The Weekender in conjunction with Palmerston and the Great Southern Suicide Prevention Advisory Group (GSSPAG) will be running a series of articles to improve mental health literacy, promote help-seeking behaviours and preventing life loss to suicide. This week, the article by Ian Magor from Ruah Community Services focuses on the Red Dust Healing Program.
TOM Powell, author of the Red Dust Healing Program, describes being a young boy and seeing his father driving a grader home from work: “He’d come up the road in a big red cloud of dust,” he said.
“And I always remember how happy the sight of that dust made me feel.”
It’s the reason Tom called his program Red Dust Healing.
The program was initially devised by Tom, who describes himself as a “proud Warramunga Man”, as a healing program for Indigenous men but response to the course has been so positive, Tom became convinced he should “open it up to everybody”.
I attended a facilitator training course recently in Albany along with 16 other human services workers.
Our response to the course was overwhelmingly positive which is unusual because sometimes you attend a training course and walk away thinking someone is just trying to reinvent the wheel.
A lot of programs are well-intentioned but not necessarily eye-opening.
Red Dust Healing is a little bit different.
It has all the goals of classical therapy – helping people to feel better, improve self-esteem and achieve goals, yada-yada – but it does it in a way you’re not immediately aware of.
No, it’s not smoke and mirrors, it just asks you to have a look at yourself and realise that there is good and bad in your past but you need not let it define who you are now.
Red Dust is a hands-on visual program.
Participants are given time to reflect on their history and draw a family history in the form of a tree (the tree is an important metaphor in Red Dust) and then uses some other useful metaphors to talk about life.
We’re introduced to the bird and fish – the bird controls the air, the fish the water – and we’re asked to compare bird and fish to our own relationships; I can only control what I can in my environment and I can’t control you or yours (and vice versa).
It illustrates how much time we spend trying to control things we have no control over.
It brings an understanding of how we sometimes need to let go in order to have control over ourselves.
We’re also introduced to the JIG (Jealousy, Insecurity, Greed); emotions we need to recognise to stop them affecting our behaviour.
Don’t get JIGged (don’t be influenced by those three emotions).
It gives us a language; “Hey, they’re just JIGging you, don’t get sucked in to it!”
The JIG can make us angry or behave in ways we might regret.
The JIG gives us a framework to recognise how these feelings can have a negative effect on our behaviour.
Ultimately, Red Dust asks us to act with integrity and maintain our dignity.
As Tom says, when the dust settles, that is all we’ve got.
We can ask the question, “Did I act with integrity?” and we can use this as a guide, thereby maintaining our dignity.
For more information about Red Dust Healing and related workshops please contact Ian Magor on 0437 539 513 or Palmerston on 9892 2100.
A day of healing could change your life.
If by reading this, you need support please phone Lifeline on 13 11 44.