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Event recap: 2023 Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Annual Conference
We are honoured to announce that the theme for this year's conference is ‘Ways Forward’. This is a reflection on the policy development in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention. Drawing on the significance of the 1995 Ways Forward Report as a milestone in Australia's mental health history, marking a pivotal moment of collective action and community engagement in shaping the future of mental health care in our nation.
The release of the 1995 Ways Forward Report was a landmark event that brought together the voices, experiences, and expertise of individuals and communities affected by mental health issues. It represented the culmination of extensive consultations with mental health consumers, carers, professionals, and community organisations, establishing a framework for transforming mental health care and support in Australia.
By choosing this theme, we aim to honour the courage and resilience of those who participated in the first national mental health consultation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’, and to recognise the lasting impact of their contributions. The 1995 Ways Forward Report provided a roadmap for change, focusing on principles of recovery, consumer and carer participation, community-based care, and the need for culturally responsive and inclusive services.
This conference theme presents an opportunity to reflect on the progress made since the release of the report, to critically examine the gaps that still exist, and to explore innovative approaches and solutions for the future. It calls for us to evaluate the extent to which the aspirations and recommendations outlined in the report have been realised, and to identify areas for further development and improvement.
Through keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and interactive sessions, we will delve into key themes and issues that emerged from the 1995 Ways Forward Report. This conference invites mental health professionals, policymakers, researchers, consumers, carers, and community leaders to engage in dialogue, share knowledge and experiences, and collaborate on strategies to advance the social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is an opportunity to learn from the past, assess the present, and collectively envision a future where mental health services are person-centred, culturally responsive, and accessible to all.
As we reflect on the achievements and lessons of the 1995 Ways Forward Report, we are reminded of the power of collaboration, the strength of lived experience, and the importance of listening to diverse perspectives. By embracing this conference theme, we recommit ourselves to the vision of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration, to achieve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, excellence, and presence across all parts of the Australian mental health system and the achievement of the highest attainable standard of social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
We look forward to an inspiring and transformative conference, where we honour the legacy of the 1995 Ways Forward Report and work together towards a way forward.
Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia received funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.