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‘Our Way On Country ’ - Aboriginal Bush Adventures for Therapy

Tue, 30/08/2016

PIR funded a bush adventure therapy program that was delivered in Tasmania to strengthen Aboriginal men’s health and wellbeing and to support recovery in areas of physical, mental, social and cultural wellbeing.

The project included experiences ‘on country’, which strengthened men’s health and wellbeing and promoted healing and recovery in areas of physical, mental, social and cultural wellbeing.

The ‘Our Way On Country’ Men’s program was considered an ideal opportunity to explore new ways of working with, and providing services for Tasmanian Aboriginal men and their families. From the outset, collaborators shared an attitude of openness and flexibility to learn what works, what doesn’t work, and what will help to sustain the strengthening of Aboriginal men, with men and community leading the process.

The program included seven single day bush adventure therapy events, two 3-day camps, and seven 3hr evening sessions. In addition, to build capacity within the community to design and deliver more bush adventure therapy programs in the future, two Aboriginal men were supported to complete graduate level practitioner training in bush adventure therapy.

In addition to strengthening men’s health and wellbeing and supporting the physical, mental, social and cultural recovery of men, an integral aim of this program was to investigate what services and supports would help to keep Aboriginal men strong. To achieve this aim, the men were asked questions at the outset and during the program about their mental health needs and the needs of the community, including what opportunities are currently available to them, which supports they are taking up, what the barriers to seeking help are, and what additional services or supports would benefit their mental health needs and keep them mentally strong into the future.

Men said, in relation to mental health, they needed access to effective and culturally appropriate health and wellbeing services and activities, a capacity for self determination, transport to these services, individual and group options, a culture amongst the men that it is OK to attend these services and it is OK ask for these options to be available, opportunities for mentors to develop, for these men to mentor others that need greater levels of support, and a safe space created by the men that included no alcohol and other drugs, respect for all and no politics.

For mental health services to be relevant and useful, men said the services needed programs dealing with anger, relationships and emotions, trust, family, health and wellbeing, supports (including transport and good workers), consistent contacts and appointments, encouragement, communication and healthy relationships, removal of barriers in accessing mental health services.