The lifelong health and wellbeing of Aboriginal children are strongly influenced by family and community environments, with parenting approaches critical to positive long term outcomes. Evidence based, culturally relevant strategies for supporting parents are needed. To produce effective and sustainable support, these strategies need to be informed by the voices of Aboriginal parents and community members.
In an outer metropolitan region of Western Australia, a peer led home visiting support program was developed for Aboriginal parents with children in the early years. A partnership was formed involving a community family support agency, Aboriginal peer support workers, Aboriginal families and a child health nurse researcher. This partnership sought to address the need to assist Aboriginal parents in their role as primary carers of their children.
Participatory Action Research (PAR) was identified as the most appropriate methodology for exploring and facilitating the program’s suitability, feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness. In particular, PAR allowed peer support workers, families and community agencies participating in the program to identify their own needs and aspirations to inform future planning, incorporating these into relevant and acceptable peer led home visiting parent support.
This presentation will detail the PAR processes. These processes addressed the regular review of program strengths and challenges through reflective practice; they also included continuing adjustments made to strengthen strategies, participant engagement, resources and overall program direction. Contemporary realities of Aboriginal health, wellbeing and parenting were identified and addressed within the context of wider community and social disparities. Peer led Aboriginal perspectives informed methods and a model for culturally informed, strength based practice for families with children in the early years.