Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Evaluating the impact on Aboriginal wellbeing of engagement with cultural heritage (#412)

Jane Palmer 1 , Lorelle Burton 1 , Megan Forbes 1
  1. University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia

An Indigenous cultural heritage project underway in South-West Queensland includes provision for an evaluation by the University of Southern Queensland of impact on Aboriginal wellbeing.

The aim of the South West Queensland Indigenous Cultural Precinct Project is to engage Aboriginal people in the development of sustainable cultural business enterprises that will provide employment, training and business opportunities in the South West Queensland region.

In collaboration with local Aboriginal advisers, the impact of engaging in these projects on the wellbeing of Aboriginal participants will be evaluated through an ethnographic storytelling approach to understand the impacts in people’s own words. Potential new research findings include better indicators of Aboriginal wellbeing, and connections between culture-related activity, spiritual wellbeing and self-assessed mental and physical health.

There is already a significant amount of research to show:

  • That ethnographic (storytelling) approaches help us to understand complex factors related to wellbeing (Goodson & Vassar 2011; Kielmann 2012)
  • That wellbeing means different things to particular groups (Hunter et al. 2011; White & Blackmore 2015)
  • That attachment to culture correlates with wellbeing (Biddle & Swee 2012; Dockery 2010), and calling for more research on exactly howthis cause and effect relationship works.

The 2007 Report on Social Determinants of Aboriginal Health (Anderson et al. 2007, pp.148–9) stated that:

An important research focus should be ‘the development of social and emotional wellbeing measurement tools that take into account the complexities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language, history and inter-subjectivity against a background of inequality and power differential through which people define their holistic wellbeing’…

There is little information in the literature on resilience among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and … research in this area is a NHMRC priority... Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing and spirituality is an important aspect of social and emotional wellbeing research, particularly in the context of the history of colonisation in Australia.

This poster will outline the approach taken to designing and conducting the impact evaluation, and seek feedback from conference participants on future directions for this work.

  1. Anderson, I., Baum, F. & Bentley, M. (eds) 2007, Beyond Bandaids: Exploring the Underlying Social Determinants of Aboriginal Health: Papers from the Social Determinants of Aboriginal Health Workshop, Adelaide, July 2004, Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health, Darwin.
  2. Dockery, A. M. 2010, Culture and Wellbeing: The case of Indigenous Australians. Social Indicators Research, vol. 99, pp. 315-322.
  3. Goodson, L. & Vassar, M. 2011, An Overview of Ethnography in Healthcare and Medical Education Research. Journal of Educational Evaluation for Health Professions, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 1-5.
  4. Hunter, J., Langdon, S., Caesar, D., Rhodes, S. D. & Estés, C. P. 2011, Voices of African American Health: Stories of health and healing. Arts and Health, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 84-93.
  5. Kielmann, K. 2012, The Ethnographic Lens. In: Gilson, L. (ed.) Health Policy and Systems Research: A Methodology Reader, World Health Organization: Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, Geneva, pp.235-238.
  6. White, S. C. & Blackmore, C. (eds) 2015, Cultures of Wellbeing: Method, Place, Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, London.
  7. Biddle, N. & Swee, H. 2012, The Relationship between Wellbeing and Indigenous Land, Language and Culture in Australia. Australian Geographer, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 215-232.