Community Driven Change

Protective Behaviours Community Way

Aunty Marie Cox

Marie CoxBiography: Marie Cox is an Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander woman form Broome in the Kimberly’s. Her husband is a Bardi Nimunburr man from the Dampier Peninsular they have four children and six grandchildren. Marie has been a long term staff of the Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Services Council Inc for 20 years. She did the Health Worker course with KAMSC IN 1990 and was employed at the Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Services and the Beagle Bay Clinic as a Health Worker.

In 1993 Marie was employed at KAMSC working in the area of Health Promotions developing appropriate resources for her people. During her time she was a part of H.E.A.T works using innovative ideas using theatre as a medium for health promotions. The Good Feeling—Drugs and Alcohol, No Prejudice –HIV Aids play and Desert Acrobats encompassing circus and acrobats for self-esteem. Moving Stories was Therapeutic Theatre for Counselling using playback theatre and Cultural Action working with community in the East and West Kimberly’s. After 10 years plus moving to the regional Centre for Social Emotional Wellbeing, working in the cold face among her people with child sexual abuse ,suicide ,domestic violence counselling and supporting clients that came to the centre.

In 2002 Marie contributed to the development of the KAMSC Protective Behaviours Community Way Package with the Peninsular Woman Group and KAMSC staff.

She is now working in the Work Support Training unit at KAMSC SEWB Unit. Marie has qualifications in the Diploma of Counselling and Aboriginal Health worker. She is a Master trainer, who delivers Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid and Protective Behaviours training to community and agencies throughout the Kimberley and Pilbara regions.


Absrtract: 11 years ago an Aboriginal girl came face to face with her abuser in her community. The retraumatisation the young girl experienced motivated a group of Aboriginal community Women to come up with a way to teach young people how to protect themselves from violence. The program also looks at addressing domestic violence in the community. The program is called ‘Protective Behaviours Community Way’ and is a living skills and personal safety program. It can be used in a non-threatening way of looking at specific areas such as child sexual abuse and domestic violence.

The safety package is developed to be used as an educational program to be used by families, teachers, health workers and community groups when interacting with children.

  • The Protective Behaviours Community Way Package aims to:
  • Teach our children to be strong and feel safe in their homes and community.
  • Tell them that they can talk about good and bad secrets.
  • There are people who they can trust and will listen and support them.
  • Concepts and ideas had been inspired by KAMSC Regional Centre for Social and Emotional Wellbeing staff and members of the Peninsular Women’s Group.

This program is an Aboriginal initiated, developed, facilitated and owned program. In 2013 the Protective Behaviours Community Way celebrated its 10th Anniversary.

A Culturally-Safe Communication Assessment for Urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Tara Lewis

 Tara LewisPresenter Biographies: Tara Lewis is a Jiman woman from the Taroom country of Western Queensland. She grew up in Brisbane and graduated with a Bachelor of Speech Pathology in 2002. Tara has a passion for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and has been working in that area for 11 years. Tara currently works with the ‘Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’ in Brisbane where she is the clinical lead in speech pathology, provides clinical Speech Pathology Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and provides supervision to students on prac placements. Tara is also a guest lecturer at the University of Queensland and James Cook University. She also runs a private practice called ‘All About Speech’ and provides accessible and affordable services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through Medicare bulk billing.

Catherine Castan graduated with Bachelor of Speech Pathology with Honours from the University of Queensland. She is currently working with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health where she provides Speech Pathology Services to children and their families at the Yulu-Burri-Ba Mums and Bubs clinic, Capalaba and at the Aboriginal and Islander Independent Community School in Brisbane. Catherine has a passion for working with children and has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children for over ten years.

Abstract – Speech Pathologists often use standardised speech pathology assessments to assess the communication abilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. These assessments are rarely norm-referenced for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and do not consider cultural difference nor home language. Whilst speech pathologists are aware that these assessments seldom provide accurate and reliable results, they are still utilised as there are no culturally safe speech pathology assessments to guide their practice. In doing this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are often misdiagnosed with speech language impairment rather than having a language difference.

The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health has developed a communication assessment for lower primary school Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. This assessment focuses on social communication, speech, language and literacy skills to support Speech Pathologists in the accurate interpretation of the child’s abilities. This assessment has been trialled at an urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary school and at local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services in Brisbane. This presentation will discuss the content of the communication assessment, the results of the trial and how this assessment is considered best practice for the assessment and diagnosis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children’s language skills.

Yarning as a health research method

Chontel Gibson

Chontel GibsonPresenter Biography:     Chontel is a proud Kamilaroi woman and was the first Aboriginal person to graduate with an occupational therapy degree in Australia. Since graduating Chontel has worked in many different roles and positions in the public health sector, across several Australian states and territories, mainly in rural and remote areas. Areas of practice and policy work include Aboriginal health, paediatrics, generalist community adults, palliative care, chronic care, dementia and mental health. Chontel has completed a Masters in Public Health and is currently completing a PhD in Aboriginal health and wellbeing.

