Journal article

Beyond deficit: 'strengths-based approaches' in Indigenous health research

Joanne Bryant, Reuben Bolt, Jessica R Botfield, Kacey Martin, Michael Doyle, Dean Murphy, Simon Graham, Christy E Newman, Stephen Bell, Carla Treloar, Annette J Browne, Peter Aggleton



Health research concerning Indigenous peoples has been strongly characterised by deficit discourse-a 'mode of thinking' that is overly focused on risk behaviours and problems. Strengths-based approaches offer a different perspective by promoting a set of values that recognise the capacities and capabilities of Indigenous peoples. In this article, we seek to understand the conceptual basis of strengths-based approaches as currently presented in health research. We propose that three main approaches exist: 'resilience' approaches concerned with the personal skills of individuals; 'social-ecological' approaches, which focus on the individual, community and structural aspects of a person's envir..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

This article has been written as part of the Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP170100190 `Fostering the sexual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people by building on social, cultural and personal strengths and resources'. The project is a partnership between UNSW, Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, South Western Sydney Local Health District and Family Planning NSW, together with investigators from the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, University of British Columbia and Charles Darwin University. The project investigators include Joanne Bryant, Reuben Bolt, Michael Doyle, Dean Murphy, Carla Treloar, Stephen Bell, Simon Graham, Christy Newman, Annette Browne, Peter Aggleton, Jessica Botfield, Ben Davis, Bronwyn Leece, Linda Stanbury, Karen Beetson, Voula Kougelos and Megan Brooks. We are grateful for the excellent contributions of Kim Beadman, Mitchell Beadman, Jessica Wilms, Tamika Briggs and Kristy Gardner. The Centre for Social Research in Health receives support from UNSW Arts, Design and Architecture, the Australian Department of Health and other external funders. Simon Graham's and Michael Doyle's salary is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council fellowships.