Making a difference: Engaging both hearts and minds in research practice


  • Michael Wright
  • Margaret Culbong
  • Tanya Jones
  • Margaret O'Connell
  • Danny Ford


This paper discusses the findings and the research process undertaken thus far for the Looking Forward Aboriginal Mental Health Project. The primary aim of the project is to engage with both the mental health service providers and the Aboriginal (Nyoongar) community living in the south-east metropolitan region of Perth to effect positive system change in terms of service provision for Aboriginal (Nyoongar) families living with mental health issues. The paper includes a background to the project and our interpretation of participatory action research in an Aboriginal (Nyoongar) context, an overview of the impact of colonisation on Nyoongar people, an account of what it means to be Nyoongar, a discussion of the methodology for the project, the research process highlighting the critical roles of advocacy and activism taken on by the project team in working with Aboriginal (Nyoongar) people, and examples of our work that we believe will assist researchers in ensuring their research practice is both respectful and responsive when working with Aboriginal (Nyoongar) people.