The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) was established in 2017 to develop and share evidence about effective suicide prevention approaches for Indigenous people and communities.
Building on the foundation of the earlier Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP), the CBPATSISP influences Indigenous suicide prevention policy, practice and research by promoting access to evidence and resources and through advocacy.
The work of the CBPATSISP is centred on the rights of Indigenous people and communities to self-determination, and the critical importance of cultural responses to distress alongside clinical approaches.
Key Work Programs
Clearing houses of best practice programs, services and research in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention
Accessible resources to support implementation of best practice suicide prevention responses, within communities and by governments
Policy consultations and submissions that promote self-determination and Indigenous governance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention services
The CBPATSISP is funded under the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program, which has the following objectives:
- Reduce the rate of suicide and suicidal behaviour through universal strategies that target and involve the whole population;
- Increase the capacity of individuals and communities to prevent and respond to suicide; and
- Support Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to lead a regional approach to service planning and integration for suicide prevention activities which meet the needs of individuals at the local level.
Professor Pat Dudgeon
Dr Ee Pin Chang
Dr Jemma Collova
Dr Georgiana Cheuk
The CBPATSISP is a consortium led by The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the School of Indigenous Studies, University of Western Australia, with partners:
National Suicide Prevention Leadership & Support Program Partners
The CBPATSISP is funded through the Commonwealth Government’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program, and has a formal partnership, established through a Memorandum of Understanding, with four organisations funded under the same program:
National Advisory Committee
A National Advisory Committee has been established to provide expert guidance and advice to the CBPATSISP. The Committee coordinates activities across the consortium and provides high level advice to support suicide prevention initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. It includes members representing the national consortium and other partners, as well as other organisations and individuals active in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention.
Professor Jill Milroy is Palyku from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Jill is Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous Education at the University of Western Australia and is the Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.
She has more than 30 years experience in Indigenous higher education developing programs and support services for Indigenous students as well as a range of Indigenous curriculum and research initiatives.
Jill has served on a number of national policy advisory bodies and in 2011 was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of her services to Indigenous education. Her key research interest is in Aboriginal knowledge, history, place and story systems.
Professor Tom Calma AO is an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group whose traditional lands are south west of Darwin and on the Coburg Peninsula in the Northern Territory of Australia, respectively.
He has been involved in Indigenous affairs at a local, community, state, national and international level and worked in the public sector for more than 40 years and is currently a member of many boards and committees focusing on rural and remote Australia, health, mental health, suicide prevention, education, justice reinvestment, research, reconciliation and economic development.
These include: Reconciliation Australia; Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation; Poche Centres for Indigenous Health Network; The Charles Perkins Trust; Ninti-One Ltd; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group; NSW Justice Reinvestment for Aboriginal Young People Campaign; National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health and the Healing Our Spirits Worldwide – The Eighth Gathering and a number of public and education sector committees. He is an Ambassador for Suicide Prevention Australia.
Prof Calma was the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner from 2004 to 2010 and Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009 at the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Prof Calma chaired the advisory group that developed the inaugural National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy, is a SPA Ambassador and co-chairs with Prof Pat Dudgeon the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group to the Commonwealth government.
Professor Pat Dudgeon was born and raised in Darwin and is descended from the Bardi people in the Kimberley.
As well as being the Director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP), she is also a Chief Investigator on an NHMRC Million Minds Mission Grant, Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing.
Professor Dudgeon led the highly influential Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP). The 2016 ATSISPEP report Solutions That Work: What the Evidence and Our People Tell Us, systematically documented for the first time the role of colonisation and trauma in Indigenous suicide, and the central role of Indigenous-led cultural responses in suicide prevention. This work remains the key text in Indigenous suicide prevention and policy.
Professor Dudgeon has published extensively in Indigenous mental health, social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention. She is a Fellow in the Australian Psychological Society and has served on many boards and councils. She is currently a board member of the Indigenous Australian Psychologists Association and of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia. She is a former Commissioner of the Australian National Mental Health Commission.
Glenn Pearson is Head of Aboriginal Research at the Telethon Kids Institute in Western Australia, joining the Institute in 2005.
As an accomplished educator, advocate and policy advisor, his directive is to ensure the Institute’s work reflects the needs of Aboriginal families, and is conducted in accordance with ethical and cultural protocols. Glenn brings to this role 15 years of working in senior positions within the WA and Australian Governments with experience in health, education and child protection.
