Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi

'Doing Good Work with Families'

Babies Have Strong Spirits

Babies have Strong Spirits is a new program for Waltja. Waltja will work with young mums and their families to acknowledge and maintain the strengths within their families, including their cultural healing practices and connections to kin and country. Waltja will also work with families towards an understanding of grief and trauma, and together, take the birth of new baby as an opportunity for an understanding of intergenerational trauma and healing.

Babies have Strong Spirits grew out of community. In 2000 Waltja undertook a special project at Walungurru (Kintore), recording stories and pictures about growing up children. Senior Anangu men and women explored and developed an innovative research technique known as ‘family mapping’ to describe their ways of growing up children. The maps showed the important relationships in a child’s life and family activities. People used traditional symbols and imagery to make the maps, so that everyone could participate and understand them. The maps affirm family cohesiveness and demonstrate the strong ‘healing’ qualities that exist within families.

Waltja will support families by:

  • Helping with food and fuel for smoking ceremonies for new babies
  • Facilitating ‘family mapping’ exercises
  • Facilitating workshops to make a family plan to give a baby a good life and protect from past trauma
  • Creating a ‘Babies have Strong Spirits’ booklet that is reflective of workshops and useful to families planning for their newborn

Waltja staff will work closely with Waltja directors, community elders and families on this program for guidance and decision-making. To start, Waltja will focus program resources on families in Utopia, Ampilatawatja, Titjikala, Papunya and Nyirripi.


The Babies have Strong Spirits program is supported by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation.