Deadly RAV: Relationship Australia Victoria's website for Aboriginal Family and Relationship Support
RAV acknowledges the Aboriginal Victorian people as the Traditional Owners of the land and waters where we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and recognise and value the ongoing contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which enrichen all communities within Victoria.
We support the Aboriginal people of Victoria in their rights to self-determination, the advancement of Treaty and reconciliation. We are committed to continually strengthening cultural safety within our services, practices and the working culture of our centres.
We work closely with Aboriginal organisations and community groups to deliver services to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Womenjika! That means welcome in the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung language groups of the Kulin Nation. The Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung are the traditional owner groups of the area we now call Melbourne and where the majority of Relationships Australia Victoria’s centres are based. Our Ballarat centre sits on Wathaurong land in the Central Highlands, also part of the Kulin Nation. Our Shepparton centre to the north sits on Yorta Yorta Country. We operate two headspace centres, in Wonthaggi which sits on Woiwurrung land, and in Bairnsdale which sits on Gunnai land, respectively.
We continue to deliver the Bagung ba Wadamba Aboriginal cultural program, in conjuction with the Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service, Wayapa® Wuurrk Aboriginal Wellness Foundation, Aboriginal Centre for Males and specialist program facilitators. Bagung ba Wadamba, which means “gather and heal” in Woiwurrung language, supports Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who are currently engaged with Corrections Victoria.
The program’s model promotes the participation of Aboriginal offenders in cultural programs and the use of protective or healing factors as a key stepping stone into other rehabilitation programs. The voluntary program has a strong focus on Elders in their roles as keepers of knowledge, positive role models and sources of connection to the community.
As the lead agency, RAV has supported the design, development and implementation of the culturally specific group programs for men, women and parents by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations. The first two programs, Men’s Journey and Women’s Journey, focus on connection to cultural practices and learnings, building strength and resilience through culture, healing from trans/inter-generational trauma, and support and linkages with culturally safe services. The third program, Growing Up Kids, is an eight-session parenting program about healing, cultural strengthening, and developing culturally specific and tailored parenting skills.
"The program opened doors and gave the fellas incentive to learn about our culture." - Men's journey participant
The programs are currently being offered in Victorian correctional facilities, and in culturally safe community spaces such as Aboriginal healing centres and cooperatives for people undertaking community corrections orders. Participant feedback from all three programs has been positive, with reports that reconnecting with culture was one of the key factors in enhancing strength and healing.
RAV sponsored Deadly Kitchen Elders Gatherings, an initiative implemented by IPC Health to connect elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are isolated, to promote conversations about culture, and offer health and wellbeing information through guest speaker presentations. We also supported a weekend trip to Warrnambool for Elders in the Deadly Kitchen program, to provide cultural experiences and the opportunity to engage with others.
Sister’s Day Out aims to give Koori women the opportunity to increase their awareness of family violence, its underlying causes and impacts, available supports, and how to promote community safety and strengthen their self-esteem and identity. We supported Sister’s Day Out wellbeing events in Yarraville, Footscray, Horsham and Sunbury and at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre. Djirra (formerly the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria), a family violence prevention and support organisation, facilitated the events, which included pampering activities such as nail and hair styling, massages and reiki, and promoted the right of women to feel safe and secure.
RAV has supported the development of the Brutha's Day out program across Victoria. It is a unique way to strengthen and develop Aboriginal men's networks.
Our relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services, such as community health organisations and family violence and legal services, remained strong, in particular through our work in the community and with Local Aboriginal Networks in south-east, western and northern metropolitan areas of Melbourne. Through this engagement, RAV has been able to establish and enhance trust with clients, in the community and with professionals.
Across the organisation, RAV staff participated in a wide range of activities to mark important dates and events relevant to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including National Reconciliation Week, which celebrates culture, our past and our future; NAIDOC Week and The Long Lunch 15th Anniversary celebrations.
In 2017/18 we partnered with IPC Health to support its Healthy Kinship program. Through our Sunshine Centre, we offer free counselling to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people engaged in the program.
We completed a pilot project in western Melbourne, funded by West Metro Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group and in partnership with Sarah’s Drive School. The Drive Away Family Violence program supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, partners or mothers of Aboriginal children who are recovering from family violence, to improve self-esteem, resilience and independence, and support positive life choices in future.
The program incorporates an assessment process, group sessions focused on literacy to prepare for a learner’s permit, driving lessons to assist them to obtain a driver’s licence, and information about and warm referrals to family violence support services. Following referrals from a broad range of community organisations, 10 women have participated in the innovative program.
In 2017/18 we worked with 1225 clients from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.
Our Traralgon Centre was invited to participate in the 715 Health Check program, which has been designed to assess aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health and wellbeing. As part of our commitment to providing outreach services in the community, we participated in the program at the Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place, a residential housing facility in Gippsland for Koori men undertaking community corrections orders. We operated a Social and Emotional Wellbeing Station, which assessed mood, level of distress and coping mechanisms, and involved discussions about how to seek support on returning to the community and the protective factors that help to prevent feelings of depression or anxiety.
RAV has an established relationship with the Learning Place, having previously delivered therapeutic drumming workshops and a series of culturally appropriate workshops to help Indigenous men to enhance their connections with themselves and their families, communities and support agencies.
During NAIDOC Week, we attended the NAIDOC March, NAIDOC Ball, multiple flag-raising ceremonies, and community events including a family day at the Collingwood Children’s Farm involving Indigenous bush planting and cultural craft activities. We also sponsored the Eastern Metropolitan Region NAIDOC Ball, and delivered a presentation at a women’s prison as part of the Koori mental health project that seeks to make child and adolescent mental health services more accessible. In Bairnsdale, our headspace centre hosted a NAIDOC Week lunch, which included two young people from the local Aboriginal community as guest speakers.
RAV staff have engaged in cultural awareness training with the Koorie Heritage Trust, as part of RAV's commitment to ensuring our services are culturally appropriate and sensitive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.