This project explores the views, experiences and stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in relation to their cultural identities and implications to health and wellbeing. Underpinned by Indigenous Standpoint Theory, this study draws upon a participatory action approach to encourage young people to participate as co-researchers. This methodology is utilised to build the capacity of participants and position researchers to decisively engage with young people in order to foreground their experiences as young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The project is led by a team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early and mid-career researchers. Two senior researchers (one Indigenous, one non-Indigenous) will provide mentoring and capacity building to the research team. The research design encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and involvement at all phases, including in the appointment of a Senior Research Assistant, a PhD scholar, local research assistants and incorporating leadership opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people through the research design.
The project team expects to generate new knowledge, including a framework for designing programs that support the development of resilience and strong cultural identity within the school and community settings. The outcomes will provide important insights for the health and education fields to inform policy and practice in relation to the best interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, as articulated by them.
The study will consider what benefits result from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their communities when they identify and design programs to support and strengthen their cultural identity. It will generate knowledge where there is a significant gap. Its outcomes will be significant because the project:
- recognises and celebrates and the strengths and vitality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and community today
- includes employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research assistants foregrounding Indigenous research capacity and knowledges in local community settings
- will work in partnerships with schools and communities to support culturally safe spaces for young people to explore cultural identities and well being
- includes the production of a series of culturally affirming creative projects by Indigenous young people across diverse communities.
Update August 2017: progress is well advanced, with sites 1 and 2 completed, and sites 3 and 4 well underway.