'That's old Barunga house': experiences of transitional housing within an Aboriginal community in a remote area

Author: Elspbeth Hodgins

Hodgins, Elspbeth, 2023 'That's old Barunga house': experiences of transitional housing within an Aboriginal community in a remote area, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Terms of Use: This electronic version is (or will be) made publicly available by Flinders University in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. You may use this material for uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material and/or you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact copyright@flinders.edu.au with the details.


Conducted in collaboration with the community of Barunga on Jawoyn Country in Australia’s Northern Territory, this research project records Aboriginal experiences and memories surrounding the use and impacts of transitional housing. A qualitative archaeological study, the experiential aspects of early government housing at Barunga are investigated through the recording and analysis of yarns conducted with participating community members. Coding and analysis of the conversations held within a decolonising and heart-centred framework, reveal memories of transitional housing are most frequently associated with positive experiences of the socio-cultural landscape of Barunga during the 1960s and 1970s, and the persistence of Aboriginal culture through the assimilationist policies implemented within government settlements in the 1950s. Additional findings reveal the continued significance of engendered households within Aboriginal culture at Barunga, and the ongoing need for greater community consultation in the design and implementation of government housing. Furthermore, the process and benefits of utilizing backcasting within community-based archaeology, as a method with which to shape research around community needs and wellbeing, is discussed. This study, situated within a global conversation around decolonising archaeological practice, demonstrates the benefits of investigating the experiential aspects of the material record through collaboration with Indigenous communities, and highlights the persistence of Aboriginal culture within the architecture of assimilation.

Keywords: Indigenous archaeology, community-based archaeology, backcasting, Barunga, transitional housing, decolonising archaeology, government housing, ethnoarchaeology

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2023
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Professor Claire Smith