“You took our children, our sisters, our brothers, our mothers, our fathers, our grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles and aunties, but we kept our stories. A rich indigenous folklore arose from the missions and camps, blending with the stories that have been in this country from the beginning. We kept our stories. The use of Aboriginal languages in the missions was banned. Those speaking their language were severely punished. We were not to corroboree, not to sing. The devil was in our stories. The chained people had come to tell us that our spirituality was wrong, and the whit God could save us. But we kept our stories, whispered them at night, and hid away in the bush and saved them. A few of the chained people didn’t try to destroy our culture but most of you did. Most of you saw savagery and idolatry because that’s what your chains told you to see. We didn’t care, we struggled. We kept our stories.”
(Melissa Lukashenko, 1998)
Aboriginal culture has always held the answers to Aboriginal wellbeing. Our government’s insistence on funding and promoting non-indigenous mental health programs for Aboriginal people, is just another way of overwriting culture, of replacing indigenous values with non-indigenous values. Aboriginal suicide rates are higher now than at any point in history. The non-indigenous methods have not worked. Now is the time to put power back into the hands of Aboriginal elders and leaders – to invest in communities so they can tackle suicide and depression their own way, using their own culture and story as a method.