Potential areas for collaborative research

by Anita Pryor

Acknowledgement of histories:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations peoples of the Australian continent have been accessing nature for health, wellbeing and healing for millennia. We acknowledge that colonisation violently removed people from country, and systemically disrupted cultural nature-based relationships and practices. We also acknowledge that survivors of colonisation continue to strive for connections and reconnections with country for health, wellbeing and healing. 

Within mainstream Australian culture, nature has been accessed for intentional health benefits since at least the early 1950’s; perhaps in small ways since colonisation. Over the past few decades, nature-based health practices have matured, and the research evidence base of nature-based health practices has grown exponentially.

Recent research demonstrates that ‘contact with nature’ improves human physical and mental wellbeing, and that ‘connection to country’ is vital for place-based peoples; perhaps all peoples. In recent times, mainstream Australians have become more aware of the physical and mental health benefits of time in nature, and many have become more intentional about going outdoors for health, wellbeing and healing.

The following list of hypotheses are supported and are yet to be comprehensively reviewed or trialled:   

  • Nature-contact and nature-based interventions offer a cost-effective health solution across the continuum of need.
  • Nature-based health interventions offer bio-psycho-socio-ecological healthcare.
  • Applied in infancy, childhood and early adulthood, nature-contact and nature-based interventions could help to reduce the significant costs of providing downstream primary and mental health treatments.
  • Nature-contact and nature-based interventions could help to reduce the significant fiscal burden of providing healthcare to aging populations.
  • Nature-based interventions complement conventional treatments. 
  • Nature-based interventions may provide effective standalone treatment for a range of difficulties, disadvantages, disconnections and ailments. 
  • Practitioners and workforces may experience spin-off health benefits from delivering nature-based health interventions. 
  • Natural environments may experience spin-off benefits from the delivery of nature-based human health interventions in natural settings.