TheMHS 2015 S037: Keynote Address by Pat Dudgeon

By August 27, 2015 No Comments

There were three components to the presentation. These are summarised below:

  1. Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health

There is a substantial gap between indigenous and non-indegenous mental health outcomes.

There are for example, twice the number of hospitalisations for indigenous than non-indegenous people, and twice the suicide rate in young people.

Why is there a gap?

Higher levels of stressors including racism and discrimination

Service gaps- less access and institutional racism

Untreated mental health problems that become instances of hospitalisation and suicide

Negative cycle of additional stressors


Accept cultural differences and work in partnership

Psychologists don’t typically have enough cultural and historical awareness of indigenous people. The Indigenous concept of health is holistic, encompassing physical, cultural, spiritual and mental health. Land is central to wellbeing. Cultural differences need to be recognised in mental health services for Indigenous people.

2. National Empowerment Project

Designing cultural, emotional and social wellbeing programs

Based on interviews at 11 local communities across Australia, it was found that there was a need for:

–          Indigenous leadership in the programs

–          Culturally appropriate programs

–          Indigenous people to be involved in design of programs

3. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH)-  launch of Gayaa Dhumi (Proud Spirit) Declaration

Indigenous leadership is key to healing and better mental health outcomes

Declaration launched with words from John Feneley, Lesley Van Schoubroeck, David Butt

John Feneley – the declaration will help guide mental health reform.

Lesley Van Schoubroeck – the declaration will make a difference, it’s not just another bit of paper.

David Butt – the declaration will give direction and empowerment at local, state and national level.

 Call for Action: please support the declaration.