Skip to main content

Decolonising Australian Psychology: The Influences of Aboriginal Psychologists

  • 918 Accesses

Part of the Community Psychology book series (COMPSY)

Abstract

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia have been profoundly impacted by colonisation and continue to counter its affects by rebuilding language, regaining access to lands and living culture, and enhancing social and emotional wellbeing. The discipline of psychology has played a major role in perpetuating harm towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by utilising oppressive and culturally biased mainstream psychological approaches. However, the discipline is slowly shifting with efforts to decolonise Australian psychology. This has been aided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists and with the formation of the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA) which will be discussed and described within this chapter. Decolonising efforts are further illustrated by the experiences of two Aboriginal Clinical Psychologists who are aligned with community psychology paradigms and members of AIPA. The first example presents decolonising strategies that recognise and address the intersect amongst trauma, oppression, and lateral violence and outlines community awareness workshops. The second example discusses the inadequacy of mainstream psychology whilst advocating for multiple modalities for collective and traditional healing. Both psychologists within in their cultural practice and collectively within AIPA aim toward the improvement of social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Keywords

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD   99.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   129.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD   129.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions

Notes

  1. 1.

    Throughout this paper, the term ‘Aboriginal’ will respectfully be used to refer to the diversity of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations and peoples. The term ‘Indigenous’ will also be used in some contexts, particularly when referring to the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association, in international contexts and when referenced as such.

  2. 2.

    This refers to the 1967 Australian referendum in which constitutional change meant that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could be included in the census. This allowed the Australian Federal Government to make laws in relation to Aboriginal peoples.

  3. 3.

    The Native Title Act (1993) governs the rights of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia who have gained back rights to their traditional lands (see AHRC, 2020).

  4. 4.

    NAIDOC is a widely used acronym meaning National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee. It is a week of celebrations held annually across Australia to celebrate, history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal people and encouraged to be celebrated by all Australians.

  5. 5.

    With respect, the deceased activist’s name has not been used, as permission was not gained from his family in time. Details of the activist can be found in Dudgeon et al. (2014a) where permission was sought.

  6. 6.

    Throughout this paper, the term ‘Aboriginal’ will respectfully be used to refer to the diversity of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations and peoples, unless otherwise specified.

References

  • Atkinson, J. (2002). Trauma trails: Recreating song lines. Spinifex Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Adams, Y., Drew, N., & Walker, R. (2014). Principles of practice in mental health assessment with Aboriginal Australians. In P. Dudgeon, H. Milroy, & R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd ed., pp. 271–288). Commonwealth of Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2016 December 06). 3238.0.55.001 - estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3238.0.55.001

  • Australian Government. (2020, April 18). Closing the gap. https://closingthegap.niaa.gov.au/

  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). (2018). Statement of intent. https://www.ahpra.gov.au/About-AHPRA/Aboriginal-and-Torres-Strait-Islander-Health-Strategy/Statement-of-intent.aspx

  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). (2019a, December 05). Communique July 2019: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health strategy group. https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Search.aspx?q=communique+july+2019+Aboriginalhealth+strategy+group

  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). (2019b, December 09). Annual Report 2018/2019. https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Publications/Annual-reports.aspx

  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). (2019c, December 09). Psychology Board Statistics. https://www.psychologyboard.gov.au/About/Statistics.aspx

  • Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). (2020, April 19). Native title reports. https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-social-justice/publications/native-title-reports

  • Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. (2018). Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status, 2017. Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

    Google Scholar 

  • Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA). (2019a, December 01). Indigenous Psychologist profiles. http://www.indigenouspsychology.com.au

  • Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA). (2019b, October 11). Homepage. http://www.indigenouspsychology.com.au

  • Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA). (2019c, December 01). Cultural competence. http://www.indigenouspsychology.com.au

  • Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA). (2019d, December 01). Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/Australian-Indigenous-Psychologists-Association-104342444383400/?view_public_for=104342444383400

  • Australian Indigenous Psychology Education Project (AIPEP) (2019, October 11). Project Overview. http://www.indigenouspsyched.org.au/about#overview

  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). (2020, May 12). Indigenous Employment. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/indigenous-employment

  • Australian Psychological Society (APS). (2019a, December 1). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and psychology (ATSIPP) interest group. https://groups.psychology.org.au/atsipp/

  • Australian Psychological Society (APS). (2019b, December 5). Ethical guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. https://www.psychology.org.au/for-members/resource-finder/resources/ethics/Ethical-guidelines-Aboriginal-and-Torres-Strait

  • Australian Psychological Society (APS). (2014a, December 1). APS reconciliation action plan 2011-2014. http://www.psychology.org.au/reconciliation/APS/

  • Australian Psychological Society (APS). (2014b). The APS reconciliation action plan and beyond. InPsych, 36(6), 38–39.

