The BRiTA Futures program began in 2002 in response to a study (Coping in a New World, 2001) that investigated the mental health needs and strengths of young people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) populations in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. This study highlighted the need for a group program for CALD adolescents addressing their particular needs arising out of the acculturation stressors on families such as cultural identity and intergenerational conflict with a focus on building resilience lifeskills.
In 2004 a 10-session adolescent group-based program was researched and piloted with positive results with content specifically designed to build resilience around acculturation stress, including the development of a bicultural identity. Evaluation tools were also developed, along with a training program for BRiTA Futures program facilitators. Over the years, the BRiTA Futures for Adolescents program has been reviewed to ensure is suitable for participants with a refugee experience and for those of the Islamic faith.
In 2008 a primary school version was published and it is currently being reviewed. View a report (PDF, 277.5 KB) on the background of the BRiTA Futures for Primary School Aged Children and the BRiTA Futures for Adolescent program.
The last version of the BRiTA Futures program is the one for Adults and Parents which was released in 2012.
Research collaborations with the Queensland University of Technology’s School of Psychology and Counselling and the University of Queensland’s Centre for Mental Health Research have resulted in the development and refinement of evaluation tools and a research data base for ongoing data analysis to ensure the programs remain effective and outcomes focused.
Resilience as an important mediating factor in the acculturation process to help minimise psychological distress is gaining more momentum in the research literature.
Resilience refers to a person's capacity to "bounce back" or adapt successfully after negative life experiences, lifespan transitions or difficult circumstances. It develops throughout the lifespan in response to the balance between risk factors (such as traumatic life events and the stress of acculturation) and protective factors (such as supportive relationships and cultural values), and underpins mental wellbeing and quality of life.
BRiTA Futures builds on the existing resilience of children, young people and adults from a CALD background and early indicators are that it is able to do this successfully. Analysis of the pre-program data of a total of 309 children and adolescents found that they had poor levels of wellbeing. Post-program evaluation data analysis showed significant improvement in global quality of life and wellbeing among participants (Mitchelson, Erskine, Ramirez, Suleman & Prasad-Ildes et al, 2010).
The breakdown of family ties and community cohesiveness, social isolation, loss of employment or "under-employment", high density living conditions, lack of access to culturally appropriate health services, language barriers, intergenerational conflicts, and breakdown of traditional cultural lifestyles and values are just some of the many risk factors faced by children, young people and adults arising from migration and acculturation.
These risk factors have consistently been linked to early school dropout and poor achievement, as well as numerous mental health and social problems throughout the lifespan. However, no programs specifically designed to help either children, young people or adults from CALD backgrounds to develop skills for coping positively with these issues had been developed either nationally or overseas.
Most programs designed to promote lifeskills make the implicit assumption that resiliency protective traits are common across all cultural groups, and therefore interventions tend to be developed according to the "one-size-fits-all" model.
The BRiTA Futures Program is unique in that all of its three versions are founded on an extensive review of the national and international research literature to identify those elements of resiliency that are culturally-determined, while the content has been carefully selected to ensure that cultural issues are woven into each module, both in terms of group activities (both content and processes) as well as topics to trigger group discussions and personal reflection activities. Additionally the content of the program is relevant to the acculturation experiences and issues for people from CALD backgrounds in Australia.
The key success to the implementation of BRiTA Futures is via the many partnerships that have been created with schools, mental health support agencies, youth services, settlement services, TAFE and community groups.
Nationally, BRiTA Futures for Primary School and Adolescents is listed with the federally funded student mental health and wellbeing initiatives Mindmatters and KidsMatter as program for CALD students.
The BRiTA Futures program has and continues partnering with academic bodies to publish about the development of the versions of the program and its evaluation tools as well as the impact evaluation of the program implementation. Publications include: