Healing in the man cave at the Redfern Centre

By Ginni Seton

For newcomers to Redfern, the Block bordered by Eveleigh St, can feel disorientating with homeless people, graffiti and an air of residents doing it tough. Walk a few steps to the Redfern Community Centre located in the heart of the Block and that feeling of bleakness dissipates. Within this refurbished former factory, many life skill programs are offered to anyone who walks through the door.

On Monday evening, it’s the men who walk through the door seeking hope and healing through the ten-week Gamarada Men’s Program, combining traditional Aboriginal methods and spirituality with Western self-help techniques. Gamarada, meaning “comrades or friends” in the Gadigal language of the Eora Nation aims to transform the lives of men in inner Sydney and for them to assist others.

Founded by Ken Zulumovski, a descendent of the Kabi Kabi nation, Gamarada Indigenous Healing and Life Training delivers programs to indigenous men and youth to heal emotional trauma and teach effective coping strategies. Creating links between legal, health, and community services the Gamarada programs also hopes to reduce prison sentencing and re-offending. In 2010 Gamarada was recognised by NSW Department of Premiere and Cabinet with an Excellence Award for Building Leadership in Indigenous communities.

Ken started the program in 2007 after he saw a need to address the complex and multi layered problems confronting young indigenous men in the community. Now in its ninth year, the program has expanded to include a two-day workshop, anger management sessions and a program to encourage dads, uncles, male carer’s and mentors to value and encourage the education of their children.

Ken Zulumovski (standing upper left row) with participants of the Gamarada Men's Healing Program at Redfern Community Centre.
Ken Zulumovski (standing upper left row) with participants of the Gamarada Men’s Healing Program at Redfern Community Centre. Image: Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources.

Men who have benefitted from these programs include members of the stolen generation and their families, young people who’ve experienced abuse or family violence, men involved in the criminal justice system and men with alcohol and other drug issues;

Ken says the core feature of this program is the reliance on ancient Aboriginal healing practises.

“The options that exist for these men within the medical model are culturally inappropriate most of the time. There’s not a lot of cultural awareness that’s being taught to clinicians about how to deal and help aboriginal people,” says Ken. “The Gamarada Program is about promoting cultural renewal amongst indigenous men who otherwise are dislocated or disconnected from their culture.”

Whilst many group programs are based around talking therapies, Gamarada teaches participants practical skills in anger management, emotional control, relaxation and techniques for building respectful relationships.

Core to the ten-week workshop is the introduction of Aboriginal cultural practice. Perhaps the most significant being Dadirri, the indigenous spiritual concept of deep listening, quiet stillness and awareness. Historically Aboriginal people passed on stories orally and listening carefully was vital to sharing the story accurately to the next generation of story-tellers. Dadirri describes this process of deep, respectful listening and awareness to build community.

The men also learn the healing power of traditional dance with the group encouraged to drop their self consciousness and join together in dance. These different techniques have proven to be deeply effective for indigenous men.

Armed with these new techniques, a greater sense of community and practising ancient indigenous practises, disenfranchised aboriginal men are leaving their isolated man cave and regaining their role as functioning men in the community.




Say no to Aboriginal community closures


by Jana Bohlmann

Confronting, real and eye-opening describes the work of the award-winning photographer Ingetje Tadros the best. In her latest photography exhibition ‘This is my country – Say no to Aboriginal Community Closures’ at107 Projects in Redfern, she managed to give the viewers an impression of what life looks like  in the Aboriginal community Kennedy Hill in Broome, Western Australia.

Ingetje Tadros is originally from the Netherlands but has been living in Broome for twelve years. During this time she had the chance to find out more about indigenous communities in Australia and how people, who live there are being treated. Five years ago, she started to document life in these indigenous communities in and around Broome in the hope of starting a conversation about social change. 

“I have always been appalled by the way Aboriginal people were treated. It disturbed and disgusted me, so I decided to have a closer look and started mingling with Aboriginal people.” she says. 

Ingetje went to the communities, talked to people and asked if she could spend time with them. After visiting many different communities, she decided to only document one, which was Kennedy Hill. The Kennedy Hill Community was one of the communities facing closure as well as 100 other communities in Western Australia. 

She started taking pictures of the life in Kennedy Hill. Pictures of everyday life to show what it means to live in Kennedy Hill. Her biggest reward from her work was the smiles she got whenever she printed out the images she took and gave them to the people. Many people would call her up and ask her to come over to take some family photos. During her time working in Kennedy Hill, she became very close friends with many people, who live there. They let her into their lives and let her take pictures because they started trusting her and that alone says a lot. 

Ingetje was shocked when she saw what life actually looks like in the Kennedy Hill Community. She couldn’t believe that people in a rich country like Australia have to live in such poverty like they do in Kennedy Hill and numerous other indigenous communities. 

“The community of Kennedy Hill seemed to me like a different planet situated on ‘pristine real estate’ and I was annoyed about the negativity expressed towards Aboriginal people.” she says. 

The decision to document life in the community of Kennedy Hill was based on the closure of the community. To Ingetje, Kennedy Hill acts as a representative of other indigenous communities, which face closure also. 

To her, her photos are evidence of people, who live in poverty and are suffering from a long ongoing systemic social and historical human rights abuse. 

With this work, Ingetje hopes to wake people up and show them that live in Australia is not the same for everyone and that we need to stop believing that the government is doing all it can for the Aboriginal people in this country. 

