Outdoor Health Research Forum 2021

Outdoor Health Research Forum

Date: Thursday 5th August 2021, 10am – 2pm
Theme: Investigating Human-Nature-Health Relationships
Location: University of Tasmania (Hobart) and Online
Fee: $20 per person to help cover the cost of IT support


The Outdoor Health Research Forum 2021 provides an opportunity for researchers to share their work, explore intersections, and germinate collaborative projects with impact. As well as hearing from key speakers, attendees will have an opportunity to share a brief overview of their work with the whole group.

Venue for in-person attendance

University of Tasmania, Hobart. Space TBC


While most of the morning will be spent sharing current research, and most of the afternoon will be spent cross-fertilising research ideas, we’ve asked 3 inspiring people to share their work with us in a more formal way.

Sharnie Read (nee Everett)

Sharnie is an Aboriginal Tasmanian woman and cultural leader. She will Welcome us to nipaluna/ lutruwita Country and share stories of the Strong in Country Project, including the importance of on-country Aboriginal cultural practices, and the significance of research that highlights how ‘going outdoors’ builds health, wellbeing and cultural healing.

Jacob Prehn

Dr. Jacob Prehn (PhD, MSW, B.Soc.Sc.) is an Indigenous Fellow, Lecturer, and Coordinator of the Master of Social Work Course in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania. Jacob’s research goals are to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to achieve their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. His publications include quantitative and qualitative data exploring a range of topics such as Aboriginal men and masculinities, Aboriginal health and wellbeing, Indigenous education (primary, secondary, and tertiary), critical sociology and social work, strengths-based approaches, and settler colonialism. He’s also interested in Indigenous data sovereignty and Indigenous methodologies. His PhD is entitled: “We’ve always done it. Country is our counselling office”: Masculinity, Nature-Based Therapy, and the Strengths of Aboriginal Men (University of Tasmania 2021).

Clare Raffety

Clare has trained in yoga therapy, fascial fitness, acupressure, craniosacral therapy, yoga philosophy, and meditation with some of the world’s most renowned teachers. In 2002 she founded Yoga from the Heart in Hobart, Tasmania, and grew and directed it until 2019. Clare says she has been fortunate to lead numerous workshops, and teacher trainings over the years. In 2020 she was appointed as an Adjunct Associate at the University of Tasmania working with postgraduate students to develop mindfulness, self-awareness and self-regulation. At the heart of what Clare offers is a strong calling to help others access their innate wisdom and potential for vitality so they can thrive and contribute their gifts in our world. For more information on Clare and her work through Aligned Living Tasmania go here:  https://alignedlivingtasmania.com/about/#about-clare


Following on from our inaugural OH National Research Forum held online in 2020, this event provides an opportunity for Australian researchers to share their work, explore intersections, identify student placements, and germinate collaborative projects.


Attending this day will connect attendees with current leading Human-Nature-Health research around Australia. Attendees will be blown away by the diversity and scope of projects already underway, and the research aspirations of this group. It is possible that a national OH research agenda or project will emerge from this day.      

Who is this for?

This event is for individual researchers, research groups, organisations and students – those who are passionate about the benefits of nature contact for human and environmental health, those who understand the importance of Indigenous and Aboriginal approaches, and those who wish to help deepen the evidence in this emerging sector.

How did this come about?

During the first big covid lockdown of 2020, AABAT’s Outdoor Health Policy Unit hosted a national online ‘Nature & Health – Research, Practice & Policy Symposium’ (June 2020). Led by Aboriginal cultural knowledge holders, and attended by over 600 people from all states and territories of Australia and 14 nations, the event struck a chord – during covid, people from all walks of life were taking themselves outdoors for health and healing. The event led to formation of a fortnightly ‘Roundtable’ for evidence-informed nature-based health practices, new research alliances, and two further events: an Inaugural National Outdoor Health Research Forum 2020 (Oct 2020) and a National Outdoor Health Roundtable (Nov 2020). This year’s OH Research Forum will be followed by a National Outdoor Health Symposium, showcasing research and practice, to be held in Adelaide SA on the 13th & 14th Oct 2021.

What do we mean by Outdoor Health?

Bush Adventure Therapy is just one of many evidence-informed nature-based health modalities within the emerging national Outdoor Healthcare sector. Others include: adventure therapy, adventure-based counselling, adventure-based youth work, animal-assisted therapy, care farming, ecopsychology, ecotherapy, environmental psychology, equine therapy, forest therapy, green social work, horticultural therapy, Indigenous approaches, nature-based counselling, nature-based expressive arts therapy, nature-based mindfulness, nature based therapy, occupational therapy outdoors, nature prescribing, outdoor counselling, outdoor education interventions, outdoor music therapy, outdoor therapy, rewilding, therapeutic horticulture, walk and talk therapy, and others!

What promise does Outdoor Health hold?

As the world grapples with new human and environmental health realities, there is an increasing and necessary role for nature within mainstream health systems. Research is beginning to demonstrate that early access to OH can prevent downstream illness, keep ill people well and out of hospital, and can also be used to ameliorate a range of diagnosed health issues. Testing the efficacy of OH in the treatment of Anxiety & Depression and Functional Neurological Disorders are just a few areas for potential investigation and application. The research evidence has caught up with what people intuitively know – that supported physically active social time in nature is beneficial for building health, including for those living with chronic illness. Outdoor Health offers a promising approach to restore the health of people and the planet, and help reduce future fiscal health burdens.