Seeking health policy recognition for Ngangkari healers

Seeking health policy recognition for Ngangkari healers

There's a push to get traditional Indigenous healing from South Australia's APY lands into the mainstream.

There's a push to get traditional Indigenous healing from South Australia's APY lands into the mainstream.

Known as Ngangkari, two healers have been introducing their practice to curious Sydney locals.

In a suburban Sydney backyard, two Indigenous Ngangkari -- or healers -- are thousands of kilometres from home.

But they treat their patients here like they would in the desert.

A non-Indigenous man called Andrew Crabbe lies on his back, outside on the grass.

His Ngangkari are Max and Debbie Watson - together they knead at his skin.

Max Watson says they are removing bad energy and any pain he might be feeling.

"Sometimes, spirit moves. All the pains come out of the body."

Mr Watson learnt how to heal from his father.

He says healing is connected to the body's spirit.

Recently, Andrew Crabbe tried Ngangkari healing for the first time.

He says the experience was spiritual.

"You could feel places that they were touching, there were things moving inside me that felt like they hadn't moved for a while and were maybe out of place. And I feel now I feel a lot more energised, a lot more balanced and aligned - if that's possible. That's how I feel now."

Max and Debbie Watson were invited by a clinic in the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt to spend a week demonstrating their treatments to local residents.

In South Australia, the Ngangkari are known to work alongside medical practitioners in clinics and hospitals.

They're often called in to assist with palliative care, and state law regulates their work in mental health.

In prisons, the treatment is used to help soothe people who may be upset.

Max Watson works for a Ngangkari corporation in South Australia -- The Aá¹angu Ngangkari Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation.

It was set up by Italian academic, Dr Francesca Panzironi, to ensure they are paid for their work.

Dr Francesca Panzironi has been speaking with health and wellness centres and clinics in New South Wales in the hope some of them may consider working with or even employing Ngangkari healers.

She also wants to see this form of Aboriginal traditional medicine formally recognised in federal health policy.

"So that's why we are starting a conversation with the Aboriginal medical services in order to make Aboriginal traditional healing sit within the health system, as part of an ongoing service available for the Aboriginal population. Everywhere."

Dr Francesca Panzironi is working with the Ngangkari to restore a practice that's 60,000 years old.

"Spirit, spirit is okay. All in right place."



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