Using Metasynthesis to Develop Sensitising Concepts to Understand Torres Strait Islander Migration

Vinnitta Patricia Mosby


Emerging research indicates that more and more Indigenous peoples will be forced to migrate due to climate change. Current responses focus on mitigation and adaptation strategies. One such group, Torres Strait Islander people are already moving for other reasons and existing vulnerabilities compound levels of disadvantage when moving. It will be important to understand Torres Strait Islander people’s experiences of contemporary movements in order to inform policy development and facilitate the process of migration and resettlement as movement increases. A synthesis of existing studies would allow the development of sensitising concepts that could inform future research in the Torres Strait Islander context. This article presents a metasynthesis of six qualitative studies of the experiences of different Indigenous and minority groups at various stages of migration, displacement and resettlement. Articles were selected on contemporary movements (2001-2011) and importantly the inclusion of first person voice. Reciprocal translation was used to synthesise common themes and a core construct. The overarching construct that became apparent from the metasynthesis was ‘continuity of being’ through staying connected to self, family and culture. Three themes emerged: ‘freedom to be’, ‘staying close’ and ‘forming anchor’. These were enacted through people valuing their personal, social, religious and political freedom and recognising the importance of maintaining or forming strong social and family networks. When researching the experiences of Torres Strait Islanders it will be necessary to focus on motivations for moving, and understand the processes for staying connected to kin and homeland in order to achieve the desired outcomes of successful resettlement under conditions of uncertainty.

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