Case study: #HerTribe

We need better health outcomes for Aboriginal women. #HerTribe is a successful healthy lifestyle and empowerment program.

The health of Aboriginal women is worse than non-Aboriginal women. Life expectancy for Aboriginal women is 9.5 years less than for non-Aboriginal women. Factors in these health outcomes include colonisation and dispossession.

Compared to other women, Aboriginal women are:

  • 45 times more likely to experience family violence
  • 15 times more likely to access crisis homelessness services
  • more likely to develop and die from cervical cancer

We need better health outcomes for Aboriginal women. Successful health promotion programs prioritise Aboriginal leadership, culture, community and self-determination.

Promoting self-empowerment

#HerTribe is a healthy lifestyle and self-empowerment program for Aboriginal women in Victoria. The Victorian Government’s Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) delivered the program.

The objectives of #HerTribe are to:

  • improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal women
  • increase Aboriginal women’s capacity to take action and control of their own lives
  • create a support network of Aboriginal women
  • establish Aboriginal champions for health in the community

The program had 121 participants. They had weekly empowerment, education and fitness sessions. During the program, they tracked participants’ wellbeing and physical fitness.

A positive impact

Outcomes from the first 16 weeks of the program showed that participants experienced:

  • lower psychological distress
  • better cardiovascular fitness
  • better personal resilience and relational-cultural strength
  • better self-care, self-esteem and feelings of safety
  • better connection to community, culture, spirituality, social supports and role models

As one participant shared:

I am stronger than I was a few months ago. Physically I feel like I can hold the load. Although I’m still struggling mentally, I'm finding my footing again thanks to the counselling from VAHS. It will take me years to recover, if at all. But I am slowly beginning to think I can hold down any of the stresses about to come my way.