Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing

Responding to COVID-19 and Beyond: Key Recommendations for the Effective Public and Mental Health Response to Support the Well-Being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Australia

Dudgeon P., Alexi J., Derry K., Carlin E., McPhee R. (2022) Responding to COVID-19 and Beyond: Key Recommendations for the Effective Public and Mental Health Response to Support the Well-Being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Australia. In: Gonçalves M..C..S., Gutwald R., Kleibl T., Lutz R., Noyoo N., Twikirize J. (eds), The Coronavirus Crisis and Challenges to Social Development. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-84678-7_23

ABSTRACT

The Australian response to COVID-19 demonstrates how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, partnership, and self-determination are critical in ensuring public health measures and pandemic response planning is effective for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This chapter outlines the key evidence-based recommendations and actions developed by three national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led groups, in meaningful partnership with government, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander response to COVID-19, led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities, has been renowned across the world. This highlights the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governance and leadership in leading the pandemic response for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and further illustrates the strengths of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander response to COVID-19 when priority reforms are heard and implemented by government.

Throughout this chapter, mental health and well-being responses related to COVID-19 are particularly emphasised. Mental health experts predict that the mental health and well-being issues exacerbated by the pandemic will persist for many years (Savage, Coronavirus: The possible long-term mental health impacts, 2020). The mental health and well-being impacts of COVID-19 are of particular significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who experience significant well-being disparities associated with the historical, political, and social determinants of health, arising from colonisation (Dudgeon et al., Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice, 2014). Together, the recommendations outlined here provide an effective base to plan for the long-term recovery of mental health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from COVID-19 and ensure the preparedness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for future pandemics.