Uncle Terry after the fires

The best thing I’ve done in 40 years

On November 6, 2019, my wife Kim and I lost everything we owned when we saw our entire house explode in flames before our eyes. It was one of 17 houses obliterated in the tiny village of Bobin, west of Taree. We were lucky to escape at all, as we got into the ute with our two dogs with seconds to spare. My wife’s car was damaged – the shed was on fire as I drove it out.

I couldn’t have come through that trauma in the way I have except for the support of the Taree men’s group. As an indigenous elder, I first Iearned of the Mankind Project just over two years ago, invited by a man who is a nurse in the Aboriginal Health Service. With the support of the group I did the New Warrior Training Adventure weekend, which I also later staffed.

The group doesn’t just happen once a week: if I need to talk to someone, I can call them at any time. – Uncle Terry

My wife says the men’s group is the best thing I have done in 40 years. It has also certainly helped me support her as she faces her own big challenge: before the fire and continuing since then, she has been receiving intensive treatment for lymphoma.

The MKP men have supported me by raising funds to replace some of our belongings. I lost all the tools I use to make indigenous culture items – didgeridoos, coolamons, clap sticks, boomerangs and shields – and Kim lost the paints and equipment with which she does traditional painting.

And their support and love have been more than material. They have listened and heard what we were going through.

I have been closely involved in my culture as an indigenous elder, living in Biripi country in the Manning River Valley for over 30 years. I’m a member of the Mid North Coast Region Aboriginal Men’s Group and a member of the Biripi Elders Olympic Team.

What I have found among men in the Mankind Project is that they share the values my people have. They listen with respect, support each other, and honour their word and each others. I value their honesty and companionship. The group doesn’t just happen once a week: if I need to talk to someone, I can call them at any time.

Uncle Terry Hinton, Taree NSW