Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB)
(Images taken from the Social and Emotional Well being National Conference, Glenelg, June 2012)
The term social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) has particular meaning to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples view health and wellbeing holistically, as described in the National Aboriginal Health Strategy in 1989, where health is:
‘Not just the physical well-being of the individual but the social, emotional and cultural well-being of the whole community. This is a whole-of-life view and it also includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life’.
For Stolen Generations, positive experience of family, community, culture, language, ancestry, and country in turn, helps to significantly enhance positive mental health.
However for many, the trauma of having been separated from their families and communities can manifest itself as a lack of a sense of self, belonging and identity - and such trauma can lead to damaging side-effects including depression and anxiety, and profound feelings of rejection.
The ongoing social, emotional and psychological wounds experienced by many of the Stolen Generations and the inter-generational effects upon their children, parents, siblings, Aunties and Uncles, and communities, has created an enormous need for healing.
The NSDC recognises that it is important to take a holistic approach to the wellbeing of the Stolen Generations, their families and communities and understands that culture, language and connection to land are at the core of SEWB.
The NSDC believes that the need for improved SEWB services is so great that a significant increase in availability of resources and funding from the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) is required. The Commonwealth currently funds approximately 120 SEWB counsellors nationally and although their priority clients are Stolen Generations members, they are broadly expected to service the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations as a whole.
We also argue that practitioners in this area need to be highly trained; Stolen Generations often present with complex needs, and they deserve the best care and support available.
Due in part to the absence of sufficient cultural competency training, mainstream mental health providers currently have too little to offer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the area of SEWB.
The NSDC urges more funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander SEWB services and a concerted effort to ensure that mainstream services are capable of responding to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in general, and the needs of the Stolen Generations in particular.
The NSDC's perspective is that there is also an overwhelming need for research in order to identify best practice in SEWB programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The NSDC is representing the Stolen Generations in the following fora that lead on policy and program development with regard to SEWB.
The Department of Health and Ageing's (DoHA) SEWB Program was established in 2011. It consolidates existing counselling, family tracing and reunion support into a flexible package of service delivery supplemented by national coordination and support.
The objective of the program is to enhance existing service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, prioritising members of the Stolen Generations, through more flexible models of service delivery and increased capacity to meet demand for services.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Advisory Group (ATSIMHAG) offers advice to the Department of Health and Ageing on strategic and practical ways to improve the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.