We spoke to Lauren Gray about the Womens’ Retreat she organized in January for five women from various cultural backgrounds, who are survivors of family and domestic violence.
Lauren is a Family Counsellor for the Specialised Family Violence and Family and Carers Mental Health Programs with CatholicCare Victoria, based in Mildura VIC.
She supports clients, families and many women across regional and rural VIC and the Far West region of NSW through these programs.
Lauren was keen to bring these women together for a weekend experience of cultural connection and healing. The group were accommodated overnight at a peaceful and picturesque lake side, rural property located in Balranald NSW. Surrounded by nature and water, the women got to enjoy delicious food and participated in workshop activities over the two days.
The property in Balranald, NSW.
Annabelle Sharman, founder of ‘Live in Oneness’, facilitated her unique cultural ‘YUMA Spirit Cloth Creation’ workshop with the women, guiding them through their spirit cloth journey.
The women wrapped gum leaves, iron and natural objects they sourced from home and nature to brew their cloths together overnight.
The following morning, participants unwrapped their cloths while reflecting on what meaning and significance the cloths now hold for them as a spiritual source of healing medicine and represent their dreaming in times of need.
One of the women with her spirit cloth.
Annabelle and Lauren created opportunities throughout the weekend to come together to share their stories and find meaning, healing and connection. The women also received welcome gifts including a copy of Annabelle’s first book ‘The Future Ancestor – A Guide and Journey to Oneness’ and a pamper pack to enjoy during their stay or when they return home.
As the weekend came to an end, the women shared how they felt as though they had known each other for a long time, that there was a sense of belonging and were thankful for the opportunity to come together.
The women by the lake.
"It was so great to see how the women clicked so well together, they had such a wonderful time that they didn’t want to leave and said it would be nice to have stayed another night,"
Having felt how special and significant the weekend was for these women, Lauren is currently putting together a small photobook with a collection of their favourite moments and quotes from the weekend as a keepsake.
If you, or if you know anyone who needs help dealing with mental health issues, stressful or traumatic events, relationship problems and any other personal challenges or problems, CatholicCare Victoria provides affordable and confidential counselling to people of all ages, cultures and religious backgrounds. More info here.
Gaya K | Communications Officer – External Lead