Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing

Dudgeon, P., Derry, K. L., Platell, M., Milroy, H., & Gee, G. (2022). Social and Emotional Wellbeing and Healing from Trauma. In W. Edmondson & W. Williams (Eds.) Health Professionals and Indigenous Health. Oxford University Press.


To understand the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia, it is necessary to contextualise the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities (hereafter respectfully referred to as Aboriginal peoples). This context includes the protective function of cultural wellbeing, which has been integral to Aboriginal peoples for over 60,000 years, as well as the historical and contemporary effects of colonisation. The complex, historical and ongoing trauma of colonisation differs from the experiences of trauma as typically conceptualised by conventional psychology, and demands different solutions. Acknowledging and healing unresolved trauma is necessary to improve the health, social, and economic challenges experienced by Aboriginal peoples today. The social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) model describes a culturally responsive, trauma-informed approach to health and healing that has been widely endorsed by Aboriginal peoples and communities. This framework has been incorporated into numerous government frameworks and is recognised as best practice to strengthen wellbeing and healing in Aboriginal peoples. This chapter describes theoretical frameworks of trauma and SEWB that are guided by a de-colonising and strengths-based Aboriginal standpoint and centre Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing.

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