Exploring the contribution of Indigenous Cultural Practices for Health and Wellbeing in Indigenous young people

This project is developing an Elder-led model of health care that includes reclamation of Indigenous cultural practices, guided by Indigenous artists, to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Photograph of trees

This innovative Indigenous Cultural Practices project is led by significant Victorian Traditional Custodians of the land and waterways throughout Country, in the region now known as Victoria. The project seeks to explore the role of a variety of Indigenous cultural practices for ongoing health and wellbeing for Indigenous young people and their families. Grounded theory and creative research will be used to evaluate the significance and impact of Elder-governed Indigenous cultural practices. The relationship between health and ‘place’ is a major theme of the study.

The project is funded by the Million Minds $5 m Program Grant led by Professor Sandra Eades: Bringing family, community, culture and country to the centre of healthcare: culturally appropriate models for improving mental health and wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander young people, ID 1179461.

The project is Indigenous conceived and Indigenous led.

Board of Elders/Senior People:

  • Aunty Di Kerr (Wurundjeri)
  • Sue-Anne Hunter (Wurundjeri, Ngurai Illum Wurrung)
  • Aunty Rochelle Patten (Yorta Yorta, Wemba Wemba)
  • Uncle Herb Patten (Gunnaikurnai)
  • Rene Kulitja (NPY Womens Council)
  • Pantjiti Lewis (NPY Womens Council)

We recognise the important contribution made by former members of the Board of Elders/Senior People:

  • Uncle Robbie Bundle (Retired)
  • Aunty Esther Kirby OAM (Passed)

Project Leaders:

  • Al Vance (CIC)
  • Janet McGaw (CIH)

Project Staff:

  • Naomi Tootell, Senior Research Officer
  • Jo Winther, Clinical Psychologist/cultural therapist

Project Advisory Group:

  • Al Vance (CIC)
  • Janet McGaw (CIH)
  • Sharon Mongta (RCH)
  • Jo Winther (RCH)
  • Storm Henry
  • Jemarli Atkinson
  • Rakeisha Mongta

Project details

Major Sponsor

Medical Research Future Fund, Million Minds Round, 2019.

Associated research centres

Wadja Aboriginal Family Place, Royal Childrens Hospital
Academic Child Psychiatry Unit, Royal Childrens Hospital

Research partners

Professor Sandra Eades, Curtin University (CIA)
Professor Lena Sanci, University of Melbourne (CIB)
Associate Professor Al Vance, University of Melbourne (CIC)
Professor Shaun Ewan, University of Melbourne (CID)
Professor Emily Banks, Australian National University (CIE)
Professor Jane Pirkis, University of Melbourne (CIF)
Associate Professor Daniel McAullay, University of Western Australia (CIG)
Associate Professor Janet McGaw, University of Melbourne (CIH)
Professor George Patton, University of Melbourne (CIJ)
Professor Cathrine Mihalopoulos, Deakin University (CIK)
Professor Joe Gone, Harvard University (AI)
Professor Janet Smylie, University of Toronto (AI)

Project team

Associate Professor Al Vance, University of Melbourne (CIC)
Associate Professor Janet McGaw, University of Melbourne (CIH)
Professor Sandra Eades, University of Melbourne (CIA)

Key contact

Associate Professor Al Vance, University of Melbourne (CIC)
Email: avance@unimelb.edu.au
Ph +61 3 9345  4666 (RCH)

Associate Professor Janet McGaw, University of Melbourne (CIH)
Email: mcgawjk@unimelb.edu.au
ph : +61 3 8344 3038 (ABP)