The project

This project is funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Program (LP170100190) with partner contributions from South West Sydney Local Health District (Aboriginal Health, Youth Health, HARP), Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (Aboriginal Health, Health Promotion), and Family Planning NSW.

This project focuses on the positive actions Aboriginal young people take to reduce their sexual risk and build sexual wellbeing, and describes the social, cultural and personal strengths and resources that they draw on to do so. The project seeks to change the narrative about Aboriginal young people’s sexual health, from one focused on deficit and problems, to one focused on strengths and resourcefulness.

Conceptual approach and method

This research project has two primary objectives:

  • First, to explore Aboriginal young people’s sexual decision-making and the strengths and resources they use to build sexual wellbeing across the different settings and relationships in their lives.
  • Second, with existing sexual health promotion programs, to explore what such programs do well, and the factors and preconditions that support positive outcomes.

The project uses an innovative peer-led methodology in which a small group of Aboriginal young people are recruited and trained to conduct interviews with others Aboriginal young people in their networks. They take part in four days of research training with the UNSW research team and, following this, they conduct a series of research interviews with their peers. Additionally, we are collecting researcher-led interviews with parents, adults and Elders. Throughout, we use the ‘third person’ interviewing technique, enabling us to document shared or community views rather than individual experiences. A second component to the study involves an interpretive evaluation of two ‘strengths-based’ sexual health programs currently running in NSW.

The project is based in two communities in western Sydney, an area that houses the largest number of Aboriginal people in all of Australia.

Timeline and knowledge translation

The project runs from October 2018 to October 2021. Approximately 50 interviews (peer and researcher-led) were conducted in 2019 and 2020 with Aboriginal young people, and an additional 17 interviews with parents, adults and Elders.

Publications, webinars and other outputs will be listed on this page as they become available.

Partnership approach

The project uses strategies that forefront partnership, research skill building, and cultural safety and control. The project was developed in collaboration with our partner organisations and with the advice of the AH&MRC of NSW. It has an Aboriginal Advisory Committee to provide advice on safety, respect and inclusion of Aboriginal people and community, and to review all data collection tools and research outputs. There are opportunities for research skill building in all phases of the research, including employing Aboriginal young people as peer interviewers. In addition, the project has funding to support a higher degree research position for an Aboriginal scholar.

Partners:

  • South West Sydney Local Health District (Aboriginal Health, Youth Health, HARP)
  • Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (Aboriginal Health, Health Promotion)
  • Family Planning NSW
  • Charles Darwin University
  • Kirby Institute UNSW
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of British Columbia
  • Martin K, Gardner K, Bryant J, Bolt R, Doyle M, Murphy D, Graham S, Beadman M (2020). ‘What we do well’: Strength-based research about Aboriginal young people’s sexual well-being in Western Sydney. HIV Australia. AFAO.

  • Australian Research Council Linkage Program (LP170100190) with partner contributions from South West Sydney Local Health District (Aboriginal Health, Youth Health, HARP), Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (Aboriginal Health, Health Promotion), and Family Planning NSW.

    • Steve Bell, Senior Research Fellow, ATSI Health Program, The Kirby Institute, UNSW
    • Simon Graham, NHMRC Early Career Fellow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University of Melbourne
    • Michael Doyle, Research Fellow, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney
    • Annette Browne, Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of British Columbia
    • Linda Stanbury, Health Promotion Manager, Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District
    • Bronwyn Leece, Senior Health Promotion Officer, Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District
    • Jessica Wilms, Aboriginal Health Education Officer, Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District
    • Voula Kougelos, Manager Youth Health Services, South West Sydney Local Health District
    • Karen Beetson, Deputy Director Aboriginal Health, South West Sydney Local Health District
    • Megan Brooks, Manager, HIV and Related Programs, South West Sydney Local Health District
    • Ben Davis, Senior Health Promotion Officer, Family Planning NSW
    • Jessica Botfield, Senior Research Officer, Family Planning NSW