The healthy tribe: An oral health project with Aboriginal school children

Cassandra M. Fletcher, Wendy Bowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses an oral health program which aimed to raise awareness of Aboriginal primary school students about oral and general health and to encourage them to engage with oral and general health workers. Using participatory action research cycles, five sessions led by health service providers were conducted with the primary school children using culturally appropriate strategies such as yarning. Cultural appropriateness was determined through consultation with the Aboriginal Education Officer who had strong links with Community Elders.The paper discusses the methodology of the reflective cycles of implementing session plans, observing student response, gaining student feedback, reflecting on outcomes in consultation with stakeholders and planning changes to the following session. This approach became essential in developing a culturally appropriate perspective. It also offered the flexibility to work successfully with an open group wherein participants changed each session.There are no clinical results reported in the paper as it was not a scientific inquiry. Rather outcomes from the project are discussed as offering evidence that this approach is effective in engaging Aboriginal children and their community in promoting oral and general health information. Outcomes include a series of oral health stories created by the children and expressed as artwork, then collated into a book of community stories which has been distributed state-wide. The paper concludes with recommendations for strategies for developing culturally appropriate health promotion programs. It is hoped that this paper contributes to closing the gap between Aboriginal and mainstream oral and general health inequalities by providing information for future research and development of skills in working with Aboriginal children and communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-16
Number of pages6
JournalThe Australian and New Zealand Journal of Dental and Oral Health Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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