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Strengthening the JCU/UQ Empowerment Research Program

Strategic support for strengthening the JCU/UQ Empowerment Research Program Project summary

This research project aimed to:

a) undertake a metasynthesis of qualitative research findings across the 10-year Empowerment Research Program (ERP);

b) convene a workshop of informed specialists and stakeholders to evaluate progress and advice for the next steps of the development of a tool to measure empowerment and social and emotional wellbeing: and

c) produce a monograph/book that consolidates the rationale, learning and outcomes of the collaborative empowerment research.

Based on qualitative research findings, researchers hypothesise that adequately resourced Indigenous Men’s and Women’s Support Groups are cost-beneficial strategies (i.e. the benefits outweigh the costs) for promoting Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB), with savings achieved mainly through reduced welfare and criminal justice costs and higher earnings. Future research aims to demonstrate this empirically.

A workshop of specialist stakeholders reviewed the Social and Emotional Wellbeing and Empowerment tool in April 2009, after which relevant adjustments were made to the tool. A peer review paper validating the tool was considered by the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. A synthesis of seven discrete Family Wellbeing (FWB) micro evaluative studies were published in Health and Social Care in the Community, while a meta-ethnography of five Indigenous Men’s Support Group action research papers was accepted by the Australian Journal of Primary Health. A proposal for a book synthesising key learnings from the ERP was developed.

A metasynthesis of research across two Indigenous men’s support groups between 2001 and 2008 demonstrated a range of SEWB outcomes for individual men, their families and communities (McCalman et al, in press). Coming from contexts of entrenched disadvantage, participation in support groups gave men involved hope and confidence that change was possible. They made changes through personal development, including:

The daily functioning of Indigenous Men’s Groups relied heavily on a few committed leaders but the size of their impact was significant: a total of 145 men participated in regular meetings and activities while an additional 928 men were supported mainly through the criminal justice system across the two groups over a one-year period. The key empowerment processes that men’s groups utilised towards improved social and emotional wellbeing of their members were:

A synthesis of FWB formative research findings across four study settings (148 adult and 70 school children participants) between 1998 and 2005 (Tsey et al 2009) revealed:

The research indicated that:

Related resources:
Project leader

Melissa Haswell & Komla Tsey



Administering institution:

University of Queensland & James Cook University