Fiona Wirrer-George Oochunyung

    Fiona Wirrer-George Oochunyung

    PhD student


    Biographical Note

    Choreographer/Writer/Freelance Performer

    Education: NAISDA Dance College, Sydney (Diploma of Dance), James Cook University (Bachelor of Education, S1 Graduate), Queensland University of Technology (Master in Education, Major in School Guidance and Counselling), and Graduate Certificate in Research Methodology, JCU.

    Fiona is a freelance performer, cultural educator, writer and choreographer descending from the Mbaiwum/Trotj, Alngith/Lininigithi Wikway  and Wik Apalich Nations of Western Cape York. Currently in her second year of PhD studies she is also casual on-line lecturer. Author of five publications and three stage plays her works have been show-cased both national and international. In 2004 Fiona won the National David Unaipon Award for unpolished authors for her biography, Whispers of this Wik Woman. In 2006 the play adaptation made its debut at the Judith Wright Centre for Performing Arts. Fiona was both playwright and actor among a cast of five. Fiona has been choreographer for the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair since 2015 with her most recent work as choreographer with the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Indigenous Fashion Performance.

    She is the current recipient of the Prestigious Indigenous Research Training Program Stipend (RTPSI) for her outstanding application.

    Research topic

    Dreaming Story Way: A practice-based exploration of the creative Voice as a mode of healing grounded in Wik and Wikway ontology.

    Research outline

    The research project will examine the role of creative processes, as informed by the ontological source described here as ‘Dreaming Story Way’, in terms of its healing power and potential sustainability for overall well-being. It is a practice-led project approached through an auto-ethnographical methodology from a Western Cape York Wik and Wikway standpoint. Repatriation involving the retrieval of two female ancestor’s hair samples will form the primary case for analysis. Creative expressions will result and be presented through multi-modal performance/s and a multi-media exhibition.

     Research questions

    • How can creative practice be used to critically examine the ways that Wik and Wikway ontologies play a foundational role in determining holistic well-being in the Wik individual? How can this researcher use performance, visual art, and other creative modalities to show how Wik and Wikway ontologies hereby referred to as Dreaming Story Way are foundational to her own creative Voice and life flow and so provide the basis for healing from the on-going social trauma of colonialism?
    • How can a study of museum repatriation of human biological samples be situated within broader concerns about practices of Indigenous healing and creativity?
    • How do the extra-textual methods developed in this research extend auto-ethnography as a valuable method for Indigenous researchers and Indigenous communities more broadly?

    Supervisory Team

    Primary Supervisor: Dr Felecia Watkin-Lui

    Secondary Supervisor: Associate Professor Jennifer Deger

    Advisor Mentor: Professor Rosita Henry

    Teaching Experience

    Casual Online Lecturer, James Cook University, Cairns Campus 2016-2018

    • IA 5010: Indigenous Research Ethics
    • IA 5011: Field Procedures in Indigenous Research
    • IA 5431: Justice and Indigenous Peoples
    • IA 5012: Interpreting Research


    Doyle, F. (2004). Whispers of this Wik woman. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press.

    Doyle, F. (2006). On country: Stories of Nyrlotte. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press.

    Wirrer-George Oochunyung, F. (2011). Jindah Murray: Wind dancer. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

    Wirrer-George Oochunyung, F. (2012). Double native: A moving memoir about living across two cultures. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press.

    Wirrer-George Oochunyung, F. (2014). Ebony: Strong heart. Mulgrave: Garratt Publishing.

    Extended Profile

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