Ms Miliwanga Wurrben

Miliwanga Wurrben
Ms Miliwanga Wurrben

Aboriginal Community Researcher, Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation

Miliwanga Wurrben is a strong Yolngu woman and is currently the Chairwoman of the Banatjarl Strongbala Wumin council in Jarwoyn country around Katherine; she is an artist and weaver of ancient methods and a teacher of universal balance called Ngalandakku (emphasising culture and spirituality) which she teaches in schools and other functions such as national and international an elder or the Rembarrnga clan from central Arnhem Land.

Miliwanga is also a well-known traditional healer. She travels throughout Australia to share and educate people of the importance of her natural ability. She was honoured to have worked with Oxfam and Amnesty international to deliver the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

More recently, Miliwanga has worked with Ninti One and CRC-REP on a health and wellbeing study called ‘Interplay’. Her knowledge and involvement in this study and ability to present to diverse groups is that of a person who can definitely walk in both worlds.

Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – research principles and practice

Workshop, Thursday 25 May 0900–1030

Led by: Dr Mark Glazebrook, Director, Innovation and Business Development & Acting Director, Research and Knowledge Translation, The Lowitja Institute

The workshop will include presentations by Dr Tamara Mackean from Flinders University, and by Ms Tammy Abbott (Senior Research Officer), Ms Miliwanga Wurrben (Aboriginal Community Researcher) and Mr Rod Reeve (Managing Director), from the CRC for Remote Economic Participation.

Dr Mackean will talk about the Centre for Research Excellence in Social Determinants and Health Equity (CRE Health Equity), a collaborative NHMRC funded program of research exploring how equity is impacted through the development of social policy. The partners include Flinders University, Australian National University, the University of Sydney, the University of Otago and the Lowitja Institute.  The challenge for the team is to bring together different knowledge systems, including Indigenous knowledge in order to understand agenda setting, policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. This includes the development of analysis frameworks that take account of both political theory and Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing.

She will also discuss the ‘Analysis of key factors associated with Aboriginal suicide in SA’ project—funded by the Lowitja Institute—which is examining literature and coroners’ cases, alongside community and professional expertise, in order to develop a strengths based approach to suicide intervention and prevention. Coroners’ cases will be analysed with a coding framework that includes social and cultural determinants of Indigenous health such that key factors associated with suicide are relevant to Indigenous concepts of wellbeing.

The team from CRC–REP will discuss the building of opportunities for people living in remote Australia, which has been the focus of the ‘CRC for Remote Economic Participation’ and its predecessor ‘Desert knowledge CRC’, since 2003. Both CRCs were managed by Ninti One Limited, based in Alice Springs and worked across 85% of the Australian landmass. Over 200 Aboriginal Community Researchers (ACRs) have been employed on these two CRCs, to conduct research in remote communities so that evidence-based policies and practices can be developed for use by communities and also by policy-makers in government and the private sector such as mining companies. The ACRs often live in remote communities and they are culturally empathetic, can work bilingually in an inclusive, respectful and genuinely consultative way. This session will describe the approaches, methodologies and lessons learnt from using this valuable ACR capability, and it will include research case studies from across remote Australia.