Mayi Kuwayu: The National longitudinal study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing
- To examine how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture relates to health and wellbeing, including connection to Country, cultural practices, ritual, spirituality and language-use.
- To create national level data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural factors (e.g. language use, connection to country) and their relationship to health and wellbeing.
- The creation of an Aboriginal-controlled collaborative research resource, available for approved projects in strict accordance with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ethical community standards and values.
This study is the first of its kind, providing a large-scale national cohort study about the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults to provide the first community-derived measures of culture, and the first quantitative evidence regarding Indigenous cultural expressions and contexts.
It enables the first large-scale investigation of the relationship between culture and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults to identify opportunities to incorporate culture in programs and policy to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing.
Project leader: Professor Ray Lovett
- The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (ACHWA)
- The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA)
- Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT)
- The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO)
- The Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation (TAC)
- Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service (ACT)
- Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC)
- National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)
- Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
- Healing Foundation
Administering organisation: the Australian National University
Project timeline: 04/07/2016—31/12/2018
- This project received 11 ethics approvals, from national Human Research Ethics Committees, and State and Territory committees, including relevant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and a government department.
- In its development phase, this project consisted of 24 focus groups, involving 165 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Early versions of the survey were pilot tested with 160 and 209 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants in two ‘proof-of-concept’ studies.
- The Mayi Kuwayu study research protocol paper was completed and published.
- Following a pilot mailout involving 20,000 surveys, another 180,000 surveys were distributed nationally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with follow-up surveys to be conducted every 3–5 years.
The research activity in this project achieved a large-scale national cohort study about the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, and provided the first community-derived measures of culture, and the first quantitative evidence regarding Indigenous cultural expressions and contexts at the national level.
Pilot test 1
- Around two-thirds of participants were local mob, with a similar number living in the region most of their lives.
- 83% of participants stated that caring for Country was important to them.
- Current rates of caring for Country activities are moderate to low (≈20%).
- Participants who engage in caring for Country on average reported better physical health, lower psychological distress, and higher life satisfaction.
Pilot test 2
- Ranger participation was associated with very high life satisfaction and high family wellbeing.
- Associations remained after accounting for individual’s education, income, employment, health risk factors and health conditions.
- Ranger participation was not significantly correlated with very good general health or psychological wellbeing.
Analysis of response rates to preliminary mail out (preliminary)
- The overall response rate was 2.3% (n=446/20000), compared to the predicted 8-16%.
- The highest response rates were among males and females ≥50 years from major cities (6.2%, 3.6–7.0 and 5.8%, 3.7–6.7, respectively) and regional areas (5.8%, 4.0–6.8 and 5.8%, 3.9–6.5, respectively).
- Age groups and those in remote areas had lower response rates; all remote age groups <50 years had a response rate ≤0.9.
Validating the racism measures in the mail out (preliminary)
- The measures appear to be internally consistent, have construct validity, and had a relatively good response rate.
- The items seem to be capturing differences in experiences of discrimination/racism across contexts.
- An initial analysis found that more than half of participants said their family worried about having children Stolen while they were growing up.
- Almost half of participants in the sample indicated that they or a close family member had been Stolen, and many of these participants reported that the individuals were later reunited with family.
- The Mayi Kuwayu Study established an ethical, community-focused and Aboriginal-controlled resource that contributed to a holistic and robust understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, health and wellbeing.