The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: Discussion Paper: The link between Indigenous culture and wellbeing

Dr. Simon Colquhoun|Dr Alfred Michael Dockery
The link between Indigenous culture and wellbeing: Qualitative evidence for Australian Aboriginal peoples’, a discussion paper prepared for The Centre for Labour Market Research and School of Economics and Finance Curtin University by Dr Simon Colquhoun and Dr Alfred Michael Dockery.


Evidence from both the international and Australian literature suggests that the wellbeing of Indigenous people is enhanced when they maintain their ‘traditional’ culture. This paper uses qualitative data made available from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children to explore this relationship in the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Specifically, responses to two open – ended questions “What is it about Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture that will help your child to grow up strong?” and “Apart from health and happiness, what do you want for your child?” are analysed using Leximancer, revealing a number of key themes from the responses. In relation to the first question, culture is the dominant theme, while the other themes to emerge appear to relate to cultural identity, cultural pride, understanding of culture and a sense of belonging. In relation to the question on what parents want for their children, seventeen themes emerged which we interpret as reflecting a balance of desires for success in mainstream society (including education and success) and in their ‘traditional ’ culture (being strong, to have a close relationship with their family, to be whoever their children want to be). The responses to these two questions highlight that Aboriginal parents place great importance upon education, but also upon their child maintaining and learning about aspects of their culture for identity development, upon the positive experience of the traditional culture and the significance of support from the community to which they belong. These are seen as preconditions to the achievement of success through education .

Read more: The link between Indigenous culture and wellbeing

Colquhoun, S. and Dockery, A. M. (2012), “The link between Indigenous culture and wellbeing: Qualitative evidence for Australian Aboriginal peoples”, CLMR Discussion Paper Series 2012/1, Centre for Labour Market Research, Curtin Business School, January.
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