04 – Keynote 4 – Valuing Indigenous peoples and their health and wellbeing in early childcare services

Presentation - ECV2022-Keynote 4

Valuing Indigenous peoples and their health and wellbeing in early childcare services

Chontel Gibson, Australia

Biography: Dr Chontel Gibson is a Kamilaroi woman from north western New South Wales, Australia. Chontel graduated as an occupational therapist in 2000, a Master of Public Health in 2010, and a Doctorate of Philosophy relating to Aboriginal health and wellbeing in 2018. Chontel has worked as an occupational therapist, policy officer and academic, and has held many leadership roles, including Board Director of Occupational Therapy Australia and the inaugural Deputy Chairperson for Indigenous Allied Health Australia. Chontel co-developed and continues co-chairing the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Occupational Therapy Network, which provides strategic advice on occupational therapy. Chontel is currently managing the Good for Kids. Good for Life team that supports early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in the Hunter New England region to implement health promoting practices in-line with Munch & Move. Munch & Move is a NSW Health initiative that supports the healthy development of children aged birth to 5 years by promoting physical activity, healthy eating, and reduced small screen time.

Background: Globally, Indigenous people are leaders and advocates for their own health and wellbeing. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations, like health and early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, lead important work that honours cultural ways of knowing, being, and doing in health promotion. Furthermore, community members are often at the forefront of developing knowledge and practices that inform these services.

Method: Gibson et al.’s (2020) strengths-based model was developed with Aboriginal elders living in a rural community on Wiradjuri country in Australia. The model offers an approach for ECEC to support the health and wellbeing of communities, including children attending these services. In this presentation, the model’s six key dimensions are used to illustrate how services and Indigenous people can work collaboratively to value local Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing in health promotion activities.

Results: The dimensions include listening respectfully to Indigenous people; using appropriate communication; building genuine relationships; critically reflecting on political, historical, and social contexts – both locally and nationally; applying a human-rights based approach; and finally, evaluating the processes and outcomes.

Conclusion: The key dimensions represent a new way of considering a strength-based approach for ECEC when working with Indigenous people in relation to health promotion.

Implications for children: This presentation will illustrate how Indigenous children are not only learners, but they are also knowledge bearers, sharers and co-creators of Indigenous knowledge and practices, which supports health and wellbeing. 

Implications for families: This presentation will illustrate how Indigenous families, communities, and organisations can and in many instances already facilitate self-determination processes, which is a fundamental basis for implementing human-rights.

Implications for practitioners: This presentation will illustrate a strengths-based model to facilitate practitioners’ ability to develop partnerships with local Indigenous communities and organisations to deliver culturally appropriate health promotion activities.

Implications for society: This presentation will promote non-Indigenous peoples’ awareness, empathy and connections with Indigenous peoples, countries and cultures to develop more just and equitable societies.

Keywords: Indigenous voices, professionals’ voices, communication, cross-cultural, research partnerships, education, health, regional/rural communities

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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