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Health promotion benefits of art centres in Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands

PhD thesis by Maree Meredith – Flinders University


There are approximately 3000 people on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands with 460 people (15%) engaged in art activities in seven art centres. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these centres contribute to community health and wellbeing of artists and the community. This study uses a mixed method approach to examine the health promoting capacity of art centres and identify key features of best practice models using the social determinants of health framework.

The research methods include participant observation, and interviews with Aboriginal and non-Indigenous stakeholders, a survey designed in collaboration with artists and art centre workers, and case studies of two centres identified as health promoting. This research has the potential to extend the scholarship towards a deeper understanding of Aboriginal methodologies and theories.


Maree’s interest in health was triggered when working as a cadet with the Northern Territory Health Department in women’s health policy and as an intern with Danila Dilba Health Services in Darwin. After completing an Anthropology Honours degree at the Charles Darwin University she was accepted into the AusAID graduate program and worked on the Australian Non-Government Cooperation Program, Papua New Guinea Health and HIV/AIDS desks. Returning to the NT, she worked with the Central Land Council (CLC) for five years. During this time Maree worked with Anangu on a number of projects mainly in the field of tourism development.

Maree graduated with a Master in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development at the Australian National University. Her study continues and is in the final stages of completing her PhD research with Anangu and art centre managers on the APY Lands. For the last three years, Maree has lived in the APY Lands collecting the data for her thesis. 

Maree's research acknowledges the support from the Lowitja Institute and other industry partners who have supported her research and community engagement. These include Flinders University, Australian Research Council, Ananguku Arts and Culture Aboriginal Corporation, Poche Centre for Health and Wellbeing (Alice Springs), Office for the Arts (OFTA) Centre for Remote Health (Alice Springs), The Palya Fund and The Whyatt Benevolent Fund. 

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Created: 30 June 2015 - Updated: 20 September 2018