Tiwi-led research in the Tiwi Islands

Tiwi-led research centres Tiwi Murrukupuni and Winga (land and sea), in supporting decision making for future generations.

It draws on Tiwi stories, methods tools and resources, allowing ancestral practices of knowledge sharing, problem solving and agreement making be remembered and celebrated in current contexts and collaborations.

Turtuni Framework for research engagement and collaboration

The Turtuni Framework is an engagement tool for supporting Tiwi governance. This framework emerged out of collaborative discussions from 2019 – 2023 with senior Tiwi leaders, and was led by Tiwi community based researcher Mavis Kerinaiua in collaboration with colleagues from Charles Darwin University, Deakin University, and the University of Melbourne.

The Turtuni Framework is derived from traditional Tiwi ceremony and Milimika governance models created by senior Tiwi women. Ancilla Kurrupuwu and the late Terizita Puruntameri, Leah Kerinaiua, Elizabeth Yirmay Kerinaiua and Carmelina Puantulara worked together to design the Milimika model for the primary school as a means of culturally sensitive leadership and cooperation.

Now the Turtuni Framework is a guide for collaborative research and planning that brings Murrukupuni and Winga and Tiwi knowledge to the forefront of discussions. For instance, it can be used when Tiwi people and their organisations are working with researchers to encourage collaborative partnerships where Tiwi knowledge and science and Western knowledge and science are valued and respected equally. However, the Framework is also relevant for use in other governance contexts, for example in community development and well-being initiatives.

The Turtuni Framework includes;

  • a ‘Welcome Statement’ to be used in meetings to establish respectful and productive relationships for decision making,
  • Tiwi Ethical Principles and Pillars of Strength, and
  • a  template Memorandum or Understanding for Tiwi people and other organisations to work together.

We invite Tiwi people, Tiwi local service providers, and other organisations collaborating with Tiwi people and working on the Tiwi Islands to freely download these resources from the Turtuni Framework:

For further information on the Turtuni Framework, and to discuss how it may be used in your organisation, the services you provide, in schools, or in research projects and collaborations, please contact Mavis Kerinaiua (mavis.kerinaiua@tiwiresources.com.au) or Tiwi Resources.

Past Ground Up and Tiwi-led research in the Tiwi Islands 

Tiwi Story: Turning history downside up by Mavis KerinaiuaLaura Rademaker

‘I believe history is for healing. But you need to tell the whole story, the good and the bad. Telling the truth to the younger ones, the next generation, will make them strong.’ — Mavis Kerinaiua

In Tiwi Story, Mavis Kerinaiua, Laura Rademaker and Tiwi historians showcase stories of resilience, creativity and survival.


Helping and caring, not only our family: Northern Territory Indigneous perspectives on volunteering

This project is interested in the unpaid work that people do in Aboriginal communities caring for their family and places, and about how Red Cross can better support volunteer work in remote communities.

Research was guided by local teams in Wurrumiyanga, Galiwin’ku and Darwin.

Indigenous Governance and Leadership Development Strategy

How do Aboriginal and Western governance arrangements work together? What is working well, and are there problems? What changes can be made? What would people like to know more about and what skills would they like to develop?

The goals of this program were to improve understanding of the contemporary functioning and interactions of Aboriginal and Western governance traditions, and grow capacities and understandings in governance and leadership in remote communities