A Community led approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing

MindMatters, ‘Anangu Way’; A Community led approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing

Central Australia

The purpose of this paper is to share the MindMatters approach to working in Anangu communities in the Far North-West corner of South Australia and the Southern region of the Northern Territory.  (The term Anangu is a collective term that Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people use to refer to themselves.)

Remote Indigenous communities experience significant levels of incidences and ongoing issues with young people and their mental health and wellbeing. Mainstream programs in this field remain bound to the coastal fringe of the nation, or do not reinvent in order to build community capacity for understanding, engagement and agency for change in their families, schools and communities.

An innovative approach to these concerns has been taken in the implementation of MindMatters in Anangu schools in South Australia and the Northern Territory to enable community led mental health and wellbeing.

This article describes the work that has occurred. It exemplifies the value of a respectful, strength-based paradigm that focuses on a community development approach. The outcomes of this work include local capacity building; ongoing development of quality resources in Pitjantjatjara language, and the emergence of agency for change. A flexible process and framework facilitated the implementation of this work.

Reproducible principles include the value of respecting and privileging contextual knowledge and capacity.  In doing so, Anangu educators have taken ownership of the program and a passion for bringing others along the MindMatters journey…Anangu way.

Paper presented by Sam Osborne, Senior Research Fellow, University of South Australia
Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation at the 4th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium, Adelaide (SA), 19-21 November 2012

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