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MyHospitals website
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Heal Country puts spotlight on social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Declonising psychology, social and emotional wellbeing and best practice in suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were key issues discussed at our rotated Twitter account @WePublicHealth recently by the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) and the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB).

Here’s a selection of the tweets that were shared during NAIDOC Week, celebated this year with the theme #HealCountry.


For NAIDOC2021 HealCountry let’s put a spotlight on social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB), holistic health, and the role of connection to Country & land for individual, community & global wellbeing. @TIMHWB Support the incredible work done by Indigenous nations globally on decolonising psychology #heal #empower

Before we share some of the decolonising psychology work, it’s appropriate to acknowledge Country, our custodians and Ancestors. The connection between Country, Spirit, Culture and Community are integral to our strength and SEWB. When we heal Country, we heal ourselves.

For Indigenous peoples worldwide, self-determination and decolonisation are key discourses, strategies and essential conditions to create hope and sustainable futures. Self-determination means Nothing About Us Without Us. Our SEWB Framework outlines holistic health and what works.

The National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023 outlines nine principles for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples… do you know them?? Read more https://timhwb.org.au/fact-sheets/

“Learning how to live on Country strengthens and reinforces a positive sense of identity. It helps protect young people from feelings of hopelessness, isolation and being lost between two worlds.” The Elders Report

Roadmap to recovery: Reporting on a research taskforce supporting Indigenous responses to COVID-19 in Australia peer review report also available.

Early during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, a national working party was convened through @TIMHWB @UWASIS to produce an independent report that addresses the specific mental health and SEWB needs of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Key recommendations from this report were: 1) self-determination 2) health and mental health workforce 3) social and cultural determinants of health 4) digital and telehealth inclusion 5) Indigenous data sovereignty and evaluation.

The Roadmap to Recovery Report outlined four key recommendations for the care of Indigenous Australians.

The @TIMHWB logo is based on artwork. “Beautiful Healing in Wildflower Banksia Country” describes a story about the life-affirming inter-connections between people, land, oceans, waterways, sky and all living things. Read more here.

This year in March we held an SEWB Gathering with @NACCHOAustralia @GayaaDhuwi @AipaAust and our @timhwb and @cbpatsisp partners to form a national network to ensure empowerment and healing by working together. Read more.

Decolonising psychology

Today, the Stream2 @TIMHWB team will be posting about decolonising psychology. Stream 2 is led by Professors Jill Milroy and Pat Dudgeon, working to empower workforce to deliver culturally safe care with Aboriginal peoples. Learn more.

One of the projects in @TIMHWB is Australian Indigenous Psychology Education Project (AIPEP). AIPEP is working with universities and psychology bodies to decolonise psychology and increase Indigenous student support. Last week, we held our 6th AIPEP meeting with lead educators, to build capacity and support. https://tinyurl.com/timhwbs2

Hot off the press: Healing among Indigenous people is more crucial now than ever. Here’s a way forward. #decolonisingpsychology, #culturalresponsiveness, and recognising SEWB are vital! Read here https://tinyurl.com/33x8smrf

APS Fellow Professor Pat Dudgeon and CEO Dr Zena Burgess on why psychology has a lot to gain from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and expertise.

University psychology educators share what they are doing to better support Aboriginal students. Thanks for sharing @uwapsych! Read more: https://tinyurl.com/bj7rndfm

Decolonising psychology curricula in action! Thanks for sharing @MeeganKilcullen @JCU. Read more about how university psychology education is transforming here: https://tinyurl.com/bj7rndfm

University psychology education is transforming! Part of this involves building staff and student capacity. Read more about the fantastic work happening to decolonise psychology here: https://tinyurl.com/bj7rndfm

“The benefits of listening to and acting on the knowledge base of societies that are tens of thousands of years older than Western knowledge systems are profound…”

Take time this NAIDOC Week to learn about the importance of decolonising psychology: https://www.griffithreview.com/articles/decolonising-psychology/

One of the AIPEP-2 targets is to increase the number of Indigenous psychologists. 1,053 more Indigenous psychologists are needed to reach parity (four times more than current workforce). AIPEP2 aims to address this disparity by decolonising psychology. Learn more: https://tinyurl.com/timhwbs2

The Australian Psychological Society Apology in 2016 supported a decolonising agenda. This NAIDOC Week 2021, find out how you too can support decolonisation and become a better ally. https://tinyurl.com/xd49hxyw.

Suicide prevention

Indigenous/non-Indigenous suicide rates in Australia vary geographically. National suicide rate of 25 (11) per 100,000 people (2015–2019). The Kimberley region in Western Australia records the highest rate.

The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention is privileged to be posting about #SuicidePrevention for #NAIDOC2021. Led by @pat_dudgeon, the @cbpatsisp shares best practice resources to improve resilience.

Professor Pat Dudgeon delivering her Acknowledgement of Country before welcoming attendees at the launch of the Manual of Resources https://cbpatsisp.com.au/the-manual-of-resources/ 

Australia Indigenous Suicide Timeline: 1960–2020 Suicide was not known in traditional Indigenous societies pre-colonisation (1788). By 2019, Indigenous suicide rate was more than 2x other Australians.

