It is recognized that a range of psychosocial factors contribute to the poor state of Indigenous health in Australia. Connection to community, including positive role models, is one such factor identified by members of the Koori community of the Goulburn Valley, southeastern Australia. There is evidence that good role-modelling and mentoring can promote a sense of empowerment and positive health behaviours in young people.
This paper focuses on leadership and role modelling as psychosocial mediators of health within the Rumbalara Football Netball Club, a key Aboriginal community controlled organization in the region. In-depth interviews were conducted with six Indigenous Club members, who met specific criteria, to improve understanding of the concept of Indigenous leadership in this setting; the attributes that are particularly sought amongst good Indigenous leaders and role models; the levels of leadership and types of role models that resonated with the participants; and how role modelling and leadership may be further developed in this organization. Participants identified “respect,” employment status, consistently doing “the right thing” both on and off the field, a responsible approach to drugs and alcohol, and transcending family conflict as positive attributes of Indigenous leaders and role models.
Although role models were identified in almost all areas of life, participants tended to identify senior players, in particular, as role models. It is hoped that this research will assist ongoing efforts to promote leadership and role modelling in the local Koori community.
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