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The National Empowerment Program is a universal strategy to promote social and emotional wellbeing and reduce community distress and suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, the project builds on an Australian Research Council Indigenous Discovery Grant, Cultural Continuity and Change: Indigenous Solutions to Mental Health Issues and the Kimberley Empowerment Project, which was a response to a rise in the suicide rate within that region.


The Project investigates culturally appropriate concepts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, examines how the community perceives these, and how they can be addressed, strengthened and transferred into meaningful community driven programs.

Through the development of a culturally appropriate and locally responsive empowerment, healing and leadership program, the National Empowerment Project aims to restore the social and emotional wellbeing of communities by enabling communities to regain their resilience and to provide an environment which supports the recovery and healing of community members.









Culture is an important factor to consider in policies and programs to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Moreover, the strengthening of Indigenous culture is a strategy to reduce disadvantage in itself, holding enormous potential for contributing to Closing the Gap outcomes. Keeping culture strong is a necessary part of the solution to Indigenous disadvantage in Australia and to providing a positive future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Any discussion about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and mental health needs to have at the core not only a recognition of the impacts of colonisation, but the proper engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

National Empowemrent Project

The NEP team and their Community Consultants

The National Empowerment Project is comprised of Three Phases:



National Empowerment Project

Bilya Marlee
School of Indigenous Studies
The University of Western Australia
M303, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley
Perth WA 6009


tel: 08 6488 6925


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The National Empowerment Project is supported by funding from the Australian Government

under the National Mental Health Program

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