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National empowerment project

The National Empowerment Project is an innovative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led pilot project working directly with communities to address their cultural, social and emotional wellbeing.

The National Empowerment Project aims to strengthen cultural, social and emotional wellbeing among Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders through community ownership and participation.

About the NEP

Research consultations led by the University of Western Australia identified that empowerment, healing and leadership programs are an effective way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to begin to address the sense of powerlessness and disconnection from  cultural, social and emotional wellbeing as a result of historical and social determinants.

The focus of these programs is on restoring and strengthening connections to these Indigenous-specific domains in order to increase resilience and decrease the psychological distress shown to strongly predict suicide risk.

The program aims to:

  • strengthen cultural, social and emotional wellbeing
  • increase resilience
  • reduce psychological and community distress
  • reduce high rates of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Supporting the NEP in Queensland

In 2013 the Commission agreed to support and implement the outcomes of the University of Western Australia (UWA) National Empowerment Program (NEP) with particular regard to the Queensland NEP Sites of Kuranda and Cherbourg.

Ngoonbi Community Services Indigenous Corporation has been the lead Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation managing the implementation of the Commission funded pilot sites in Kuranda and Cherbourg.

The Commission has invested in piloting support services, community worker training and a healing program in each community.

Driving local community action: Kuranda and Cherbourg

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Consultants in Cherbourg and Kuranda deliver NEP in their communities.

The NEP is supporting the wider community through Mental Health First Aid, Certificate IV, Mental Health (Non-clinical) course and accredited Leadership Training and the Cultural Social and Emotional Wellbeing programs. It also brings community together through initiatives which promote healing.  

Empowered communities

These programs have empowered members of the community with the knowledge and tools to assess, prevent and respond to mental health issues and be able to refer when necessary.

As part of its contribution to NAIDOC Week 2015, the Commission developed the NEP Resilience video to promote the goals and achievements of the project in Cherbourg and Kuranda. The video was produced with the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association and features community members talking about the benefits of the program and the importance of community empowerment to social and emotional wellbeing. Other NEP video materials continue to be developed to share knowledge and learnings about improving wellbeing.

Mental health training

In 2016 eleven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people received Certificate IV qualifications in Mental Health.

The group included eight graduates from Kuranda and Cherbourg who were supported by the Commission as part of the National Empowerment Project (NEP) which works with the two communities to build cultural, social and emotional wellbeing. Read the media release Proud achievement for Indigenous mental health graduates