This episode is part one of a four-part series developed in partnership with and led by the University of Western Australia’s Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing research program (TIMHWB) and the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP). In this series, you will have the opportunity to hear and learn from inspirational Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts and their allies in the field of social and emotional wellbeing and mental health. You will also explore key concepts and frameworks, and learn how you might apply this knowledge in your own practice to better support the social and emotional wellbeing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.
In this episode, Zaccariah Cox and Dr Emma Carlin, practitioners at Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) and contributors to TIMHWB, explore the intricate landscape of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing. Against the backdrop of Broome, they unravel the historical, political and cultural determinants shaping mental health in these communities.
Zac shares his journey as Senior Social and Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Manager at KAMS, rooted in the Dampier Peninsula. Emma, a non-Indigenous woman with over seven years at KAMS, bridges research and practical outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health.
They define social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) as holistic, encompassing individual, familial and community dimensions tied to the environment, culture and ancestral connections. Historical determinants like colonisation and policies such as the Stolen Generation cast enduring shadows, manifesting challenges in areas like housing and education.
Emma highlights practical applications like perinatal screening, showcasing the transformative potential of the SEWB framework in healthcare. She and Zac emphasise resilience in cultural practices and language, countering challenges with innovative solutions.
Zac and Emma also discuss relationships, strengths-based approaches and challenging deficit discourses. Zac urges practitioners to step back, ask questions and engage with local Aboriginal staff for effective Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health engagement.
This conversation highlights the transformative potential of authentic partnerships and cultural humility and the strength embedded in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
In this episode, you will learn:
- to identify key components of the SEWB framework, including its holistic nature and historical, political and cultural determinants [18:27]
- how the SEWB framework positively influenced screening rates for perinatal depression and anxiety, along with patient engagement [19:44]
- how to apply the SEWB framework in healthcare settings [21:03]
- to recognise the significance of relationship-building, strengths-based approaches, and integration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership into healthcare services [21:40]
- ways to emphasise cultural safety and understand the protective factors within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in your work [23:36]
Further information and resources:
You can learn more about social and emotional wellbeing service delivery by visiting Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services’ website or checking out the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing research project. You can also download a free PDF copy of KAMS’ Social and Emotional Wellbeing Welcome Guide for the Aboriginal Workforce.
We also recommend exploring the following Emerging Minds resources: