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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

Family wellbeing program



The Family wellbeing program focuses on the empowerment and personal development of Indigenous people through people sharing their stories, discussing relationships, and identifying goals for the future. Workshops are held with both adults and children to highlight the various health and social issues experienced by Indigenous communities and the steps that can be implemented to deal with these issues.

Initially started in 1998 in South Australia by a group from the Stolen generations, the Apunipima Cape York Health Council in Far North Queensland has modified the program to meet the specific needs of the local communities of Hopevale and Wujal Wujal. An evaluation by the University of Queensland and James Cook University has established the efficacy of the program. During 2007 the program was incorporated into primary school curriculums.

Apunipima Cape York Health Council abstract


Apunipima Cape York Health Council
Ph: (07) 4051 7450

Theresa Gibson
Apunipima Cape York Health Council

Kaylene Jackson
Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service

Brenda Hall
University of Queensland

Komla Tsey
James Cook University

Related publications

Tsey K, Whiteside M, Daly S, Deemal A, Gibson T, Cadet-James Y, Wilson A, Santhanam R, Haswell-Elkins MR (2005)

Adapting the 'family wellbeing' empowerment program to the needs of remote Indigenous school children.

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health; 29(2): 112-116

Tsey K, Whiteside M, Haswell-Elkins M, Bainbridge R, Cadet-James Y, Wilson A (2010)

Empowerment and Indigenous Australian health: a synthesis of findings from Family Wellbeing formative research.

Health & Social Care in the Community; 18(2): 169-179

Tsey K, Wilson A, Haswell-Elkins M, Whiteside M, McCalman J, Cadet-James Y, Wenitong M (2007)

Empowerment-based research methods: a 10-year approach to enhancing Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing.

Australasian Psychiatry; 15(Supplement): s34-s38

Travers H, Gibson T, Tsey K, Bambie J, McIvor R (2004)

Just for Bama: an evaluation of the family well being personal and community engagement tool in a Cape York community.

Brisbane: The University of Queensland

Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (2007)

Success stories in Indigenous health: a showcase of successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health projects.

Sydney: Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation

Mayo K, Tsey K (2009)

The research dance: university and community research collaborations at Yarrabah, North Queensland, Australia.

Health & Social Care in the Community; 17(2): 133-140

McEwan A, Tsey K (2009)

The role of spirituality in social and emotional wellbeing initiatives: the family wellbeing program at Yarrabah.

Darwin: Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health

McCalman JR (2013)

The transfer and implementation of an Aboriginal Australian wellbeing program: a grounded theory study.

Implementation Science; 8: 129

Retrieved 31 October 2013 from

Monson-Wilbraham L (2015)

Watering the garden of family wellbeing: empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to bloom and grow.

Melbourne: The Lowitja Institute

This report presents the recommendations and outcomes from the national roundtable Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the Family wellbeing program. The Family wellbeing program is an effective social and emotional wellbeing program originally developed and delivered by and for Aboriginal people. The objective of the program is to develop people's skills and capacity to move from a position of disempowerment to empowerment. It aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a way to control and change their lives.

Abstract adapted from author

Evaluated publications

Tsey K, Gibson T, Pearson L (2007)

Family well being final evaluation report 2006.

Cairns, QLD: Apunipima Cape York Health Council


Last updated: 31 August 2015
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