Safety is a fundamental human need, a determinant of social and emotional wellbeing, and a pillar of much Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy, such as the Indigenous Advancement Strategy and Closing the Gap. Despite its importance to communities and its centrality in policy and program infrastructure, safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has not been appropriately explored. Research, government and media have largely approached safety through the lens of threats to safety, such as violence, crime and substance use. This threats-based approach has led to deficit approaches to safety which are not in alignment with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander worldviews and can hinder effective responses. This thesis aims to explore how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples understand and experience safety to enable the understanding and valuing of the strengths already present in communities and allow them to be built upon to improve safety.
Emily Colonna is a PhD Student and Research Officer with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health program. She has been working with the team since 2019 and has contributed to projects on: family and community safety, tobacco use, culture health and wellbeing, and discrimination.