Australian Aboriginal Studies: Issue 2, 2012

Dec, 2012
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Australian Aboriginal Studies Journal
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Abstracts for Issue 2, 2012

A profile of gambling behaviour and impacts among Indigenous Australians attending a cultural event in New South Wales
Nerilee Hing, Helen Breen, Jeremy Buultjens and Ashley Gordon

This study examines gambling behaviour, gambling motivations, gambling-related problems, impacts of gambling and help-seeking among a sample of Indigenous Australians. The study is exploratory and cross-sectional and represents the first quantitative analysis of Indigenous gambling in New South Wales since 1996. With the help of several Indigenous Australian research assistants, a survey was conducted at a 2011 Indigenous arts and cultural event, capturing responses from 277 Indigenous Australian adults. While about one-quarter of respondents had gambled on card games in the previous 12 months, nearly three-quarters had gambled on commercial forms of gambling, especially poker machines. Participation rates and weekly gambling on poker machines, keno and wagering, and the proportions of problem and at-risk gamblers, were higher in the Indigenous sample than in the general New South Wales population. While the main reasons for gambling were reported as pleasure and fun, socialising, to relax and the chance to win money, several negative impacts were reported, including financial problems and subsequent reliance on relatives or friends. More than one in ten gamblers also reported gambling had led to household arguments, depression and violence. Distinctive barriers to seeking help for gambling problems included lack of knowledge and confidence about help services and lack of culturally appropriate help services. Although limited by a non-representative sample, this paper highlights some distinctive aspects of Indigenous gambling that warrant further research to inform appropriate public health and treatment measures to address problems associated with contemporary Indigenous gambling.

Measuring problem gambling in Indigenous communities: An Australian response to the research dilemmas
Sue Bertossa and Peter Harvey

This paper examines evidence relating to harmful consequences of gambling in the Australian Indigenous population and highlights the failure of research to date to define problem gambling from Indigenous perspectives or to tailor research processes to accommodate the cultural beliefs and experiences of Indigenous groups. It advocates for the development of a unique set of measures to assess the function of problem gambling aspects, negative impacts, trends, risks and protective factors. This would be informed by more recent qualitative studies into gambling that are specific to Indigenous communities. Additionally, this paper argues the need to adapt and validate a commonly applied assessment tool, such as the Canadian Problem Gambling Index, to monitor prevalence of problem gambling over time. Targeted research into Indigenous people’s experiences of gambling will facilitate the development of culturally based responses and interventions into problem gambling.

Handing on the teaching of Kaurna language to Kaurna youth
Rob Amery and Jack Buckskin

Kaurna, the language of the Adelaide Plains, has been taught now for many years. It was introduced into Kaurna Plains Early Childhood Centre in 1989/90 and Kaurna Plains School in 1992 and has been taught there ever since. It has also been taught in a range of other schools and institutions to children of all ages, adults, members of the Kaurna community and to the public at large. By far the biggest hurdle confronting efforts to implement Kaurna language programs has been finding the teachers. Teaching languages requires special skills, and teaching a language, such as Kaurna, that is being reclaimed from written sources poses additional challenges, not least being the need to learn the language first and to be flexible and creative in developing new words and expressions where needed. It has been especially difficult to find young Kaurna people to take on the teaching. One who has risen to the challenge is Jack Kanya Buckskin, who started out working on Kaurna language projects, which included recording Kaurna words and phrases. He began attending Kaurna language classes at the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre, Warriparinga, then taught these classes in 2008 and in 2009 took full responsibility for these and other Kaurna language classes at Kaurna Plains School. This paper reflects on the positives that flow from taking on the teaching role, as well as some of the difficulties faced.

Lakun Ngarringdjeri thunggari: Weaving the Ngarrindjeri language back to health
Mary-Anne Gale, Eileen McHughes, Phyllis Williams and Verna Koolmatrie

This paper tells of the efforts of three Ngarrindjeri women to revive their language over the past three decades. These three mi:minar (women), Auntie Eileen McHughes, Auntie Phyllis Williams and Verna Koolmatrie, are respected Aunties in the Ngarrindjeri community, as well as talented weavers and feather-flower makers. Just as they are relearning the ancient craft of weaving and teaching themselves to weave increasingly intricate patterns into their baskets and placemats, so are they relearning how to weave increasingly complex sentences and texts in their traditional Ngarrindjeri language. This requires learning a grammar that has not been used for well over 40 years. With these new-found skills, Eileen, Phyllis and Verna are translating familiar hymns and their favourite songs into Ngarrindjeri to be sung, and are constructing complex texts, such as welcome speeches, to be given at special community events.
This paper reflects on the collaborative efforts that the Ngarrindjeri revival process requires, and the research, training, hard work and enthusiasm it demands. It celebrates the rich rewards and the improved sense of wellbeing that language revival offers, particularly to the authors of this paper as they embrace the Ngarrindjeri language in all its complexities.

Aboriginal vernacular names of Australian cycads of Macrozamia, Bowenia and Lepidozamia spp.: A response to Cycads in the vernacular: A compendium of local names
Britt Asmussen

In 2007 Bonta and Osborne published ‘Cycads in the vernacular: A compendium of local names’, in which they concluded that, in contrast to other cycads around the world, very few names and meanings had been documented for Australian Macrozamia species. This paper aims to better document the cycad species utilised by Aboriginal people for the benefit of researchers in diverse disciplines. It draws on information contained in primary sources and many early historic documents to present Aboriginal names and meanings for various species of Bowenia, Lepidozamia and Macrozamia in Australia, to clarify the names of some Australian species, and to provide additional names for species and plant components not included in the compendium. In addition, it compares patterns in the meanings of names in Australia to those used overseas, finding similarities and differences. By providing a more comprehensive synthesis of information on Indigenous names and meanings of these three genera, the paper demonstrates that the gap identified by Bonta and Osborne is more apparent than real, and highlights the value of cross-disciplinary collaboration in ethnohistorical, ethnobotanical, linguistic, anthropological and archaeological research.

Indigenous card gambler profiles in North Queensland
Helen Breen

Card gambling has been engaged in by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in northern parts of Australia for centuries but limited information is available explaining the games and the gamblers. To deepen our understanding of card gambling, this paper uses a public health approach to analyse card gambler profiles in north Queensland. Three typical profiles emerged from the results and have been labelled social, binge and committed gamblers. They have also been identified as being positioned along a public health continuum of gambling from healthy at one end (gambling in low-risk situations) to unhealthy (gambling in high-risk situations) at the opposite end. A model of these gambler profiles explains the gambler’s participation, behaviour, motivations and outcomes on the continuum. Potentially, and in consultation with local communities, these findings could help to inform the development of culturally appropriate public health strategies for specific groups of card gamblers.

Iconography, science and Lightning Figures (research report)
Albrecht Ploum

Some Australian Aboriginal figurative paintings in the Kimberley and the Northern Territory, known as Lightning Figures, show remarkable resemblance to strange atmospheric phenomena, such as Red Sprites (upper-atmospheric optical phenomena associated with thunderstorms), which sometimes can be perceived with the naked eye in those parts of the continent. I argue that some ancient markings can be related in a consistent way to real perceived atmospheric phenomena.

Journal title: 
Australian Aboriginal Studies

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Last reviewed: 12 Sep 2016