The role of empowerment in setting a foundation for social and emotional wellbeing

Tsey, Komla, Harvey, Desley, Gibson, Teresa, and Pearson, Liz (2009) The role of empowerment in setting a foundation for social and emotional wellbeing. Australian e-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health, 8 (1). pp. 1-10.

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Empowerment and community participation are major strategies, worldwide, for alleviating poverty and social exclusion, thereby reducing health disparities. In Australia, a lack of control, or mastery, has long been widely acknowledged as one aspect of a broader experience of powerlessness that needs to be addressed to reduce the current preventable Indigenous burden of disease and close the health disparity gap. Yet, it is hard to find empirical research examining the nature and attributes of empowerment and how to operationalise and evaluate these in the context of promoting Indigenous health. This paper synthesises the findings of a five-year Family Wellbeing empowerment study aimed at enhancing the capacity of Indigenous Australian people in Cape York, far north Queensland, to take greater control over the issues affecting their health and wellbeing. Documenting and analysing empowering strategies over time can help us to better understand the process of empowerment and ways in which change is generated at multiple levels. The study confirmed existing evidence that the process of empowerment is lengthy, taking years to achieve change beyond the individual level. It also highlighted the importance of initial engagement and personal capacity building, in socially and economically vulnerable communities where people experience relative powerlessness, as a critical foundation for improving the health of the broader community.

Item ID: 10830
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1446-7984
Keywords: Indigenous; empowerment; social and emotional wellbeing; remote; program evaluation; social change
Date Deposited: 06 May 2010 04:58
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Determinants of Health @ 70%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920413 Social Structure and Health @ 30%
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