The Support Act Wellbeing Helpline is a free, confidential phone counselling service, available 24/7 to anyone anywhere in Australia who works in the performing arts, or other creative industries.
Did you know that the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline also offers dedicated support for First Nations peoples?
The First Nations Dedicated Support Line is available to access any time for an urgent request, or you can book an appointment by phoning 1800 959 500 (Option 3).
Spotlight chatted with First Nations Dedicated Support Line counsellor, Jedison Wells, Yuwaalaaray woman who works and lives on Gundungurra and Tharawal lands.
Can you tell us a little bit about the First Nations Dedicated Support Helpline?
There is no nation untouched by the crisis in mental health, but within each nation there is a uniqueness influenced by history, geography, community and society.
Our First Nations line seeks to address that uniqueness by first opening our cultural arms, and then extending the counselling arm, helping people to consider all of the influences, such as social, emotional, economic, cultural and spiritual, of the challenges at hand.
What are the benefits of speaking with a counsellor?
Counselling is a safe place to stop, yarn and consider the darkness or discomfort. Even good decisions can make you feel uneasy. With a firm belief in a person’s capacity to influence their own thoughts and behaviour, counsellors assist in finding outcomes that suit an individual’s lifestyle, community and family.
What have been the impacts of COVID-19 and our global reckoning with racial equity on people’s social emotional wellbeing?
COVID-19 shone a bright light into some dark corners. With the disappearance of “the crowd”, the shadow of homelessness, unemployment and isolation stretched further than ever before, with people facing hunger and loneliness like never before.
An anxiousness lingers. Coupled with the ever widening scrutiny of privilege, difference, opportunity and accessibility, no one is quite sure of what the future holds. We have much more to share, and ironically, are expecting and expected to share much more to keep safe.
What can organisations and leaders do to better support First Nations team members?
There’s no room in the modern world for stereotypes. Difference affects business, so step up and recognise what needs to stop and what needs to start. I often ask people to think of Australia’s First Nations as they would Europe. You could meet three Europeans but you would have no hesitation in working with each person in a different way once you found out they were French, German and Italian. Commit to finding out about local culture and expectations, commit to figuring out what culturally informed practices are, and commit to the cultural conversations.
What do you enjoy most about being a counsellor?
When I work with mob, I am supporting people who have the same Ancestors as me, my story entwines with theirs. I am a part of their history and so a culturally safe experience is important to both of us. I counsel, heal, yarn and support, usually in relation to people’s work or workplaces but it is much more than that.
We don’t yarn about work, we share ideas about being a part of something, about individual contribution to community and economy, and sometimes about the loss of the very essence of who someone is.
I feel I am ever contributing to the latest story of Aboriginal Australia.