More Than Talk

Researchers:  Dr Sandra Thompson, Charmaine Green, Dr Juli Coffin, Dr Judy Katzenellenbogen, Christina Tsou, Emma Haynes, Professor Sarah Prout, Dawn Bessarab, Lisa Wood and Dr Kaniz Gausia


In 2010, the City of Geraldton-Greenough embarked on a community visioning process known as the ‘2029 Sustainable Future City community consultation’. The consultation exercise revealed that Aboriginal people consistently supported the creation and implementation of initiatives targeting racism, access to Aboriginal-friendly life-course education, improvement of social service responsiveness, an increase of opportunities for Aboriginal employment/mentoring, as well as, the visible representation of Aboriginal leadership and culture. This wish-list synergised with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) ‘Closing the Gap’ building blocks, aimed at closing the health and life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation.

 MAOA (a coalition of Midwest Aboriginal organisations, signifying: Midwest Aboriginal Organisations Alliance) elected to progress the findings of this community consultation exercise to improve opportunities for local Aboriginal populations.

Subsequently, MAOA partnered with WACRH to help address the identified pressing areas of concern for local Aboriginal people.  It is within the context of this larger project that ‘More Than Talk’ focuses on the key elements that contribute to a successful Aboriginal-mainstream partnership.

The Need

Despite evidence defining attributes of successful partnership models, few studies identify characteristics of successful Aboriginal-mainstream partnerships.

The need for more intensive research of partnerships and their yields for communities is also characterised by ever-changing political and policy-development landscape.  Health promotion - according to the World Health Organization Ottawa Charter of 1986 - is “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health”.  This definition goes beyond the health sector and includes lifestyle, societal and personal resources.  It is therefore critical to assess the powers at play and their relationships to improve on core services delivered through the social determinants of health.

Project Layout

‘More Than Talk’ aims to evaluate the impact of the Aboriginal-mainstream partnership through a participatory and transformative action research (PAR/TAR) framework. This evaluation will take place thanks to project staff working in close collaboration with MAOA on at least two MAOA identified priority areas that are known to profoundly impact on health outcomes.  ‘More Than Talk’ will help translate key findings about Aboriginal-mainstream partnership approaches which intend to influence policy and practice areas that aim to address the Aboriginal social determinants of health.

‘More Than Talk’ will closely follow the progress of MAOA identified priorities for research and action.

The research includes a series of literature reviews using integrative methods for informing the partnership in action.  The project will also outline longitudinal descriptive case studies using multiple data collection strategies (both qualitative and quantitative) and intervention points to feed improvements back in partnerships at work. A number of organisations such as the City of Greater Geraldton have partnered with WACRH to help bring this project to fruition.

  • Documentation of a robust “lighthouse” model for Aboriginal-mainstream partnerships, supported by evidence of translation into practice.
  • A positive influence of partnership outcomes on local planning and action for social inclusion
  • Demonstrated quantitative and qualitative outcome measures, translated into policy and practice at a local level, replicable elsewhere.
  • Increased community capacity building, learning and development opportunities for Aboriginal and mainstream organisations and students.
  • Demonstrated change over time in Aboriginal participants’ sense of community in terms of community participation, psychological empowerment, mental health and depression.


Funding for this project was provided by Healthway as a 5-year Research into Practice grant.




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