Bringing family, community, culture and country to the centre of health care: culturally appropriate models for improving mental health and wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people

Project Details

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people comprise 3.7% of all Australian young people, and over a quarter of the total Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Mental health issues constitute their greatest health burden, yet evidence regarding effective options for prevention and treatment is limited. Intervening to improve health and wellbeing trajectories is fundamental to shaping their own lives and those of their future off-spring. Integrated approaches across health, education and welfare sectors are critical to making a difference, with primary care being an optimal universally available entry point.
Using an approach that embeds connecting to culture and incorporating Indigenous knowledge in adolescent health care, we are partnering with two established Aboriginal Community Controlled Healthcare Services (ACCHS) to trial a new approach to the management of mental health and wellbeing problems. We will co-design, pilot and trial a model of engaging Aboriginal young people with primary care, detecting mental health and other needs, and ensuring that mental health and wellbeing needs are addressed. A Governance group of local young people, Elders and Aboriginal community leaders will ensure the research questions, design, and study processes are appropriate. Guided service navigation is an emerging area of health services research and this will be used to integrate care and coordinate access within and across sectors to address biopsychosocial determinants of health.


Professor Lena Sanci - Head of Department

Dr Marijana Lijovic - Research Fellow

Dr Phyllis Lau - Senior Lecturer

A/Prof Patty Chondros, Biostatistician in Primary Care

Professor Douglas Boyle, Professor, Clinical Data Analytics


Sandra Eades – Curtin University, WA
Alasdair Vance – Royal Children’s Hospital
Shaun Ewen - Poche Centre for Indigenous Health
Emily Banks - ANU
Jane Pirkis – Melbourne School of Population and Global Health UoM
Daniel McAullay - UWA
Janet McGaw - Architecture, Building and Planning
George Patton – Department of Paediatrics UoM
Cathy Mihalopoulpos – Deakin University
National Youth Mental Health Foundation (Headspace)
Computing & Information Systems UoM
University of Toronto
Harvard University
Social Work UoM
University of Sydney
Centre for Youth Mental Health (Orygen)

Research Group

Children and Young People’s Health

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

General Practice and Primary Care

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