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Measuring wellbeing for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders

28 October 2022
What Matters 2Adults is uncovering new insights
To discover what is most important to First Nations People, Associate Professor Michelle Dickson undertook research with 364 people across 20 Australian study sites.
Michelle Dickson

Associate Professor Michelle Dickson, Sydney School of Public Health

Associate Professor Michelle Dickson, from the School of Public Health, wanted to explore effective measures of wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through a series of indigenous-led 'yarning' sessions. 

Dickson and her colleagues found that to be robust and sustainable, measures need to be culturally relevant. Only then can clinicians and policy makers be accurately informed as to what works and doesn’t work​. And so ultimately improve wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ​Peoples.

Existing instruments are not informed by the values and preferences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people, and so do not capture the dimensions of wellbeing that are relevant and important to them.

To discover what is important, Dickson and her colleagues undertook research across 20 study sites with 364 people across Australia. These ‘yarning’ sessions were indigenous-led and facilitated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interviewers.

Their ‘yet to be published’ wellbeing measure includes a rich fabric of what matters to First Nations communities across family, community, and culture.

Over the last six years the team has gathered the information and woven it into a nationally relevant psychometric instrument that can be delivered online. It will measure multiple items across several dimensions.

This ‘What Matters 2Adults’ (WM2Adults) measure differs to other instruments as it is grounded in the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults. It is preference and values-based, and easy to use. Currently it is being piloted in NSW in several NSW Local Health Districts.

Further development is underway in collaboration with various partners to identify similar measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 12-17 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under 12 years of age. Dickson and her colleagues anticipate developing further similar research tools in other health settings.

Watch this space for more information on these exciting developments.