Can it be done? An evaluation of staff perceptions and affordability of a school-based multi-component integrated intervention for improving the resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boarding students

  • Tessa Claire Benveniste
  • Alexandra Van Beek, Ms Central Queensland University
  • Janya McCalman, Prof Central Queensland University
  • Erika Langham, Ms Central Queensland University
  • Roxanne Bainbridge, Prof Central Queensland University


Internationally, schools have recognised the need for supporting and improving the resilience of students, particularly those facing a multiplicity of challenges. However, social and emotional learning programmes, including those aimed at enhancing resilience, are often not evaluated thoroughly nor detail process and economic evaluations. This paper evaluates a multi-component integrated intervention designed to strengthen the resilience of remote-living Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students attending boarding schools. This evaluation is largely process-based, focussing on the acceptability, feasibility, preliminary outcomes and affordability of implementation of the intervention.  Fourteen boarding or teaching staff members, eight female and six who identified as Aboriginal, were interviewed. The interviews were conducted with staff members at eight Queensland boarding sites where the intervention was delivered. Qualitative inductive thematic analysis was used to evaluate feasibility and acceptability and outcomes described by staff. A descriptive analysis of the costs (AU$ 2018) was performed in Microsoft Excel 2013. This evaluation identified multiple major themes around feasibility and acceptability, including sharing experience across sites, staff knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, and perceived student achievement, leadership and relationships. Implementation of the resilience intervention was considered feasible and affordable, and embraced by boarding providers.  School-based participatory action research interventions aimed at improving culturally appropriate support structures for Indigenous boarding students are achievable with the appropriate resourcing and time to implement and embed change.