Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is an experiential learning approach that simultaneously engages sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote wellbeing outcomes. EAL is very different to office-based social and emotional wellbeing interventions and seems particularly suited to support the wellbeing of Aboriginal young people due to their flexibility, their non-confrontational non-verbal methods for feedback, and importantly, the historical ties to horses through working and living on country. Suicide is still a very real, and all too often occurrence among our Aboriginal young people and youth in our communities, most prominently through the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The Yawardani Jan-ga (Horses doing Healing) EAL intervention responds to the urgent needs of Aboriginal young people across the Kimberley. This study aims to evaluate the impact of the EAL intervention on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal young people.

The study will employ a non-experimental study design and use research methods that privilege the voices and experiences of Aboriginal children, families and communities including participant observation during EAL sessions, yarning with participants and parent/carers, and interviews with school teachers. These methods will capture (a) equine communication as a mechanism for participant awareness and emotion regulation, (b) the development of communication, emotion regulation, and prosocial skills, and (c) transference of these skills competencies across relational contexts (e.g. home and school environments) across three follow-up periods: one immediately after the intervention, six and 12 months after the completion of the intervention.

This project has the potential to answer fundamental questions about what type of services and programs can achieve significant positive changes for our Aboriginal young people, and how these interventions can be centred around family, community, culture and country. With over 900 participants something is going very right. The benefits to the community has very much been a very positive ripple effect.

Research components are supported by NHMRC and Healthway.


Are you interested in visiting us at Yawardani Jan-ga?

We offer 1 on 1 sessions for people in need, as well as programs tailored to schools and community groups. Get in touch with us to find out more.