Community inclusivity key to Indigenous health and wellbeing

Community inclusivity is vital, finds Interplay Wellbeing Framework, which explores a holistic approach to Indigenous communities in remote Australia.

The Interplay Project at the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, managed by Ninti One, explores a holistic, collaborative approach to the well-being of Indigenous communities in remote Australia. The Interplay Wellbeing Framework and Survey merge community-identified priorities of culture, empowerment and community with government priorities such as education, employment and health.

In their article,  ‘Interplay wellbeing framework: a collaborative methodology ‘bringing together stories and numbers’ to quantify Aboriginal cultural values in remote Australia’, Sheree Cairney et al present evidence of the efficacy of this framework to suggest that community-identified priorities and a whole-of-system approach can help ‘close the gap’ on such priorities as education, employment and health.

The research finds that, historically, Indigenous well-being strategies have been described as ‘top-down’ – addressing disadvantages instead of focusing on strengths, and treating different policy areas separately with little involvement of the affected communities in defining concepts or evaluation.

The Interplay Project’s integrated framework presents three innovative approaches:

  • a ‘shared space’ approach to collaborations with stakeholders from diverse cultural backgrounds;
  • working as as part of an interconnected- or whole-system with different interplaying components;
  • incorporating Indigenous values into (western) government monitoring systems.

Western systems of governance have traditionally relied on empirical evidence to determine well-being. However, Indigenous values and practices transit knowledge through ‘stories’, seeing people as part of an interrelated continuum of land, culture, and community. The Interplay project attempts to bridge these ways of thinking and working for an inclusive and empowering approach to wellbeing.

Sheree Cairney is Associate Professor in the Centre for Remote Health, and Principal Research Leader at Ninti One Ltd. Tammy Abbott is Senior Research Officer at the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation. Stephen Quinn is Senior Biostatistician in the Faculty of Health, Arts & Design at Swinburne University. Jessica Yamaguchi is Advisor in Indigenous Affairs Information and Evaluation, the Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Byron Wilson is a PhD student in the Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University. John Wakerman is Associate Dean at Flinders University NT.

Photo: Celine Nadeau/Flickr/cc

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