“As confronting as some of my photographs are here, I hope that they will communicate the plight of people in them and act as a catalyst for debate and an agent for social change no matter how small.“ Ingetje explains. 

Visitors of the exhibition were struck, moved and saddened at the same time by Ingetje’s work. Many of them, who didn’t know what is actually going on in Aboriginal communities, were quite confronted with the photographs, but also grateful for getting a glimpse of life in these communities. 

Let’s hope that these strong photographs will start a conversation about how everyone in Australia can help and change the social injustice of Aboriginal people. 

The stories behind the photographs

Click on the tags in the right hand corner of the images and find out more about the story behind them and what they mean to Ingetje. 

Welcome to loud & radical Redfern

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Duckrabbit Gallery: Jarrod Burgess; image by Jana Bohlmann

Not far away from Redfern’s well known Block, there is a small garage, which transformed into an artist workplace and is called the Duckrabbit Gallery. It is a space run by artists, which also offers room for young emerging artists to exhibit their work and make their way into Sydney’s art world. 

Jarrod Burgess is one of them. Just last Friday, he opened his first solo exhibition ever, called‚ ‘Radical Redfern’. His art is loud, colourful and provoking. It makes people think, smile and happy. Jarrod is a young artist and with only 19 years of age, way ahead of the game. He himself never thought he would already have an exhibition this early on in his career. He is still a student, studying an advanced diploma in illustration at the Enmore Design Centre. 

To call his exhibition‚ ‘Radical Redfern’ was more a coincidence than an intention, he admits. 

“I just really like the word‚ ‘radical’ and I use it a lot as you can tell, and the gallery space is in Redfern and I just combined these two words”.

Himself not being from Redfern, but from Castle Hill, he experiences Redfern as an extremely inspiring place. Especially the mass of street art has impressed him and might inspire him to new art projects as well. But that is not all, what comes to his mind when he thinks of Redfern, he explains. 

“Redfern is just such a diverse place and anyone can fit in here. There wouldn’t be anything like this in my area and I feel like I fit in here. Anyone can fit in here.” 

The art works featured in the Radical Redfern exhibition are crass and have a voice. Each one of them is unique and means something different to everyone. Asking what the message of his art is, Jarrod doesn’t have a clear answer. He just wants to bring happiness to people with his art. He doesn’t think there is a need to have a certain message, just happiness. 

“I came from an angry place in high school and art made me happy.Just sitting down and drawing. People nowadays are too worried and I want to make people happy with my art.”

Even though Jarrod is not originally from Redfern, he finds it a very interesting place, because it is such a mix of different cultures. The topic of the gentrification of the suburb is also compelling to him and he decided to base his new work, an animated book, on the gentrification in Redfern. 

For anyone, who is interested in the young artist and wants to check out his work, come on by to the duckrabbit gallery. The artist will be there every day from 11 – 6pm and will happily chat to you about his works and his inspirations. The exhibition will run until this Thursday, April 14. 

Clean slate without prejudice

by Jana Bohlmann

Redfern was once known and unfortunately is still known to many people as a suburb with a high rate of crime. Not too long ago, there used to be one hundred robberies per month in Redfern. This number has been drastically reduced with the help of the Clean Slate Without Prejudice Program. The program was started by the superintendent of the Redfern Police Force Luke Feuerstein, who felt the need to act against these high numbers of robberies. He wanted to find a way to make Redfern a safer place and to get the community to work together and show them different ways of dealing with life. Himself being a keen boxer and being aware of what physical exercise can not just do to one’s body, but also to one’s mind, he saw this as a chance to make a change. He started the program with the help from Shane Philipps, who is the CEO and chairman of the Tribal Warrior Association in Redfern. Together they developed a boxing program aimed at youth juveniles, who are at the risk of performing criminal activities. Feuerstein and Philipps see the regular exercise of the people at risk as a solution to keep them from making the wrong decision. The numbers of crime going down in Redfern speak for themselves.

Although the program started out targeting especially indigenous youth, it is generally open to anyone. The program consist of three morning workout sessions per week at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) and includes mostly boxing exercises but also other related fitness activities. Feuerstein and Philips and a few other members of the Tribal Warrior Association act as mentors of the program and approach people to join. They also make sure that the participants get to work or to school after the session finishes and they even drive them there. Their work does not end here, though. They also have managed to get people jobs at prestigious companies like Quantas and Linfox and are constantly looking out for them.
So, it is not just the boxing training they provide, but more like a place where young people can go and get advice and get help if they need it. The program offers early intervention, developmental crime prevention, positive relationships, support networking and also behavioral workshops.

Through the boxing training sessions, the participants learn to work in groups and as a team, they are able to form deeper connections with other participants and they learn how to lead a disciplined life, which will help them succeed in the work force later and also keeps them out of trouble.

The program has had an extremely positive impact on the Aboriginal community and has succeeded in bringing the high rates of crime in Redfern down.

Understanding the numbers of Redfern

by Jana Bohlmann

Most people, who live in Sydney have been to Redfern or have at least heard of it. But how well do you really know this suburb? Do you know how many people live there? And what is the average age of a person living in Redfern is? These things don’t seem to be too important, but they will help to get a bigger picture of Redfern and to better understand the suburb. Take a look at the infographic below and find out more about Redfern. You don’t really know it until you know the numbers.