James Cook University ISSN 1445-6354
Background: Community participation is a collaborative process aimed at achieving community-identified outcomes. However, approaches to community participation within Aboriginal health promotion initiatives have been inconsistent and not well documented. Smart and Deadly was a community-led initiative to develop sexual health promotion resources with young Aboriginal people in regional Victoria, Australia. The principles of community centred practice, authentic participatory processes and respect for the local cultural context guided the initiative.
The aim of this paper is to report factors that facilitated community participation undertaken in the Smart and Deadly initiative to inform future projects and provide further evidence in demonstrating the value of such approaches.
Methods: A summative evaluation of the Smart and Deadly
initiative was undertaken approximately two years after the initiative ended. Five focus groups and 13 interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of 32 participants who were involved with Smart and Deadly in one of the following ways: project participant; stakeholder or project partner, or
project developer or designer. A deductive content analysis was undertaken and themes were compared to the YARN model, which was specifically created for planning and evaluating community participation strategies relating to Aboriginal sexual health
Results: A number of factors that facilitated community
participation approaches used in Smart and Deadly were identified. The overarching theme was that trust was the foundation upon which the facilitators of community participation ensued. These facilitators were cultural safety and cultural literacy, community control, and legacy and
sustainability. Whilst the YARN model was highly productive in identifying these facilitators of community participation, the model did not have provision for the element of trust between workers and community. Given the importance of trust between
the project team and the Aboriginal community in the Smart and Deadly initiative, a suggested revision to the YARN model is that trust is included as the basis upon which YARN model factors are predicated.
Conclusion: Adding trust to the YARN model as a basis upon which YARN model factors are grounded assists future
Aboriginal health promotion projects in ensuring community participation approaches are more likely to be acceptable to the Aboriginal community.