As a proud Njamal woman from the Pilbara region of Western Australia, Dr Tracy Westerman’s vision is to support students with remote and rural connections through their university studies with the aim of becoming Aboriginal psychologists skilled in Indigenous-specific mental health and suicide prevention and intervention programs.
To achieve this vision, Dr Westerman has established the Dr Tracy Westerman Aboriginal Psychology Scholarship Program to foster the development of the next generation of clinicians committed to researching and delivering evidence-based, best practice into our high-risk communities.
“Across Australia, Indigenous suicides occur at double the rate of non-Indigenous suicides. Alarmingly, 40% of child deaths in Indigenous communities are by suicide.
My vision is to support Aboriginal students with rural and remote connections to become psychologists, skilled in Indigenous-specific mental health, suicide prevention and intervention programs. To achieve this, I want to eliminate one very real barrier to Indigenous people studying at university - the financial barrier.
I am so excited that Curtin shares my passion for making a real difference to our most disadvantaged communities.”
Dr Tracy Westerman
With your support of the Dr Tracy Westerman Aboriginal Psychology Scholarship Program, together we can encourage and enable more Indigenous people to further their education and to help train future psychologists to make a real difference in regional and remote communities.
The inaugural recipients 2019
We are thrilled to share that five outstanding Indigenous students have been announced as the inaugural recipients of the Dr Tracy Westerman Aboriginal Psychology Scholarship Program.
Taylah resides in Midland, in outer metropolitan Perth, and has ties to Noongar, Yamatji and Thalanji country. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Psychology, and is due to graduate in 2021.
“As an Aboriginal person, I know myself and my family’s overall health has been damaged and impacted from past and present trauma and therefore I have chosen to study psychology to better understand this,” says Taylah.
“The Aboriginal concept of health involves not only the physical well-being of an individual, it can also involve the social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of the whole community.
“I believe I will be able to provide culturally safe and effective health practices to Aboriginal people to improve Aboriginal mental health outcomes.”
Cheyenne currently lives in Crawley, in metropolitan Perth, and has links to Banjima country in the Central Pilbarra in regional Western Australia. She completed the Indigenous Pre-Medicine and Health Sciences course at Curtin and is currently studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Psychology. She is due to graduate in 2021.
“As I am a young Aboriginal person, I understand the social issues that Indigenous youth are faced with today, having seen it first-hand,” says Cheyenne.
“With my degree, I hope to go into communities and help seek solutions for the problems the community faces by listening to the people and being their voice when they are not heard.
“I want to help solve the problems of suicide by being a trusted professional that is able to build strong relationships with at-risk kids.”
Nikki lives and grew up in Derby, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and has ties to Nykina, Jabirr Jabirr and Bardi country. She is studying a Bachelor of Psychology degree at Curtin and is due to graduate in 2021.
“It has always been a goal of mine to work in the Aboriginal mental health field and in a remote area,” says Nikki.
“This goal stems from my upbringing, in the remote town of Derby, where suicide was a common occurrence and unfortunately still is today. My upbringing has also provided me with first-hand experience of the social issues faced by Aboriginal people in remote areas and the lack of services available to address these issues.
“Once I obtain my degree, I plan to get employment either back in my home town or in another remote area, where the services are needed most.”
Yasmin lives in Trigg, in the northern suburbs of Perth, and has ties to Badimaya and Nyungar country. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology at Curtin and is due to graduate in 2021.
“In the future, I intend to work in remote areas,” says Yasmin.
“My goal is to create awareness about mental health issues and addiction for people living in those areas. I would also like to play a big role in suicide prevention as the suicide rates in regional Australia are significantly higher than those in the cities.
“By studying psychology, I will be able to understand the ways to treat these issues and make a positive impact in regional and remote communities.”
Saira (Maheen) Rind
Maheen lives in Noranda, in the northern suburbs of Perth, and has ties to Badimaya country in the mid-west of Western Australia. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology degree and is due to graduate in 2023.
“Growing up, I witnessed my grandmother suffer from depression and my mother and aunty suffering from anxiety,” says Maheen.
“I understand how mental health can deeply impact an individual. With my Aboriginal background and future degree, I intend to help those in remote and rural areas by approaching them in a way that is respectful and understanding of different cultures.
“Dr Tracy Westerman has made an impact on suicide prevention and improved the mental health of many. I look up to and respect those wishes.”