Edge of sacred - exploring the life stories of the Nauiyu community. An investigation into trauma and the traditional healing practices of a remote Aboriginal community

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    It took little time after initial British settlement to attempt to decimate the Australian Aboriginal population. While lawful killing has ceased, waves of colonial practices persisted, which has deeply entrenched disadvantage, and social, economic, and political injustice. This thesis is designed in collaboration with the remote Aboriginal community of Nauiyu, located in Daly River, Northern Territory, and is the first study of its kind to utilise the Indigenous research methodology of Dadirri on Country and with the people to which it belongs. Dadirri has been increasingly used as a research methodology, but never in its home of Daly River.

    The stories within this study represent the unique experiences of colonisation specific to the Nauiyu community, emphasising that the effects of colonisation are time and place dependent. A substantive theory of seeking empowerment by owning our truth telling, owning our solutions is presented in this thesis. The core category emerging from the data is owning our truth telling, owning our solutions, which describes how participants enable seeking empowerment. The core category consisted of three phases: ‘transforming trauma into story’, ‘looking back-moving forward’, and ‘healing the cultural wounding’. A number of conditions were also identified as enabling or inhibiting the practices of healing cultural wounding.

    The results indicate that truth telling is crucial to the process of reconciling the past to promote future healing for the Nauiyu community. A key finding of this study is the need for the development of an Aboriginal based, stand-alone healing centre that incorporates traditional healing practices, an Ancient University. Participants were clear this Ancient University should incorporate traditional healing practices that promote holistic healing from the experience of trauma; act to preserve and protect traditional healing practices, thereby ensuring the integrity of important traditional knowledge and secure it for the future; and provide education and training opportunities for both Aboriginal and non-Indigenous people.

    Date of Award2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRuth Wallace (Supervisor) & Greg Williams (Supervisor)

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