University of Wollongong autumn graduation 2017: photos

Townsville health worker Lillian Mavis Willis is proud to be among the first graduates of Australia’s first indigenous Trauma Recovery Program.

The University of Wollongong course aims to provide health workers with the knowledge and skills to effectively address multiple layers of trauma across Aboriginal and other Indigenous communities.

Lillian Mavis Willis (senior) at the University of Wollongong graduation on Wednesday. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Lillian Mavis Willis (senior) at the University of Wollongong graduation on Wednesday. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Ms Willis, 65, said she’ll now use the teachings of the graduate certificate in her ongoing work towards healing for women in her community.

‘’It was the first course offered about a topic I’m passionate about,’’ she said.

‘’It acknowledges that substantial investment needs to be put into indigenous trauma recovery and the layers of trauma Aboriginal people have suffered in this country.

‘’This course equips participants with an understanding of how Aboriginal people have been affected, and gives them the tools to try and correct that.’’

Ms Willis recently retired after a long career as an Aboriginal welfare worker and nurses aide. Her last role was as an indigenous compliance officer for youth justice with the Attorney General’s department.

Yet retirement isn’t slowing her down. As well as running healing camps for Aboriginal women, she’s also planning to take on a Masters degree at UOW.

‘’I hope this course continues as it’s one way of helping break the cycle of trauma, that is being passed on to our children,’’ she said.

The indigenous trauma recovery course was developed in partnership with UOW’s Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health and America’s Massachusetts General Hospital. 

At its launch, program co-ordinator Debra Hocking said it responded to a critical need within Aboriginal communities. 

‘’It’s the first program of its kind in Australia and follows research highlighting the alarming amount of trauma resulting from colonisation processes and the government policies which affected, and still affect, the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia,’’ she said.

The course, adapted from a US program, has been contextualised for the Australian Aboriginal environment. 

More than 50 participants have completed the first course.