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With traditional language words to describe mental health rarely translatable to English, 'Ngawurramangajirri (we care for each other)' is a much-needed resource for Tiwi wellbeing.
Rae Johnston

16 Mar 2020 - 3:10 PM  UPDATED 16 Mar 2020 - 3:10 PM

A new book helping Tiwi speakers talk about mental health and wellbeing has been launched in collaboration with Elders and researchers.  

Ngawurramangajirri (we care for each other) features Tiwi to English translations, as well as illustrations to encourage conversations around wellbeing and mental health.

The book is a collaboration between Tiwi Elders, Menzies School of Health Research, Tiwi College students, R U OK Australia and the Northern Territory Government.

Cathy Pumuralimawu Stassi, a Tiwi Elder and one of the book's authors, said it was a valuable tool to help people start conversations about mental health.

"We are helping our people to keep our culture strong," said Ms Pumuralimawu Stassi.

"Respect each other, and look after ourselves and others - our land and our creators, Purrukupali and his mother, Murntankala."

Josie Povey, the project manager for Menzies School of Health Research, said she hopes the book encourages people to reach out to others.

"This is a resource that can be used to provide people with the words that they need to talk with other people about how they are feeling," said Ms Povey.

"This may be family members talking to family members, service providers or health professionals."

Ms Povey said the project grew out of the need for young people to be able to express their feelings using Tiwi.

"There is rarely a direct translation for mental health terms in Tiwi. Each feeling, description or phrase included in this dictionary was explained in Tiwi and English, then crafted through discussion amongst the Tiwi language speakers," said Ms Povey. 

"Words and phrases were put together, taken apart, put back together, revised, edited, revised again, then checked and double-checked."

Ms Pumuralimawu Stassi said she feels the book is "just the beginning".

"Others might like to make their own story," she said. "We hope this book encourages Tiwi people to talk about how they feel and what could help them."

Ngawurramangajirri (we care for each other) is available in hard copy as well as on the Menzies website.

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