“COVID19 does not discriminate. Still, its impact is disproportionately greater for Aboriginal people due to historical, political, social and economic determinants of health that influence access to services”. MJA

The Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention presents information for clinicians and front-line workforces, through extensive community consultations. For details, see https://cbpatsisp.com.au/the-manual-of-resources/clinicians-front-line-workers/

Cultural safety

Good morning! Stream 3 @timhwb taking over @WePublicHealth to share our work on cultural safety for NAIDOC Week 2021. S3 is led by Professor Helen Milroy, Western Australia’s Australian of the Year, @telethonkids and @MCRI_for_kids

Dr Graham Gee and @AFLPlayers Michael Mitchell

Stream 3 aims to understand the role of Traditional Healers and Elders in mental health and we support the work of Yirriman Women @YawuruAU & NPY Womens Council @AliceSpringsTC

Professor Helen Milroy’s children’s book #backyardbirds @FremantlePress. Building resilience through Indigenous story telling and art. Helen has developed cultural models of care and healing, using art and narratives alongside psychiatric concepts, combining Western and Indigenous knowledge systems.

The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) promotes and disseminates best practice programs and services to stakeholders: https://cbpatsisp.com.au/clearing-house/best-practice-programs-and-services/ Contact @cbpatsisp with your best practice programs and services today!

One of the categories of best practice programs and services that CBPATSISP promotes is Healing, Social and Emotional Wellbeing. See them here: https://cbpatsisp.com.au/clearing-house/best-practice-programs-and-services/healing-social-and-emotional-wellbeing/

Another category of best practice programs and services that CBPATSISP profiles is Suicide Prevention. Details here: https://cbpatsisp.com.au/clearing-house/best-practice-programs-and-services/programs-for-preventing-youth-suicide/

Powerful video on LOVE and HOPE developed by youths at the 2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and 2nd World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conferences 2018

Suicide disparity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Non-Indigenous funding organisations need to: 1. Appoint Indigenous board members. 2. Have protocols to ensure cultural safety. 3. Include Indigenous issues as a standing agenda item and 4. Undertake local cultural competence training

Effects of oppressive colonial policies and practices have profoundly impacted Indigenous health and SEWB. We can overcome trauma if our communities are supported and empowered to identify our own issues and solutions to support healing.

Suicide in the Kimberley cannot be explained by a medical model. The impact of colonisation makes Aboriginal youth suicide distinctive. Unresolved trauma, entrenched socioeconomic disadvantage & cultural disruption. http://bit.ly/2EZ8xS2

Cultural identity is the foundation of who we are. Despite assimilationist policy and the loss of customs and languages, Aboriginal people have demonstrated extraordinary cultural resilience. Pat Dudgeon, The Elders Report http://bit.ly/3bkhJg1

Listening with our hearts to the lived experiences of First Nations young people, their friends, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services provide cultural safety countering racism. They are manifestations of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people’s right to self-determination. See ATSISPEP Report http://bit.ly/2EQusLm #SEWB #NAIDOC2021

Other shares via TIMHWB

It’s been incredible to be a part of the Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial, we’ve come so far since this video was made 2019 & ATSISPEP launched 2016! @rob_btown @YawuruAU @GayaaDhuwi @blackdoginst @LeilaniDarwin @HM_Christensen. Access video here: https://timhwb.org.au/videos-photos/

Read about the #MentalHealthAct in your state here:  Does yours include language, culture, Elders, traditional healers, and Aboriginal mental health workers??? WA is ahead… but we can always do better!

Excellent: Country is our healing and we all benefit from living on land that is healthy and well-cared for | SBS Voices https://sbs.com.au/topics/voices/culture/article/2021/06/16/country-our-healing-and-we-all-benefit-living-land-well-cared

‘A strong indictment’: Three graphs that show where Australia is not Closing the Gap. High rates of Indigenous suicide, and the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care and adults in prison, have worsened.

A great resource to prepare you for NAIDOC week. Download here: https://sbs.com.au/learn/resources/celebrate-naidoc-heal-country?fbclid=IwAR3fFPW2QJTULzSe4zIqKNAjq5SUyeQ0toz-7Ldbh-Pns4u2yyjXUCceius

Brighten your day with these stories of empowerment and healing and SEWB. It has been an incredible journey and we have met some wonderful people along the way https://timhwb.org.au/videos-photos/

We’re so happy to finally upload the Cultural, Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program videos onto our TIMHWB website. These amazing stories are some of the results of the National Empowerment Project. Watch here: https://timhwb.org.au/videos-photos/


Finding help

Some people may have suicidal thoughts when things are too hard and painful. With help, you can overcome these thoughts and stay safe.

If someone is in immediate danger please dial 000 as soon as possible.

If you or someone close to you is in distress, you can find support by calling one of these helplines now:

Lifeline Australia – Call 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service – Call 1300 659 467

Kids Helpline – Call 1800 551 800

Mens Line Australia – Call 1300 789 978

Open Arms Veterans & Families Counselling – Call 1800 011 046 or visit their website

Qlife – LGBTI peer support and referral – Call 1800 184 527

National Indigenous Postvention Service – Call 1800 805 801


See Croakey’s archive of stories about social and emotional wellbeing.

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