Yarra Valley Connections to Urban Indigenous Culture research project

September 15, 2016

The Connections to Urban Indigenous Culture research project was conducted at Healesville on Wurundjeri Country in the Yarra Ranges, Victoria during 2014/15.

Yarra Ranges Council with partners, Healesville Indigenous Community Services Association (HICSA) and Inspiro (Community Health), embarked on a research project to deepen the understanding of local Indigenous culture, its relationship to health and wellbeing and how this is experienced in the Yarra Ranges urban context.

The project combined data from a literature review prepared by Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit and an evaluation of a Cultural Strengthening Hip-Hop program undertaken by HICSA. This approach provided an academic platform to which Indigenous community experience concerning cultural participation was added. This approach brought together conceptual, academic and experiential data. When analysed through the lens of Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Being and Doing, clear understandings of the Indigenous urban experience emerged.

The project findings offer new knowledge of the meaning of urban Indigenous culture, the importance of identity and of Country. It provides examples of effective ways of supporting culture as a means of improving Indigenous health and wellbeing in urban areas through cultural strengthening programming and how this can be measured.

In exploring the concept of the urban Indigenous identity, the researchers found it useful to touch on some distinguishable differences between the urban and the remote Indigenous experience.  This revealed some noteworthy findings regarding perceptions of the authenticity of urban Indigenous identity, connections to culture and to Country, including those whose traditional lands are elsewhere.

The project offered insights into how Indigenous identity can be built through cultural participation and how opportunities for cultural participation are provided.  It highlighted the critical role of Indigenous Community Controlled Organisations such as HICSA, as providers of safe and culturally appropriate spaces for cultural renewal by providing the essential link between culture, community and health and wellbeing.

Download the full research paper

Last Updated: October 4, 2016 at 2:39 pm