Bernard's story

Bernard featured in Project Compassion 2013.

Now I know how to express how I feel. I know that it’s good to talk about things..."

The youngest of 13 children, Bernard’s dad left when he was only one and Bernard always felt it was his responsibility to keep everyone together. From a very young age, he had a strong bond with his mum but as he got older he started to wonder more about his father.

He did very well at school, becoming the second ever Aboriginal school captain at Nambucca Heads High. However two years later, his beloved mum passed away.

“That really hit me hard. I was so close to her. We would sit down and talk about anything, mostly on our fishing trips. I would always tell Mum I loved her; when she cried, I cried – and then she was gone.”

Bernard, Thalee and their daughter Aila

Bernard soon lost direction in his life, turning to drugs and alcohol, and at 25, he was admitted to hospital where his father came to visit. Although back in his life, Bernard still desperately grieved the loss of beloved mum.

A close friend told him about Tom Powell’s Red Dust Healing – a cultural healing program for Indigenous people which encourages participants to examine their own personal hurt and allows them to heal from within; without drugs or alcohol.

The program provided a safe space to talk and Bernard said it changed everything: “Now I know how to express how I feel. I know that it’s good to talk about things, to get it out and not bottle it up inside.”

Recently becoming a father, Bernard is determined to always be there for his daughter; he understands how important his role within family life is.

“Thanks to Tom and to Caritas Australia, because Red Dust Healing has taught me about being a man and being a father.”