In the article below, Worimi man David Edwards, Co-Director of WellMob, and Judy Singer, from the University Centre for Rural Health at the University of Sydney, talk about the community insights and priorities that have that have led to WellMob, a new website to host Indigenous-specific wellbeing resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
David Edwards and Judy Singer write:
The idea for WellMob came from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and community members living on Bundjalung country in Northern New South Wales who were a key stakeholder in its development.
They identified important cultural gaps within the digital mental health space and their input provided the impetus to develop WellMob as shown by the following quotes:
More than just mainstream mental health
‘Most mainstream digital mental health resources are designed for the mental health workforce, rather than the social and emotional wellbeing workforces’
Support us, don’t fix us!
‘We need digital social and emotional wellbeing resources for health promotion and health education and support work’
Our culture is our wellbeing
‘We need digital resources across a wide range of topics, such as healthy living, connecting with country, dealing with grief, identity etc. that fit within a social and emotional model of care’
Make it mobile friendly
‘We need digital resources that work on the technology preferences of our mob, mobile phones, not just on computers.’
These Indigenous workers were among many key stakeholders in the development of a new website to host Indigenous-specific wellbeing resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that was launched this week.
Called WellMob, it brings together in one space over 200 online social and emotional wellbeing resources for our mob.
The launch of Wellmob is timely given the reduction in face to face health and wellbeing support work bought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health workers providing services for Indigenous Australians are now more reliant on telehealth. They urgently need easy access to culturally appropriate, technology-friendly, online digital wellbeing resources for their work with clients and community.
The website is dedicated to people working in frontline health and wellbeing roles with our mob. Until now, workers reported that finding Indigenous-specific wellbeing resources on the internet was like finding ‘needles in haystacks.’ They said they needed a ‘one-stop-shop’ website to easily access culturally relevant digital resources to use with their clients and community.
The main rationale for the development of WellMob was the identified need for a genuinely Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing website. Early consultation with community members described the importance of having access to resources made by and for Indigenous people:
‘just ‘cause you make it look black doesn’t make it black …Resources need to be culturally appropriate … our words, our language, so culturally we feel comfortable … for so long we’ve been told what to do, what to think, the more self-determination, the more that comes from within us, that’s how we’re going to heal’.
Strong views were also expressed about the importance of featuring ‘local, grass roots resources that are small scale and relatable to mob’. As another community project member said:
‘The resources that stood out in my mind featured Aboriginal people, we want to listen to ourselves and we want to hear ourselves reflected in other Aboriginal people, that’s how we relate’
A further rationale for Wellmob was that our mob are increasingly confident in thinking, speaking and finding new ways of maintaining their health and wellbeing in the digital world. The digital space can provide dynamic ways to connect with culture and facilitate wellbeing. Whilst this particularly applies to our younger people, the WellMob website has resources for all demographics that make up our communities including men, women, elders, parents and our gender diverse mob.
The story of developing the WellMob website played out over the past 18 months. Central to this process was input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing workforce across the country. Reference groups of Indigenous health workers were set up in Larrakia (Darwin), Kaurna (Adelaide) and Bundjalung country. They directed the website development every step of the way.
In guiding the ‘look and feel’ of WellMob, our deadly reference groups and community consultants ensured the website would be easy to use, visually appealing, and provide a culturally safe digital space. In the various workshops, reference groups talked about the importance of ‘using words that mob use all the time’, suggesting that ‘people give up reading if there’s too much text’.
They said, ‘the website will do better if it is more like an app and interactive’; and where you can ‘get to info in three clicks’.
The process of creating WellMob was overseen by our team from the University Centre of Rural Health (University of Sydney), a member of the national digital mental health Initiative, ‘e-Mental Health in Practice’ (www.emhprac), partnered with the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet https://healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au, who developed and will maintain the website. ‘The development of WellMob has been funded by the Department of Health.
We trust that WellMob will support those who work in mental health, family support, education and youth services and broader social and emotional wellbeing workforces for years to come. We look forward to adding more online wellbeing resources as our creative mob find more time and space in the digital world to express our health in our community, country and culture.
David Edwards is a Worimi man and Co-Director of WellMob. Judy Singer is a Research Fellow working on WellMob, at the University Centre for Rural Health, University of Sydney.