Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Wellness Dreaming Project–Fostering strengths and collaboration to enable community led, culturally appropriate action for wellbeing (#311)

Karen Ingram 1 , Nazaree Dickerson 1
  1. Cohealth, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are constantly being told what’s wrong with their health, family, behaviour–with everything, which can reinforce negative perceptions and dismiss the importance and potential of community empowerment. Cohealth’s Koolin Balit Initiative, the Wellness Dreaming Project, encourages an alternative approach by agencies, one that focuses on the strengths of individuals, families, groups and the community, affecting achievable and sustainable change to improve wellbeing. The project aims to build capacity in the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal workforce in Melbourne’s north-west by developing and implementing strength-based facilitation training and to promote cross-sectoral collaborative partnerships.

Evidence indicates that Aboriginal people generally delay accessing adequate health care due to culturally insensitive care experiences and service gaps, particularly in Melbourne’s west and outer north. Some mainstream organisations are developing or implementing Reconciliation Action Plans and/or cultural awareness training and some Aboriginal Controlled Organisations are extending their outreach services to previously un-tapped areas. There is great potential and scope for collaboration between agencies to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Wellness Dreaming Messenger training was delivered to 44 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff from 27 cross-sectoral agencies; Aboriginal-controlled, mainstream, government and non-government. Fostering leadership, trained Messengers utilise Wellness Dreaming facilitation skills to deliver Deadly Dreaming Circles, strength-based conversations in existing groups which are safe and supported, across Melbourne's north-west.

This poster presentation will demonstrate co-design principles and strategies which informed the training model and resources to ensure cultural rights, values and expectations of Aboriginal people were considered throughout to maximise reach, coordination and sustainability through place-based engagement with communities.

The Wellness Dreaming Project presents an example of stepping stones invested workforces can take̶ beyond cultural awareness towards a strength-based community development model; enabling actions determined and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It will provoke thinking and encourage viewer reflection on incorporating strength-based approaches into individual/agency practice. (Also see poster presentation on Wellness Dreaming CIRCLE).