He has been the Institute’s lead in the WA Aboriginal Health Knowledge Network (WAAHKN), a joint initiative of the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA), the Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) and the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) to establish four research hubs across WA with the first to be established in Broome. Glenn is completing a doctorate at UWA, with his research project exploring the delivery of child protection, health and educational services to Aboriginal families in Perth and Geraldton.
In addition to leading the Kulunga Aboriginal Research Development Unit (KARDU), Glenn is a member of the Telethon Institute’s leadership team. He led the establishment of its Telethon Kids Kimberley Office, co-located in the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) in Broome, enabling the Institute to maintain a permanent presence across the Kimberley, and providing a model for conducting Aboriginal research in regions such as the Pilbara, Kalgoorlie and Perth metro.
He currently sits on several boards in a continued commitment to make a positive difference in the lives of Aboriginal children and their families, including as Deputy Chair for the WA State Government’s Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention and as Chair of the Sister Kate’s Home Kids Corporation Board.
Professor Neil Drew AM is Director of the Australia Indigenous HealthInfoNet, an internet resource that informs practice and policy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by making research and other knowledge readily accessible. Neil has postgraduate qualifications in social psychology and more than 30 years’ experience working with a diverse range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and groups.
Prior to starting his university career Neil was psychologist for the Department of Family Services in Queensland, working with young offenders and the victims of child sexual abuse, then Head of Counselling and Welfare at Pimlico TAFE in Townsville. He has served on the Boards of many community based organisations including the Open Youth Project, Safecare WA, and the Community Arts Network He previously held positions at the University of Western Australia as Director of its Institute for Regional Development and the University of Notre Dame Australia as Foundation Head of Behavioural Science, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Deputy Head of the University Broome Campus of Reconciliation.
He was program coordinator of the Wundargoodie Aboriginal Youth and Community Wellbeing Program in the East Kimberley, established in 2006. The program promotes wellness and suicide prevention with young people in East Kimberley Aboriginal communities. He is co-author of chapters in the text, Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Mental Health Wellbeing Principles and Practice (2010/14) and co-author of the text Social Psychology and Everyday Life (2020).
Professor Gary Robinson leads the Indigenous Parenting and Family Research and the Suicide Prevention Research themes in the Centre for Child Development and Education.
He has led the evaluation of health, mental health and educational initiatives in the Northern territory, including the Tiwi Coordinated Care Trial (1997-2004) and the National Accelerated Literacy Program (2004-2009).
He has conducted long term ethnographic field research into Aboriginal adolescence, family relationships, parenting, suicide and self harm.
He has been responsible for the development and evaluation of school-based early intervention and prevention programs for Indigenous children and parents in urban and remote communities, with the Ngaripirliga’ajirri program in partnership with the Tiwi Health Board and the Let’s Start Parent-Child Program. In 2012, he led consultations to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and is currently chief investigator of a study of outcomes of admissions for deliberate self-harm in Northern Territory hospitals.
Sally Bishop is an Assistant Director with the Department of Health, working in suicide prevention. She has worked in allied health for more than 20 years, in regional and metropolitan rehabilitation services settings. Sally has also been a member of Rotary for a number of years, and has a strong interest in supporting the work undertaken in the community sector
Pat Turner AM , the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman, was born in 1952 and raised in Alice Springs. Her long association with Canberra began with a temporary position with the Public Service Board, leading to the Social Policy Branch of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) in 1979.
Joining the Australian Public Service (APS) in Alice Springs as a switchboard operator in the Native Affairs Department , she moved to Canberra in 1978, joining the senior executive ranks of the public service in 1985, when she became Director of the DAA in Alice Springs.
Pat then became First Assistant Secretary, Economic Development Division in the DAA, and in 1989, Deputy Secretary. She worked as Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet during 1991-92, with oversight of the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and with responsibility for the Office of the Status of Women among other matters.
Between 1994 -1998, Pat was CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, which made her the most senior Indigenous government official in Australia. After stints in senior positions at the Department of Health and at Centrelink, Pat Turner left the APS and Canberra in 2006, returning to Alice Springs with her mother to live.
There, she has continued to advocate on the behalf of indigenous people, including taking on what she described as ‘one of the best working experiences of my life’ as CEO of National Indigenous Television (2006 – 2010). Other memorable experiences include a period as Festival Director of the 5th Festival of Pacific Arts in Townsville, Queensland (1987-88) and as Chair of Australian Studies at Georgetown University in Washington DC (1998-99).
Turner retired from the APS in 2006, not particularly happy with the state of the organisation she was leaving, but happy about the prospect of spending more time with family and focusing on grass roots projects. In 2011, she was appointed to the advisory council of the Australian National Preventative Health Agency. In April 2016 she was appointed CEO of NACCHO.
