The Role of Spirituality in Social and Emotional Wellbeing Initiatives: the family wellbeing program at Yarrabah

McEwan, Alexandra, and Tsey, Komla (2008) The Role of Spirituality in Social and Emotional Wellbeing Initiatives: the family wellbeing program at Yarrabah. Report. Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health, Casuarina, NT, Australia.

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Abstract

The concept of social and emotional wellbeing articulated within the national social and emotional wellbeing framework (Commonwealth of Australia 2004) is an important attempt to merge the population health paradigm and an Indigenous worldview in which spirituality is recognised as a key element of health. Although Indigenous Australian spirituality has been widely studied from the perspective of disciplines such as anthropology and religious studies, an approach to Indigenous spirituality within the context of Australian public health interventions is yet to be clearly defined. This lack of clarity leaves health workers and researchers in uncharted territory when working with Indigenous communities and raises questions related to how to evaluate social and emotional wellbeing programs. If health professionals are to meet the challenge that holism presents (NAHSWP 1989), it is imperative that we begin to seriously grapple with the role that spirituality plays within the concept of social and emotional wellbeing and the implications this has for program planning, implementation and evaluation. This paper presents the findings of the 2005 Family Wellbeing (FWB) program evaluation in Yarrabah, an Indigenous community in far north Queensland, with the aim of engaging with the concept of social and emotional wellbeing from the ‘bottom up’. It documents our attempt to approach social and emotional wellbeing program evaluation with the question of holism in mind. To this end, we established two objectives. The first was to explore the most appropriate framework in which to approach spirituality when evaluating social and emotional wellbeing program outcomes. The 2005 FWB findings are, therefore, discussed within the context of current debate regarding the role of religion and spirituality in health outcomes and the use of the term ‘spirituality’ in health research. As ‘holism’ is also a contested concept, it is considered in relation to its use in Indigenous Australian health discourse. Our second concern was how to render the results of social and emotional wellbeing health interventions intelligible within the population health framework. As a community suicide crisis in Yarrabah was the main catalyst for the FWB program, the project findings are discussed drawing upon what is known about protective factors for suicide.

Item ID: 11163
Item Type: Report (Report)
Keywords: empowerment; Indigenous; Aboriginal; family wellbeing; spiritual; health; social and emotional wellbeing; Yarrabah
Additional Information:

Discussion Paper Series: No. 7.

Related URLs:
ISBN: 978-0-7340-3992-7
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2010 03:36
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 @ 60%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health @ 20%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920413 Social Structure and Health @ 20%
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