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Health literacy among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in the Northern Territory

Health literacy and gender are increasingly seen as critical social determinants of health impacting on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are repeatedly mentioned in health-related policies and strategies at state, territory and national levels. Yet very little is known about how these concepts shape the identities and life aspirations of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.

The aim of this study is to understand the interplay between health literacy, gender and cultural identity among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males living in the Northern Territory.

 Objectives include:

  1. To understand how young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males conceptualise health literacy in their day-to-day lives
  2. To identify the intersections between health literacy, masculinities and cultural identity among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and how these can shape positive life aspirations
  3. To identify strategies for strengthening health, sport and recreation, education, justice, employment and community service programs and policies that support young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to fulfil their life aspirations
  4. To test the cultural relevance and applicability of validated health literacy tools for use among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.

 The project is led by senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander investigators, including

  • Mr Jason Bonson (NT Department of Health);
  • Professor Barry Judd (Charles Darwin University)

Expert Indigenous Leadership Group includes:

  • Dr Mick Adams (Edith Cowan University) - Chair
  • Mr David Aanundsen (Fred Hollows Foundation)
  • Mr Steven Torres-Carne (Healing Foundation)
  • Associate Professor Rob Innes (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)
  • Mr Pita Shelford (Waikato University, NZ)

This is primarily a qualitative study. It will involve working collaboratively with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males from the Northern Territory aged 14–25 years in partnership with local organisations delivering programs to this cohort. It will use surveys, yarning sessions and photo-voice methods to address the aim and objectives listed above.

In terms of capacity building within this project, non-Indigenous Chief Investigators (Professor James Smith [Menzies School of Health Research], Professor Murray Drummond and Professor Richard Osborne) are committed to building research skills and technical expertise among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the research team, particularly in relation to health literacy measurement, and contemporary gender and masculinities research.

Mr Jason Bonson and Mr David Aanundsen will receive research mentorship support from Professor Smith throughout the project, as outlined in relevant organisational MOUs.

This research will result in a deeper understanding of the interplay between health literacy, masculinities and cultural identity among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males living in the Northern Territory. Strategies for strengthening programs and policies targeting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in health, sport and recreation, education, justice, employment and community services contexts will be identified. 

Principal partnerships

Created: 27 April 2018 - Updated: 03 October 2018