Professor Pat Dudgeon from the Bardi people of the Kimberly area in Western Australia is a Psychologist and Research Fellow at the School of Indigenous Studies at the University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention. She is a Commissioner of the Australian National Mental Health Commission, on the executive board of the Australian Indigenous Psychologist’s Association, and co-chair of the Commonwealth Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group.
She is the project leader of a National Empowerment Project: Indigenous suicide prevention, working in Aboriginal communities across the country and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project. Her many publications in Indigenous mental health include ‘Working Together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice 2014’. She is actively involved with the Aboriginal community and committed to social justice for Indigenous people.
A Sense of Hope
Suicide and mental health conditions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are double the rate of non-Indigenous people, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting over 100 deaths by suicide each year. This crisis must be addressed before it becomes any further entrenched. In order to treat mental illnesses and suicide we must also look at other challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Mental health cannot be treated in isolation.
Responding to alarming statistics, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project, was announced in September 2014. This project, undertaken by the School of Indigenous Studies, is formally evaluating a range of existing suicide prevention programs and services. Project findings will enable the development of a much-needed evidence base for ‘what works’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention.
A critical part of the Project was a series of community roundtables that enabled community input.
Roma is a respected Nyoongar Elder of the Menang and Goren people from the Great Southern region, Western Australia. Roma began her career in the 1980s as an artist with her works exhibited in museums worldwide. She has worked thirty years in education, and supports education programs for Aboriginal children and their families in her role as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Officer at the Aboriginal Moodtij College. She teaches Nyoongar language for the Lote Program with a foundation in cultural recovery sharing her cultural knowledge with Aboriginal younger generations for their cultural, social and emotional wellbeing. She participates in forums, conferences and community gatherings in support of Aboriginal Human Rights. Roma is a Sister Kates Foundation Trustee, and works with the Sister Kates Home Kids Aboriginal Corporation in a Joint Partnership Executive to build a Healing and Remembrance Centre of Excellence.
Tjajalminu Mia is a Menang, Goreng, Wardji woman from the Nyoongar Nation, Great Southern region, Western Australia. A Stolen Generations survivor, Tjalaminu is Managing Director of the Sister Kates Home Kids Aboriginal Corporation and Trust planned Healing Centre and Cultural Recovery Healing Programs. She is an Aboriginal person on the international Indigenous Peoples Action Group for the World Forum for Children’s Education and Human Rights Advocacy. Tjalaminu was a coordinator of the first WA Aboriginal Judicial Conference ‘Talking Law and Culture in Mother Country’ in 2010. She has authored books and staged multiple art exhibitions around cultural recovery, social justice, environmental issues and global cultural exchange and healing. Her work now is developing a series of cultural healing programs with back to country cultural healing bush camps as a major component. For extended families to reconnect to ease the pain and trauma they still feel, by walking back to wellbeing.