‘Reconnection is the cure, disconnection is the disease.’ This moving quote from her mother has been at the forefront of Shaan Hamann’s mind throughout her life, and has played an integral part in defining who she is today.
Shaan grew up in the predominately indigenous community of Darwin in the Northern Territory with a strong sense of Aboriginal culture. She now resides in Burpengary and identifies strongly with her mother’s indigenous heritage as well as that of her Dutch-born father.
A proud woman of Gamilaroi (from Castlereagh River, NSW) and Weilwun (from Warren, NSW) tribes, Shaan’s family has undergone a journey of awakening through reconnection and restoration. Lorraine Peeters, Shaan’s mother, is a survivor of the removal policies, or Stolen Generations. At the age of four, she was forcibly removed from the Brewarrina Mission and institutionalised in Cootamundra Training Home for Aboriginal girls. Shaan vividly remembers both sad and happy stories of her mother’s experiences and subsequent delayed trauma.
“My mother is a deeply spiritual woman who has always taught me that our spirit is our core,” Shaan explained. “If we don’t look after it, we become ill. For my family, this journey has created a strong sense of belonging and connection, to reach a place of peace, identity and strength.”
This spiritual journey has led to Shaan’s deep involvement in Aboriginal affairs over the past 30 years. With a degree in Adult Education, Shaan is now Principal Director of Winangali-Marumali – Gamilaroi words meaning ‘to hear and listen’ and ‘to put back together’.
“Since 2000, the Marumali Program has been delivered throughout Australia to counsellors, psychologists and health carers,” explained Shaan. “The healing model is trauma-informed care for Stolen Generations survivors and prison inmates.”
The success of these nationally-accredited workshops has been a huge step forward since the launch of the ‘Bringing Them Home’ report 20 years ago, and is one of the few recommendations to be implemented by the Australian government. Shaan and her mother travelled to Canberra this year to present ‘The Healing Foundation’ report, which the government are yet to respond to.
Shaan feels strongly that healing has a very strong part to play in addressing indigenous trauma, but for as long the trauma is ignored, the cost of ‘fixing’ it will increase.
“What I’m saying is that the government needs to understand that each community has their own solutions, which need to be implemented. We need to right the wrongs of the past to move forward completely,” she said.
Shaan feels this can be further achieved by teaching today’s Australian school children.
“I’d love to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture taught in all schools. All service providers should be trauma-informed to be able to give appropriate support to our mob.”
Shaan believes this would be beneficial in moving forward as a nation and help all Australians understand the trauma faced by our indigenous people in the past, as well as understanding the spiritual importance of their healing. She feels very fortunate to have an avenue to share her indigenous culture with others, and considers it a privilege to provide a healing path for those wanting to reconnect.
Read more about the Marumali Program by visiting www.marumali.com.au.