Workshop Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Healing from homophobia and preventing suicide  (#45)

Dameyon Bonson 1
  1. The Indigenist Group, Djugun, WA, Australia

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community—whose members are undeniably at the highest risk of suicide, self-harm, alcohol and other drug self medication—has not attracted the attention of the wider mental health and suicide prevention sector, and our communities. Homophobia is a significant determinant of our health. Using a decolonisation methodology to heal from colonial homophobia. The Healing from Homophobia Workshop uses the six stages of decolonisation[i].

  • Rediscovery and Recovery
  • Mourning
  • Healing/Forgiveness
  • Dreaming, Commitment
  • Action

These stages are used to develop and enhance a greater understanding of the diverse sexualities and genders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The terms ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer and Transgender’ are acknowledged to be counterfeit descriptors of pre-settler Indigenous gender variance, expression and sexualities. This workshop explores the idea of ‘Neo-Cultural Gender Expression and Identity’ as a dynamic part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural evolution; assisting with understanding of homophobia-based trauma, and the loss and grief of identity experienced because of this.

Participants attending will be better able to:

  • Heal from colonial enforced external and internalised homophobia
  • Work towards identifying their own trauma, grief and loss of identity as sexuality diverse people and/or with multiple genders
  • Connect with how diverse sexualities and gender diversity existed in pre-settler societies;
  • Feel empowered to work toward healing for themselves, their family and their community from homophobia
  • Gain a better understanding of the traumatic effect of homophobia has on their identity and those of family members
  • Report they feel more comfortable discussing their experiences with friends, families and in community
  • Able to identify support people and support services for dealing with own trauma, grief and loss experienced by homophobia;
  • Families and communities report a preparedness to use support people and services to deal with their own (and their family’s) experiences of trauma, loss and grief due to homophobia.

These workshops have been delivered across the Northern Regions of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland with funding from the Healing Foundation.

  1. [i] Muller, L, 2014, A theory for Indigenous Australian health and human service work: connecting Indigenous knowledge and practice, Allen and Unwin