The TEAR Australia Indigenous Support Program
Dhumba is the TEAR Australia Indigenous Support Program.
'Dhumba' is a Woi Wurrung word for talk, tell and/or speak. The word captures the aim to build relationships through good communication, listening and talking together.
Through Dhumba, TEAR will continue to grow the partnerships with Indigenous Christian organisations and build further opportunities for community development with Indigenous peoples. The focus of the partnerships is community development training and capacity-building.
The program is guided by a committee of people, mainly Indigenous, who have wisdom and experience working with Indigenous communities. Current members are:
Jeanie Bell is a proud Aboriginal woman with traditional connections to the Dulingbara/Butchulla and Jagera traditional people of SE Queensland, who currently works as a Lecturer at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Education in Tennant Creek, Northern Territory. She a linguist working with other Aboriginal people committed to the revival and maintenance of traditional Indigenous languages.
Grant is a son of a Birri Gubba/ Wakka Wakka woman from Cherbourg and a Minjunbal/ South Sea Islander man from Fingal community on the border of NSW and Qld. Grant lives in Brisbane with his family. He heads youth programs with Reconciliation Australia.
Safina is a young Indigenous artist who lives in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Born in Auckland and raised in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Safina's life has been full of multicultural experiences. She is proud of her Scottish, Asian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island heritage.
Helen has an active interest in local sustainability initiatives and is also involved in a range of voluntary activities with Waiters Union, a network of Christians supporting disadvantaged people in inner city Brisbane. She has worked in a voluntary capacity for TEAR Australia as a member of funding committees and the TEAR Board.
William Pickett is a Noongar Man, From Western Australia. With his family, he moved from WA in 2008 to Victoria and now lives in Geelong. He has been in ministry over 20 years as a Minister of the Word within the Uniting Church. He is married to Carleen, has four children and cares for a number of others. William is the Congress Victoria Regional Chairperson and also the Development and Outreach Minister and is based at Narana Creations in Geelong.
Russell Hancock is a casual lecturer in Linguistics at Newcastle University. He has a background in adult Aboriginal education in the NT and in community development work in Nepal. He is married to Ros and has three adult children. Russell is interested in cycling and in community-based activities.
Mural on a wall in Yarrabah, an Aboriginal community, about an hour’s drive south of Cairns.
Used with permission, Yarrabah State School.
Closing the gap of life-expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is the focus of government programs but there are many other gaps that divide the Australian community. Bringing TEAR Australia and various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian groups together into partnerships that work toward bridging those gaps, is the business of Dhumba.
Dhumba has adopted the strategy of supporting community development training to help bridge the empowerment gap. Dhumba Indigenous partners in Queensland, Wontulp Bi Buya College and Yalga-binbi Institute, run courses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wanting to do community work. Most are from Cape York or Torres Strait communities where isolation makes tertiary learning a challenge. Dhumba adds to government funding to allow college staff to visit and teach units where the students live.
TEAR aspires to partnerships of depth and quality and has brought some learnings from its international work into play in Dhumba partnerships.
TEAR has supported the production of culturally-appropriate picture books for children (Black Ink Press), assisted the development of a Youth Worker training course (Bimbadeen College), and contributed to wilderness adventure experiences for young people in Port Lincoln, South Australia affected by drug and alcohol use (Baptist Care SA).
Dhumba works with Australian Christians inviting them along the journey with Indigenous Australians. The Reconciliation Resource Kit has been a helpful set of resources for many groups and churches.
We also run exposure programs introducing people to Aboriginal people and communities in short, one-week tours.
TEAR believes it has the resources of knowledge, networks and some funding to contribute in a small but meaningful way to closing the gap not only of life expectancy but the myriad other gaps which exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia.
Rather than develop its own campaigns, Dhumba aims to amplify the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples already campaigning for change.
The Australian Government gave formal support to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in April 2009.
The Declaration sets internationally-recognised standards on the rights of Indigenous peoples and Australia's endorsement was an important step in re-setting the relationship between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Australia.
