Showcasing: Maruung maruung (Good good Deadly), also named Yarn Up Feel Deadly
Hunter New England and Central Coast
Hunter New England Local Health District
Living Well domains
Putting people first
Care for all
Bron Rose, Manager, Yimamulinbinkaan, Aboriginal Mental Health Services and Workforce, Hunter New England Local Health District (LHD) has led the development of a mobile device application (app) called Maruung marrung (Good good Deadly), also known as Yarn Up Feel Deadly1.
The app is a codesigned, culturally considered resource that supports Aboriginal communities and mental health professionals and trainees and drug and alcohol workers. The app provides video testimonials, information about mental health conditions and services, resources including alcohol and other drugs information, and staff portals to assist staff to work more effectively with Aboriginal people.
The LHD funded the project with development funding of $16,700 and now $1,349 annual costs.
Launched in July 2019, the app has had over 5,000 views July 2019 to March 2020.
The local health district (LHD) has the highest number of Aboriginal people of all NSW LHDs. Approximately 53,000 Aboriginal people make up almost six percent of the LHD population and 24 percent of the NSW Aboriginal population3.
Aboriginal communities face enormous challenges, including serious gaps in health outcomes and high rates of suicide. An inclusive Closing the Gap plan has been implemented in consultation with Aboriginal communities since 20114. The LHD wanted to develop innovative solutions to better support the diverse Aboriginal communities and the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal workforce, consistent with its Mental Health Service Strategic Plan 2019 - 20215.
The app was inspired by Bron Rose’s grandmother, Betty Condran, known as Aunty Betty, who often shared her knowledge of culture and traditional ways. Bron realised this knowledge could broaden and deepen people’s understanding of Aboriginal culture.
“I was inspired to film Aboriginal Elders in the many nations of Hunter New England who had experience dealing with mental health-related issues, sharing their stories to help others. This initiative is community led and strengths based. It values lived experience and is inclusive of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who walk this journey and are touched by mental illness through themselves or their loved ones/ family/friends.”
The project was codesigned with Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal staff. Elders and community members participated in yarning circles for over 12 months. They agreed that an app on mobile phones and tablets would be a stigma-free way to access information. They decided the resources to be developed and nominated people to be interviewed.
Over 100 “The Warrior Within” video testimonials feature Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people yarning about identity, culture, wellbeing, their mental health experiences, what to expect as a service user. Mental health service workers explain how they help our mob.
The app also contains information about mental health services, mental health conditions and treatments, website links, courses, forums and local events for community members and staff.
Staff portals lead to yarning groups, work hubs, collaborative spaces and mock case scenarios of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal clinicians providing tips on how to engage in practice with Aboriginal people. The portal strengthens implementation of and reporting on the NSW Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce Program, providing a resource for Aboriginal mental health trainees and Aboriginal mental health workers.
The app addresses Living Well enablers including culture and approach, guidance, technology and systems and workforce.
The app has enhanced lived experience and carer engagement by providing a culturally considerate resource with a focus on Aboriginal communities. It connects Aboriginal people to mental health services as well as to each other who learn from their lived experience. While the app targets Aboriginal communities, it benefits everyone.
The app is well used, with over 5,000 views in 9 months including almost 700 views in the 30 days to mid-March 2020. Users have also received over 68,103 email notifications from Ms Rose, who administers the app.
Pre and post surveys gather views about the app. Participant feedback included these comments:
"I want to know or see where I will sleep and what I can bring when I am a patient and when can my mob come and see me.”
“As an Elder I love watching other Elders talk about their story, it was so powerful."
“I want to learn more about what I can do to help my people.”
App users who completed surveys have reported increased confidence about how to access mental health services.
In October 2020 the app was awarded the Mental Health Matters, 2020 Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing award. Earlier this year the app won the HNE MHS CTG initiative of the year award and the Excellence in the Provision of Mental Health Services. Mental Health is a priority area for both HNE Health and the NSW Government. This award recognises and showcases innovation in improving the quality and safety of mental health patient care within new programs.
The LHD’s Closing the Gap Committee monitors implementation of the app. District leaders have fully supported the app’s innovative approach, principles of codesign, openness, respect and empowerment.
Although created in the Hunter area the app is relevant to supporting Aboriginal people and communities in any location. The app is free to download.
1The Miromaa Language Centre gave permission to name the application in Awabakal language.
2The term Aboriginal is inclusive of Torres Strait Islander people in this context.
3Australian Bureau of Statistics. Census of Population and Housing Counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 2075.0). Canberra: ABS, Sept 2017. ABS Website 3. Population estimates (SAPHaRI). Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health. http://www.healthstats.nsw.gov.au/ (Accessed Sept, 2017), cited in HNE LHD Closing the Gap Strategic Plan Towards 2020. The LHD has the highest number of Aboriginal people in NSW, not the highest proportion of total population.
4HNE LHD Closing the Gap Strategic Plan Towards 2020 (undated)
5HNE LHD Mental Health service strategic plan 2019 – 2021 (undated)