From the Director

Hello everyone! The year has galloped along so fast. I invite you to jump on the CASSE journey and hear our news gone by and our plans to come.

We have been energetically doing catch-up from border restrictions and lockdowns! I spent most of February and some time in March in the NT - how good was it to touch down on the red earth and see the MacDonald ranges again! Nik, Robert and I spent this time completing research and service delivery with the youth in justice. We spoke to most of the youth who are engaged in our Shields for Living, Tools for Life program, and many of their carers, in Alice Springs and the surrounding town camps.

We ran cultural day camps at the Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) site and and engaged youth in reflection meetings in Willowra and Santa Teresa. The youth told us many stories, mostly heart-wrenching. It took time to reflect and process their stories, the encounters, the visuals of daily life, and the pain of feeling the heat was presenced and suffered. Nonetheless, the youth smile, care for each other and play too.

In spite of the challenging Covid pandemic times I thank all the CASSE team for hanging in there and doing good work on the ground. I thank the Chair, Chris Croker, for his agile thinking, reliability and calm containment. CASSE is, in the words of Martin Juggadai, "carrying on"! I leave you with some eloquent words from Jonathan Lear (2021), an esteemed psychoanalyst, who has written on Transience and Hope: A return to Freud in a time of pandemic-:

“Of course, the world may overwhelm us, it may destroy us, it may eliminate any chance of happiness or psychic well-being, it may make us miserable for life. But if it does not, then it is characteristic of us that we respond to loss with pain and suffering but then tend in the direction of returning to life. The return is itself an expression of hope…a hope for the return of the good’’ (p.14, IJP, vol.102).

Pamela Nathan, Director of Aboriginal Australian Relations Program

CASSE’s Dual Cultural & Therapeutic Programs

Shields For Living, Tools For Life in Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre

Picture: Mr Robert Hoosan and Mr Wayne Scrutton

The CASSE team are now working one day a week at the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre. Mr Robert Hoosan strongly told the big bosses in the youth detention that there were no Aboriginal workers or regular cultural programs for the youth in detention, and they readily agreed to make cultural connections possible on the inside.

The CASSE team is engaging the youth in custody in Alice Springs with the Shields for Living, Tools for Life program by taking Country and cultural connections into the Youth Detention Centre itself. This program has added urgency as there are more youth are in detention since the 'tough on crime' NT legislation. The NT Children's Commission statistics show that on May 10th, there was 35 youth in detention and on May 15th, there were 44.

Nik reported on the first session: “In our program, the youth began to make traditional tools. They talked to the Eagle and Crow painting by Japaljarri and got stuck into talking about their problem life and making changes to create new stories. The prison officers joined in and shared their trauma”. Nik Rosalski coordinated and facilitated alongside Wayne Scrutton.

"The program making traditional tools has been phenomenal. Yesterday CASSE cooked kangaroo tails with the lads at Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre and it was well-received". Frank Curtis, the Manager of the YDC.

Pictures: Left - Robert Hoosan delivering the Shields for Living, Tools for Life program inside Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre. Right - Wayne Scrutton and Nik Rosalski with traditional tools.

Suicide Prevention

CASSE has received an important grant and is ready to deliver a suicide prevention cultural camp for the youth at Finke joining in with other Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) communities and to engage the community in talks commissioned by Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, NT.

Healing Cultural Camps - Cultural Youth Workers

CASSE is very pleased to be preparing to facilitate Shields For Living, Tools For Life Healing Cultural Camps for the youth. This project seeks to help at-risk youth by providing cultural healing camps making traditional tools, horsemanship and youth cultural mentoring/leadership/counselling in three remote communities and the town area. This is a government funded program.

Consultation Service - Men’s Tjilirra Movement

CASSE’s consultation service has been engaged to advised interstate governments and other organisations on the delivery of the CASSE model - Men’s Tjilirra Movement and Shields For Living, Tools For Life and on community engagement and may work on the ground with communities.

Workshop for people living, breathing and working in the social emotional wellbeing space

Two-Way Workshop - Feeling the Heat!

CASSE held a succesful Two-Way Working professional development workshop in Alice Springs. It was facilitated by Pamela Nathan and Dr Craig San Roque and generated rich, poignant, emotional thinking amongst workers at the frontline working in the intercultural space and racial divide. The room was packed! The vitality of spirit was palpable by the end of the day! The CASSE team feel privileged to have been part of the conversation, which moved through different emotional experiences of trauma. Pamela chose the title 'Feeling the Heat!' which was a term used by a youth in YDC describing how he felt in the watchhouse and with the police.

“You created a nourishing space through your care for materials, methods and stories – for art to speak, from the ground up, through artists and storytellers about our shared responsibilities as we create and disperse dust storms,” said Wendy Cowan.

“I LOVED the day, I felt the presentation style was perfect, so refreshing to have a different style” said Helen Lambert, Manager Health Promotion Mental Health Association.

Pictures: Top left - Dr Craig San Roque and his talking stick. Top right and bottom left - Mr Robert Hoosan sharing his experience as a cultural mentor. Bottom right - Pamela Nathan sharing psychoanalytic insights.

