Zubrick, S.R., Holland, C., Kelly, K., Calma T., & Walker, R. (2014). The evolving policy context in mental health and wellbeing. In P. Dudgeon, H. Milroy and R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health principles and practice, 2nd edition (pp.69-90). Commonwealth of Australia. https://www.telethonkids.org.au/globalassets/media/documents/aboriginal-health/working-together-second-edition/wt-part-1-chapt-5-final.pdf

This chapter outlines the role of policy in setting directions for, and achieving change in, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB). Key national policies, frameworks and reports addressing mental health and SEWB up until mid 2013 are presented. Historical milestones surrounding key policies together with their effects on individual and community health and mental health outcomes and circumstances are described. These include the specific aims of key policies or reports; why they were developed and by whom; what they intended to achieve; and whether any programs, services, practices or processes were implemented and/or influenced. Policy development and implementation can be a piecemeal and at times ad hoc ‘action-response-action’ process to address a perceived issue or need, lacking any coherent strategic purpose. Changes in policies tend to be underpinned by assumptions regarding the policy process and the reasons for success or failure in policy or program implementation. This chapter focuses on the policies intended to specifically address mental health and SEWB as well as the relevant reports and commissioned inquiries that influenced these policies. As policies and priorities are determined by Australian, state and territory governments of the day, those identifed in this chapter may not necessarily reflect the policy direction of current governments.