Rebuilding strong proud people, by breaking the cycle.
Indigenous Youth Healing Program

Balunu has been funded by the NT government department of Health and Families and the Australian government department of FaHCSIA to provide an indigenous youth healing program.

Balunu’s target participants have historically been disadvantaged indigenous female and male youth at risk most typically teenagers who are demonstrating anti-social behaviour, including offending behaviour between the ages of 14 -17 with consideration given to 11-13 year olds in exceptional circumstances. The eligibility criteria for participants includes experiencing problems surrounding their family life, personal abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, drugs, criminal activity, identity issues, poor personal choices or incarceration.

Service Delivery Strategies
  • Provide positive cultural experiences for participating youth
  • Provide positive outdoor activities for participating youth
  • Identify and address individual issues
  • Build relationships between youths and with adults
  • Develop youths’ sense of responsibility

The program is founded on the basis of healing through traditional Aboriginal culture, through the wisdom and guidance of traditional Elders. It works from a community based, grass roots understanding of the issues and is driven by this understanding. The program works on the principles of going back in order to move forward, building the individual‘s self belief and confidence through strengthening identity, building self dignity and pride. The program aims to provide the necessary tools required for youth to address their personal trauma and deal with the external challenges they face in their daily lives, enabling them to maintain their uniqueness whilst walking in the new world as we know it.

Balunu not only offers a culturally appropriate program but also offers a realistic solution to complex issues. These issues need to be addressed and driven by Indigenous people in order for us to take responsibility for our problems. Balunu does not profess to hold all the answers or solutions, but rather the answers and solution to an important portion of the problem which compliments existing services and programs. Our program has the capacity to assist in fostering a positive image of Indigenous youth in society, strengthen culture and community, bring Indigenous peoples together, and reduce the harmful behaviours that disrupt the lives of the youth and broader society.

Referral Process
The current referral process of participants under the NT Department of Health and Families funded healing program is as follows:

Referrals for young people to attend youth camps are made to both Balunu Foundation and the NT Government Youth Camps Coordinator. A referral selection meeting is held prior to each camp to assess the eligibility and suitability of referrals. In addition to assessing an individual young person's eligibility, factors such as client mix and compatibility are also considered. Health and well-being screenings are conducted by Balunu Foundation, using an appropriate screening tool, as part of the assessment process. Where a health or well-being issue is identified, and does not preclude a young person's participation in the youth camp, Balunu Foundation develops a risk management strategy for the young person's participation in the camp. Young people referred to attend a camp may be clients of: NT Families and Children, NT Correctional Services, NT Police, Department of Education and Training or the Youth Justice Court. Family and community referrals can also be made.

Pre Camp Preparation
  • Pre-camp activities include:
  • Receiving and assessing referrals
  • Medical screening
  • Preparatory work with the young person and their family
  • Meeting with the staff group to develop the program and clarify roles and responsibilities
  • Organising camp activities and logistics

Remote Healing Camp & the Balunu 10 Step Healing Methodology
A 9 day indigenous youth cultural healing camp is provided using Balunu's ten step methodology (mapping out barriers, concerns, needs, desires, aspirations and dreams, and supporting young people to deal with the issues that hold them from reaching their full potential).

The youth participate in a number of cultural activities such as; making their own spears and woomeras, painting their own yiddaki’s (didgeridoos), painting, land management, storytelling and bush tucker preparation.

The aims of the camp program are:
  • increased self esteem, confidence, empowerment and respect of young people;
  • re-engagement with education and youth services targeting improved life pathways and the cessation of anti-social and criminal activities;building community considerate young people who have greater life and employment opportunities; and
  • building the emotional resilience, and cultural spirituality and wellbeing of indigenous young people.
  • This is achieved through the provision of youth camps that operate from a holistic approach, reconnecting young people to their identity, dealing with underlying issues and equipping young people with tools, skills and support to make strong choices;

The Balunu healing program endeavours to:

  • promote the development of positive relationships and encourage young people to 'slow down' and reflect on their lives without the distractions of modern life;provide structure, routine, consistency and predictability for young people;
  • focus on young people's strengths and positive behaviour;
  • include participation in activities that reconnect young people with their culture, promote healthy lifestyles and facilitate skill/knowledge development; and teach young people new ways to express their needs and cope with their emotions and life experiences.

On Camp Sexual Health & Life skills Program Delivery
Balunu has incorporated the delivery of the Family Planning Association of Western Australia’s Mooditj Program for sexual health and life skills education within Balunu’s cultural healing camp program for male and female youth.

Camp Location
The camps are currently being held at Talc Head which is on Northern Territory Government, Crown Land and is located across the Darwin harbor. The camp site is a 10-20 minute boat ride depending on the weather and sea conditions. Below is a satellite image of the location and its proximity to Darwin city. The white line indicates the Darwin departure point and the route taken to the camp site which is marked with a yellow marker.
Figure Location of Healing Camp at Talc Head

Follow up & maintenance
Time limited and specific post camp follow up and mentoring with young people and their families is provided to support the transition of the young person back into their family and community and assist in sustaining gains made during participation in the camp. The follow up work conducted is a part of outreach and case management to current and future clients. This is the part of Balunu's service delivery model referred to as the "Place of Maintenance".
Linkages and referrals to other government and non-government agencies

Balunu receives referrals from all sectors of the community, government and non-government services, schools, community members, families, individuals and there is a growing demand for the services the Balunu healing program provides. Almost all Balunu’s young participants can identify a large number of youth known to them who would stand to benefit positively from attending the program and many encourage friends to attend because of what the program has done for them.