Issue 3
Monday, 27 March 2017
Charles Darwin University
E-news
CDU health researcher Dr Michelle Moss and Larrakia healer Tony Lee will launch the pilot project this year
CDU health researcher Dr Michelle Moss and Larrakia healer Tony Lee will launch the pilot project this year

Marionettes will help kids talk about trauma

By Katie Weiss

Health experts will use handmade marionettes and other arts and play therapy tools to discuss child trauma and safety in remote Indigenous communities.

Charles Darwin University health researcher Dr Michelle Moss said the team would introduce the 12 recently created marionettes to North Australian communities later this year.

Dr Moss said she and Larrakia healer Tony Lee would use traditional and western approaches to therapy during the pilot study led by CDU’s School of Health.

She said community leaders would decide which issues the marionette performances would address, such as oppression, abuse, intergenerational trauma and personal safety.

“The marionettes will be used by elders and other community leaders as vehicles to tell their stories and to keep kids safe,” Dr Moss said.

“It’s all about trust and helping kids to relate to a story. After each performance, Tony and I can then offer our expertise in therapy and assist with further counselling.”

Mr Lee said the pilot project aimed to assess the benefits of combining traditional and western-based approaches to therapy, and whether the model could be used in other remote Australian communities.

“The engagement is instant and the kids just love it,” he said. “They all want to come over and meet the marionettes whenever they arrive in a community.”

The study will be based on the “Turn em around Healing” therapeutic model, which Dr Moss and Mr Lee created to address the unique circumstances of working in Indigenous communities with traumatised children.

The study will run in collaboration with researchers Dr Lisa Hodge from Victoria University and Professor Nicholas Proctor from the University of South Australia.