In 2021 we started a collaborative project with the School of Allied Health at Curtin University and the Looking Forward Team, and we would like to share some of this great experience with you. The Debakarn Koorliny Wangkiny (working title) Project aims to create a supportive working and studying environment, improve the cultural capability of non-Aboriginal graduates and staff, and expand Community involvement in all aspects of the School of Allied Health to foster greater partnerships through the development of culturally grounded and Aboriginal led collaboration.

We are honoured to have a great team of Aboriginal co-researchers in the team: Renna Gayde, Lisa Kickett, Nathan Curran, and Marleigh Zada are students and staff at Curtin University, and with Aunty Liz Hayden and Aunty Kerry Thorne, who are working with the senior leadership group in the School of Allied Health. 

The Debakarn Koorliny Wangkiny (working title) Project follows the Our Journey, Our Story  and the Looking Forward, Moving Forward methodology of co-design and participatory action research. Our first cultural activity took place on the 20th and 21st of August with  a two-day On Country event in the township of Brookton. We are enormously grateful to Aunty Liz and her amazing family who so generously welcomed us, making each of us feel at home and spoiling us with delicious food. Although the forecast had predicted a rainy weekend, the Country gave us warm days and clear nights. We stayed on the Reserve in Brookton and Aunty Liz and other family members shared stories about the Reserve and their family history in the town and region. We visited the sacred sites, of Frog (Koya) Rock and Boodjin Rock, camped and sat around the fire at night yarning with family members. We were very privileged to enjoy a dance performance by Aunty Liz’s grandchildren and the insistence of the children and adults we joined the kids for some dancing! Our hearts and spirits returned to Perth filled with gratitude and joy.  

Camping around the fire

After the On Country, we continued developing and strengthening our relationships with the Storying sessions. The Storying creates a special space to get to know each other, building trust and setting the foundations for Senior Staff and co-researchers to work together. The first session was held on Friday 10th September at Manning Community Hall.  On this occasion, we had a special catered lunch by Kandice Hansen, who prepared kangaroo stew and damper. Kandice used her mum’s recipe, and with the help of her son (who has inherited his nan’s cooking skills), indulged us with tender and juicy kangaroo stew with crispy and soft damper. Yum!

The second Storying session took place on Wednesday 1st December. On this day, we followed the Storying with presentations from Angus Buchanan, Head of the School of Allied Health, and Michael Wright, project lead. Both presentations illustrated the achievements of the School and the role of senior staff, aligning the vision of the School with the aims of the Debakarn Koorliny Wangkiny project.


We will start 2022 with the first workshop of the year for the School of Allied Health on Monday 31st January. More exciting things are yet to come, we will keep you posted!