Act-Belong-Commit is a world-first positive mental health promotion program that has been running state-wide in Western Australia since 2008. “Although Indigenous people have been involved in various campaign activities over the years, we have had many requests for a culturally relevant adaptation in Aboriginal communities”, said UWA Professor Rob Donovan, the campaign’s founder. The opportunity came in 2014 when Chevron Australia and Mentally Healthy WA announced a partnership to take Act-Belong-Commit into the Aboriginal community in Roebourne, and communities throughout the West Pilbara. The partnership between Chevron and Mentally Healthy WA aims to increase the proportion of Western Australians who engage in mentally healthy activities by expanding the reach of the Act-Belong-Commit campaign to select target communities.
Since 2014, a comprehensive consultation process has been conducted to guide the development of the program, culminating in the logo competition for the campaign. “Aboriginal people in Roebourne told us that good social and emotional wellbeing depends very much on interacting with family, involvement in community activities and connecting to country and culture” said Aboriginal Project Manager Lesley Murray. “That is why, when framed in a cultural context, the Act-Belong-Commit message resonates well with Aboriginal people in Roebourne” she said.
Ms Murray says the focus of the program over the next year or so will be helping existing groups organise activities and events which bring the community together, especially activities which celebrate culture and country. “By involving individuals, families and the whole community in activities that increase social and emotional wellbeing, we hope to build resilience and provide people with a greater sense of control over their lives”, said Ms Murray. “Jasminda’s drawing, which depicts the Roebourne communities standing together proud and strong, reflects the underlying strengths and capacities of Aboriginal communities in Roebourne which we hope to harness and strengthen”, she said.
“We hope that the lessons learned here in Roebourne can help Aboriginal communities in the West Pilbara and around Australia develop positive social and emotional wellbeing campaigns that build on their communities’ strengths. Communities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, where people stand together proud and strong, can better deal with their problems and improve their quality of life” said Ms Laws, Act-Belong-Commit state program manager
Act-Belong-Commit is an initiative led by a team based at Curtin University. The campaign is supported by over 150 community partners in Western Australia, and has expanded to other parts of Australia and internationally. It’s a world-first comprehensive approach to building population mental health. Results show the program encourages individuals to proactively do things for their mental health, such as keeping active, maintaining friendships, participating in community activities, setting goals, learning new skills, contributing to causes, volunteering and helping others, all of which are known to increase resilience and prevent the onset or severity of mental health problems. People also see the program as reducing stigma associated with mental illness and making people more open to mental health issues.
Jasminda Stevens with the final design.