Skills for Life Evaluation

The Skills for Life Evaluation Study is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, in its 2014 targeted mental health round for youth suicide prevention. Australia’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy in May 2013 (Commonwealth, 2013) explicitly recommended the development of community based-approaches to youth suicide prevention. Skills for Life is a social-emotional learning curriculum designed to be taught in middle schools (years 7-9) to children from remote Aboriginal communities. The curriculum was developed and piloted by a team at CCDE from 2013-2015 with initial assistance of funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health and in close partnership with staff of Maningrida College, West Arnhem Land. The development of teaching resources explicitly sought to take into account the significant variability in levels of literacy of students. Since 2015/16, the curriculum has been taught in as many as remote NT schools and in one boarding college in Darwin with well over 200 students to be exposed to the program in 2017.

The evaluation study involves the innovative use of measures of resilience and strengths as well as life stressors. Data gathered by the project can be fed back to schools to inform school approaches to student wellbeing and social-emotional learning.

Project Leader: Prof Gary Robinson