Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity

"Under the leadership of Professor Rhonda Marriott, the Ngangk Yira Research Centre will bring together a wealth of knowledge and experience to help grow strong Aboriginal communities."

- Professor Eeva Leinonen, Murdoch University Vice Chancellor

About Ngangk Yira

Murdoch University's Ngangk Yira Research Centre supports the University's commitment to improving Aboriginal health, wellbeing and social equity through innovative and translational research.

Ngangk Yira's research takes a connected approach from pregnancy, young adulthood, to parenthood and the transition to older adulthood, recognising the evidence that a strong start in life is fundamental for healthy and resilient children, families and communities.

Aboriginal researchers lead the Centre's projects in partnership with non-Aboriginal colleagues and with the close involvement of community elders.

Its work is already pioneering the practical changes that will change the life course of the next generation of Aboriginal youth and which will inform translatable outcomes to state and national policy, practice and education.

Upcoming studies will help better identify and address risk factors for mental wellbeing in mothers and young families and look at ways to build resilience in Aboriginal youth.

Ngangk Yira brings together an experienced team of researchers, led by Professor Rhonda Marriot. Professor Fiona Stanley and the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt, are patrons of the Centre. Advising on the strategic direction of the Centre is the Ngangk Yira Advisory Board which is comprised of senior leaders from a range of backgrounds and organisations.

National Reconciliation Week 2020

2020 marks 20 years of shaping Australia’s journey towards a more just, equitable and reconciled nation. This is a time for every one of us to play a role when it comes to Reconciliation. In playing our part we collectively build relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures.

The dates for National Reconciliation Week remain the same each year; 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey—the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively. Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Ngangk Yira would like to honour and respect the Aboriginal Elders and Community who walk alongside us and provide such valuable historical and cultural knowledge. There have been many past injustices that have impacted on our people and we hope that one day, an equal Australian society is born.

We acknowledge all Elders past and present and support a brighter future led by upcoming Elders to maintain our shared history and memories—because the past really does influence our future together.

Ngangk Yira

Ngangk means both 'mother' and 'sun'. Alongside the Noongar word Yira, the meaning expands to: the rising sun (ngangk yira). Together, they have added spiritual meaning for the sun's giving of life to all things in its passage across the sky.

Our research projects seek to close the gap in Aboriginal health

Birthing on Noongar Boodjar

Since 2014, researchers at Murdoch University have been collecting data to better understand the cultural needs of Aboriginal women and different meanings of 'cultural security' when Birthing on Country.

Interviews with Aboriginal mothers, senior women and elders examined what women want and expect from their maternity health services. An understanding of the knowledge and experience of midwives in supporting Aboriginal women's maternity care was also gained.

The study found that more Aboriginal midwives and culturally secure models of care in WA hospitals are critical to closing the gap in maternity care and childbirth outcomes for Aboriginal women and families. Both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants identified the negative impact of racism and racial stereotyping on Aboriginal women's birthing experiences.

The research recognised that better access to Aboriginal staff and family support during pregnancy and childbirth helped empower Aboriginal mothers.

Read the Birthing on Noongar Boodjar Project Recommendations:

Baby Coming - You Ready?

Perinatal mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can result in detrimental impacts on pregnancy and postnatal periods. Baby Coming - You Ready? was designed by Aboriginal men and women to assist young parents during pregnancy and their child's first year.

It is different from other mental health screening and assessment tools because it's a shared assessment between the client and the clinician, with a goal to bringing clarity to complex situations. The model encourages self-evaluation and reflection and fosters an understanding for both users.

This web-based interactive app will do much more than screen for perinatal depression. It will use visual images on a touch screen device to portray emotions, circumstances and events, both positive and challenging, that a mother or father-to-be may be experiencing.

Baby Coming - You Ready? is expected to see improvements in attendance at antenatal appointments, bolstering the social and emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents, and better birth and development outcomes for babies.

Read more about the Baby Coming - You Ready? project:

Indigenous Young People's Resilience and Wellbeing (2017–2020)

Launched in the second half of 2017, this project is a longitudinal study of Aboriginal youth across two sites; one here in Noongar country and one in the Gamilaroi nation in New South Wales.

The project is expected to enhance understanding of Aboriginal youth and improve our knowledge of their resilience and wellbeing.

Read more about the Indigenous Young People's Resilience and Wellbeing study:

Linked Data Project

Parental mental health and its impact on children’s outcomes will be examined through data collected between 1990 and 2015. The data will be used to study the type, scale and timing of mental health problems in young people and their families, and address critical gaps in mental health, with a focus on the "critical 1001 day" period for children.

Key outcomes will include improved knowledge of the mental and physical health of Aboriginal children in Western Australia, pregnancy outcomes, child abuse and neglect, disability, contact with the juvenile justice system and education.

Learn more in the Ngangk Yira brochure.

Helping to build healthy and resilient communities

Learn more about our first complete project, the four-year Birthing on Noongar Boodjar, and Baby Coming - You Ready?, Ngangk Yira's aim to find meaningful solutions to real problems.

Hear from Professors Rhonda Marriott and Fiona Stanley, and meet Aboriginal midwife Valerie Ah Chee in the Ngangk Yira launch video.

Our executive & patrons

Rhonda Marriott

Professor Rhonda MarriottDirector

Born in Derby, WA, Rhonda is a descendent of Kimberley Nyikina Aboriginal people and has devoted her adult life to nursing and midwifery in both clinical and academic roles.

Much of Ngangk Yira's ethos is based on her experience over five decades, and almost three decades as an academic. In 2003, she became the inaugural Head of our School of Nursing.

In addition to leading Ngangk Yira research projects, Rhonda is a chief investigator for several NHMRC projects.

Fiona Stanley

Professor Fiona Stanley ACPatron

Trained in maternal and child health, epidemiology and public health, Fiona has spent her eminent career researching the causes of major childhood illnesses, including in Aboriginal populations.

Her major contribution has been to establish the Telethon Kids Institute and the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.

She was Australian of the Year in 2003. In 2006 she was made a UNICEF Australia Ambassador.

Ken Wyatt

Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MPPatron

Ken Wyatt is a proud Noongar, Yamatji and Wongi man and was elected in 2010 as the Federal Member for Hasluck, the first Aboriginal Member of the House of Representatives.

In 2015, he became Assistant Minister for Health, and in January 2017, Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health.

Ken previously worked in health and education including as District Director for the Swan Education District, and Director of Aboriginal Health (NSW and WA).

He was awarded the Order of Australia in 1996.

Contact us

General enquiries

+61 8 9360 2478

Postal address

Building 190, Campus Drive
Murdoch University
Murdoch, Western Australia 6150

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