Co-Researchers

locationWhadjuk Nyoongar Boodjar

Without the Aboriginal co-researchers, our work would not be possible.

The Elders are the wisdom and knowledge holders of culture, history, country and our communities. They have incredible experience in community and professional spheres at local, state and national levels. With this knowledge, the Elders hold the research team, the partner staff and the youth co-researchers throughout the work. The youth co-researchers also have a depth of experience through their community lives and their professional work. Their passion for their culture and community shines through.

“I can make a difference in what is being said here and I can bring it from a cultural and community perspective and I can bring it from an Aboriginal perspective.” – Aunty Millie Penny”

Uncle Albert McNamara

Looking Forward Moving Forward

“We are never too old to learn and we are all here to support each other, it all makes for a two-way learning process, and you have to live the life to understand it.”

Auny Irene McNamara

Looking Forward, Moving Forward

“If non-Aboriginal people weren’t here, I’d be standing here naked and proud in front of my mia mia (house), no electricity bill, no water bill, no light bill, on my country with all my family around me; we would all be happy.”

Aunty Helen Kickett

Looking Forward, Moving Forward | Building Bridges

“Well since being involved with the Looking Forward Project I sort of started coming out of my shell and talking more, not like before I used to be in the background. Now I can speak, you know.”

Uncle Charlie Kickett

Looking Forward, Moving Forward | Building Bridges

“We all have two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we talk.”

Aunty Vivienne Hansen

Looking Forward, Moving Forward

“She-oaks carry all the Nyoongar names. If you sit down under them you can hear our ancestors whispering.”

Uncle Mort Hansen

Looking Forward, Moving Forward

“You learn a lot just by camping and sitting around a campfire because that’s the way people used to get things sorted out. Sitting round a campfire can also be used as a healing for you because it makes you feel good.”

Aunty Cheryl Phillips

Building Bridges | Looking Forward Project | Elder-in-residence

“I think it’s always being able to have a voice and to be true about what you are doing, be honest with yourself and showing that to people that you are working with.”

Aunty Margaret Culbong

Looking Forward, Moving Forward | Building Bridges

“To work well with Nyoongar people, you must understand and stay with the dynamics of the community.”

Aunty Dot Getta

Looking Forward, Moving Forward

“Young people don’t take the time to stop and yarn anymore. If they did we can help them, talk to them, and support them.”

Uncle Jim Hayden

Looking Forward, Moving Forward

“I carry my people on my shoulders.”

Aunty Liz Hayden

Looking Forward, Moving Forward

“Service providers need to get political in their thinking to truly advocate community needs to government. This is necessary to bring about real change.”

Uncle Percy Hansen

Looking Forward, Moving Forward | School of Allied health

“My ancestors were here long before me, to me they were always a part of this land. The feelings that I have for my country, I think you’ll understand.”

Aunty Louise Hansen

Looking Forward, Moving Forward | School of Allied Health

“We need to keep our young people strong and we do this by connecting them through culture.”

Aunty Joanna Corbett

Looking Forward, Moving Forward | School of Allied Health

“We’ve got such a beautiful culture and a beautiful history that’s ours.”

Aunty Oriel Green

Looking Forward, Moving Forward | Our Journey, Our Story

“..when we’re talking and when we’re telling them something, they’re writing it all down, so that you know they’re hearing what you’re saying, which I find really interesting and it tells me that they really want to be able to engage in a way that Aboriginal people feel comfortable..”

Aunty Moya Newman

Looking Forward, Moving Forward | Our Journey, Our Story

“If you want something to be successful, really think about how you engage with the people.”

Uncle Peter Wilkes

Looking Forward, Moving Forward

“They (the service) actually listen and take advice from the Elders. So, it’s not like we just come along and it’s a token thing, you know. They actually listen and put some of those ideas and things into practice and, you know, hopefully those practices or ideas that we give them are good for them when they’re working..”

Aunty Sandra Wilkes

Looking Forward, Moving Forward

“That’s what we’re here for, to help, but with all this system and stuff like that, I didn’t have a clue, but now I know some, you know. I’m still learning, still learning, but we don’t have to know that, we just have to know our job and that’s to be there when someone wants us, you know, and just let them know that we’re here.”

Aunty Millie Penny (nee Walley)

Looking Forward, Moving Forward | Ethical decision-making project

“..the beauty of this is inclusiveness in that decision making from the top level, yeah, that can filter down and it needs to be because usually it’s from the ground up.”

Uncle Fred Penny

Ethical decision-making project

Aunty Charmaine Pell

Looking Forward, Moving Forward

“We’ve been working in places for a long, long time and nobody’s really taken any notice, but things are happening now, you know, with a lot of us older Aboriginal people getting in on these committees, you know, and having our voices heard.”

Aunty Gwen Corunna

Building Bridges

“It’s always been a black and white situation, there is no trust in mental health services across the board because of past history and the intergenerational trauma that’s been handed down to the young ones who’ve learnt not to trust organisations and therefore don’t go to them for help”

Aunty Muriel Bowie

Building Bridges

“It’s all them little things and even before you even talk, you’re actually saying things before you actually talk. The way you look, the way you smile, the way you walk, you know. All that there is all … you’re speaking, you know what I mean, and a lot of people don’t realise that we actually see, we tune into that straight away.”

