Primary Health Care Research & Development
Cambridge University Press
School of Arts and Humanities
Ian Potter Foundation (grant number 20170374) Ngala
AIM: The aim of this paper is to describe the implementation and evaluation of the Growing Strong Brains® (GSB) toolkit in a remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia (WA) over a 2-year period, 2018-2019. BACKGROUND: Ngala, a community service organisation in WA, developed the GSB toolkit in 2014, a culturally appropriate and interactive resource to build knowledge of early childhood development within Aboriginal communities. This was in response to evidence that a higher percentage of children in Aboriginal communities were developmentally vulnerable compared to the rest of the population. The GSB toolkit promotes awareness and understanding of early brain development pre-birth and in the early years of a child's life. METHODS: The project was underpinned by participatory action research (PAR). Reflective PAR review cycles (n = 5) monitored local community engagement, navigated challenges and utilised community strengths. Fifty-nine local service providers attended a 2-day formal training. Data were collected by using various methods throughout the project, including feedback following training, focus groups, surveys, one-on-one interviews using yarning techniques and reflective feedback from the Project Lead. FINDINGS: Establishing local Aboriginal project staff was pivotal to the success of the project. When delivering services for and with Aboriginal people, it is essential that cultural competence, safety and decision-making is carried through from planning to implementation and evaluation, and involves genuine, respectful and authentic relationships. Sufficient time allocation directed towards building relationships with other service providers and local community members needs to be considered and built into future projects.The Growing Strong Brains® project is embedded within the local community, and anticipated implementation outcomes were achieved. The support of the local people and service providers was beyond expectation, enabling the building of local capacity, and the development of a common understanding of the key messages from the GSB toolkit to allow integration throughout all levels of the community. This project has been important to build on the strategies necessary to introduce, implement and evaluate the GSB toolkit in other remote Aboriginal communities.
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