`This was a great project!`: reflections on a `successful` mental health promotion project in a remote Indigenous school
Sheehan, Margaret, Ridge, Damien and Marshall, Bernard 2002, `This was a great project!`: reflections on a `successful` mental health promotion project in a remote Indigenous school, Health promotion journal of Australia, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 201-204.
Issue addressed: The complexities encountered in an Indigenous community when a white project support team assisted a school (Bwgcolman on Palm Island, Queensland) to implement MindMatters, a centralised, national project aiming to promote the psychosocial health of young Australians through the development of a comprehensive, school- based mental health promotion program. Approach: The MindMatters consortium offered pilot schools curriculum materials, professional development for staff, funding and ongoing support at a local level in return for their participation in the project. The support team flew to the island on two occasions to provide support. Conclusion: Whether or not MindMatters constituted a community project at Bwgcolman is debatable. Nevertheless, the project at Bwgcolman was considered a 'success' by key players since initial aims identified by the school were tangible (eg, professional development, curriculum development) and met in a way that the school could take ownership of. Additionally, behavioural management policy was implemented in a manner that was cognisant of a history of coercive relations with Indigenous communities. So what?: It is important in the telling of the success story at Bwgcolman that even though MindMatters endeavoured to be culturally sensitive, it was nevertheless a centralist mental health promotion program. Future mental health promotion initiatives need to be aware that the approach of the support team in attempting to hand back some community control at the local level may have played a role in the school succeeding.