Dr Victoria Grieves, Indigenous Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, looks at why undermining Aboriginal healing practices is not only behind the times, but also has a damaging effect on the health of Indigenous Australians.
Writing for The Conversation, Dr Grieves talks about the Ngangkari, Aboriginal healers of Central Australia, and her own experience of being treated by them. Several Western doctors have spoken glowingly of working alongside the Ngangkari, and even conducted research on their healing practices.
It’s encouraging that traditional healers are being invited to cooperate with Western medical staff in community clinics and hospitals. The patients report remarkable results of Ngangkari treatment, particularly for psychological disorders, although their Western counterparts are at a loss to explain why their methods work so well.
However, there is no scope as yet for Ngangkari to be recognised as legitimate health practitioners. According to Dr Grieves, it’s vital that Australia catches up to the rest of the world in acknowledging the value of healing modalities which have a cultural basis rather than a scientific one.
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