The Building Bridges project (2017-2019) was based in the Perth Metropolitan area of Western Australia, on Wadjuk Nyoongar boodja (country). Wadjuk is one of fourteen clan groups that make up the Nyoongar Nation in Western Australia’s southwest.


We acknowledge the Wadjuk people as the traditional custodians of this land and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

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The aims and objectives for the Building Bridges project were to build the confidence, competence and capacity of mainstream youth mental health staff and services to provide more accessible, responsive and culturally secure mental health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their families. Improving access to, and engagement with, age- and culturally- appropriate mental health care is key to improving mental health outcomes for young people, their families and communities. 

“We’re building the bridges between young people and mental health services” 
- A
boriginal young person.

The Building Bridges project approach was centred on relationships. Stable and meaningful relationships are necessary for strong foundations to ensure sustainable, long-term partnerships between the local Nyoongar community and mainstream youth mental health services in Perth, Western Australia.

The project applied Indigenous and participatory action research methodologies, predicated on an Aboriginal worldview that allowed for different voices to be heard and for meaningful action to occur. The project created a safe space for local Nyoongar Elders, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and youth mental health service staff to work constructively together.

“The project is like the beginning, like setting the foundation for what Aboriginal communities’ value and how those values are translated into the mainstream for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. One of the main things has been relationships and what are the basic human connections that you can have is so vital and so important to us as people and especially to us as Aboriginal people and that is something that is lacking quite a bit in these services, so the project itself allows Elders, services and young people to sit in a space and flesh it out and there’s not enough spaces where that happens” - Aboriginal young person. 

Through the development of their own relationship, the Elders, young people and service staff gained a deeper understanding of how services and community can work together effectively and what systemic change is required for mainstream youth mental health services to be more culturally secure.


Check out the Final Recommendations, Project Video or Community Reports 

to learn more about the story of the project and our key findings.

The Building Bridges project was funded by the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation Healthway through research grant 31935. The project was approved by the Western Australian Aboriginal Health Ethics Community (762) and the Human Research Ethics Committee at Curtin University (HRE2017-0350).  The project team was based at Curtin University in the School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The knowledge in this work embodies traditional knowledge of the Nyoongar community. It was created with the consent of Elders of the Nyoongar community. All rights reserved. Dealing with any part of this knowledge for any purpose that has not been authorised by the Elders or their representative may breach customary laws and may breach the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) and amendments. Use and reference is allowed for the purposes of research or study provided that full and proper attribution is given to the author, knowledge holder and traditional custodian group. The traditional knowledge/traditional cultural expression rights and the Indigenous communal moral rights over such aspects always remain with the Nyoongar people. For enquiries about permitted use of this information contact Dr Michael Wright.

© Copyright 2020. Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

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