The Arrernte (pronounced Arunda) people are the traditional owners of Mparntwe (Alice Springs). They have lived there, nurturing each other and the landscape for over 40,000 years, and many locals are still living closely to the ancient ways of the desert, struggling to maintain their ways despite the ever increasing pressures of modernisation. This clash has caused their people to suffer with low life expectancy, alcohol, fighting, violence, and poverty, which is having a devastating impact on the children and families of the land. Non-native Australians have tried many approaches to help the Arrernte people, but have missed the most vital success factor; to involve the people themselves. To have thrived so long in one of the world’s most uninhabitable environments should be a clear indication of the skill, knowledge, capability, and strong cultural identity embodied by the Arrernte people.

Akeyulerre (pronounced Ah-keel-ee-yah) is a healing centre, was established in 2000 by Arrernte Elders and community members as a place for all Arrernte people to practice and enjoy their cultural life, in a bid to regain the strength of community they have held for so long. Akeyulerre was the vision of Elders who came together in the late 1990′s to talk about how to strengthen their community and culture in response to graphic and devastating trauma suffered by the Arrernte people. Some of these Elders have now passed away, however, their vision has continued and is carried on by their families and the next generations; developing and delivering indigenous community health programs, trips out bush, the making of bush medicines and healing rubs, and reducing the number of Indigenous people ending up in Alice Springs emergency department.

“We want our kids to be proud, strong, and know that they can change how things are – and build a different future – where we are all respected.”

Researchers from Charles Darwin University corroborated the centre’s profound, positive impact on overall health for Indigenous families in 2010, despite the difficulties in explaining Indigenous health and wellbeing customs using Western measures. The group helped people for 8 years before receiving any external funding, and KSF Founder and Director Rhonda Renwick formed a lasting and meaningful relationship with the women of Akeyulerre long before KSF came into existence. Rhonda was inspired by the story of Akeyulerre so many years ago and gifted Akeyulerre with a beautiful, heritage listed house, enabling the women to have a physical place that the elders recognise as important culturally and spiritually.

KSF recognises that Aboriginal people hold a very holistic view on healing, and supports activities that promote Indigenous Australian values, such as strength of culture, connectedness with country, and a sense of belonging. KSF is developing a partnership with Akeyulerre, to build awareness of the centre and the community, maximising opportunities for meaningful and sustainable income while supporting the core values and objectives of the centre. This will mean a new website and online store where customers can purchase natural healing products, promoting Akeyulerre as well as other Indigenous healing centres.