Uncle Johnny Puertollano

Our Journey, Our Story

“One of the biggest words in mental health or any support agencies is outreach but if you have a look at these agencies, they don’t outreach, they sit in the office and they “in reach”; wait for people to come in to them. So there is not enough going out and sitting on the grass, sitting on the dirt and going out on country with young people”

Uncle Kevin Puertollano

Our Journey, Our Story

“..sit and listen to them rather than tell them oh this is this, this is this…you know I believe in listening before action, because if you don’t listen to them they’re not going to listen to you.”

Aunty Linda Dean

Our Journey, Our Story

"It’s such a paternalistic society we live in and we don’t want that. We want our voices to be heard, you know. We have a right to have our voices, you know, to be heard in this country. I mean the bottom line is we were here first, bottom line, [laughs] and that consideration has to be made and recognised.

Toni Skeen

Our Journey, Our Story

“It’s up to young people to facilitate change, at whatever level that is. So that’s what interests me, being part of something, but from the start, and it being true and genuine.”

Vincent Carter

Our Journey, Our Story

“I was speaking to a few of the other younger participants and we were all talking about how this would be a good way to engage young people by just sitting and having them talk about themselves and be able to have the confidence to tell people what’s actually going on in their lives and know that its going to be okay and people are there to listen to them”

Alden Lands

Our Journey, Our Story

“What I feel we need to do as a starting point is start building relationships as individual in ourselves, so much trauma has been pushed down, generation to generation and we haven’t allowed that trauma to be expressed, we haven’t allowed those emotions to truthfully come out, to hear real stories”

Ashton Ramirez-Watkins

Building Bridges

“One of my favourite experiences during the project was the time us young people started to actually realise why it’s so important to be a part of this. To have this communication with services and why there’s a need for the young people’s voice to be heard during these meetings and why there needs to be a better approach towards mental health, between the young people and also the Aboriginal Community”

Hunter Culbong

Building Bridges

“…services will talk about young people facing stigma, but it’s a more narrow kind of understanding of what that means, no real experiential understanding of what that means for an Aboriginal young person.”

Shae Anderson

Building Bridges

“I think the take home message should be that there’s empowerment in community, so everyone really strives, especially in the mental health area, to help, better and empower each other and I think the best way to find out what’s out there is to actually get into your community and find out what’s going on, to meet the right people, but to do that you have to be linked to actually go into those communities and have those conversations.”

Krystyn Bonney

Building Bridges

Krystyn Bonney Building Bridges “As a young person, we don’t relate to a service logo, we relate to people”

Lalin Manado

Building Bridges

“Trauma is passed through generations even though you might not have experienced it personally…the way that your grandparents and your parents shape you, creates how you act and how you pass on trauma…”

Aggie Manel-Caracciolo

Our Journey, Our Story

“…that responsibility is always left to the Aboriginal workers and that’s frustrating, because the narrative should be that it’s a work load for all Australians, like it’s a work load for everyone, so why can’t we all just get on board with that”

Matthew Bill

Building Bridges

“At the end of the day, a non-Aboriginal person can learn how to be culturally sensitive and give cultural support. It’s not taboo for non-Aboriginal people”

Mae Ramirez-Watkins

Building Bridges

“Young people are only going there for emergency time and there’s not that continuous support or if it’s still there they’re not accessing it”

Seqoiah Darcy

Our Journey, Our Story

Ben McKenzie

Our Journey, Our Story

Stewart Jan

Our Journey, Our Story

Aunty Cheryl Taylor

Our Journey, Our Story

Kerry Colgate

Our Journey, Our Story

Uncle Paul Parfitt

Our Journey, Our Story

Aunty Kathy Davis

Our Journey, Our Story

John Mogridge

Our Journey, Our Story

Lachlan Sibosado

Our Journey, Our Story

Lulkbudia Mclean

Our Journey, Our Story

Marleigh Zada

Our Journey, Our Story

Alex Merendino

Our Journey, Our Story

Stephanie McGuire

Our Journey, Our Story

Kaisha Champion

Our Journey, Our Story

Kaito Sibosado

Our Journey, Our Story

Watch this space!

More Co-researchers
joining us soon..

Previous Elders

Robin Thorne

Looking Forward Project (2011 - 2015)

“People think Nyoongar people have lost their culture, but our culture is still strong.”

Vale Aunty J Hayden

Looking Forward Project

“The Elders have been silenced for too long. Now our voice is being heard.”

Vale Aunty S Thorne

Looking Forward Project

“We didn’t need hospitals, our bush is our hospital, our plants are our medicines. We had our own doctors we didn’t need anything else. Colonisation created a lot of illness for Nyoongar people. The roads are too long and too hard to do it alone, we must work together.”

Vale Uncle A Corunna

Building Bridges

“You’ve got to treat them like a human beings [in counselling”