Applying the Malparara Model to explicate geographic markers within women’s bodies, Patjarr Community, far eastern Western Australia

Ms Jan Turner1, Miss Daisy Tjuparntari Ward2,3

1Murdoch University, Perth, Australia,

2Ngaanyatjarra Lands School, Ngaanyatjarra Lands, Australia,

3Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, Alice Springs, Australia


For two weeks in 2014 the Federal Court heard evidence at a claypan called Mina Mina in the Gibson Desert from persons many of whom had experienced their first sustained contact with white Australians in the mid 1960s. For the Yarnangu [Aboriginal] people the claypan and nearby community was inhabited by a teeming spiritual world, “the country was alive” and palpably so. The antics of the spirits were discussed openly, yet were poorly realised or appreciated by the lawyers, anthropologists, court staff and those brought in to assist with logistics. The divide between the knowledgeable and the ignorant could not have been greater. Turner and Ward having experienced this divide are utilising a specific methodology, to reveal the invisible.

The Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council of Central Australia pioneered a way of working cross-culturally known as the Malparara Model. This paper looks at the concepts behind malparara, the pairing of a locally endorsed, experienced Indigenous researcher with a non-local professionally qualified practitioner or cultural researcher. It reports on how this model has been adapted and utilised by the speakers to reveal essential cultural knowledge with implications for improving Two Way Learning in education, health and native title services.


Tjuparntari and Jan have shared for thirty years an inter-cultural space, as tjurturarra [a two sister team]. Born in the same year, cultures apart, we have grown together learning much about our own and each other’s cultures. We have watched our families grow, travelled remote country, made films, presented materials for court cases. A woman of desert culture, an artist, a cross-cultural educator  and a research colleague who share both a sense of fun and sharp inquiry, prioritising the sensory when representing complex and often abstract concepts from a non-literate desert culture to mainstream Australia.

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