Locating empowerment in the context of Indigenous Australia

Whiteside, Mary, Tsey, Komla, and Earles, Wendy (2011) Locating empowerment in the context of Indigenous Australia. Australian Social Work, 64 (1). pp. 113-129.

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Empowerment provides a potentially useful framework for social work practice with Indigenous Australians. However, there is little systematic research on what empowerment actually means in this context. This study sought to examine the concept of empowerment for Indigenous Australians through a grounded theory analysis of the stories of people who experienced empowerment, having participated in the Indigenous developed Family Wellbeing empowerment program. The emergent theoretical model delineates central interconnected and mutually reinforcing elements that enabled people to effect life changes, even where many aspects of their social context remained constraints. The elements involve particular beliefs and attitudes, and skills and knowledge manifested in agency and leading to achievements. All of the elements correspond with theoretical literature pertaining to empowerment. However, the proposed emergent theory places a greater emphasis on attributes associated with a belief in God, strong personal values, and having the skills to help others. These attributes resonate with Indigenous concepts of culture and spirituality. The findings provide a valuable conceptual model for social workers engaging with Indigenous groups, communities, and organisations, whether through policy, planning, research, or practice.

Item ID: 15623
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1447-0748
Keywords: Indigenous research; empowerment; social work theory
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2011 01:27
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) > 920410 Mental Health @ 30%
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