Abstract – Older Aboriginal people and Elders hold a significant place and space in Aboriginal communities and cultures. One of the many roles of older Aboriginal people and Elders is to pass on cultural, social and historical information to family and communities. Yarning is a formal mechanism that many Aboriginal peoples, including older Aboriginal people and Elders use to pass on this invaluable information. Yarning as a storytelling and communication tool has been used and will continue to be used in many Aboriginal communities.

Yarning creates a space and place to share information in a culturally appropriate and safe manner. It is and continues to be both fluid and flexible in nature, adapting to both the context and participants of the knowledge exchange. Yarning allows opportunities for all voices to come into that particular space and place. It facilitates an exchange of knowledge, the expression of different perspectives or many truths and the development of strategies for issues that may arise. This space and place nurtures and develops the relationship and connectedness of all yarning participants.

The use of yarning as a formal research method in the research sector is beginning to be recognised, particularly in the field of education. Yarning reflects important aspects of the Indigenous research paradigm, by creating a space and place for the diversity of Aboriginal knowledge and knowledge systems; allowing for a culturally appropriate way of doing research, and facilitating respectful and fluid relationships and roles during the research process. There are growing opportunities in the health field to explore and use yarning as an effective and culturally appropriate research method.

Some benefits for using yarning as a research method in health research are that it permits the voices of Aboriginal peoples to become the authority of their own knowledge, as well as sets the parameters for its use.  This authority and ownership is of particular importance for older Aboriginal peoples and Elders. Yarning allows for a holistic perspective, incorporating the past, present and future and representing the many experiences and truths that belong to this. This is consistent with Aboriginal peoples’ holistic perspectives on health and wellbeing, allowing past, present and future aspects of health and wellbeing that belong to each person and/or community to be explored. The relationships that are formed in yarning allow the participants, including the researcher take on a number of diverse and fluid roles, such as informer, leader, teacher, speaker, student, listener, and observer. This type of relationship is culturally safe, and supports the connections and trust that is required to respond to the loss, trauma and grief that may arise when discussing health and wellbeing.

This presentation will illustrate how yarning as a research method will be used in a health and wellbeing research project with older Aboriginal people and Elders to capture and reflect their voices. The presentation will show how yarning directs the research process and methodology, creates culturally safe places for the expression of concerns and world views, as well as share experiences and perspectives that will reflect Aboriginal peoples’ knowledge and ways of doing in health and wellbeing. The presentation will also reflect that relationships form and change over the research process, nurturing and maintaining respectful and culturally appropriate relationships with older Aboriginal people and Elders. Elements of this yarning approach can be applied to health service provision and therefore this presentation is applicable to allied health professionals.


Author Details: Chontel Gibson, Indigenous Academic Fellow, School of Community Health, Charles Sturt University Prof. Michael Curtin, Course Co-ordinator – Occupational Therapy. School of Community Health, Charles Sturt University Prof. Pat Dudgeon. School of Indigenous Studies, The University of Western Australia

Preparing Students to be Culturally Responsive

Nicole Turner

Nicole TurnerBiography: Nicole Turner is a Kamilaroi women and one of very few Aboriginal Nutritionist in Australia. Nicole obtained a Bachelor of Applied Science in Community Nutrition early last year and is also a Board Director at Durri Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service, Kempsey NSW. Nicole sits on a large number of state and national committees, chiefly those on Indigenous Chronic Disease and Nutrition. She currently works as an Indigenous Health Academic for Newcastle University, and is involved in a large number of research projects.  She has 4 children aged 8 to 19 years and a 4 month old grandson who keep her fit and active. Nicole is very passionate about Aboriginal health and believes prevention is the answer to a lot of our health problems


Abstract: In regional, rural and remote communities there is a higher population of Aboriginal people than in the city areas. Therefore, there is a greater chance that those students on rural placements will be involved in the health care of Aboriginal people.

In Australia today not many universities deliver any Indigenous cultural awareness training/education to their students unless the students choose it as an elective subject. This is a major issue, especially in a cultural safety context.

The role of Indigenous Health Academic with University of Newcastle, Department of Rural Health, is to deliver cultural awareness workshops to all students on rural placement in the Taree area. This includes medicine, nursing, dietetics, physiotherapy, podiatry, occupational therapy and pharmacy students.

The aim of the Indigenous cultural training is to increase students awareness of the history, social structure, protocols, customs and social determinants that influence the way that health care is delivered to Indigenous populations. This presentation will provide information about the 3 tiers within the program, describing its strengths and challenges.