Turner holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Canberra where she was awarded the University prize for Development Studies.
Rob McPhee is the CEO of the Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, Northern Territory. He has cultural connections to Derby and the Pilbara. He has held a number of roles including the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service based in Broome, along with teaching positions at Curtin University and the University of Western Australia. Rob has also worked as a senior adviser to the oil and gas industry. He is passionate about social justice for Indigenous people and co-chairs the Commonwealth-funded Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial Site Working Group.
Fiona Cornforth is the CEO of the Healing Foundation. She is a Wuthathi descendant of the far north east cape of Queensland with family roots also in the Torres Strait Islands. She has an extensive background working as part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ community, business and government initiatives for better outcomes and impact.
On a foundation of senior and leadership roles in the community, and all tiers of government, Fiona has used her management degrees and tertiary teaching accreditation to raise awareness around the impacts of intergenerational trauma and the power and strengths of First Nations peoples’ cultures for healing.
Fiona has gained experience and perspectives in education, leadership and business development globally and shares a message of celebration and gratitude for the greatness of ancestors, Elders, and the ontology and authority that holds her and her family.
Dr Kahu McClintock, with iwi (tribal) affiliations to Waikato/Maniapoto, Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Porou, has worked in the health and disability sector in Aotearoa (New Zealand) for more than 30 years. She holds a DPhil (psychiatry) MPhil (Māori), B Ed, Higher Dip Teaching Dip Nursing (Psychiatric). Kahu was a Member of the Māori Health Committee, New Zealand Health Research Council from 2008 to 2014, and Chair of Ngā Kanohi Kitea Community Research Committee, New Zealand Health Research Council during that term.
In 2014 she was appointed Manager Research at Te Rau Ora (formerly Te Rau Matatini) and successfully led the evaluation of 47 Waka Hourua community suicide initiatives from 2014-2017.
She also led the development and implementation of the National Māori Suicide Prevention Research agenda 2014 -2021.
Kahu currently represents her Waikato iwi on the Partnership Governance Board of the Waikato District Health Board and looks forward to being involved in the navigation and establishment of a National Māori Health Authority.
Adjunct Associate Professor Learne Durrington has a long-held professional and personal interest in, and commitment to, improving mental health and wellbeing in vulnerable communities. As the CEO of the WA Primary Health Alliance she influences the design and implementation of suicide prevention activities undertaken by the PHNs in WA. Learne has held senior roles in mental health with responsibility for statewide public mental health services along with a range of policy and funding roles. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor in health services, and holds social work and post graduate management qualifications.
Nieves Murray commenced as CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia in May 2018. Throughout her 30+ year career in the social sciences, Nieves has lived and breathed her passion for enabling vulnerable people to have more choice and control over how they live their lives.
Nieves spent over a decade at the helm of IRT Group, one of Australia’s largest community-owned seniors’ lifestyle and care providers, driving record growth, customer satisfaction and social impact. She has held non-executive leadership roles in financial services, tertiary education, property development, retail, research, health, aged care and retirement living since 2001. Her contributions have been recognised at a regional, national and international level. In 2013 Nieves was named one of Australia’s 100 Most Influential Women by the Australian Financial Review.
As a long-term Lifeline and Vinnie’s Van volunteer and previous Director of Coordinate, the South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network, Nieves has been at the front line of homelessness and mental health in Australia.
A Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Managers and Leaders, Nieves is currently:
- Independent Chair of Family Spirit, a joint start-up venture by Marist 180 and CatholicCare Sydney.
- A Member of the University of Wollongong Council and Member of its Audit and Risk and Nominations Committees.
- A Director of the Community Alliance Credit Union and Member of the Board Governance and Remuneration and Nominations Committees.
The CBPATSISP promotes the development of culturally responsive community, family and individual support systems and programs to promote social and emotional wellbeing and reduce high risk behaviours and suicide.
Pathways to recovery need to support people and communities to address their loss, grief and disconnection, trauma and helplessness, powerlessness and lack of control. This requires a focus on:
- Self-determination and community governance
- Reconnection and community life
- Restoration and community resilience
All the work of the CBPATSISP is informed by the nine guiding principles from The National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023.
These principles take into account the cultural, social, spiritual, economic, historical and contemporary context of Indigenous communities in the delivery of health, mental health and social services.
They emphasise the strength of Indigenous communities and their right to self-determination, calling on service providers to align programs to the priorities of local communities through shared governance and respectful engagement. These principles are:
Centrality of Culture
Culture is central to Indigenous peoples’ social and emotional wellbeing and protective against distress and suicide.
