A Theory for Indigenous Australian Health and Human Service Work

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Lorraine Muller outlines a theory for professional practice with Aboriginal clients in the human services, based on traditional Aboriginal knowledge and spirituality.

Most people of European background are not aware that they see the world through the lens of the Western tradition, but for Indigenous people, it can seem like a foreign language.

Aboriginal ways of thinking and working are grounded in many thousands of years of oral tradition, and continue today. Lorraine Muller shows that understanding traditional holistic approaches to social and emotional well-being is essential for practitioners working with Aboriginal clients across the human services. She explores core principles of traditional Aboriginal knowledge, including relatedness, country, circular learning, stories, and spirituality. She then shows how these principles represent a theory for Aboriginal practice.

A Theory for Indigenous Australian Health and Human Service Work offers a deep insight into Aboriginal Australian ways of working with people, in the context of a decolonisation framework. It is an invaluable resource for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal practitioners and researchers in health, social work, community work, education and related fields.

Table Of Contents



1 The power of story

2 Story of colonisation

3 Decolonisation

4 Aboriginal knowledge

5 Grounding the research

6 Responsibility of knowledge

7 Racism

8 Spirituality

9 Indigenous Australian Social-Health Theory

10 Healing and Forgiveness

11 Holding knowledge



About the author

Lorraine Muller is a Murri woman with many years experience in community work. She holds a PhD in Social Work, and is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow in the School of Medicine and Dentistry at James Cook University, where she is undertaking her second PhD.

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Cite this page

Korff, J 2021, A Theory for Indigenous Australian Health and Human Service Work, <>, retrieved 20 April 2024

Creative Spirits is a starting point for everyone to learn about Aboriginal culture. Please use primary sources for academic work.

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