own spirituality, and reaffirming themselves. It is suitable for any trauma, and for Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and women.’

Aunty Cheri was an Elder of the Taribelang, Bunda, Gooreng Gooreng and Kabi Kabi peoples. She had been a women’s hostel supervisor, a foster parent, worked in prisons with male sex offenders and was experienced in suicide prevention, gender issues and supporting spirituality.

Ara was Chief Executive Officer of the Indigenous Wellbeing Centre (IWC), a leading community health service in regional and rural Queensland, from 2002 to 2021 and sits on the Board of the Queensland Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies (QNADA).

‘I have seen firsthand the need for a rollout of this Healing Circle Work process,’ he says.

Aunty Cheri and her co-facilitators delivered Healing Circle Work to more than 500 participants since 2015, helping them to transform their lives.

‘We knew we had to share the capacity of delivering Healing Circle Work as widely as possible and the way to do that was to teach the process to suitable facilitators living and working in our communities, no matter how rural or remote,’ says Ara.

‘Potential facilitators can include psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, as well as counsellors, support workers and other frontline providers of social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) supports.

‘At this time of pandemic-induced trauma, isolation and anxiety, this is a methodology that is incredibly valuable to communities. Our task at Kultchafi in 2020 was to work out how, in a nation that had been shut down by COVID-19, we could get the training out. We had to get innovative.

‘With the pandemic has come a range of new online platforms that have enabled us to create an interactive blended learning model that includes Zoom meetings and videos. Working with a dedicated team, the end result is quality, intensive, self-paced training.

‘It provides detailed knowledge of the process of creating a Healing Circle, facilitating a Healing Circle, and delivering activities and ceremonies within a Healing Circle.

‘The facilitators can then take this healing process into their communities to support individuals and families, enabling participants to experience a restorative and health-giving sense of wellbeing to themselves and others.

‘This is going to be a major benefit to the delivery of high-quality rural health care in what has never been a more challenging environment.’

Find out more at www.kultchafi.com.au/healing


Presenter at the National Rural Health Conference

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