As National Reconciliation Week kicks off, we at the MHCSA are reflecting on the importance of reconciliation for the social and emotional wellbeing of our First Nations communities, and for all Australians.

Reconciliation is about unity, respect and collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of Australia and the world. It is about striving for equity and valuing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, cultures, and futures.

MHCSA want to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country throughout South Australia and their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We recognise that mental health and wellbeing knowledge has been held here for thousands of years, and celebrate the many services across our membership that continue this important work today.

We’d like to encourage our community to engage with Reconciliation Week activities. Head over to the Reconciliation In The West Facebook page to see what some of our members have helped put together this week. Make sure you have a listen to In This Together by Nancy Bates, a Barkindji woman, accomplished singer-songwriter and mental health advocate, and alt-folk artist Ryan Martin John. This song was developed as part of Rec In The West’s Digital Bunting Project. Nancy and Ryan took inspiration from SA community members writing in about what Reconciliation means to them. Listen and watch the lyric video here

While this is a week of celebration, it is also important to remember that our country and state face severe public health concerns relating to the wellbeing of local Indigenous communities. 

According to the Department of Health, South Australia has the second highest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide rate of all jurisdictions. 

“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, there are unique influences on mental health related to indigenous rights. Cultural dislocation, loss of land, stress, grief, trauma, premature death, social disadvantage, and child removal are the consequences of invasion, colonisation and racism. These factors impact directly on the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and also indirectly through increased risk of suicide, self-harm, substance abuse, trans-generational trauma and family breakdown in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities…. Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are the most disadvantaged communities in Australia and this contributes to poor outcomes in health and mental health.” 

  • From Australian Indigenous Health Info Net’s Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention for Mental Health: For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Brochure

It is crucial that we are working to ensure all South Australians affected by mental illness are receiving the support they need to live well in the community.


Social and Emotional Wellbeing and mental health supports for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander People in SA

Many services across our membership are used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our members can be viewed here. You can search our directory of community-managed mental health services here. Specialist services have been established in some places around the state. 

Aboriginal Community Connect – Uniting Communities
Aboriginal Community Connect is a one-stop service for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people seeking help. They can support with challenges related to drug and alcohol use, isolation, poverty and disadvantage. They can also support social or emotional wellbeing, or with housing if visiting Adelaide. They also offer services to help people to work through the effects of trauma.

A COVID-19 virtual support line for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members
1800 841 313 – available 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday

Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and mental health service provision modelled on the Social and Emotional Well-being framework (SEWB). Nunkuwarrin Yunti cooperate with providers across SA to deliver contemporary culturally based social and emotional wellbeing support, including many across the MHCSA’s membership.

Nunga Mi:Minar – Relationships Australia SA
Northen Regional Aboriginal Family Violence Service is a free, confidential, accommodation support service for Aboriginal women and children experiencing domestic violence.