Aboriginal people are sadly over represented in the justice system in Australia and this is closely associated with a loss of spirit and social cohesion.
FISH is developing initiatives that will work with Aboriginal people currently in contact with the justice system and those at risk of offending to help them light a fire within so they may regain spirit and connection with mind, body, and land.
Cultural Healing & Awareness Program
FISH is working with the Department of Justice in Western Australia to assist incarcerated Aboriginal people with Cultural Healing and Awareness. This enables them to bring positive change to their self. Through lighting their own fire within and continuing the journey of understanding their own story, they recognise their own self-worth and bring healing to their spirit. The work of FISH plants a seed and then helps it grow.
The initiative helps break the cycle of generational involvement in the justice system. Participants learn through ‘yarning’ to share their own story with others. They gain a deeper understanding of the generational impact of trauma and how to begin rebuilding their lives through personal responsibility and learning to express themselves both verbally and through art.
Feedback on the program from participants and from prison guards has been overwhelmingly positive, with prison staff noting significant improvement in the attitudes and behaviour of participants. Participants have provided the following feedback:
“It confirmed in me the direction I want to go and helped to show me that I could do it.” Take responsibility for my life. To not give in and realise that there are opportunities for everyone, even in prison.”
“When I come into this program I am free. I can be a proud black man.”
“I am free because I can be me.”
FISH runs an ongoing Art Therapy Program in prisons, using artwork to connect participants back to country and develop their sense of self-worth. Proceeds from the sale of artwork are used to support the participants on their release from prison, by providing access to transitional support and accommodation, mentoring and employment assistance.