Over the past 20 years Uncle Colin Walker and myself have been providing Culture Camps to Victoria Police. Over the last few years we have solidified these arrangement further with the strong support of the Shepparton ACLO Jonathon Henderson. These camps have extended to Department of Justice/Office of Corrections over the past 2-3 years with the commitment of Krystal Atkinson.
During that time, Robynne Nelson of Healing the Spirit has been involved for a total of 12 years (on and off) during the 20 year period. And Aunty Sharon Atkinson has joined us more recently with story telling and yarning around the camp fire which is invaluable to the shared learning.
I am happy to provide you with a few of the Police Testimonials that have been provided over the last couple of years:
The camp was a real eye opener for me and should be essential attendance for all Inspectors and above. I gained an appreciation of the level of historical and contemporary discrimination and oppression of Aboriginal people in this country. Despite all this I witnessed the positivity and hope that still exists within that community. I assure you all that the two days has changed the way I think and feel. This will definitely influence the way I lead and develop my staff in terms of engaging with Aboriginal people.
Having worked in Shepparton area for a number of years and worked with our Aboriginal community I realised how much I didn’t understand about the culture and history of our local Aboriginal community. I found the structure and flow of Elders who spoke with us was very good as it allowed for my learning to build and be reinforced. This was a great experience and it certainly impacted on my understanding of culture and how police interactions/decisions should be influenced by our greater understanding of culture/history.
My time spent with Uncle Col Walker and Uncle Larry Jackson was such a spiritual and cultural experience. I will always remember my time spent with Uncle Larry. We had a good yarn along the Murray River. That special moment was very significant to me. The conversations we had and shared will always be part of me and I will never forget that special time shared together. Uncle Col also had a significant impact on me. The knowledge and cultural knowledge and stories he shared was just amazing. I felt very honoured ....I felt very proud as an Aboriginal woman to have spent time with two amazing and proud Aboriginal men who are strong and well respected leaders of our community. The Shepparton Culture camp is becoming widely known across the Police Regions. This is due to the credibility and commitment by the ACLO, Rumbalara CJP and local Police Management.
Robynne’s presentation was outstanding in giving a thorough overview of the history and context of the struggle and hardships experienced by Aboriginal people and where/why we are where we are today.....the camp in general has certainly caused a deeper reflection in myself personally and opened up a greater acknowledgment of the hardships of Aboriginal people, and challenged my own biases far more than I expected. Some wonderful stories full of family, culture and spirit and the sense of empathy for underlying message and connection to the land (being one who also has a love of the land) resonated within me indeed. If I have a spiritual connection to the land over 7 generations....WOW how powerful is it for one who has thousands of generations of connectedness!
Absolutely fantastic!!!! Everyone should have the opportunity to do this training program. Robynne was amazing. 10/10
It is encouraging to see that Victoria Police is working in consultation with the Shepparton Community to run such a powerful camp. As a result of this positive experience, I have reflected about where I think we can enhance our education around our Aboriginal history and how it connects with Vic Police, including my role within People Development at the Academy. I have committed to increasing recruit (police, protective service officers and police custody officers) exposure to many of the things I learnt on the camp. Furthermore a project was established early in 2015 to ensure that the Police Academy was a culturally safe place for Aboriginal people to visit, work and train.