It includes principles such as:
You can read the Declaration and information about it, on the Australian Human Rights Commission website. http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/declaration/index.html
The Declaration provides an important standard against which Dhumba can set its advocacy goals. The TEAR Australia Board has endorsed the Declaration.
In February 2008, the Prime Minister of Australia (Hon Kevin Rudd MP) announced a number of targets designed to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and improve life expectancy, educational outcomes, and employment opportunities.
The targets aim to:
A separate but related campaign is named Close the Gap. The Close the Gap campaign is a coalition of 40+ groups concerned specifically with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health which began in March 2006. A secretariat tracks, lobbies and reports on government performance in closing the 17-year life expectancy gap. It takes a rights-based approach. Each year, they produce the Shadow Report on the Australian governments' progress towards closing the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. See the latest one here: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/health/OAus-CloseTheGapShadowReport-0212.pdf?ref=687
There are plenty of options for action in the Close the Gap campaign. Check out: http://www.closethegap.com.au/action.php
Clarification: Generally, any initiative entitled “closing the gap” is a government initiative. “Close the Gap” is the campaign of a coalition of non-government groups.
Many Australians are surprised to learn that our Constitution currently allows governments to discriminate against any group on the basis of race. This fails to reflect modern Australia and fails the test of compliance with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The preface also fails to recognise our First Peoples or acknowledge their prior occupation of the land.
The Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has produced a report setting out options for achieving the goals of recognition. The Federal government aims to hold a referendum asking for constitutional change.
In the meantime, there is much work to be done in raising community awareness of the importance of this issue. A good place to start is the You Me Unity website: http://www.youmeunity.org.au/
In the same way that TEAR Australia endorses and works toward the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals in its international programs, it also supports the National Council of Churches' target to eradicate poverty amongst Indigenous Australians by 2015. Read about it on the Make Indigenous Poverty History website: http://www.ncca.org.au/departments/natsiec/advocacy/indigenous-poverty
The foundation of the campaign is the belief that all Australians have a shared responsibility for the profound disadvantage that affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Paper Tracker is a UnitingCare Wesley (SA) initiative which tracks and records on a website, all the government promises relevant to the peoples of the APY lands in central Australia. It then tracks the follow-up of these promises and gives people valuable information about their rights and entitlements. Take a look at their website: http://www.papertracker.com.au
Building on our successful overseas fieldworker program, we have formed TEARlink – a network of Christians working in government and community jobs across Australia. TEAR’s role in TEARlink is to facilitate retreats and meetings and to use its resources to bridge the isolation felt keenly by many community workers.
People working in other areas are welcome to join in their nearest hub.
We run retreats in each of these hubs. These are currently annual but we have the capacity to increase frequency according to need.
The retreats have two aims: to bring spiritual refreshment by using bible-study reflection and prayer; and to facilitate discussion about work and life in the sometimes difficult settings of rural and remote Australia.
Through these retreats, people often find ongoing mutual support.
“It was very refreshing to spend the weekend with other people who have a similar background and shared experience of working with remote Indigenous communities. It meant that we had a space for dialogue and reflection which didn't need lengthy explanation and scene-setting. Everyone understood where each of us was coming from easily. This made for such a refreshing change. And also just having the space to come together and spend the time talking, reflecting, praying.”
“The group consisted of people who have been called by God or placed by God into this work. There was a very clear understanding of a sense of vocation and mission amongst us. None of us were in the careerist space in relation to this work. This was probably the most significant aspect of the weekend for me. It was a lovely, elegant reminder for me as I walk the path and spend a lot of time engaged in struggles which distract me from remembering my vocation.” - Stuart Down, September 2012
Pray for wise government leaders federal and state/territory, as they develop and implement polices on closing the gap of Indigenous life expectancy.
Pray for a successful referendum on constitutional recognition.
Pray for churches and communities to embrace reconciliation and build strong relationships between different groups in their local area.
Lord God, bring us together as one,
Reconciled with you and with each other.
You made us in your likeness.
You gave us your Son, Jesus Christ.
He has given us forgiveness from sin.
