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Effective Programs Aimed at Closing the Gap


14 February 2013 at 10:53 am
Staff Reporter
Effective programs aimed at promoting social and emotional wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are those with Indigenous ownership and support, according to two new papers released on the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse website.

Staff Reporter | 14 February 2013 at 10:53 am


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Effective Programs Aimed at Closing the Gap
14 February 2013 at 10:53 am

Effective programs aimed at promoting social and emotional wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are those with Indigenous ownership and support, according to two new papers released on the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse website.

Strategies and practices for promoting the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people focuses on social and emotional well-being programs, while the paper Strategies to minimise the incidence of suicide and suicidal behaviour, provides a review of policies and programs that aim to prevent suicide and suicidal behaviour.

Government figures show that in 2008, nearly one-third (32%) of Indigenous Australians aged 18 and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress-more than twice the proportion for non-Indigenous adults. The Indigenous suicide rate is also estimated to be about double that of the non-Indigenous population.

The reports found that programs that operate in isolation from, or do not address the legacy of past trauma, past and current racism, and issues such as poverty and homelessness, were not as effective as other programs in promoting social and emotional well-being and preventing suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The programs that are particularly effective are those that have a high level of Indigenous ownership and community support. Further, both international studies and Australian data show that Indigenous people who speak their own languages have better resilience and mental health.

The Indigenous hip-hop program run by the BeyondBlue organisation was effective in promoting positive mental health among young people. The program incorporated traditional culture fused with hip-hop, rap, beat boxing and break dancing and resulted in increased self-esteem, preparedness to talk to family and friends about mental health, and ability to see signs of depression in others.

In addition, interventions involving 'motivational care planning' (motivating people to self-manage and solve their own problems step-by-step) were shown to improve wellbeing in Indigenous people with a mental illness in remote communities.

The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse (http://www.aihw.gov.au/closingthegap/) is jointly funded by all Australian governments and provides an online source of information on what works to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage. It is delivered by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS).

This week Australia moved closer towards constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with the Act of Recognition passing the House of Representatives.

The Prime Minister was joined in Parliament by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and community leaders to mark the latest step towards a referendum on Constitutional Reform.

The Bill recognises the unique and special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and reflects wording suggested by the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whose report has put in place the foundations to progress constitutional recognition.

The Bill coincides with the fifth anniversary of the National Apology.

On 13 February 2008, the Federal Government said sorry to Indigenous Australians, in particular the Stolen Generations, for past wrongs.

View the full papers here.



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