New AHCWA Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program for regional Aboriginal Western Australians

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia will deliver a new $17.6 million pilot program to enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people in regional Western Australia.

Led by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations in their communities, the regional Social and Emotional Wellbeing Model of Service Program will increase access to holistic mental and healthcare services for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid-West, Goldfields and South-West.

AHCWA Chair Vicki O’Donnell said the pilot would work to improve quality of life for Aboriginal people through culturally secure prevention and community development, psychosocial support, targeted interventions and coordinated care by multidisciplinary teams.

“Aboriginal people have a holistic conceptualisation of health,” Ms O’Donnell said. “Community, family, culture, spirituality, language, country, emotions and the physical are all understood as integral to wellbeing.

“Social and emotional wellbeing is influenced not just by physical health, but by mental health, and the social determinants of health; such as education, housing, employment and economic engagement,” she said.

“The Social and Emotional Wellbeing framework identifies that for Aboriginal people, prevention of mental illness, access to support, treatment and recovery are all enhanced when a person’s needs and aspirations are considered holistically, and interventions are culturally safe.”

The three-year pilot program also works to increase the Aboriginal workforce, with three of the seven roles to be created within each service 50D identified.

“This is a strength and resilience model with a focus on culturally secure support, and will ensure there are both male and female staff members in each service,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“It’s by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people.”

Mental Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the program complemented the State Government’s work in progressing towards the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which aims to reduce deaths by suicide and enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people across Australia.

“The Social and Emotional Wellbeing Model of Service pilot program will be delivered by Aboriginal organisations that know their communities and the importance of providing culturally secure and holistic healthcare,” she said.

The Mental Health Commission will work with AHCWA to support the governance and evaluation of the State Government-funded pilot.

It will be delivered at Bega Garnbirringu Health Service in Kalgoorlie; Derby Aboriginal Health Service in Derby; Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in South Hedland; Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service in Geraldton; and South West Aboriginal Medical Service in Bunbury.

For interviews or additional information please call Kim Kirkman on 0406782710 or email [email protected]