Updated: Aug 11
In the southwest region of Victoria, early colonisation has resulted in some First Nations men experiencing a disconnection from their traditional ways and culture. Levi Geebung, a social and emotional wellbeing caseworker at Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative, has personally witnessed the transformative power of reconnecting with one's culture in terms of identity and self-awareness.
During his early childhood and teenage years, Geebung felt completely detached from his cultural heritage. However, after establishing a connection with his late father, who imparted traditional woodworking and art knowledge, he experienced a profound sense of wholeness and identity. Culture, according to him, plays a crucial role in providing a sense of belonging and connection.
Working closely with the Gunditjmara Men's Group, Geebung recognizes the importance of creating a culturally safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to engage in open conversations. Addressing the concerning rates of suicide among Indigenous communities in Victoria, Geebung emphasizes the significance of fostering a supportive environment where men can gather, converse without judgment, and practice cultural values and practices.
Given the high prevalence of mental health issues among those who have died by suicide, including depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, the Gunditjmara Men's Group aims to provide a safe haven for men to come together, share experiences, and find support. The group's efforts to organize a men's camp with a focus on mental health, cultural connection, and ancestral practices demonstrate their commitment to the overall wellbeing of its members.
Through initiatives like the upcoming cultural camp, Geebung and the Gunditjmara Men's Group seek to promote mental wellness and foster a reconnection to Country and ancestral practices. By offering a space for men to gather, share stories, and engage in cultural activities, the group aims to provide much-needed support and promote a sense of community and cultural pride.
Read the full article here.
Photo Courtesy National Indigenous Times
Courtesy National Indigenous Times