Building Readiness for Change: The Case of Yarrabah Men’s Group

  • Komla Tsey


There is no perfect time to engage communities of people in research. Serendipity is at the core of research engagement. Some of the most fulfilling projects or innovative solutions on which I have worked come from serendipitous situations: seeing possibilities and having the will and courage to take a risk and follow them up. As well as intellect, one must use intuition and gut feeling to seize opportunities and make the most of them. Communities and organisations may be interested in working with researchers, but it is not always obvious to them exactly how research may serve their needs and aspirations. The key is to create relationships that are based on deep listening, empathy and honesty. Ask what potential partners are doing and how research may add value. Researchers must put themselves in their partners’ shoes and imagine the challenges and opportunities they are facing. Through this understanding, researchers and research communities can envisage how research may strengthen what is being done. This story explains how a chance encounter with Yarrabah Men’s Group leaders laid the foundation for enduring research partnerships with significant social health benefits for a whole community.


  1. Mayo, K., Tsey, K., McCalman, J., Whiteside, M., Fagan, R., & Baird, L. (2009). The research dance: University and community research collaborations at Yarrabah, North Queensland, Australia. Health and Social Care in the Community, 17, 133–140. Scholar
  2. Prince, J., Jeffrey, N., Baird, L., Kingsburra, S., & Tipiloura, B. (2018). Stories from community: How suicide rates fell in two Indigenous communities. Canberra: Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Komla Tsey
    • 1
  1. 1.James Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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