Strategies for building resilience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children face several adversities due to downstream impact of European colonisation (Young et al., 2017).   These adversities heighten the risk of unfavourable health and social implications, which result in long-term mental and physical health inequalities between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal individuals. Young et al. (2017) stated that strategies for reducing suicidal ideation and completion among Aboriginal youths was vital.  Additionally, Usher et al. (2021) explained that approaches for improving individual and community association with culture were necessary. Although several challenges exist, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are resilient and adapt easily amidst difficult circumstances.

Strategies for building resilience come in contextual and dynamic process forms. The main purpose of the strategies is causing positive adaptation in the event of significant adversity. Usher et al. (2021) argued that resilience manifests in the form of increase self-esteem, self-regulation potential, prosocial connections, and great physical health among children. Empowerment and cultural pride play key role in establishment of resilience.

Strategies include:

· Improving the understanding of processes contributing to resilience, and realising how to match these with sociocultural settings: Sound understanding of ways to improve performance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, for instance, helps to identify initiatives that encourage childhood resilience to minimise negative mental health impacts (Usher et al., 2021).

· Encouraging normal development: Resilient children can resist threats resulting from adversities so as to achieve social and educational milestones. Encouraging normal development relates to taking pride in personal appearance, expressing empathy, showing respect for self and others, forming and keeping prosocial friendships, attending school regularly, and valuing education (Young et al., 2017).

· Exposing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to positive role models: Children should learn positive behaviour and build positive relationship after such exposures. Presence of positive role models in the lives of children helps them to discover to make favourable adjustments to the lives despite the presence of challenges. Individuals with greatest impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and the ones that should act as role models, are caregivers and older siblings (Young et al., 2017). Therefore, the morals, values, and ethics of these groups of people should influence the children to develop attitudes and behaviour that show resilience.

· Creating secure family environments: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children should grow up in homes that are safe, provide the necessary support, and are stable. Resilience requires that parents conduct consistent parenting processes, be strict but fair on discipline, define boundaries clearly, monitor the whereabouts of the children, and find out whether the children think of home environment as safe or not (Usher et al., 2021: Young et al., 2017). In this strategy, issues such as domestic violence, financial challenges, and lack of caregiver engagement in the children’s lives should be eliminated.

· Promoting cultural identity: Usher et al. (2021) explained that resilience strategies should improve personal and community-wide connection to culture. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children should know their heritage and cultural activities to become resilient. For instance, Young et al. (2017) argued that indigenous children can develop resilience due to awareness of European colonial history, its impact, and the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to withstand adversities. Connecting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to cultural aspects is also vital in fostering the sense of belonging and pride in ancestry. These could strengthen the children when adversity occurs. Promotion of culture necessitates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children stay with their families, within their communities, and in their country of origin. This builds resilience against negative stereotyping and discrimination. Cultivation of strong cultural perceptions in children is interrupted when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people start living in places that are dominated by White culture.

· Availing strategic and sustainable services: Children from families with less consistent parental support greatly benefit from community programs. According to Young et al. (2017), examples of the services in this strategy include camps where cultural knowledge is taught, access to recreational activities, availability of mentors at school, centres for homework help, and existence of resilient-based establishments where children that feel unsafe in their homes may go.

Western notions of social justice

Economic and Social Affairs (2006) explained that social justice only emerged after industrial revolution and the societal organisation views by socialist. Social justice originated from the political culture of the Anglo-Saxon. Due to its later development, concepts of social justice are not included in the International Covenants on Human Rights. It is, however, found in Copenhagen Declaration and Program of Action, which World Summit for Social Development adopted in 1995. Since the fall of State communism, proponents of social justice push for total income equality. Majority of social justice supporters conduct economic activities for survival, overall societal welfare, personal growth, and keep inequality within acceptable limits.  


In the contemporary world, Levin (2020) reported that those who pursue social justice oppose income inequality because they believe it is unjust. They state that attainment of poverty reduction and related improvements gets the world nearer to social justice. Therefore, the large gaps in areas of public benefits as well as wealth and income distribution show that the world is morally unfair, lacks economic soundness, and misses out on political wisdom. Internationally, injustices have resulted in great inequalities between rich and poor nations. Social justice proponents are also aware of many challenges that prevent the attainment of what equality in income distribution.  

According to the concept of social justice, the deepening poverty levels within and across countries is considered a violation of human rights.  The current international standards agree with this argument. Even then, dramatic improvements in equality have been witnessed. People have broken free from totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. Liberalism promotes economic and social justice (Economic and Social Affairs, 2006). Again, humans are continually treated as members of a common global family, there is greater equality between men and women, and equality of rights for indigenous and persons with disability is on the rise. Migrant workers and refugees are the only groups that have not achieved significant equality of rights. Proponents of social justice also show concern over the growing unemployment rates. Their major concern is whether or not societies grant adequate opportunities to participate in productive activities of choice.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander epistemologies and worldviews

The Indigenous people are the earliest settlers of Australia. Their views of the world, tensions, celebrations, and beliefs differ from those of non-indigenous Australians (Martin & Mirraboopa, 2003). According to Hutchison (2013), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children grow up in Eurocentric Christian societies. Still, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the right to preserve their social and cultural beliefs. They should know their roots and creation. Through their spiritual perspectives, these indigenous people associate themselves with natural things. Similar to indigenous people in various parts of the globe, Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders have experienced some form of westernisation.

They, however, continue to link themselves with land and their identity is created based on how they relate with land and the people around them (Hutchison, 2013). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people see new seasons as opportunities to gain new knowledge, usually more complex. Knowledge is vital for both production and socio-economic development, hence societies must seek opportunities for knowledge creation (Martin & Mirraboopa, 2003). The indigenous Australians also have ritualised ceremonial activities that they follow to instil sufficient respect for indigenous cultures in their children.

The cross-curriculum of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people illustrates the view of the world as organism. The notion of world as organism represents a world view that pushes for recognition of the fact that living things need healthy ecosystems, social justice, and appreciation for diversity to attain sustainability (Hutchison, 2013).  The indigenous people consider themselves rich, strong, and diverse.

Curriculum has to prioritise the indigenous people’s identity and link it to study of their living and learning to enable in-depth understanding of their traditions and overall view of the world. One of the world views in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cross-curriculum is perception that education for sustainability should lead to development of skills, values, knowledge and world views that help people to emulate practices related to increasingly sustainable living patterns. In other words, education should equip individuals and communities capacity to interpret and engage with the world.

World views result from experiences that happen to a person, in a locality, within a nation, or globally and have some connection with personal or collective sustainability. Although the view of the world as organism is prioritised, the notions of world a mosaic of patterns and forms, a mechanism, and an arena are integrated into it. The less prominent world views include the world as animism, mysticism, and text.

According to Hutchison (2013), Geography is the school subject that teaches children the how humans depend on the environment. Through it, students combine their understanding of biophysical procedures with analyses of demographic, political, social, economic, and attitudinal effects on the use and management of the environment. Geography helps students to understand influence of worldviews on these relationships.