Please Note: Only COVID-19 vaccinated adults and children over 5 can attend the Clinic.

Facing the Past

January 26th has passed and with it the debate about its name and significance. Is it Invasion Day, a day of mourning, Australia Day, a day of celebration or a day of reconciliation? Until recently among people of non-Aboriginal background, it was unequivocally Australia Day, an opportunity to celebrate all that is wonderful about living in this country. Yet as early as 1938 Aboriginal people were protesting that for them there should be a day of mourning, marking the beginning of the theft of their land and attempted destruction of the oldest culture on earth. A third perspective aimed to bring both sides together with respect and recognition of traditions and values.

While this time in our history is unique, the dilemmas that underpin it are familiar with those who work with families. Especially in complex cases, families present with stories of injustice and abuse in the past that continue to reverberate down generations affecting the children and their children. Childhood abuse with its patterns of violence, secrecy, shame, and domination are played out with children and grandchildren. Yet in working with these families, we are unlikely to be helpful if we focus solely on the horrors of the past and wrongs done or only speak to those aspects of the family that are admirable and strong. Instead, we identify and name patterns of abuse and inequality that have hurt the family and look to strengths and resilience that will provide a path forward. We adopt a stance that allows both to stand together in a way that allows for a different future and protects and honours both past and emerging generations. It is brave work for both client and practitioner but a much better approach than ignoring and hoping ‘it will go away’.

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