The Wharerātā Group of Indigenous mental health leaders from Canada, the United States, Australia, Samoa and New Zealand developed the Wharerātā Declaration in 2010.1 It comprises five themes on the importance of Indigenous leadership in addressing the common mental health challenges faced by Indigenous peoples around the world. Member countries of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership endorsed the Wharerātā Declaration in 2010 and now promote it as a key part of their work.
Through the March 2013 Sydney Declaration,3 the Wharerātā Declaration was endorsed in Australia by key government mental health agencies including the National Mental Health Commission, the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales, and the Government of Western Australia Mental Health Commission. The Queensland Mental Health Commission, forming later, also supports the Wharerātā Declaration.
This endorsement underpinned the formation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH) in 2013–2014. Guided by the Wharerātā Declaration, NATSILMH is an independent entity that is supported by the four Australian mental health commissions to provide national leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, and suicide prevention.
In December 2014, NATSILMH undertook to develop a companion declaration to the Wharerātā Declaration for use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. After the release of a discussion paper and a consultation process, the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration was launched on the 27th of August 2015.