Advocacy – Amplifying Aboriginal voices

Amnesty International - Youth at School and Not in Jail

In August, Pamela Nathan spoke at Amnesty International Eastern Suburb's meeting. The theme was Youth at School and Not in Jail. Inspired by the In My Blood It Runs documentary, a passionate discussion about the complicated interplay between #RaiseTheAge, Aboriginal youth in mainstream schools, and Aboriginal youth in detention unfolded. It was understood that dispossession underpinned by colonisation and institutional racism perpetuating it is at the core of youth being criminalised.

Pamela spoke on behalf of Robert Hoosan and the Aboriginal youth from Central Australia who could not be there. She talked about the youth's psychological distress and pain that can only be intensified by detention, heralding isolation, separation from families, disconnection from culture, and attenuating feelings of shame, powerlessness, and internal badness and violence.

Aboriginal speakers Maggie Munn, Dr. John Davis, Mark Lovett, Uncle Bruce, Auntie Stephanie Armstrong and Rodney Dillion spoke powerfully and from lived experience. Calls for alternatives to detention were made. Pamela felt the pain in the room. She talked about CASSE's Shields for Living, Tools for Life cultural program, a solution wanted by the youth and their families. Our program takes youth from custody to country and recognises and addresses their trauma. We are the only organisation that offers this dual cultural and therapeutic program.

Oxford University Conference (UK) - Beyond COVID Solidarity or Fragmentation

Pamela Nathan is delighted to have been invited to present at the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict (CRIC) annual conference by CRIC Director Lord John Alderdice. She will be presenting her paper “The Youth Inferno – Two Way Working in Ancestral Lands”. The conference is hosted by Harris Manchester College in Oxford and the CRIC from September 20-22, 2021. Click here for more information.

Central Land Council Meeting in Tennant Creek

Pamela and Nik on the long, straight road to Tennant Creek (left picture), passing the Devils Marbles, invited by the Central Land Council, to meet with all the Central Land Council delegates and Attorney General Selena Uibo about youth justice issues and our program Shields For Living Tools For Life (right picture).

The CASSE team valued the opportunity to speak about our Shields for Living, Tools for Life program last week to a group of 90 Central Land Council delegates and Minister Selena Uibo about youth justice.

Pamela shared that “our assessments show that most youth on our programs have undiagnosed depression and anxiety and are psychologically distressed. These youth tell us they offend because they feel scared, stressed and angry, insecure and unsafe, uncared for, and some offend just because they are hungry. Yes, they are perpetrators, but I think they are VICTIMS too”.

Aboriginal voices in print

Nathan, P. (2021). Feeling the Heat - Rising Spirit published in Psychoanalytic Dialogues.

Nathan, P. (2021). Awakenings on Ancestral Lands published in Psychoanalysis Downunder. Click here to read.

A more personal rendition- Nathan, P. (2021). Whispering Winds. Stories of Pain and Recognition published in Room - A Sketchbook For Analytic Action. Click here to read.

Support Aboriginal Youth

When you buy a t-shirt like Steve Bevis (left pic) you help young people be "heard and understood". In Steve’s words “Hey, be like me! Buy a t-shirt and support CASSE Australia!” Click here to buy a T-shirt.

CASSE Board and growing team

CASSE is delighted to welcome Mr Raymond Walters (left pic) as our new Board member and Mr Robert Hoosan (middle pic), our Cultural Co-ordinator and Mr Martin Juggadai (right pic) the original founder of Men’s Tjilirra Movement as Board patrons. Click on links for bios.

CASSE, reluctantly but with understanding, says goodbye to Mr Kenneth Lechleitner as a Board member, who is going on to have more adventures, and we thank him with deep gratitude for his years of service, his ever-thoughtful wisdom and ready availability.

CASSE is also delighted to be receiving support through Employsure for three more full-time Aboriginal workers to join the team.

New Troopy

CASSE is delighted to be receiving a 'second-hand' hard-to-get vehicle through the Community Benefit Account. This vehicle will safely transport youth on Country for cultural camps.

COVID-19 Central Land Council Camps

CASSE completed six cultural camps funded by the Central Land Council to help people suffering from the global pandemic on remote communities. Mr Robert Hoosan took groups of youth with some elders out on Country, and they made a big mob of spears and, due to the rainfalls and green grass, got lots of bush tucker. Robert said he told stories for country-healing stories. The people are frightened that COVID will come to the NT. They are frightened there will be border closures in the future and talked of how hard it was under lockdown. For many Aboriginal people, COVs restrictions are re-traumatising as it is another Whitefellah disease that could annihilate.

Thanks to our supporters and donors

Thanks to the Kilfinane Foundation for providing pro-bono invaluable corporate mentoring in these times.

Thank you to those who supported our EOFY fundraiser. We have raised nearly $5000 and received incredible messages of support.

“Such Important work. Hope you reach your goal”.

“I have followed your work for years and am so happy to be supporting you in this small way. When I hear the terrible stories swilling around I think of your work and feel a spark of hope. Thank you”.

“Thanks for your work supporting kids on country”.

“Great work!”.

Click here to help us purchase a camping trailer.


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