The world needs more Talanoa

Have you heard about the millenia-old, Pacific Islander tradition of dialogue known as Talanoa? Two days ago, we brought this tradition of deep listening and consensus building for the first time right into our Balmain office and it was magical. Gathered around the sacred circle demarked by the Fala ('mat' in Tongan), our Talanoa brought together Australian National University students with Professor Katerina Teaiwa, Kabikabi/Gurang-Gurang man Ray Minniecon, PhD student Talei Mangioni and Rabi Island climate activist Rae Bainteiti. What ensued was a deep exchange of thoughts, feelings, knowledge and wisdom around the complex issue of climate justice.

The feedback we received is that the Talanoa and its rules of engagement created a safe and open space for all to speak their hearts and minds and listen to each other's perspectives without judgment or competition. 

As part of the Pacific region and as a country built on ancient First Nations land, it's time that we recognise the wisdom of our Indigenous peoples.  We can respectfully draw on this wisdom to address modern challenges.

At the Edmund Rice Centre we believe that the tradition of Talanoa, like the concept of Yarning Circles in First Nations communities, can help us broaden our understanding and perspectives on a range of issues - climate justice, First Nations justice, the experience of refugees and asylum seekers and more.


We also know that through Talanoa, we can create a safe space to listen to the voices of those who are marginalised and strengthen relationships between participants. From this, new ideas, collaborations and partnerships will emerge.

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