The Story behind The Interplay Project

The Interplay Project started as a national research project on wellbeing in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities conducted from 2011 to 2017. Wellbeing has been difficult to understand, measure and strengthen in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and part of the challenge has been genuinely engaging community members and incorporating their values and priorities into policy approaches.

Interplay Project community consultation

To improve Aboriginal wellbeing and to strengthen and empower communities, the markers of success need to be attainable and relevant, and reflect cultural strengths and community values. Aboriginal knowledge is passed down through stories, and governments mainly speak the language of numbers, so we developed a coordinated approach to merge Aboriginal knowledge and western science – by bringing together stories and numbers.

Over six years, our team of researchers, community members and government representatives collaborated to design and implement a holistic Interplay Wellbeing Framework for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The framework integrates Aboriginal priorities of culture, empowerment and community, with the government priorities of education, employment and health. These priorities are integrated into this holistic model of wellbeing — represented by six main 'domains' — with wellbeing as the central domain.

The Interplay Wellbeing Framework was developed as a collaboration between the Ninti One Foundation, the Australian Government's Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Flinders University as part of the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation (CRC-REP).

You can read more about the research methodology in our report, published in the International Journal of Equity in Health.

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