Torres Strait Islanders' experiences of contemporary out-movement: a grounded theory of 'Living in Two Worlds'

Mosby, Vinnitta Patricia (2015) Torres Strait Islanders' experiences of contemporary out-movement: a grounded theory of 'Living in Two Worlds'. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Out-movement of Torres Strait Islanders from their homelands to the Australian mainland has increased as people have sought opportunities and services unavailable locally. This movement is part of a wider problem faced by Islanders in different locations who have migrated in response to a range of pressures including poverty and inequalities, political reforms, obligation and expectation, environmental pressures, and personal freedom. As Torres Strait Islander migration is internal, this predicament tends to go unnoticed and the experience is absent from social work literature. This study explored the experiences of Torres Strait Islander contemporary out-movement. Decolonizing methodologies helped frame and guide this study. A Constructivist approach helped in co-constructing meaning, while Indigenous Research Principles determined how I went about the study, as I was both insider and outsider to the research focus and location. I am a Torres Strait Islander woman, a contemporary mover, and a social worker.

The study employed a mixed method approach consisting of two phases: virtual remote surveying of Island communities, and grounded theorizing from semi-structured interviews. Unobtrusive telephone surveying was used in phase one to collect data on the nature and scale of out-movement from key informants, and descriptive statistics and graphical displays were used to inform Island communities. Quota, purposive and theoretical sampling methods were used in phase two to recruit participants who had moved between 2001 and 2011 and who were residing in Cairns. Grounded theorizing from experiences of out-movement and resettlement involved a process of opening coding, concept building, focused coding and finding the core construct through an analysis metaphor of zeuber (the wave) and a meaning making metaphor of migrating birds. First person accounts woven into the grounded theory were used to present the experiences of moving. Phase one findings indicated that motivations to move were similar to those described in other migration literature, but with the addition of medical movers. The core construct from phase two findings was 'living in two worlds' and comprised seven experiences: like a new adventure, living with uncertainty, feeling out of place, getting back on your feet, finding the right spot, managing obligations, and growing from here up. Four dimensions of sense-making: belonging, security, purpose and hope - and four specific strategies: setting boundaries, making adjustments, taking responsibility, and keeping close – helped to articulate the process of 'managing the crossings' between the two worlds of 'island life' and 'mainstream'.

In addition to Berry's (1997) process of acculturation and four outcomes: assimilation, separation, integration and marginalization, the experience of out-movement, of 'living in two worlds', was found to be an ongoing and complex process of adjustment that required 'managing the crossings' daily and sometimes many times a day. These finding might be transferable to other internal, and possibly international, movements; and have implications for developing policies and practices to support future resettlement arising from climatic and economic imperatives.

Item ID: 42367
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Australia; Australian mainland; grounded theory; migration; movement; moving; passage; relocation; remote island communities; resettlement; Torres Strait Islanders; Torres Strait Islands
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For this thesis, Vinnitta Mosby received the Dean's Award for Excellence 2016.

Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2016 01:16
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Studies @ 33%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169902 Studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Society @ 33%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1603 Demography > 160303 Migration @ 34%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940116 Social Class and Inequalities @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 50%
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