Creative projects

An introduction to creative projects from Tileah


Tree of Life in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Ché Stow


Examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Trees of Life


Using the Tree of Life to help young mums

Carolynanha Johnson


My meeting place

Vanessa Davis

Vanessa created this narrative methodology by integrating Aboriginal Art with Narrative Practices in order to create culturally appropriate counselling with Aboriginal children and young people.  

Didgeri: Local collective response

Anthony Newcastle


No More Silence

Aboriginal men supporting others who have experienced childhood sexual abuse.  

Men’s Talk

This project involves men from Mounts Isa, Cloncurry and Normanton sharing stories about Aboriginal ways of being uncles, mentors, dads, grandfathers and friends . Click here to see the Men’s Talk Project  

Yarning with a purpose

Carolynanha Johnson


Solid families: Strong in heart and spirit

This program, ‘Solid families: Strong in heart and spirit’, is to our knowledge the first parenting support program based on Aboriginal values. It was initiated by Aboriginal mothers in Roebourne, Western Australia, and developed through a cross-cultural partnership led by Anne Mead and Jasmine Mack. Click here to view the Solid Families webpage  

Reflections from Tileah

This Post Has 58 Comments

  1. christinef

    HI everyone,
    I took my time reading watching and absorbing this section as the creative potential of people working in narrative practices is what makes it truly self determining and exciting. I loved the tree of life regarding parenting and families, the stop smoking support line, the young parents’ support program, the men’s digi group and so many other projects, adjusting and incorporating what particular local communities need. I will be hopefully able to utilise tree of life with a parenting focus hopefully even on an individual level, which can be really empowering and also leaves people with a visual and art work reminder, which can then embed the knowledge as Tyson Yunkaporta talk about in Sand Talk.

  2. windchime108

    The tree of life exercise is so beautiful, nourishing and always surprises me!

  3. Julietta

    I loved hearing about and seeing these projects and getting an even better feel for how narrative practices can be used not just 1:1 but in community settings. I love the Tree of Life and will definitely use it with my Aboriginal clients of any age. I also love the My Meeting Place activity and map but I’m confused by Vanessa’s acknowledgement of the symbols used belonging to Aboriginal people and caution to non-Aboriginal practitioners to “respect cultural protocols”. Does that mean that as a non-Aboriginal practitioner I should not use this? Or merely that if using it I should acknowledge that the symbols and ideas belong to and are drawn from Aboriginal culture? Some clarification would be much appreciated

  4. shelley.keehn

    I absolutely love the idea of using ‘The Tree of Life’ with children and adults and am excited about the aspect of creative projects generally aligning with Narrative Therapy. As a singer and songwriter, a creative project I facilitated over a decade ago with diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students while employed as a first year teacher and ‘Indigenous Officer’ on Jinibara/Waka Waka country, was a song and a film clip titled ‘We love Australia’ that was used as the introduction to the first Indigenous Student Award at that high school. I invited students to attend several yarning circles to allow them to get to know one another and we listened respectfully to each other’s stories and experiences of Aboriginality and love for country. Eventually, I suggested the possibility of writing a song together and the students took ownership of this, throwing out ideas and I wrote it all down. I reflected back what I was hearing and we worked on making the chorus and verses rhyme and have the meaning that the group was happy with and that expressed their love for country and willingness to share their perspective and country with people of all nations. We wanted it to be accessible so sang it all in English and I recorded it and edited it all together. We sang the chorus together, with one student playing the guitar and magpies singing in the background and each verse was a solo rap by an individual student.

    It was a powerful moment when that song and film clip were played at the Awards night. The students’ eyes shone with pride as their song and film clip played on the big screen and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room with many of the local, non-Indigenous people visibly moved by the narrative, the sentiment and the spirit of these students. Many of them ran over and hugged me and each other when it finished and there was an uproar of applause from the parents, teachers and students present. I felt that was a moment of profound healing in the community, a heartfelt reconciliation in a rural area where many of the Aboriginal people had been poisoned and massacred less than one hundred years earlier… I was and am proud to have facilitated it and even more proud of the Indigenous youth who made it happen… this is the power of the creative narrative project. May we create many more such healing moments using the knowledge in this course as a guide. Thank you so much to everyone for sharing. xo

  5. Julie Beer

    To begin, I wish to give my condolences on the passing of Aunty Barb. This collection of absolutely wonderful projects must surely be a tribute to her life and work.
    It seems unfair to choose one or two from these examples, however I guess you choose the ones that relate most closely to your own work and life. I have wrestled a long time with the problem of shame. Thank you Kylie for illuminating ways to work with it. And the extended work done in the ‘Solid Families’ program gives real depth to the Tree of Life that really digs down into culture. It’s absolutely fabulous.
    Thank you all.

