Australian and New Zealand journal of public health 2017 07 16() doi 10.1111/1753-6405.12681
To describe Aboriginal community members’ perspectives on the outcomes and origins of resilience among Aboriginal children.
Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 36 Aboriginal adults (15 health service professionals, 8 youth workers and 13 community members) at two urban and one regional Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in New South Wales. Interviews were transcribed and analysed thematically.
We identified six themes: withstanding risk (displaying normative development, possessing inner fortitude); adapting to adversity (necessary endurance, masking inner vulnerabilities); positive social influences (secure family environments, role modelling healthy behaviours and relationships); instilling cultural identity (investing in Aboriginal knowledge, building a strong cultural self-concept); community safeguards (offering strategic sustainable services, holistic support, shared responsibility, providing enriching opportunities); and personal empowerment (awareness of positive pathways, developing self-respect, fostering positive decision making).
Community members believed that resilient Aboriginal children possessed knowledge and self-belief that encouraged positive decision making despite challenging circumstances. A strong sense of cultural identity and safe, stable and supportive family environments were thought to promote resilient behaviours. Implications for public health: Many Aboriginal children continue to face significant adversity. More sustainable, Aboriginal-led programs are needed to augment positive family dynamics, identify at-risk children and provide safeguards during periods of familial adversity.