Indigenous Healing Practices in Australia

Pat Dudgeon, Abigail Bray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Indigenous Australian women are among the most disadvantaged women in the world. Over two centuries of colonization have had a damaging impact on perceptions of their gender roles and status as well as many other consequential oppressions. These experiences have affected the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous women of all ages, resulting in socio-economic ghettoization, higher suicide rates, psychological distress, illness, and poverty. Generations of women have experienced the forced removal of their children, resulting in complex forms of historical trauma. Despite this, Indigenous women have also maintained strong leadership roles and have kept families and communities intact. In the last few decades, the Australian Indigenous mental health movement has emerged within the context of a broader self-determination movement, restoring and strengthening women’s traditional therapeutic practices. This article offers an overview of the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous women within neocolonial Australia and explores women’s relationship to traditional therapeutic practices. Future directions and key issues for the capacity building of Indigenous women’s healing are explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-113
Number of pages17
JournalWomen and Therapy
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


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