  6. Hayley Saye

    I love the tree of life exercise, it allows for a person who shows their strengths, expression and empowerment.

  7. shilaavissa

    My deepest thanks to the Drop the Rock team for sharing your Tree of Life with us. What a powerful way to render visible all the strengths, stories, ancestors, hopes, and dreams we carry – and to further share this with the collective and the rest of the world! This collective orientation towards healing is often lost in the dominant western approaches to “therapy” where people are viewed as mere individuals with problems to solve, separated from the countless beings that make us possible. This practice reminds me again of the importance of a concious anti-colonial approach to therapeutic practices.

  8. Susie L

    All of these creatives incorporating narrative techniques, with First Nation’s People as the experts, developers and participants is so rich and so powerful. Thank you to all those who shared their work and and personal stories to enable us to learn and to reflect on our own practice with the hope of doing better.
    The ways that culture is woven through all these creative ways of working, in ways that individuals in community can participate and build the practice and support each other is absolutely wonderful to see. Such beautiful healing practices.
    As a non-Indigenous woman, it is truly a privilege to learn from all those contributing to this course.

  9. littlewing.therapies

    It was so powerful to see the Tree of Life activity – I’m an art therapist and I can really see how this could be incorporated in my practise.

  10. Tina

    I appreciate that yarning is being used in these creative and practical ways. I think it not only speaks to appreciation of the culture but also the connection that Narrative provides through creative and expanded means to externalize problems and seek broader paths to map resistance and dreams.

  11. annikt

    I really enjoyed the My Meeting Place framework – i work with children and am always looking at new ways for them to share their worlds. This gives simple and meaningful tools for children and young people to visually explore as well as opening up opportunities to add an art therapy element. The integration of past and cultural influences is something that resonates with me, particularly for with working with young indigenous populations

  12. faye blanch

    I feel true strength that the creative processes can allow for the hard conversations, and allowing voice that is respected and encouraged to speak is key to healing as well as sharing. I am very impressed with the part of men opening up about abuse and finding ways to contribute to healing.


    I loved the Tree Of Life and Meeting Place tools and the oppportunities that these open up to explore problem stories; identify an alternative story and stories of resistance/resilience/strength; and externalize ‘the problem’. I also loved how non-directive and safe this approach can be and how it is a creative tool that moves beyond talking therapy and into creative expression and processing.

  14. lil m

    I really loved this, the Tree of Life is a wonderful way of recording people’s strength and resilience. I enjoy doing tangible, creative interventions (such as drawing and decorating the Tree of Life) that are usually associated with play therapy with children, but I think work wonderfully with adults too.

  15. debbie webster

    The idea of the tree of life was very inspiring when working with children. I found this very innovative and very interesting. The examples of the tree of life and their connections told a pictorial narrative and this was a very creative way of connecting and understanding children’s stories.

  16. kenmarchtaler

    Kylie Dowse’s work with men who have abused, has enlightened me in so many ways, especially in situations where a woman may wish to stay within an existing relationship, once the abusive behaviour has been resolved. So often men are labelled and shamed, and left without hope. I believe Kylie’s work shows that abusive man can change, and where the functional parts of a relationship can continue once therapeutical resolve has taken place. Kylie presented eloquently and provides hope to those men who seek to change, and the relationships they wish to maintain. I plan to use some of Kylie approaches in helping my clients.

  17. emma.puddy

    I love the idea of the tree of life – I work with Aboriginal children and young people and can already see how this will be such a beneficial grounding activity for us to engage with from the beginning of our therapeutic relationship. Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. Sandra Owen

    I loved the creative endeavors to find strength within and to assist in a great community outcome “tree of life” cultural knowledge. I love it. It’s inspirational and very much draws from a narrative healing theme.

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