Arts & Culture

60,000 years of traditional aboriginal medicine touches the spirit of Katungul

Elise Searson5 June 2019

Debbie Grant. Photo: Elise Searson.

Batemans Bay was gifted 60,000 years of traditional medicine with guest Ngangkari or Aboriginal healers who are spending two days at Katungul re-centring the spirit of their patients.

There wasn’t one person who came out of the healers’ room un-rattled, in a good way.

It had such a profound effect on first-timer Debbie Grant that she returned in tears.

“The pain has gone from my knees and I’m with spirit again, I really can’t even explain why I’m crying.

“When she was working on my head it was almost like she was pulling thoughts from me and they were just disappearing, it was amazing.”

Debbie went on to talk about what the healer did. “She rubs on your body and pulls out what doesn’t need to be there.”

Supported by the Hand-in-Hand. Report on Aboriginal Traditional Medicine and led by Dr Francesca Panzironi, Ngangkari is now available across several locations in South Australia.

“Ngangkari are kind of like a mixture between a general practitioner and a psychiatrist all in one. Their medicine is holistic in nature, concerned with a person spiritually and physically, and this is important to many indigenous people,” Dr Panzironi CEO of ANTAC (Anangu Ngangkari Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation) told Uplift.

Photo: Elise Searson.

Ngangkari is still being introduced into health services in New South Wales. As soon as the team at Katungul heard about Ngangkari healers, they worked on bringing them to Batemans Bay.

“A lot of our clients through drug and alcohol and mental health teams really jumped at the opportunity to see the healers,” community services director Angela Nye said, who felt “light as a feather” after her experience.

Angela Nye. Photo: Elise Searson.

“When I came to work today I was so heavy and tired but now I’ve got an energy, I don’t even feel like I’m here actually, that’s how light I feel.

The Aboriginal woman whose healing power is described as ‘a miracle’ comes from a long family lineage of healers. Debbie Watson grew up learning with her father different Ngangkari skills.

Debbie Watson is a Pitjantjatjara healer from Pipalyatjara in the APY lands. Photo: Elise Season.

She aligned Angela’s spirit connecting her back to mother earth.

Katungul‘s CEO, Joanne Grant is determined to close the gap in Batemans Bay through providing targeted services for specific needs, like Ngangkari.

“We lead with our heart, we’re part of this community,” Ms Grant said.

Pirili felt she could benefit from healing but had no idea what to expect.

Pirili Kay-Thorpe. Photo: Elise Searson.

“I’m a bit nervous because I don’t know much about it, I’m just anxious to see what is going to happen.”

Cyril McKenzie is a ngangkaṟi from Ernabella in the APY Lands. Photo: Elise Searson.

Cyril started healing people from a very young age. He learned his Ngangkari Tjukurpa from his mum and family. (Photographing him made me nervous, I found it hard to look into his eyes – I felt he could see right through mine.)

The 10 minutes I spent with the healers, left me with an even greater curiosity for the tried and proven practice of Ngangkari. As Joanne Grant says, “How can we get 60,000 years of traditional medicine wrong? Our hearts just have to be open in order to receive the healing.”

What's Your Opinion?

25 Responses to 60,000 years of traditional aboriginal medicine touches the spirit of Katungul

Clare Kiesewetter Clare Kiesewetter 5:41 pm 17 Jun 19

What a magnificent post. I got teary as I read it.

I love that you have been able to resurrect this healing for your kin.

Katungul Katungul 11:24 am 20 Jun 19

Katungul hoping to host the Ngangkari Healers again here on the south coast. To gauge interest, we've created a 7 question survey for the public to fill out.