Redefining the Mainstream: Local Government, Inclusive Communities

The Second National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism, Immigration and Human Rights


Louise Campbell
President, Yulawirri Nurai Indigenous Association Inc.
Tammy Carney

Yulawirri Nurai's Yula-Panaal Cultural & Spiritual Healing Sanctuary Program

We can't go back, The old law was for the old problems. Now we got this new - this whiteman's way. And we got these new problems. This law doesn't fix the either. It's no good.
What we got to do is put them both together - the old and the new.
Mix them up. And they'll be hard and strong like cement.
( Harry Daphney, Kowanyama, Beyond Violence, 1990: 8)

Yula-Panaal an innovative outcomes-based program designed to heal the fractured spirituality and identities of Aboriginal people. Its client group are Aboriginal people deemed to be 'at risk' of offending or those incarcerated in the criminal justice system.

For the past four years Yulawirri Nurai Indigenous Association Inc. has been researching and identifying models on 'cultural and spiritual healing sanctuary's is for implementation in Australia for its Indigenous people. This study and investigation has led into a number of alternative Indigenous practices and processes, in particular, the Canada's Aboriginal Women's Healing Lodge, Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge.

Our research traces the development of this 'Healing Lodge' for Aboriginal women serving federal prison sentences in Canada for crimes considered serious indictable offences. Representatives of Aboriginal bands across Canada shared in the planning of the lodge as well as its operations. The opening of the lodge was on 24 August 1995, and is situated on Nekaneet land near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, with no fences, locks or bars. The lodge has been designed to facilitate traditional First Nations healing practices.

The Yula-Panaal Program takes on a holistic, contextual approach to spirituality and healing through Aboriginal processes and practices both traditional and contemporary in a culturally appropriate environment.

The Yula-Panaal Program is very much a 'hands on' approach to recognizing diversity, making choices, cultural and spiritual healing practices, reconciliation with one's own identity, self-empowerment and economic independence. The benefits from the external component of the Yula-Panaal Program have had a positive impact on those non-Aboriginals who have been fortunate to participate.

Yulawirri derives much of its own expertise, philosophical, cultural and spiritual education from the community, especially from our elders. It is and always will be our elders who will play a vital part in this healing, cultural immersion and finally, reconnection into the community. It is this underlying principle that many of our establishments, like the Canadian experience will operate throughout Australia.

We believe as community that it is imperative that we have similar such places as a preventative or diversionary to the government and private operated correctional facilities in New South Wales and Australia. The majority of these institutions do not incorporate our Aboriginal beliefs and understandings as well as our cultural teachings and practices in both a culturally safe and gender appropriate environment, which includes all our families.

Remember why we have come together. We are here because we want to build a better way, a healing way for the girls in prison. No matter what our differences, we share this in common. We must not forget our purpose, nor our responsibility.
Liza Mosher (Elder)

Presentation Type
30 min. Paper


Deakin Woolstores Campus, Geelong Waterfront
30 November - 1 December 2001