Culture, anchored in connections to ancestors and Country, is the basis of Indigenous peoples’ traditions, values, spirituality, language, art and ways of knowing and being.
Researchers Michael Chandler and Christopher Lalonde used the term “cultural continuity” to describe Indigenous peoples’ sense of history, identity and relationships through cultural practices, finding suicide rates were greatly reduced in Canadian First Nations communities with strong Indigenous governance and community facilities for the preservation of culture.
Similar observations have been made in Indigenous communities in Australia, where strong cultural practices have been shown to protect against self-harm and suicide.
In promoting Indigenous suicide prevention programs, services and resources, the CBPATSISP emphasises the central role of culture, as well as, Indigenous governance and leadership.
The CBPATSISP uses the following definitions for the key concepts that make up our work.
Best Practice refers to the best available evidence to guide treatment, prevention approaches and practices. The CBPATSISP views best practice through an Indigenous community lens. It indicates activities:
- With the highest degree of proven effectiveness in Indigenous community/ cultural contexts
- With transferability across urban, rural and remote settings
- Identified by high quality research/evaluations
Characteristics that need to be considered when developing and delivering programs and services include effectiveness and efficacy. These two concepts are distinguished below:
Effectiveness addresses the question: Does the program, service or initiative work in Indigenous contexts? Effectiveness is the real world impact of the prevention activity – that is the extent to which the level of care, intervention or action achieves the desired outcome/s. It is the efficacy of a strategy taking into account the specific challenges, constraints and opportunities within the specific context and communities. For example, a theoretically sound program may have to address a range of local issues that act as a barrier to participation.
The effectiveness of programs, services and initiatives are generally best understood, assessed and demonstrated in the community by involving community people who are intended to benefit.
Efficiency addresses the question: Does the program, service or initiative deliver cost and resource effective outcomes? Efficiency is the extent to which a program’s activities are being produced with appropriate use of resources such as budget and staff time. Efficiency involves comparison of the program’s actual outcomes with the use of resources and the process to achieve these outcomes.
The ATSISEP defined cultural safety as an environment which is safe for Indigenous people with shared respect, shared meaning, shared knowledge, shared experience and dignity (ATSISPEP, 2016).
Culturally safe service environments are welcoming for Indigenous people. It is a model of practice which respects and supports patients’ identities. Markers of culturally safe environments include Indigenous staff working in all positions of an organisation, and artwork and posters celebrating Indigenous life and culture. Cultural safety is also important for Indigenous health workers to work effectively in mainstream health services – free from discrimination, where their Indigeneity is valued, and at an individual level they feel secure, safe and respected (Williams, 1999).
Cultural safety can be seen as a higher order concept that includes cultural awareness, responsiveness and competence. This is reflected in definitions such as the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwifes (CATSINaM) which describes cultural safety as a “philosophy of practice” that informs not only what health professionals do but how much they work. Others, as Walker, Schultz and Sonn (2014), have included the concept of critically reflective practice in their definition of cultural competence. Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice - Cultural Competence - Transforming Policy, Programs and Practice, Chapter 12 (2014)
The Indigenous Allied Health Association (IAHA, 2015) definition of cultural responsiveness includes six capabilities:
The service provider holds culture as central to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing
Involves ongoing reflective practice and life-long learning
Is relationship focussed
Is person and community centred
Appreciates diversity between groups, families and communities
Requires access to knowledge about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, peoples and cultures
The National Practice Standards for the Mental Health Workforce (2013) which addresses the core knowledge, skills, values and attitudes of competence expected of mental health practitioners and outlines specific expectations of competence for working with Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people, families and communities in Standard 4. Walker et al (2014) provides a detailed discussion of competence and defines the concept as involving the “skills, knowledge, attitudes and values” necessary for effective intercultural transactions within diverse social, cultural and organisational contexts. Cultural competence is seen as a dynamic process that involves reflective practice as a key element.
With reflective practice seen as a critical component for culturally safe practice, some authors have suggested that responsiveness is a better term than cultural competencies or capabilities (Dudgeon et al, 2016). Although intended as a dynamic concept, the word “competence” implies that knowledge and skills acquired during a course of training could finite. The concept of cultural responsiveness includes competence but goes beyond it by recognising life-long learning, or the need for ongoing evolution of skills and abilities over time. The concept of cultural responsiveness also acknowledges the complexities and divergence within and between different cultural groups and allows for flexibility in working respectfully with cultural differences.
