Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide
CAMHS Aboriginal Services

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Aboriginal Services Working Group

Whilst comprehensive studies of the level of mental health problems in the Aboriginal population have not been undertaken, preliminary research indicates disproportionately higher rates than for the population generally. It has also been shown that Aboriginal people access mental health services less than the general population.

The Aboriginal Working Group (AWG) was formed in 1989 with representatives from most units of CAMHS. The main aim of the group is to address barriers which prevent Aboriginal children and their families accessing services, and also to develop culturally appropriate services for this population. Focus areas for the AWG are outlined below.

Aboriginal Service Policy

The AWG has developed policies to help ensure Aboriginal people are given priority in accessing services, and to provide direction in the following areas

  • Employment of Aboriginal staff
  • Training and development of both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal staff in Aboriginal issues
  • Development of clinical services for Aboriginal children and their families
  • Interagency collaboration
  • Ongoing evaluation

These policies have been formulated in consultation with relevant Aboriginal services and stakeholders. The AWG provides feedback on national and state policy regarding the development of Aboriginal services.

Information dissemination

The AWG disseminates relevant information throughout CAMHS including Aboriginal focussed resources and relevant research and information regarding Aboriginal services. The AWG also has a role in providing information about and promoting the Division's services to external agencies..

Interagency Collaboration

The AWG helps to develop links with other agencies providing services to Aboriginal communities. A number of interagency projects and agreements have been undertaken since the formation of the group. The aim of this is to improve access for Aboriginal people to CAMHS services and provide more comprehensive and culturally relevant services.

Clinical Services

The AWG helps to develop culturally specific clinical services for Aboriginal clients of CAMHS. Members of the group have undergone extensive cultural awareness training and use the AWG forum to discuss Aboriginal clinical issues. The members of the AWG act as a contact for other Divisional staff and staff from other agencies who may be working with Aboriginal clients.


The AWG provides consultancy at a range of levels from nationwide consultations to that of individual client work.

Training and Development

The AWG provides and facilitates training and development for a range of internal Divisional forums. It has also been involved with outside agencies, both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal in the provision of training and development in regard to mental health issues.


The AWG advocates for Aboriginal services to be given a high priority within CAMHS. The group also takes the opportunity to advocate for the development of Aboriginal services within forums such as state-wide and national mental health reviews.

For further information or to speak to someone about Aboriginal services provided by CAMHS please contact your regional Child Adolescent Mental Health Service or contact Lyn Jones, Senior Aboriginal Mental Health Consultant on 8341 1222.

Nanko-walun Porlar Nomawi showcased by National Centre of
Indigenous Excellence

Staff and clients of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service's (CAMHS's) highly regarded Nanko-walun Porlar Nomawi (NPN) (meaning 'wellbeing for children and families') program based at Murray Bridge travelled to Sydney in 2018 to take part in the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) technology program.

The invitation to Sydney follows an NCIE-funded technology workshop using drones, coordinated by NPN Aboriginal counsellor Harley Hall.

The trip provided an opportunity to provide further exposure to science and technology to undertake such things as mapping country and other culturally specific activities.

NPN is a program designed to strengthen Aboriginal families, funded originally through a COAG agreement with the states around Closing the Gap.

It seeks to provide ways to build wellbeing, increase school attendance, prevent child protection notifications, and provide mental health interventions that are culturally acceptable to the local Aboriginal community.

Aboriginal workers are trained in narrative therapy approaches to developing more positive stories of clients' lives, and building cultural pride as an important element of social and emotional wellbeing.

The program works closely with schools, youth justice, Department for Child Protection, Headspace and other local agencies.

last modified: 06 Mar 2019