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New South Wales Public Health Bulletin New South Wales Public Health Bulletin Society
Supporting public health practice in New South Wales

Mind, body, spirit: co-benefits for mental health from climate change adaptation and caring for country in remote Aboriginal Australian communities

Helen L. Berry A B J , James R. A. Butler C , C. Paul Burgess D , Ursula G. King B , Komla Tsey E F , Yvonne L. Cadet-James E G , C. Wayne Rigby H and Beverley Raphael B I

A Faculty of Health, The University of Canberra

B College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, The Australian National University

C CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems and Climate Adaptation Flagship, Brisbane

D Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University

E The Cairns Institute, James Cook University

F School of Education, James Cook University

G School of Indigenous Australian Studies, James Cook University

H Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health, Charles Sturt University

I School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney

J Corresponding author. Email:

NSW Public Health Bulletin 21(6) 139-145
Published: 16 July 2010


The evident and unresolved health disparity between Aboriginal and other Australians is testament to a history of systematic disenfranchisement. Stigma, lack of appropriate services and the expense of delivering services in remote settings make it impossible to adequately address mental health needs, including suicide, solely using a mainstream medical approach. Nor do mainstream approaches accommodate the relationship between Aboriginal health and connectedness to land, whether traditional or new land, remote or metropolitan. This review describes how caring-for-country projects on traditional lands in remote locations may provide a novel way to achieve the linked goals of climate change adaptation with co-benefits for social and emotional wellbeing.


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