The origins of this paper lie in our experiences of having heard too many stories with the same outcome or ending in the field of inquiry and practice described as “Aboriginal Mental Health.” This paper was written in an attempt to make sense of these experiences. It does so by focussing on another type of outcome or story ending in mental health care/research contexts more widely known as [Recovery]. Not to be confused with the term recovery as it is used in addiction studies, the concept of [Recovery] currently underpinning mental health care policies and reform is at once a philosophy, a practice orientation, and a guiding value and principle. This paper emerged from a range of discussions about [Recovery] as a practice orientation and a particular type of story-ending told by those who receive and provide Aboriginal mental health care in North Queensland. Poetic inquiry was used as a way to respond to the questions that arose from these discussions. In the research projects and discussions that foreground and underpin this paper, the use of poetic reasoning and writing, evolved from using poetry as a reflective tool, to a being used as a method of data collection, data construction, analysis and interpretation (even though none of these words appropriately inscribe these aspects of research within Arts informed research practices). It is also posited as an aesthetic and ethical way of (re)presenting the results of inquiring. This paper (re)presents and unpacks a particular generated poem to demonstrate the approach (as it is and was) used. As an arts-informed approach to social inquiry and to writing, the purpose of this text is to open or introduce an awkward pause in an ongoing dialogue or conversation about Aboriginal people in mental health care and to amplify the Aboriginal voices informing the development of this text.


Aboriginal Mental Health, Recovery, Arts Based Research, Poetic Inquiry

Author Bio(s)

Vicki Saunders, BPsych, MPH, is a PhD candidate with the Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition, James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Vicki Saunders at, James Cook University, Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Research, College of Healthcare Sciences, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, 4811, Australia; E-mail: vicki.saunders@my.jcu.edu.au.

Juanita Sherwood, RN, DipTeach, GradCert.Research, PHD is Professor of Australian Indigenous Education, University of Technology, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Kim Usher, RN, DipHSc, BA, MNSt, PhD, is Head of School with School of Health, University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.