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Understanding stress and staying strong in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and human services workforce

This project will draw on contemporary views and experiences of the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and human services workforce to shed light on the nature of their working lives. The project will be guided by an Aboriginal Governance Panel and an Indigenous-led team of researchers. The overall aim is to determine best practice measurement of stress and staying strong in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce in order to generate a tailored instrument for use in future longitudinal studies. A qualitative study will explore the individual and collective attributes that promote staying strong in the presence of challenging working conditions. A systematic review will be undertaken to critically analyse all instruments that have been applied in studies of health and human services workforce populations. We will then engage experts in the field to consider the findings and share their views using roundtable discussions and Delphi methods. The developed instrument to assess stress and staying strong will be piloted and refined with input from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and human services workforce.

The project will be implemented with rigor and respectful ethical practice and employ multi-sector and multidisciplinary consultative engagement. It will be overseen by a team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous research personnel in a collaborative intersectoral approach led by the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) in partnership with the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit at the University of South Australia and South Australian Health Medical Research Institute.

Leadership and daily coordination for this project will come from an Aboriginal man, Robert Dann, who is the Workforce Development Officer at AHCSA and who has strong local, state and national linkages to community-controlled health and other workforce organisations. Robert is a Yamatji man from the mid-west and Gascoyne region of Western Australia. As an emerging researcher Robert brings a wealth of knowledge in community engagement and consultation and will develop research capacity through this project. An Indigenous-led investigator team and Aboriginal Governance Panel will guide the project and ensure it achieves maximum benefit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This work will deliver a comprehensive picture of the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce across sectors and jurisdictions. This will inform the design of an instrument to be used in future studies that can then enable the development of programs and strategies to better support and promote the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce at community, workplace and individual levels. Other benefits include the capacity building research opportunity for the Project Coordinator along with project partners. With a particular focus on staying strong, the project endorses a strength-based approach.

A final report will include recommendations for future workforce studies and be delivered in March 2019. 

Created: 23 February 2018 - Updated: 05 July 2018