Lord God, bring us together as one,
Different in culture, but given new life in Jesus Christ:
Together as your body, your church, your people.
Lord God, bring us together as one,
Reconciled, healed, forgiven,
Sharing you with others as you have called us to do.
In Jesus Christ, let us be together as one.
© Prayer by Bishop Arthur Malcolm taken from APBA.
Almighty and loving God, you who created ALL people in your image,
Lead us to seek your compassion as we listen to the stories of our past.
You gave your only Son, Jesus, who died and rose again so that sins will be forgiven.
We place before you the pain and anguish of dispossession of land, language, lore, culture and family kinship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced.
We live in faith that all people will rise from the depths of despair and hopelessness.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families have endured the pain and loss of loved ones, through the separation of children from their families.
We are sorry and ask Your forgiveness.
Touch the hearts of the broken, homeless and inflicted and heal their spirits.
In your mercy and compassion walk with us as we continue our journey of healing to create a future that is just and equitable.
Lord, you are our hope.
You can support TEAR's work with Indigenous groups in Australia by giving a tax-deductible donation.
This information is for any organisation seeking to partner with TEAR in its Indigenous Support Program, named Dhumba.
Dhumba has no projects of its own. Rather, we partner with other groups, including churches and community-based organisations, which are working in their communities. Dhumba seeks to build effective and accountable working relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations or ones with significant Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander leadership or stakeholders.
Foundational to partnership is a shared vision of an Australia where all communities flourish and are equally able to contribute to building a rich, healthy social fabric across the nation. The vision is animated by the vision of human flourishing of the Kingdom of God inaugurated by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which celebrates the diversity of all peoples in the image of God.
To this vision, both Dhumba and the implementing organisation will bring gifts and resources and agree to work together in the belief that coming together in partnership creates something that cannot be achieved individually. This partnership should be beneficial to both organisations and help each of them achieve their goals. It should not distort the mission and goals of either party.
Partnership is based on the idea that the resources shared ultimately belong to God and both parties to the partnership are accountable to God for their use. The sharing of resources is not an act of charity but a distribution of the wealth of the Kingdom.
Partnership is primarily a relationship built on trust and open communication. Like all relationships, it involves spending time together, listening and learning from each other's stories. The relationship will thrive on honest communication of successes and failures.
For more information contact Barbara Deutschmann, TEAR's Dhumba Co-ordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
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TEARLink is a network of people who share a goal to strengthen and encourage each other to work for sustainable and empowering change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities. Join the TEARLink group on Facebook.
Join Dhumba on Facebook, to keep up-to-date with TEAR's partnership with Indigenous communities in Australia.
Dhumba has no projects of its own. Rather, we partner with other groups, including churches and community-based organisations, which are working in their communities. Dhumba seeks to build effective and accountable working relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organizations or ones with significant Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander leadership or stakeholders. Read more about partnership.
Many Christians, groups and churches are aware of a gap in their understanding of Indigenous history and people of their region. Many feel that the time has come to address this gap but they do not know how to go about it. TEAR Australia has collected a range of resources here to help groups and churches. Read more.
First, it may be helpful to assess where you are on the journey.
Check out the stages from our Reconcilliation Resource Kit, to find examples that may help you grow.
Consider signing up for a one week exposure program. TEAR's Development Education Experience Programs (DEEP) are exciting, confronting and unforgettable.
DEEPs are for those interested in immersing themselves in an experience far from their normal lives, in order to engage in the wider world and come away transformed by the experience.
We hear plenty about the problems of remote Australia. Few of us get a chance to visit and talk with Aboriginal people about their experiences. In fact, you could say that Indigenous and non-Indigenous people live in parallel universes with little opportunity to interact together.
The Dhumba Development Education Experience Program (DEEP) provides opportunities for small groups to spend a week seeing parts of Australia that few people experience and seeing life from the point of view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. What happens to remnant communities who want to live on a piece of land once a mission but now claimed for a national park? How do people make a living as well as retain links to Country when their community lies hours away by unsealed road, from the nearest town? More information
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