Community-led solutions to prevent Aboriginal child injury

Project title: Community-led solutions to prevent Aboriginal child injury

Start date: January 2019

Estimated end date: June 2021

What is the issue?

Aboriginal children have higher rates of injury than non-Aboriginal children, particularly in remote areas. Serious childhood injury can have lifelong implications. Many of the risk factors that give rise to childhood injuries are the same as the risk factors for chronic disease.

Aboriginal Community-led interventions are likely to be the most effective means of preventing child injuries, but there has been little research or evaluation show what works best.

The highest risk of injury is during early childhood and adolescence. Targeting young parents aged 15 to 24 therefore offers a good opportunity for engagement and improving health literacy around injury prevention.

How is the project addressing the issue?

This project involves a rigorous evaluation of a community-led child injury prevention program in partnership with Aboriginal community-controlled organisations in Walgett, NSW.

It is the result of a partnership between the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd (WAMS), the Dharriwaa Elders Group, Walgett (DEG), the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Kidsafe NSW and the University of Wollongong.

WAMS is an Aboriginal community-controlled health service that has been providing a broad range of holistic health services for 33 years and now employs more than 100 staff. The DEG is an Aboriginal community-controlled charitable organisation that supports local Elders to resume leadership roles, keep active and healthy, promote local Aboriginal cultural knowledge and identify and develop the Walgett Aboriginal community. This work builds on a research partnership between UNSW and DEG called ‘Yuwaya Ngarra-li’, meaning ‘vision’, which aims to improve the wellbeing, social, built and physical environment and life pathways of Aboriginal people in Walgett through evidence-based programs, research projects and capacity building.

We will establish trusted relationships with young parents and learn of the supports they need, which may include driver licence support programs, parenting, budgeting, nutrition, education or employment services. We will then deliver health promotion around childhood injury prevention to groups who are engaged through a variety of information sessions and vocationally focused programs on these topics of interested.

This is a mixed methods study with three phases:

Phase One: We will undertake qualitative research with young parents and community stakeholders to understand the health literacy of the community and identify service providers who are engaging in child safety and parenting, educational and employment services, and the role of family, community and other providers to support them. This research will be led by experienced Aboriginal investigators.

Phase Two: A community-led intervention will be developed, informed by a literature review of effective interventions and stakeholder and community interviews. The program will be delivered through the existing supported playgroup Goonimoo (run by WAMS), and WAMS’ Children’s Services (a combination of staff from the Aboriginal Maternal Health Strategy program, Health Checks for Children, New Directors Mothers and Babies).

Phase three: Research staff working in partnership with the Yuwaya Ngarra-li team will work alongside the Aboriginal Health Worker to evaluate the program. The evaluation will describe and evaluate the project and its outcomes, articulate the supports identified by parents/caregivers during the project as valued by them for increasing their child’s safety, opportunities to improve the program, and identify long-term services and other measures that would provide improved safety and reduced hospital emergency presentations for children in Walgett.

Relevance for practice

This project provides a unique opportunity to develop a robust evaluation framework around a community-led program. Co-producing this research with the Aboriginal community and other partners will ensure it is relevant, acceptable, feasible and effective.

If the program is found to be successful, further funding will be sought to trial and evaluate implementation on a larger scale.

What are the expected outcomes?

The project will enable the development of culturally safe co-produced program and provide evidence on its feasibility and acceptability.

Project lead

Professor Rebecca Ivers, UNSW Sydney


Dr Melanie Andersen, UNSW Sydney

Dr Kate Hunter, The George Institute for Global Health

Christine Erskine, Kidsafe Australia

Wendy Spencer, Yuwaya Ngarra-li: Dharriwaa Elders Group partnership with the UNSW

Christine Corby, Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service

Ruth McCausland, UNSW Sydney

Peta MacGillivray, UNSW Sydney

Dr Patricia Cullen, UNSW Sydney

Kathleen Clapham, University of Wollongong

Nellie Pollard-Wharton, UNSW Sydney

Wendy Jopson, UNSW Sydney

Funding for this research has been provided from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). The MRFF provides funding to support health and medical research and innovation, with the objective of improving the health and wellbeing of Australians. MRFF funding has been provided to The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre under the MRFF Boosting Preventive Health Research Program. Further information on the MRFF is available at


  • In August 2019, the UNSW Sydney School of Public Health team visited Walgett meeting with the Walgett AMS, the Dharriwaa Elders Group and the Yuwaya-Ngarrali. Wendy Jopson received her cultural induction at this visit, which the rest of the team had received on previous visits. The team also visited several local children’s services, spent time with the new Family Support Worker and the Manager of Goonimoo mobile children’s services and commenced the program co-design process.
  • In March 2019, Professor Rebecca Ivers and Dr Melanie Andersen visited Walgett  for a cultural induction with the Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG) and planning meetings with the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd, Yuwaya Ngarra-li team and Dharriwaa Elders Group.

News stories

Prevention Centre News

May 2019, New community-led project for childhood injury prevention in Walgett