Research projects

Improving the wellbeing of Melbourne-based Aboriginal people with chronic disease and experiencing depression, anxiety or a related mental health disorder: A Wurundjeri community-driven initiative

Principal researchers

Dr Barbara Murphy1
Dr Rosemary Higgins1
Ms Karmen Jobling1
Dr Phyllis Lau
Aunty Diane Kerr (Elder)3
Dr Marian Worcester1

Institution

1 Heart Research Centre
2 General Practice and Primary Health Care Academic Centre, University of Melbourne
3 Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council

Funding

$200,000

Award type

beyondblue Victorian Centre of Excellence

Project completion year

2013

Community title

Bundap Marram Durn-Durn  ‘Good – Mind – Body’   

Project Synopsis

This project was proposed as a partnership between the Wurundjeri Tribe Land Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Incorporated (TLCCHC), the Heart Research Centre (HRC) and The University of Melbourne’s General Practice and Primary Heart Care Academic Centre in October 2010. The overarching aim of the project was to identify and address the needs of Melbourne-based Aboriginal people with chronic illness and experiencing depression, anxiety or a related disorder. The project was proposed as a Wurundjeri community-driven initiative.  In November 2010, the project received funding from the beyondblue Victorian Centre of Excellence. The project officially commenced in December 2010. 

The project was headed by a Project Team comprising researchers and project workers from each of the three partner organisations. The project was overseen by a Project Steering Committee comprising key personnel from each of the three partner organisations. At one of the early meetings of the Steering Committee, the project was renamed Bundap Marram Durn-Durn, meaning “good” “mind” “body” in Woiwurrung language. A Project Reference Group, comprising representation from key stakeholders and community organisations, was established to provide input into the project.

The project was undertaken in two distinct phases. The first phase involved consultation with Aboriginal people with chronic illness and experiencing depression, anxiety or a related disorder (the client group), and with service providers who assisted the client group. The second phase involved the identification, implementation and evaluation of initiatives to address the identified needs of the client group. 

Phase 1 of the project identified many key needs of the client group, from both the service provider and client perspective. These needs highlight the depth and breadth of the loss, pain and trauma of Melbourne-based Aboriginal people. The full report expands on these themes with particular attention to the interplay between chronic disease and mental health, particularly anxiety and depression. 
Phase 2 of the project identified several ‘possible initiatives’ to address the needs of the client group. These initiatives were proposed by the Project team in consultation with both the Steering Committee and other key members of the Wurundjeri community. The full report outlines each of the possible initiatives and details the progress to date in the development and evaluation of each of these initiatives. 

The first order initiatives were proposed to address the over-arching needs of the community – the needs for connection, healing and information. The two key initiatives at this broad level are: 
i)   the development of a website for the Wurundjeri Community
ii)  the establishment of a Wellbeing Centre for the Wurundjeri Community

The second order initiatives were proposed to address the more specific needs of the community – namely the needs for story telling opportunities, building pride within the community, information about services, access to trusted medical care and navigation through the service system, and the need for the traditional Wurundjeri owners to welcome others onto their land.  The four key initiatives at this lower level are:
iii)  Case management support
iv)  Digital story-telling
v)   Community Services Card
vi)  Welcome to Country Pack

Each of the proposed initiatives is at a different stage in its development and implementation. Given the complexity of the needs of the community, the breadth of the proposed initiatives and the costs of implementation and evaluation, it will be some time before the initiatives are fully realised and evaluated. Development and implementation of the proposed initiatives is a significant undertaking which will inevitably continue well beyond the life of the current project. 

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