Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

‘Talk, talk, cry, laugh’: learning, healing and building an Aboriginal workforce to address family violence

Marlene L. Lauw A , Jo Spangaro B C , Sigrid Herring A and Lorna D. McNamara A

A NSW Health Education Centre Against Violence, Locked Bag 7118, Parramatta BC, NSW 2150, Australia. Email:;;

B School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Health Review 37(1) 117-120
Submitted: 25 November 2011  Accepted: 12 June 2012   Published: 14 December 2012


Sexual abuse and family violence are widespread and under-reported phenomena for which Aboriginal victims face even greater barriers to asking for and receiving assistance than do others in the community. There is a need for strategies to address abuse without disempowering and alienating Aboriginal people. A program developed by the New South Wales Health Education Centre Against Violence is addressing this issue at the same time as contributing towards a strengthened Aboriginal health workforce. The training program which is a 1-year qualification course has grown from a 52% rate of graduation in its first 6 years to 92%. Three practices in the classroom have contributed to this success. These are: (i) recognition of the emotional impact of the training and its links to participants own histories; (ii) providing space to address participants negative prior educational experiences; and (iii) further developing content on the recent sociopolitical history of Aboriginal people. These practices have strengthened this successful course, which is building a skilled workforce to provide accessible, culturally sensitive services for Aboriginal people experiencing abuse.


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