The Cultural Respect Framework 2016-2026 (CRF) defines cultural respect as: “Recognition, protection and continued advancement of the inherent rights, cultures and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” The framework provides a set of cultural respect indicators for health services when working in partnership. The CBPATSISP has developed an Indigenous Governance Guide which suggests that a culturally respectful partnership supports and works to the leadership and direction of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governing bodies.
The CRF aims to provide the Australian public health sector with strategies for culturally respectful services and consists of six domain and focus areas that are the foundation of culturally respectful service delivery with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bodies (Dudgeon et al. 2018; Indigenous Governance Guide). The six domain and focus areas are:
1. Whole of organisation approach and commitment
3. Workforce development and training
4. Consumer participation and engagement
5. Stakeholder partnership and collaboration
6. Data, planning, research and evaluation
The primary audience for the CRF is the Australian public health system. This framework should be used in the government health sector, health departments, hospitals and primary health care settings to guide strategies to improve culturally respectful services. Where your work interacts with health service delivery and design, the CRF should be used as a reference to ensure that the health system is accessible, respectful and safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In mental health, evidence-based practice is the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture and preferences (APA, 2012).
Evidence-based principles encompass the idea that interventions should not only be based on evidence but also generate evidence (Kelaher, et al, 2018). Evidence-based policy and program approaches are two pronged. First, they involve the incorporation of established evidence into decision making to ensure programs are appropriate and effective and have the best chance of achieving the desired outcomes. Second, an evidence-based approach necessitates a robust process of program evaluation and the integration of evaluation outcomes into policy making and program design.
The CBPATSISP has its genesis in the substantial work of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP).
The CBPATSISP builds on the Indigenous suicide prevention principles established through ATSISPEP and brings them to a wider audience of community leaders, policy-makers, service providers and practitioners, offering guidance on how to apply the principles in everyday practice.
Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conferences
In 2018 the CBPATSISP presented the second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference, and the second World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference.
Focused on common histories of colonisation and its effects, participants from the USA, Canada, New Zealand and other countries joined Australian leaders and community members to address causes and responses to high Indigenous suicide rates through community empowerment. The conferences were also a powerful platform for advocacy with political leaders in all participating countries and communities.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) was funded by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to assist the Australian Government to identify what programs and services are most effective in responding to high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide.
ATSISPEP, which was active from 2015 to 2017, was led by Professor Pat Dudgeon and managed by the School of Indigenous Studies (SIS), at the University of Western Australia, in collaboration with the Telethon Kids Institute and the Healing Foundation.
Its aims were to:
- prioritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of working
- establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth forum
- strengthen the evidence base for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention
- develop an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural framework for suicide prevention services and programs.
Key outcomes of ATSISPEP were:
- Solutions that work – What the evidence and our people tell us
- This is the final report of ATSISPEP. It summarises the international and Australian evidence for Indigenous suicide prevention and offers practical guidance to organisations establishing services and programs
- ATSISPEP Report of the Critical Response Pilot Project
- This is an evaluation of an innovative crisis service that was trialled in the Kimberley in 2015 and 2016.
- The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference 2016
The two-day conference in Alice Springs brought together leaders from across Australia for the first national discussion of Indigenous Suicide Prevention. It produced powerful and influential outcomes summarised in the conference report.
Moortang Yoowarl Dandjoo Yaanginy
Families (Cultures) Coming Together for a Common Purpose (Sharing) – Shifting Sands
About the Artwork
This artwork represents our people doing business on country that is recovering from colonisation, our lands taken over, our cultures decimated, and our families separated causing hardship, despair, and loss of hope.
The many years of oppression to our cultures that our families and our Elders have had to endure has meant that we have needed to adapt and learn to engage and address a wide range of issues impacting on our families, in both traditional and contemporary ways. We are concerned with strengthening and reconnecting to our countries, cultures and families, to nurturing cultural identity and pride whilst still trying to carry our immediate and collective business as First Peoples of Country, but, on Shifting Sands.
The strong representation of our connected communities in the foreground of the painting symbolises the strength of our people as a group, displaying a new sense of cultural identity and pride, and a place of belonging while acknowledging the trauma affecting our families in the present.
We are rising once again, taking control of our own destinies, linking up strongly to each other across an uncertain terrain that will once again become solid as we become reconnected at all levels within a spirit of hope.
About the Artist
Aunty Roma Winmar, Noongar artist, was born in Gnowangerup, a small town in the southwest of Western Australia, in 1944. Her artwork has been presented nationally and internationally with numerous exhibitions. Aunty Roma is a Noongar Language teacher at the Moorditj Noongar Community College in Middle Swan, Western Australia.
Artwork Copyright: Roma Winmar 2018