    Google Scholar 

  • Awofeso, N. (2011). Racism: A major impediment to optimal Indigenous health and health care in Australia. Australian Indigenous Health Bulletin, 11(3) http://healthbulletin.org.au/articles/racism-a-major-impediment-to-optimal-indigenous-health-and-health-care-in-australia

  • Broome, R. (1994). Aboriginal Australians. Allen & Unwin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carey, T., Dudgeon, P., Hammond, S. W., Hirvonen, T., Kyrios, M., Roufeil, L., … Smith, P. (2017). The Australian Psychological Society’s apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Australian Psychologist, 52, 261–267. https://doi.org/10.1111/ap.12300

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Clark, Y. (2017). Lateral violence in the Aboriginal community in Adelaide, SA: From Dilemmas to strategies [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Adelaide. https://doi.org/10.4225/55/59defd9fba33b.

  • Clark, Y., & Augoustinos, M. (2015). What’s in a name: Lateral violence within the Aboriginal community in Adelaide. Australian Community Psychologist, 27(2), 27–42.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, Y., Augoustinos, M., & Main, M. (2016). Lateral violence in the Aboriginal community in Adelaide: It affects our identity and wellbeing. Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing: Te Mauri Pimatisiwin, 1(1), 43–52.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, Y., Augoustinos, M., & Main, M. (2017a). Coping and prevention of lateral violence in the Aboriginal community in Adelaide. Australian Community Psychologist, 28(2), 105–123.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, Y., Augoustinos, M., & Main, M. (2017b). Evaluation of the preventing lateral violence workshop in Adelaide, South Australia: Phase one questionnaire responses. Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing: Te Mauri Pimatisiwin, 2(3), 4, 41–4, 53.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, Y., Augoustinos, M., & Main, M. (2017c). Evaluation of the preventing lateral violence workshop in Adelaide, South Australia: Phase two qualitative aspect. Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing: Te Mauri Pimatisiwin, 2(3), 5, 54–5, 66.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cunneen, C. (2019). Institutional racism and (in)justice: Australia in the 21st century. Decolonisation of Criminology and Justice, 1(1), 29–51. https://doi.org/10.24135/dcj.v1i1.9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dudgeon, P., Milroy, H., & Walker, R. (2014c). The boatshed racism roundtable declaration. In P. Dudgeon, H. Milroy, & R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd ed., pp. 575–576). Commonwealth of Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dudgeon, P., Milroy, H., & Walker, R. (2014d). A charge to mental health practitioners. In Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd ed., pp. xvi–xviii). Commonwealth of Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dudgeon, P., Rickwood, D., Garvey, D., & Gridley, H. (2014a). A history of Indigenous psychology. In P. Dudgeon, H. Milroy, & R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd ed., pp. 39–54). Commonwealth of Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dudgeon, P., Wright, M., Paradies, Y., Garvey, D., & Walker, I. (2014b). Aboriginal social, cultural and historical contexts. In P. Dudgeon, H. Milroy, & R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd ed., pp. 3–24). Commonwealth of Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dudgeon, P., & Walker, R. (2015). Decolonising Australian psychology: Discourses, strategies and practice. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 3(1), 276–297. https://doi.org/10.5964/jspp.v3i1.126

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dudgeon, P., Darlaston-Jones, D., Phillips, G., Newnham, K., Brideson, T., Cranney, J., … Page, S. (2016a). Australian indigenous psychology education project curriculum framework. University of Western Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dudgeon, P., Darlaston-Jones, D., Phillips, G., Newnham, K., Brideson, T., Cranney, J., … Page, S. (2016b). Australian indigenous psychology education project guidelines for increasing the recruitment, retention and graduation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychology students. University of Western Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dudgeon, P., Harris, J., Newnham, K., Brideson, T., Cranney, J., Darlaston-Jones, D., … Phillips, G. (2016). Australian Indigenous psychology education project workforce capabilities framework. University of Western Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dudgeon, P., Bray, A., D’Costa, B., & Walker, R. (2017). Decolonising psychology: Validating social and emotional wellbeing. Australian Psychologist, 52, 316–325. https://doi.org/10.1111/ap.12294

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fogarty, W., Bulloch, H., McDonnell, S., & Davis, M. (2018). Deficit discourses in Indigenous health: How narrative framings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are reproduced in policy. Lowitja Institute. http://ncis.anu.edu.au/research/representation_identity.php

    Google Scholar 

  • Gaudry, A., & Lorenz, D. (2018). Indigenisation as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonisation: Navigating the different visions for indigenising the Canadian academy. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 14(3), 218–227. https://doi.org/10.1177/1177180118785382

