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The Lightning Ridge course participants include Yanyun Zhang, Heidi Duncan, Natalie Dial, Susan Sloane, Max Fenton, Michael Ah-Kit, Marie Bolton, Claude Gordon, Tania Kennedy, Roslyn Shaw, Jessica Brown, Angie Newman and Grace Morris. Photo TWH

A course aimed at assisting people to become ‘accidental counsellors’ was held at the Lightning Ridge Bowling Clun last week.

The Lifeline Yamayamarra’ Accidental Counsellor’ course was presented by Max Fenton from Bathurst and Claude Gordon, originally from Brewarrina.

‘Yamayamarra”, meaning to help, encapsulated the day’s spirit and was more than just a training session.

It was a journey into the heart of Aboriginal culture and its intricate relationship with mental health and well-being.

Max and Claude began the course by highlighting the sobering statistics of suicide rates among Aboriginal people.

Suicide accounts for 4.6% of all deaths in Aboriginal communities, with a rate twice that of non-Indigenous people.

This information set a sombre yet crucial tone for the day, emphasising the urgency and importance of the training.

As accidental counsellors, the participants were equipped to offer support in a crisis, often when they might be the first point of contact.

As Max explained, this is not about being a professional therapist but about being compassionate, listening, and ear in times of need. Claude emphasised the importance of understanding culture with active listening, empathy, and the ability to guide someone to professional help.

The opening session focused on cultural aspects such as sorry business, spirits, ancestors, totems, and kinship.

Claude explained how these elements are deeply woven into the social and emotional fabric of Aboriginal communities.

“Acknowledging and respecting these cultural practices was crucial in providing support that is effective and sensitive,” Claude said. […]

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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