Sharing stories creates a space for respectful conversation and contributes to both knowledge and a sense of fellowship.
This article reflects on the researchers' experiences of supporting a group of Aboriginal women from a community in regional Queensland to create a safe space to share their stories with one another and,, to support exploration of cancer perceptions in their community and to determine how this helped to identify unmet needs and facilitate empowerment.
Importance of Study:
Indigenous Australians comprise a diversity of distinct cultural groups, each with its own unique and varied sets of lore and cultural protocols. However, with colonisation, traditional Indigenous Australian cultural systems, values and protocols have been oppressed and stories silenced in favour of a dominant western view and knowledge system.
Secondary data of a study exploring community perceptions about cancer were analysed using the holistic model of Indigenous Well-being developed by the Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative. Qualitative data were collected during yarning sessions with a group of Aboriginal women while creating a quilt.
Results: Four elements of the Indigenous Well-being 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 well-being 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 well-being.