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gee, G. (2016). Resilience and recovery from trauma among Aboriginal help seeking clients in an urban Aboriginal community controlled health organisation [unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Melbourne.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gee, G., Dudgeon, P., Schultz, C., Hart, A., & Kelly, K. (2014). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing. In P. Dudgeon, H. Milroy, & R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd ed., pp. 55–68). Commonwealth of Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Glover, M., Dudgeon, P., & Huygens, I. (2005). Colonisation and racism. In G. Nelson & I. Prilleltensky (Eds.), Community psychology: In pursuit of liberation and Well-being (pp. 330–344). Palgrave Macmillan.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Haebich, A. (2000). Broken circles (1st ed.). Fremantle Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hill, R., Pert, P.L., Davies, J., Robinson, C.J., Walsh, F. and Falco-Mammone, F. (2013). Indigenous Land Management in Australia. CSIRO, Ecosystems Sciences

    Google Scholar 

  • Holland, C. (2018). A ten-year review: Close the gap strategy and recommendations for reset. The CTG campaign committee. https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/CTG%202018_FINAL-WEB.pdf?_ga=2.27180212.84122107.1575550944-826556177.1531809881

    Google Scholar 

  • Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). (1997). Bringing them home: National inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. Commonwealth of Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Leckning, B., Ringbauer, A., Robinson, G., Carey, T. A., Hirvonen, T., & Armstrong, G. (2019). Guidelines for best practice psychosocial assessment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting to hospital with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Menzies School of Health Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lowe, D. (1994). Forgotten rebels: Black Australians who fought back. Permanent Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lowitja Institute. (2018). Summary report: Deficit discourse and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy. https://ncis.anu.edu.au/_lib/doc/ddih/Deficit_Discourse_summary_report_WEB.pdf

  • Malaspinas, A-S,, Westaway, M.C., Muller, C., Sousa, V. C., Lao, O., Alves, I.,… Willerslev, E. (2016). A genomic history of Aboriginal Australia. Nature, 538(7624), 207–214. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature18299

  • Milroy, H., Dudgeon, P., & Walker, R. (2014). Community life and development programs – Pathways to healing. In P. Dudgeon, H. Milroy, & R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd ed., pp. 419–436). Commonwealth of Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nakata, M. (2007a). The cultural interface. Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 36(S1), 7–14. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1326011100004646

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nakata, M. (2007b). Disciplining the savages, savaging the disciplines. Aboriginal Studies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Neeganagwedgin, E. (2015). Rooted in the land: Taino identity, oral history and stories of reclamation in contemporary contexts. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 11(4), 376–388.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Oliver, W. (2001). Cultural racism and structural violence. Journal of Human Behaviour in the Social Environment, 4(2–3), 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1300/J137v04n02_01

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Poche Centre for Indigenous Health (PCIH). (2019). Building a stronger tomorrow: Connecting our communities through culture - Report on the 2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference and the 2nd World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference. School of Indigenous Studies, University of Western Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Povey, R., & Trudgett. (2019). When camp dogs run over maps: ’Proper-way’ research in an Aboriginal community in the north-east of Western Australia. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2, 61–72.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reconciliation Australia. (2019). 2018 Australian reconciliation barometer. Reconciliation Australia. https://www.reconciliation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ra_2019-barometer-brochure_web.single.page_pdf

    Google Scholar 

  • Ranzijn, R., McConnoche, K., & Nolan, W. (2009). Psychology and Indigenous Australians: Foundations of cultural competency. Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rickwood, D., Dudgeon, P., & Gridley, H. (2010). A history of psychology in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental Health. In N. Purdie, P. Dudgeon, & R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (pp. 13–24). Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC). (2019). Family matters report 2019: Measuring trends to turn the tide on the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care in Australia. Family Matters.

    Google Scholar 

  • Social Health Reference Group. (2004). Social and emotional Well-being framework: A national strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ mental health and social and emotional Well-being, 2004–2009. Department of Health and Ageing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Strelein, L. (2005). From Mabo to Yorta Yorta: Native title law in Australia. University Washington Journal of Law and Policy, 19, 225–272.

    Google Scholar 

  • Strelein, L., & Tran, T. (2013). Building Indigenous governance from native title: Moving away from ’fitting in’ to creating a decolonised space. Review of Constitutional Studies, 18(1), 19–47.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wanganeen, R. (2014). Seven phases to integrating loss and grief. In P. Dudgeon, H. Milroy, & R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental Health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd ed., pp. 475–492). Commonwealth of Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Westerman, T. (2004). Guest editorial engagement of Indigenous clients in mental health services: What role do cultural differences play? Australian e-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health (AeJAMH), 3(3), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.5172/jamh.3.3.88

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Westerman, T.G., & Wettinger, M. (1998). Working with Aboriginal People. Psychologically speaking, Western Australian Psychological Society – Psychological assessment of Aboriginal People. https://indigenouspsychservices.com.au/downloads/

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yvonne Clark .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Clark, Y., Hirvonen, T. (2022). Decolonising Australian Psychology: The Influences of Aboriginal Psychologists. In: Kessi, S., Suffla, S., Seedat, M. (eds) Decolonial Enactments in Community Psychology. Community Psychology. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-75201-9_11

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics