Resilience Project

The project was developed in response to increased suicide risk identified in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are compelled to relocate to boarding schools across Queensland because there is no or limited secondary schooling provision in their remote home communities. We are investigating the impact of a multicomponent resilience intervention to enhance boarding schools’ and transition support for Indigenous students and their levels of psychosocial resilience. We are testing the hypothesis that students’ resilience is not positively influenced by the multicomponent intervention. The five-year project was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council from December 2014.

The research is based on an integrated mixed methods approach; each component iteratively informing the other. The primary research methods are quantitative:

  1. assessment of the effectiveness of changing the levels of students’ resilience, educational outcomes and suicide risk, and
  2. calculation of costs of the intervention. Secondary methods are qualitative:
  3. a grounded theoretical model of the process of enhancing psychosocial resilience to protect against suicide for Indigenous students.

Additionally, there is a tertiary focus on capacity development: more experienced researchers in the team will provide research mentorship to less experienced researchers through regular meetings; while Indigenous team members provide cultural mentorship in research practices to non-Indigenous members.

Student Artwork - Strong and Deadly by Venus Watson

This etching artwork is designed by Miss Venus Watson, a Year 12 student with a hearing disability from Palm Island. This artwork represents the strengths that she had and that she believes students need to exist, live, survive, be engaged and be happy at boarding school, away from kin and country.

Black and white Aboriginal artwork by Venus Watson
Strong and Deadly by Venus Watson
Venus Watson
Venus Watson

"Hello, my name is Venus Watson. I am also known as Venus Lawrence as this is the surname registered on my Birth Certificate. I come from Palm Island.

My artwork titled Strong and Deadly is scratch art and expresses resilience or the strengths I draw on to be strong and deadly at boarding school.

The Rainbow Serpent is my guardian spirit and creator with great powers and he is wrapped around the Aboriginal Flag which represents my pride and identity as a young Aboriginal woman. The footprints represent my life journey and on this journey, I carry with me my culture represented by the artefacts – boomerangs, totems – goanna, the flower and water symbols, all represent the importance of land and sea to me which comforts me and gives me hope for the future. Finally the connections I have with others and most importantly my family.

- Venus."