Deficit discourse and strengths-based approaches: Changing the narrative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing

Deficit discourse and strengths-based approaches: Changing the narrative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing explores strengths-based approaches to shifting the deficit narrative in the Australian aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector. Studies, including a companion report to this one entitled Deficit Discourse and Indigenous Health: How Narrative Framings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People are Reproduced in Policy, have identified a prevalent 'deficit discourse' across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy and practice.

There is evidence that deficit discourse has an impact on health itself — that it is a barrier to improving health outcomes. Accordingly, there are growing calls for alternative ways to think about and discuss Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. This report builds on Deficit Discourse and Indigenous Health by reviewing and analysing a growing body of work from Australia and overseas that proposes ways to displace deficit discourse in health, or that provides examples of attempts to do so. The most widely accepted approaches to achieving this come under the umbrella term 'strengths-based', which seek to move away from the traditional problem-based paradigm and offer a different language and set of solutions to overcoming an issue.

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