Empowering voice through the creation of a safe space: An experience of Aboriginal women in Regional Queensland

Christina M. Bernardes, Patricia C. Valery, Brian Arley, Gregory Pratt, Linda Medlin, Judith A. Meiklejohn

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Background: Sharing stories creates a space for respectful conversation and contributes to both knowledge and a sense of fellowship. This paper reflects on the experience of the research team in supporting a group of Aboriginal women to create safe spaces and to share their stories of healing, social and emotional wellbeing. 

Methods: Secondary data of a study exploring community perceptions about cancer were analysed using the holistic model of Indigenous Wellbeing developed by the Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative (2008). Qualitative data were collected during yarning sessions with a group of Aboriginal women while creating a quilt. 

Results: Four elements of the Indigenous Wellbeing model were identified: connectedness, sense of control, threats and relationship with the mainstream. The yarning sessions promoted dialogue, identified needs and supported the voices of the participants. A duality of forces (positive and negative) influencing community wellbeing was identified. 

Conclusion: This project highlights the need for spaces that support people and the community to express concerns, identify needs, propose solutions and begin a dialogue that encourages empowerment. Community‐driven conversation and the identification of safe and empowering spaces can serve to empower social and emotional wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1476
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


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