What is the meaning of the English word consent?

What does the English word consent mean? Most Yolŋu, even those working in the professional linguistic area, usually translate consent as ‘giving agreement’. When this translation occurs in an environment of fear where many Yolŋu people believe they have no rights (such as a court or hospital) then this translation really misses the mark. Unfortunately most consent giving in the NT where Aboriginal people are English second language is a fallacy.

In this podcast the word consent is explored in order to bring out its deeper meaning.  When understood in its entirety in Yolŋu Matha it’s explained as being a process where an individual fully understands what is being said to them to the point they are content within their inner spiritual being to agree with the people who are asking for their consent because complete comprehension of the whole situation has occurred. It explains that consent is not just saying yes to something they don’t fully understand or simply following the desires of the person asking.

There is a deeper consequence for many Yolŋu people because in some medical situations patients can’t give consent for medical procedures, even on themselves, without fully consulting their family members. Consent needs to come from the wider family group, which may also be more than  just a husband/wife, or mother/father of a child.


There are 2 Stories in this podcast. Please see time stamps below –

  • Meaning of the word consent.    0:00
  • Searching for deeper meaning of the word consent.    11:18
Hardwords discussed