Twenty-six years into the fight for justice following the murder of Clinton Speedy-Duroux and two other indigenous children in Bowraville in 1990/91, the Speedy/Duroux extended family were in need of some emotional healing. They found it in a three-day Red Dust Healing program run at the RSL Pavilion in Tenterfield from March 14-16.
The program is a result of a suggestion made to the NSW Parliamentary Law and Justice Committee that heard the family’s grievances back in 2014. A man who was previously tried and acquitted of the murders has been recharged and is free on bail until his next court appearance in August.
Clinton’s nephew Elijah Duroux said he could see a change in the group over the three days, from being stressed and unhappy to becoming more relaxed and enjoying each other’s company.
“Generally the only time I see everyone is funerals.” Elijah said. “It’s good to get together on a good note, and healing together.”
He said the program had equipped him with a lot of tools to overcome stress and anxiety, and he has come out of it feeling refreshed.
“It assured me that I could depend on myself to deal with problems. I don’t have to take them out on myself, or on others. The solutions are inside me.”
Elijah felt the tools will help him cope not only with the ongoing murder case but in life generally, particularly when dealing with other loss such as the death of his father Marbuck back in 2009.
Elijah Duroux explains how the Red Dust Healing program has helped them, and could help others. pic.twitter.com/wL90K1q72Y— Donna Ward (@TentStarJourno) March 16, 2017
Another young participant Crystal French agreed, finding the program invaluable in helping her and other young women deal not only with loss but with the modern stresses they face like social media harrassment.
“Now’s the time to deal with it,” she said, “before you have your own kids and it affects them.
“I like the way Tom (Powell, the facilitator) broke it down into little steps, talking about the consequences of both good and bad choices and the options to turn bad into good.”
She found it easy to relate to the tree analogy used by Mr Powell, describing the root system as your network (such as family and friends) supporting you as the trunk. The consequences of the decisions you make are the branches and leaves that spring from you.
This tree analogy particularly impressed Clinton’s aunt Dolly Jerome, noting that the tree provides shelter, tools, medicine and oxygen.
“And a tree doesn’t choose to grow left towards black people or right towards white people,” she said.
“It’s for everyone.”
Ms Jerome said the Red Dust Healing program had also been very successful in helping returned soldiers and those dealing with marriage breakdowns, addictions and other stresses to deal with their issues. She hopes the Tenterfield session will be a pilot program, equipping participants with the resources to take the program further throughout the community, both indigenous and not.
She said the program made participants look deep within, pull out their demons and issues and deal with them.
“Maintain yourself and everything else falls in place,” she learned.
Delphine Charles, Clinton’s sister-in-law, said the program was very good at bringing out issues and giving participants ways to deal with them.
“It’s about finding the tools within yourself to handle things like stress, rejection and depression,” she said, “and having the confidence in yourself to do that.”
She’s looking forward to sharing the message with others that couldn’t attend this instance of the program, so they can benefit like those that were there.
“When we arrived we all looked a bit stressed and tired, and not real happy. This has brought out the best in us. The kids are more relaxed, which means the mums are more relaxed. It’s a domino effect.”
Ms Charlies said the program taught them how not to stress the little things.
“This type of program could benefit a lot of people in the community. We’re all the same, no matter whether we’re black, white and something in between. This is about just being the best person we can be.”