Waltja members know that culture is important to keep people strong and healthy. Waltja has started working in partnership with a research project known as Our Cultures Count. The project is run by the Australian National University (ANU) and in central Australia works with Tangentyere Council, Central Land Council and Waltja. The research is a national study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing, studying the links between culture, health and wellbeing.

Vanessa from Tang, and Alyson from ANU attended the Waltja AGM week to talk about the project and collect surveys. Waltja members spoke strongly about the importance of culture for younger people, keeping language strong, listening to and learning from old people, respecting kinship roles, being able to use bush medicine and being able to get out on country. The questions in the research will help others to understand why these things matter for Aboriginal people in central Australia.

We know our Aboriginal languages are important. Our Cultures Count is also known as Mayi Kuwayu which is a Ngiyampaa word meaning to follow Aboriginal people over time. We are working with Waltja members to think about ways of saying this in Luritja, Arrernte and Amnatjere. We made a video of April Martin saying this in Warlpiri and this is being used by the research team when we work with Warlpiri communities. It is important that the research involves Aboriginal people over a long period of time. If we work with people for many years, then the research story on how culture supports health and wellbeing can be better explained.

=The information in the study could be used by Waltja to answer important questions: Are language and identity important to people’s health and wellbeing? Can visiting country and being able to collect bush tucker support people’s wellbeing? What parts of culture can help strengthen communities and families? What does your language mean for people (young, middle-aged, old) in central Australia?