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Longitudinal study of wellbeing and quality of life in remote Indigenous youth: The Bigiswun Kid Project


The *Bigiswun Kid project is the long-anticipated follow-up study to the internationally-recognised population-based study, the **Lililwan Project.
This project was requested by the Aboriginal community in Fitzroy Valley in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. This is a unique opportunity to work closely with community members and other dedicated partners of the project.
This research will be of interest to students with a background in psychology or neuropsychology.
The project forms part of a partnership within a national centre for research excellence.
Students will be linked to other students across Australia also working in the centre.
*Bigiswun Kid means ‘Big One Kid' or ‘Adolescent' in the Kimberley Kriol language.
**Lililwan means ‘All the little ones' in the Kimberley Kriol language.


Dr Tracey Tsang, Professor Elizabeth Elliott.

Research location

Westmead - Kids Research Institute

Program type



Approximately 560,000 Australian children and adolescents experience a mental health disorder, with poorer mental health in youth residing in non-metropolitan areas. Suicide rates in youth are at their highest rates in 10y, with a recent spate of suicides in Aboriginal youth in the Kimberley region inciting a current Inquiry.

At the request of Aboriginal community leaders in the Fitzroy Valley (FV), we have partnered with Marninwarntikura Women's Resource Centre (MWRC) and other key local Aboriginal organisations to determine the mental health, health, educational and other outcomes of a well-characterised, population-based cohort of adolescents who were involved in the Lililwan Project (2010-2013). The Lililwan Project, to determine prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Early Life Trauma (ELT), included 95% of all children in two complete age cohorts (born in 2002 and 2003) and living in 45 very remote communities in the FV. The cohort is well characterised.Community leaders are concerned that some of these children are failing academically, have dropped out of school, are misusing alcohol or drugs, have had injuries and accidents, or have come into contact with child protection or juvenile justice. Conversely, others are thriving. Community leaders are specifically interested in the mental health and wellbeing of this cohort during adolescence, their support needs and past and persisting service gaps. They want to identify predictors of positive and adverse outcomes.

At Aboriginal leaders' request we will conduct a cross-sectional study in adolescents aged 15-17, to determine outcomes prioritised by the community. Our study will identify adolescents in immediate need of treatment, support or further assessment and the service needs of this group, many of whom live in disadvantage and with chronic complex disorders. Our data will inform strategies to accelerate progress towards goals required to close the ‘gap'.

Proposed components of the research, which may form separate Masters/PhD projects (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Adolescent mental health, wellbeing, and quality of life (parent- and self-report)
  • Adolescent health, disability, and socioeconomic outcomes, and birth and childhood predictors of outcomes
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of the personalised management plans provided to participants in the Lililwan Project in 2010-2013, based on adolescent outcomes
  • Data linkage with state-wide databases to compare health, education, welfare, justice, and child protection outcomes between our cohort and other populations
  • Mental health service mapping in the region, and exploration of barriers and facilitators to accessing services/treatments recommended to our cohort through the Lililwan Project in 2010-2013

Additional information

This project is best suited for applicants who have an interest or experience in working with Indigenous communities and are able to travel to and from Fitzroy Crossing (WA) throughout their candidature, particularly for the components of the project involving interviews with participants. The frequency and duration of travel will depend on funding availability. It is expected that applicants will apply for scholarships if undertaking a PhD. PhD top-up funding support is a possibility.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2338