The remote province of Nauiyu, around 250km South of Darwin, is the first of the four Australian analyses to investigate indigenous trauma and healing from a local and communal standpoint.
Gavin Morris, a researcher from Charles Darwin University, is working with indigenous elders to examine how traditional and cultural healing exercises can be provided by state health services to tackle the predicament of intergenerational trauma in rural regions of the Northern Territory.
Morris will survey approximately 20 adults from the little- populated residencies along the Daly River to gain insight into their lived experiences.
The missionary interventions’ research, the 1884 Copper Mine Massacre, and the Australian government’s legislation imposing oppressive policies like the forced removal of children from families (the Stolen Generation), all have lingering impacts on the people of Nauiyu that can be felt today.
Image: Gavin Morris and Miriam-Rose
“Six generations on from European colonisation, trauma has resulted in a loss of connection to identity and culture, which can manifest in many ways, including substance abuse, violence and increased child, parent and family risk factors,” says Morris says in his report for Charles Darwin University.
Contrary to the majority of community interventions, this project was born with the purpose of actively listen to and acknowledge the expressions and viewpoints of Indigenous populations.
“We will explore the potential benefits of constructing positive new life stories through collective sharing of the past,” Morris states in his report.
Intervention and education go hand-in-hand, according to Gavin, who asserts that educating both indigenous and non- indigenous Australians on the horrific past that the Aboriginal communities endured would help the healing process.
The foundations of the program incorporate the “Dadirri,” or deep- listening ritual, which is a meditative and reverent practice inherent to the Daly River tribes. This exercise is very helpful for the young indigenous populations who find themselves in what may seem to be an overwhelmingly Western world.
Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, the Nauiyu tribe member who brought the ritual to global attention, is also one of Gavin’s research supervisors. In 1975, Ungunmerr-Baumann became the first qualified indigenous teacher in the Northern Territory, and she has spent her life advocating for ancient wisdoms and traditions to be passed on to modern indigenous youth. Aboriginal people have indivisibly practiced their cultural and healing methods for thousands of centuries, and she says acknowledging the indigenous voice is paramount to the project.
“We have learned to speak the white man's language,” says Ungunmerr-Baumann.
"We have listened to what he had to say. This learning and listening should go both ways. We would like people in Australia to take time to listen to us. We are hoping people will come closer. We keep on longing for the things that we have always hoped for - respect and understanding.”
Lead image: Miriam- Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, Joseph Banjo, William Marranya, Gavin Morris, Nikita Jason