Looking Forward - Moving Forward: Transforming systems to improve mental health and drug and alcohol outcomes for Aboriginal peoples

  • Research program: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • Project status: Completed
  • Start date: January 2017
  • Expected end date: December 2022
  • Completion date: November 2022
  • Funded by: NHMRC Partnership Grant
  • Lead organisation: Curtin University

Despite the clear need for support, Aboriginal people do not access mental health and drug and alcohol services at a level that corresponds with their need. Community concerns have been raised regarding the adequacy of mainstream mental health services to respond appropriately to the needs of Aboriginal people. Through a process of co-design with Aboriginal Elders and service provision partners, this project will implement and evaluate the ‘Minditj Kaart-Moorditj Kaart’ Framework, a culturally secure systems change framework to alter the way in which these services work for and with Aboriginal people. The systems change framework is the result of extensive formative research into what is required for culturally responsive and accessible mental health and drug and alcohol service provision. The evaluation will measure the implementation of the framework and assess its impact on: a) the relationships between Aboriginal clients and their families, and mental health and drug and alcohol service providers, and b) health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people. This project represents direct translation of research into policy, practice and service delivery and continues established partnerships between researchers, Aboriginal Elders, six service providers, three peak bodies and the Western Australian Mental Health Commission. It will generate new evidence on ways to engage with Aboriginal people, a high-risk and marginalised group, and ensure the mental health and drug and alcohol sector responds in culturally competent ways to meet the needs of Aboriginal clients and their families.

Name & Contact Details Role Research Program Location
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Professor Steve Allsop
Tel: 61 (0)8 9266 1606
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Chief Investigator

Alcohol policy and strategies


  • Chief Investigator: Michael Wright, Curtin University
  • Chief Investigator: Alex Brown, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
  • Chief Investigator: Patricia Dudgeon, University of Western Australia
  • Chief Investigator: Timothy Marney, Mental Health Commission WA
  • Chief Investigator: Elizabeth Geelhoed, University of Western Australia
  • Chief Investigator: Ashleigh Lin, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Chief Investigator: Fiona Stanley, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Chief Investigator: Geoffrey Smith, WA Department of Health
  • Chief Investigator: Glenn Pearson, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Co-investigator: Brad Farrant, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Co-investigator: Danny Ford,
  • Co-investigator: Leanne Mirabella,
  • Project staff: Margaret O'Connell, Curtin University
  • Project staff: Helen Lette, Curtin University

Associate Professor Michael Wright
Associate Professor
Tel: 61 (0)8 9266 1637
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This project aligns with the following Sustainable Development Goals and Targets:

Wright, M., Getta, D., Green, O., Kickett, C., Kickett, H., McNamarra, I., McNamarra, A., Newman, M., Pell, C., Penny, M., Wilkes, P., Wilkes, S., Culbong, T., Taylor, K., Brown, A., Dudgeon, P., Pearson, G., Allsop, S., Lin, A., Smith, G., Farrant, B., Mirabella, L. and O'Connell, M. (2021). Co-designing health service evaluation tools that foreground First Nation worldviews for better mental health and wellbeing outcomes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18, (16). doi:10.3390/ijerph18168555 [RJ1769] View web page

Wright, M., Lin, A. and O'Connell, M. (2016). Humility, inquisitiveness, and openness: key attributes for meaningful engagement with Nyoongar people. Advances in Mental Health, 14, (2), pp. 82-95. doi:10.1080/18387357.2016.1173516 [RJ1228] View web page

Wright, M., O'Connell, M., Jones, T., Walley, R. and Roarty, L. (2015). Looking Forward Aboriginal Mental Health Project: Final Report. Telethon Kids Institute., Subiaco, Western Australia. [R350] Download PDF Abstract