In First Nations families, when a loved one dies it affects the whole wider community.
It is culturally important for those left behind to see their loved ones returned to the land of their birth … returned to Country.
Funeral ceremonies and funeral practices vary throughout the First Nations Peoples in different parts of Australia.
Burial practices vary widely and northern, central and southern burials for First Nations people will differ in style but not in spiritual depth.
The ceremony for the passing of a person in parts of Australia may see mourners painting themselves white, cutting their bodies to show remorse for the loss of their loved one and conduct a series of rituals, song and dances to ensure the person’s spirit leaves the area and returns to the place of their birth to be reborn. It is vitally important for First Nations people to attend a funeral, which can be difficult due to a range of circumstances including the costs.
In the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg in Queensland the population is less than 2000. Unemployment is at 35.5% and there are between three and four funerals every week.
Family and community are scattered throughout Queensland, many of them incarcerated without funds to afford to farewell a loved one. Not being able to attend and grieve fully leads to a compounding presence of unresolved grief, which affects not only individuals, but their family and the wider community.
In times of grief, everyone needs support. With First Nations people is has become imperative to support in a variety of ways.
The support the Wayne Weaver Foundation brings to the community and individuals can bring peace of mind, help the community to respect and fulfil their duty to their family and soften any unresolved grief which can lead to mental health issues, crime, and, in the case of newly released prisoners lessen the chance of them re-offending.