Professor Michael Chandler visits Australia!

24th Aug 12

In August this year, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation and University of Western Australia invited and helped host Professor Michael Chandler as he spent the month in Australia, conducting a speaker tour on the importance of engaging and empowering Indigenous communities to develop their own approaches to social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention.

Professor Chandler has carried out extensive research with Aboriginal nations in Canada into what makes them resilient. Professor Chandler visited the Kimberley region, where he launched the Hear Our Voices Research Report.

He also spoke at public events in Perth and in Canberra, with the aim of opening a conversation with government and policy makers, researchers, students and community organisations and services.

It was argued that for a community to have access to their own culture, they must first be able to have a sense of ownership over their traditional ways of being and living.

Without a sense of cultural continuity – of a sense of connection to one’s past and ancestors, and a commitment to the future of your own culture – a community is automatically disadvantaged and at risk of low social and emotional wellbeing.

Professor Chandler presented his argument for how a strengths based intervention strategy could be applied to ensuring cultural continuity in a community.

He argued that six theory driven measures are required to achieve cultural continuity, and greater social and emotional wellbeing: 

- Self governance; 
- Land rights/claims; 
- Education; 
- Health Services 
- Police/Fire Services
- Cultural facilities 

He also added that three further measures would also contribute toward the achievement of greater social and emotional wellbeing in a community: 

- Women in government 
- Child protection services 
- Knowledge of Indigenous Languages

Professor Chandler’s contribution to these discussions was highly appreciated and valued, especially concerning the opportunity his appearance presented to compare the challenges faced in Australia with those faced in Canada. 


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