PROJECT – Connecting Aboriginal women to the country through local healing practices

By February 15, 2021News Items

Team: Karen Jackson, Paola Balla, Rowena Price, Amy Quayle, and Christopher Sonn

Researchers have emphasised the need for programs that facilitate cultural renewal, strengthen cultural identity and support healing rituals through research and community arts and cultural practice (Feeney, 2009). Remembrance activities and mourning, and land-based activities were also recognised as contributing to processes of cultural renewal and thus as important healing practices and for promoting SEWB (see Bainbridge et al. 2018)  

This project therefore sought to introduce and provide spaces for Aboriginal women to engage in cultural and healing practices that will be embedded in their daily life and to support them to understand the impacts of colonial dispossession on identity and community connection.  

This project involved the delivery of Wayapa cultural immersion and bush dyeing workshops (14 in total). Wayapa is a method of Earth mindfulness, storytelling, movement meditation and taking action to look after the country, Wayapa aims to foster connectedness and belonging while supporting holistic well-being. This cultural immersion program enables the sharing of traditional and Aboriginal story and cultural practices related to place, country and landscape. This component was delivered by Rowena who is an Aboriginal woman with Yorta Yorta and Palawa heritage. Rowena is a licenced Wayapa practitioner who also draws on her training in family and systems therapy.  

The bush-dyeing involves walking and being in local landscape and environments to collect bush materials and artefacts for use in workshops where the women make woven cultural pieces or art and cloth pieces for hanging or wearing and yarn with other Aboriginal women. Bush dyeing provides an opportunity for people to re-root themselves to culture and Country (Tunstall, 2015). These workshops were delivered by Paola Balla (Wemba-Wemba and Gunditjmara woman). These workshops can be constructed as the intentional creation of social settings for storytelling or yarning that entailed both the delivery of the workshops and the process of accompaniment by researchers as the women yarned about cultural connection, growing strength in relationship.