Dadirri – Ancient Aboriginal Mindfulness Traditions


Ash Dargan
We Al-li

Alison Elliott
We Al-li

Monday 13 May 2024

Time: 10:00am – 5:00pm

Room: Delacombe

Pre-Conference Workshop

Dadirri – Ancient Aboriginal Mindfulness Traditions

Dadirri has been called “the Aboriginal gift”. It is inner deep listening and quiet, still awareness – something like what you would call contemplation. This training introduces Dadirri as the core of all We Al-li practices and skill-based learning outcomes. Dadirri provides the foundation for culturally safe practices and establishes a respectful healing environment for skills transference in all We Al-li professional development trainings.

Learning to communicate with ourselves and each other at deep levels is primary to effective practice. Participants are introduced to many key therapeutic approaches used by We Al-li including story mapping, sand-play, music, art therapy, movement and guided imagery.

The main aim of this workshop is to locate the ancient Aboriginal tradition of mindfulness within the work of trauma recovery in Australia and elsewhere.

The workshop objective is to introduce participants to and build capacity towards using mindfulness in self-care and in the development of communities of care, and communities of practice in all trauma recovery work.

On completion of this workshop participants should be able to:

  1. Learn the fundamentals of the practice of Dadirri as an Ancient Mindfulness tradition essential in all trauma recovery – community healing work.
  2. Recognise the importance of cultural fitness in all community work.
  3. Use the cultural tradition of mindfulness in self-care and care practice while undertaking trauma recovery work.
  4. Identify issues of self-awareness and demonstrate the skills of journaling or story mapping as a conscious and cognitive record of the self-awareness, self-reflective process.
  5. Begin developing the skills and knowledge necessary to enable effective communication in trauma recovery work using symbols, art, and music in storytelling and story-mapping.
  6. Define and support the development of communities of care.
  7. Begin developing the skills and knowledge required to implement community development processes for building community-healing networks.

This workshop is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people.

About the artwork: Dadirri represents ‘our people’. We are standing in the middle of the forest and despite everything being upturned, underneath we still have strong roots and the power to be re-born, our relatedness and connectedness to the world. The Black Boy, just like the tree, is not only resilient to the flames but relies on the bush fires for its regrowth and survival. The fire is symbolic of our need to regenerate ourselves. As a people, we need and have been through hardships to identify and find our real strengths.

© Artwork and narration by Christopher Edwards- Haines

*Please note spaces are limited for this workshop if you are not pre-registered, you will NOT be able to register or attend on the day.


Ash is a Larrakia artist, storyteller, adventurer and educator from Darwin in the Top End. He is one of Australia’s most recorded cultural instrumentalists and has achieved worldwide acclaim for his unique style of storytelling and live musical performance since the 90’s. Ash was a cultural ambassador for the Northern Territory throughout the 2000’s and has toured the world.

Ash gained his Masters of Indigenous Studies under Dr. Judy Atkinson following her work in Trauma Informed approaches to community recovery as the Australian Federal Government moved to set up and fund the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation. Since that time he has held State and Territory senior leadership positions across the Education, Justice and Community Service sectors. He was one of the founding members of the Larrakia Healing Group that produced one of Australia’s leading resources on ‘place based’ Transgenerational Trauma and how to heal from its compounding effects within a historical framework. He was the coordinator during the alpha phase of development of the i-bobbly app created by the Black Dog Institute. The first of its kind in the world, the i-bobbly app is an early intervention and culturally informed therapeutic app for mobile devices that helps reduce suicidal ideation in Aboriginal youth. Ash also worked for a number of years as NT coordinator for the Federal Initiative MindMatters that was responsible for delivering and implementing Social and Emotional Wellbeing frameworks into all schools Nationally.

Ash is passionate about leading change processes that enable better and fairer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. As a critically reflective thinker he bridges the cultural divide allowing ideas to flow into actions that make sense for services and consumers.

Ash currently lives on the lands of the Wurundjeri in Victoria engaging with State and local Government, NGO’s and community services as a consultant, educator and workforce trainer in all aspects of building cultural competency.

Alison Elliott’s main passion and commitment is to her family. She is mum of 7 and step mum of 5. Alison holds a Masters Degree in Indigenous Studies (Wellbeing) a Bachelor in Health Promotions and a Graduate Diploma in Clinical Family Therapy.

Alison Elliott is a Clinical Family Therapist and Workforce Development trainer and Team Leader of the First Nations Team, The Bouverie Centre, (An Integrated practice research centre of La Trobe University. Alison has family connections to Wiradjuri country and has strong connections to her Celtic heritage, she grew up on Dharug country (Hawkesbury River NSW). Alison is a teacher in the Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy (Bouverie Centre) and a cultural and clinical consultant with the Strengthening Connections Program for Women in Prison. She is also involved with Healing the past by nurturing the future (HPNF) Research Project. She also is a lead facilitator for We Al-Li , which provides Culturally Informed Trauma Integrated Healing Approach (CITIHA) Trainings to Individuals, Families, Communities and Organisations. She has also been a trainer for SNAICC delivering the ‘Through young black eyes’ and ‘Walking and Working Together’ training packages to organisations in Alice Springs, Canberra and Melbourne

Alison has presented at a number of national & international conferences over the last 2 decades, including World Association for Infant Mental Health. Early Relationships Matter Conference, Dublin 2023. And the Australian Association of Family Therapy (AAFT) Virtual Conference 2021 – D_ISTANCES: Generational Impacts of Displacement and Resettlement. and has also written publications in her field of work.

Areas of particular interest include research translation, work with traumatised and grieving individuals to assist people to restore meaning and purpose by recreating old practices with contemporary rituals and ceremonies and working with young children, using play and other creative techniques.