In Anangu culture, ngangkari (traditional healers) have responsibility for taking care of the health and wellbeing of people. NPY Women’s Council (NPYWC) Ngangkari Program supports and promotes ngangkari practice in communities, working to increase awareness and respect for traditional healing within mainstream health and human services.
Ngangkari are Anangu (Indigenous people) who have received special tools and training from their grandparents. Anangu have a culturally based view of causation and recovery from physical and mental illness and attribute many illness and emotional states to harmful elements in the Anangu spiritual world. Ngangkari are highly valued for their unique ability to protect and heal individuals and communities from this harm.
The ngangkari believe that collaboration and mutual respect between western health and human services and ngangkari lead to the best outcomes for Anangu. They say western and Anangu practitioners have different but equally valuable skills and knowledge and both are needed to address the significant problems Anangu face. The ngangkari of the NPYWC project have worked hard in the past 10 years to have the importance and value of their work recognised by mainstream health systems, and have successfully established strong relationships with local health and mental health services. The effectiveness of their work in Indigenous mental health was acknowledged in 2009 with a prestigious award from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and also with the Dr Margaret Tobin Award for Excellence in Mental Health Service Delivery. In 2011 the program received the prestigious Sigmund Freud Award for Psychotherapy, which recognised the importance of this lineage of healing practice internationally.
NPYWC is a service delivery, advocacy and support organisation created by Anangu women from 28 remote communities in the cross-border region of Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. NPYWC delivers services and programs working with Anangu to improve their health, wellbeing and safety. Through its determination to improve the quality of life for families in the region, NPYWC has become a respected and influential stakeholder and advisor to the territory, state and Commonwealth governments, and the NGO sector covering issues such as substance abuse, domestic and family violence, child protection, policing and other safety concerns.