Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Pathways to resilience: The role of cultural connectedness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents. (#207)

Roxanne Bainbridge 1 , Janya McCalman 1 , Helen Klieve 2 , Komla Tsey 3 , Sandra Russo 4 , Katrina Rutherford 4 , Michelle Redman-MacLaren 1
  1. Central Queensland University, Cairns, QLD, Australia
  2. Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
  3. James Cook University, Cairns, QLD, Australia
  4. Department of Education and Training, Cairns, QLD, Australia

Resilience—the capacity to negotiate and shape environments in which people can respond to life’s challenges in healthy meaningful ways—is key to flourishing in life. But there is an absence of evidence about how pathways to resilience are navigated by culturally diverse populations. With a specific focus on the cultural determinants, this research paper will explain how pathways to resilience are negotiated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents to sustain their health and wellbeing.

Context matters. While there is advocacy for and acceptance of the social determinants as key in improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, how distinctive cultural determinants sustain or limit health and wellbeing have largely been ignored. Prioritising identification of the role cultural determinants play in the pathways to resilience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents is critical to supporting and sustaining their health and wellbeing.

The research adopted an ecological perspective of psychosocial resilience. Embedded in a collaborative strengths-based approach that promotes the aspirations, self-determination and empowerment of Indigenous people, it invested in practices and processes already occurring and that could serve as foundations for realistic translation and implementation of new knowledge for services supporting adolescents. Using a sequential mixed-methods design, the research aimed to gain a deeper understanding of cultural issues behind factors of psychosocial resilience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents in a position of sustained stress i.e. living in an unfamiliar school boarding situation. We captured the deep personal understandings of the role cultural connectedness plays in adolescents’ psychosocial resilience through a grounded theory study. The model developed through this step was then tested against the broader data from students using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM).

Key was maximising opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents to engage in healthy, productive lives and meaningful futures by supporting their healthy psychosocial functioning at times when chances to engage with the cultural and social determinants of health peak. The preliminary results of both the qualitative and quantitative components will be presented.