Yarning with Minjungbal women: testimonial narratives of transgenerational trauma and healing explored through relationships with country and culture, community and family

Mykaela Saunders

MEd(Res) thesis, conferred in 2015

Yarning with Minjungbal women incorporates the testimonial narratives of five women from the Minjungbal community of Tweed Heads in far northern New South Wales. Our combined metanarrative explores how we have been able to interrupt transgenerational trauma, which is the process that explains how the impacts of historical suffering are inherited by successive generations.

Minjungbal women’s experiences of transgenerational trauma are discussed firstly through our ties to country and culture, secondly within the relationships in our community, and finally inside the dynamics of our families. Minjungbal women explain how we have experienced transgressions, resisted oppression, engendered healing and spread strength within each of these spheres. Minjungbal women’s relationships to country and culture, community and family have been influenced by the legacies of the past, and Minjungbal women still experience ongoing injustices from government policies and the attitudes of the dominant society. Nevertheless, this thesis contends that Minjungbal women have always been actors in resisting oppression, agents in interrupting the cycle of transgenerational trauma and instrumental in facilitating positive changes. Yarning with Minjungbal Women proposes that the key to resistance, resilience and healing lies within the teaching and learning that occurs within the context of relationships. Yarning with Minjungbal Women is therefore an embodiment of activism research as it is informed by the sharing of stories and the strengthening of relationships. Yarning with Minjungbal Women is a contribution to the field of research about the history of Minjungbal country. It contributes to existing research that explains the mechanisms by which the transgenerational transfer of trauma is inherited and passed on.

This research is focussed though an Indigenous feminist heuristic perspective as the most culturally appropriate and immersive methodology for me to employ as a Minjungbal woman who has been shaped by transgenerational trauma, as I am perfectly suited to elucidate sensitive information from women in my community. The testimonial narratives were recorded using yarning as a communication method. Yarning facilitated the release of information in a way that Minjungbal women were comfortable with, giving them agency in the research process, as well as retaining the integrity of Minjungbal communication practises.

Supervisor: Dr Karen O'Brien