The Ngangk Yira Institute for Change is doubling down on its pursuit of solutions to widespread Indigenous health and social equity challenges with the launch of three new research Centres.
The Yorga, Maaman and Koolanga Research and Advocacy Centre, Yawardani Jan-ga Research and Advocacy Centre and Coolamon Research and Advocacy Centre will each focus on different factors impacting the lives of Aboriginal families and communities.
The three centres were officially launched at an event at Murdoch’s new academic building Boola Katitjin on Wednesday, 27 September, where Professor Fiona Stanley AC, Patron of the Institute, spoke on the importance of accelerating solutions to Indigenous challenges.
“Our health and human services systems need to be culturally safe, and change is not happening fast enough,” she said.
"Research has shown us time and again that a strong start in life is fundamental for healthy and resilient Aboriginal people and communities, so fostering this is central to our work across the three centres,” Pro Vice Chancellor of the Institute, Professor Rhonda Marriott said.
As we embark on this critical point of diversification, these three distinct and yet interconnected research centres will focus on positively building the health, social and emotional wellbeing, empowerment and self-determination of Aboriginal families, and communities.
“Through the Yorga, Yawardani and Coolamon Centres, the Institute will lead practical solutions that will change the life course for those who need to see change the most.”
The research priorities of each centre – and the Institute as a whole – are determined through a partnership between Elders, community stakeholders, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers and focus on complex issues in Aboriginal health and the achievement of social equity.
Yorga, Maaman and Koolanga Research and Advocacy Centre
The Yorga Centre builds on Ngangk Yira’s foundational research to support Aboriginal women and families ease of access to culturally secure health and social service systems. Interim Centre Director Professor Marriott said the world first Baby Coming You Ready project is a terrific example of this.
“Baby Coming You Ready has been designed by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people to overcome the many barriers Aboriginal mothers experience in their antenatal and post-natal care,” she said.
“The project provides non-Aboriginal professionals with a culturally safe and strengths-based approach to empower Aboriginal mums to be the best they can be, giving control back to mothers and supporting them to prioritise their own needs and expectations.”
The innovative model of care for Aboriginal mothers centres around a ‘yarning’ style self-reflective and web-based assessment app that’s used throughout a woman’s perinatal journey. It allows her to culturally contextualise her story, take back control of her perinatal care and self-direct her own way forward.
Yawardani Jan-ga Research and Advocacy Centre
The Yawardani Centre provides culturally secure social and emotional wellbeing services run by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal young people, as part of a program of research to solve complex social and emotional issues.
The Centres primary focus is the delivery of innovative experiential learning that works alongside horses to promote the development of life-skills. The first of its kind in the Kimberley, Australia and the world, Yawardani Jan-ga was a response to community calls for a program that buildsto build healthy coping skills among Aboriginal youth.
“Our work at Yawardani Jan-ga (Horses Helping) is with Aboriginal leadership, employment and young people at every facet of engagement and delivery,” Centre Director Professor Juli Coffin said.
“We are working hard to provide solution based culturally secure prevention, intervention and treatment in the social and emotional wellbeing space for Aboriginal young people and youth aged between six and 25 in the Kimberley region.”
Coolamon Research and Advocacy Centre
The Coolamon Centre is undertaking research to understand the widespread and cumulative effects of climate change, and the social, cultural and environmental factors impacting the lives of Aboriginal people.
This work will identify and implement solutions to close the gap on a range of physical health and social and emotional wellbeing outcomes.
“Major issues and challenges for First Nations communities in Western Australia include the cumulative effects of climate change and ongoing mining and other industry degradation to Country,” Centre Director Associate Professor Roz Walker said.
“This is compounded by inequitable access to health, education, social services and economic and employment opportunities across the life course of Aboriginal peoples, and this Centre has been established to develop solutions.”
Research is already underway within each of the Centres and Ngangk Yira welcomes partners and collaborators to join them as they continue to pursue health and social equity for First Nations peoples.