Connecting and reconnecting to a community, with a sense of belonging – Exploring Aboriginal Elders’ perspectives of engaging in a physical activity program

Margaret J.R. Gidgup, Marion Kickett, Keith D. Hill, Jacqueline Francis-Coad, Tammy Weselman, Julieann Coombes, Rebecca Ivers, Nicole Bowser, Vilma Palacios, Anne-Marie Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Issue addressed:. Culturally appropriate physical activity (PA) programs have values and principles that respect local community culture and knowledge. However, in Western Australia (WA) there were no opportunities for older Aboriginal peoples to engage in a culturally appropriate PA program. The study objective was to explore how engaging in a culturally appropriate PA program impacted on the lived experiences of Aboriginal Elders. Methods: A qualitative exploratory study was conducted using an Indigenous methodology. Participants were Aboriginal Elders in Noongar Country in WA. Two groups, engaged in the Ironbark program, which consisted of weekly exercise and a yarning circle. The program was developed in NSW specifically for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples and adapted for use in WA. Semi-structured interviews utilising a yarning approach were facilitated by a Noongar Wadjuk researcher. Inductive thematic analysis was undertaken. Results: Nineteen Elders were interviewed. The overarching theme was that participation led to connecting and reconnecting to community with a sense of belonging. Elders affirmed the program as being appropriate and comfortable. They described experiences that were grouped into three main themes of Positive mental and emotional changes, Physical improvements and Social benefits. Conclusions: Aboriginal Elders valued the opportunity to engage in a culturally appropriate PA program. Benefits were appreciated as holistic in nature, with Elders seeing improvements in their mental, physical and emotional health. So what?: Increasing access to culturally appropriate, decolonised PA programs is a fundamental health promotion approach for working with older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-149
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

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