Akaperte (meaning your 'head' in Arrernte) aims to address inequity and build on strengths in our communities by placing a culturally adapted, trauma informed lens on systems change.
The field of neuroscience is constantly advancing and expanding our understanding of the human brain and how it responds to various stimuli. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in exploring the unique perspectives and knowledge of Indigenous cultures and how they can inform and enrich our understanding of the brain and its function. In particular, Indigenous cultures in Australia have a rich history and understanding of the brain and its role in health and well-being that has been shaped by unique cultural and historical experiences over thousands of generations.
The traditional knowledge of Indigenous cultures provides a valuable model for all people, as it emphasises the interconnectedness of the brain, body, and environment, and highlights the importance of social and cultural connections for overall health and well-being. For example, Indigenous cultures have long recognised the role of stress in impacting brain function and have developed a range of strategies to manage and mitigate its effects, including practices such as storytelling, singing, and art. These practices not only provide emotional and psychological support but also help to foster a sense of belonging and community, which are crucial for maintaining good mental health.
In addition, Indigenous cultures have a rich understanding of the brain's plasticity and the ability of the brain to adapt and change over time. Indigenous cultures recognise the importance of early childhood experiences and the role that nurturing relationships play in shaping the brain's development and influencing lifelong health outcomes. This knowledge has important implications for the development of early childhood interventions that can help to promote healthy brain development and support the well-being of future generations. Furthermore, the traditional knowledge of Indigenous cultures highlights the role of the environment in shaping brain function. For example, recognising the impact of exposure to trauma and stress on the brain and have developed coping mechanisms and practices to support recovery. They also understand the importance of nature and the role that exposure to the natural environment can play in promoting well-being and resilience.
Focusing on Brain Development, Trauma and Healing, Akaperte promotes the wisdom, values and practices of Indigenous cultures to embed traditional cultural knowledge into all that we do to inform systems and practice. Akaperte has adapted Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential model to an Aboriginal context to demonstrate how Aboriginal cultures have been practicing this scientific knowledge for thousands of years. We use this insight to upskilling service delivery and engagement through training and coaching to humanise the way we work. By incorporating this knowledge into our scientific understanding of the brain, we can develop more culturally sensitive and effective approaches to promoting mental health and well-being for all people.
We engage with community groups and service providers to improve wellbeing outcomes of children and families through capacity building and systemic change. We enable and facilitate community-led solutions by working with community to understand their needs and provide appropriate guidance and resources to facilitate community led responses to issues in the community. We collect community voices through our local advisory groups which inform the direction of our work. Engaging with Akaperte will provide stakeholders with more tools and resources to better support people through Community Engagement, Education, Health and wellbeing, Justice, Suicide Prevention, and Mental Health.
Erin Reilly is a leading Indigenous consultant and cultural advisor, who brings over a decade of experience in supporting the needs of Indigenous communities. Erin is a proud Arrernte-Alyawarr-Kija woman and her extensive knowledge of Indigenous culture, history and practices provides her with a unique perspective to bring to any engagement.
As the founder and Managing Director of Akapterte Consulting, Erin shares expertise in providing culturally informed, evidence-based solutions for a range of clients. She is a passionate advocate for the integration of Indigenous knowledge and practices into modern research, policy and practice and has a strong track record of working with government and community organisations to deliver meaningful change.
She is also a sought-after speaker, regularly delivering presentations at conferences and events across the country. With her exceptional communication skills and her ability to connect with audiences on a deep and meaningful level, Erin is dedicated to advancing the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples and communities, and promoting the value of Indigenous knowledge systems to create a better future for all.
Erin provided workshops to our Tennant Creek and Alice Springs Volunteers on Brain Development and Trauma. Our volunteers support young people in police custody and deliver activities to young people in Youth Detention so the training was of particular importance to our programs. Erin kept the group engaged by drawing and storytelling as she moved through her training. You could see the light bulb moments for our volunteers - where all of their work in this space made sense.