Ngangk Yira Institute for Change

Our Researchers

Research at Ngangk Yira Institute for Change is informed by Aboriginal people for the benefit of Aboriginal people.

It is endorsed by the Elders Council and led by Aboriginal investigators and researchers in partnership with non-Aboriginal colleagues and allies and the close involvement of community and other stakeholders.

Ngangk Waangening: Mothers’ Stories authors and co-editors at the launch of the book August 2021

Image above: Our researchers and internal and external collaborators at a 2021 Murdoch NAIDOC event which included a special screening of the documentary Djakamirr


Professor Rhonda Marriott AM

Pro Vice Chancellor, Ngangk Yira

The Ngangk Yira Institute for Change is led by Professor Rhonda Marriott AM, a renowned leader in the field of Aboriginal health and equity research with extensive experience in both clinical and academic roles.

Born in Derby, Western Australia, Professor Marriott AM is a descendent of Kimberley Nyikina Aboriginal people and has devoted her adult life to nursing and midwifery. Much of Ngangk Yira's ethos is based on her experience over five decades, and almost three decades as an academic.

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

Our team

Our team of researchers has deep experience, understanding and ability to work with Aboriginal people to address complex issues in Aboriginal health and social equity.

Professor Juli Coffin

Ellison Professor Aboriginal Young People’s Social and Emotional Wellbeing

Professor Coffin is a prominent Aboriginal researcher with research expertise in cultural security, education and research across a diverse range of interests including chronic diseases, nutrition, contextualising bullying, and health promotion. She holds a Bachelor of Education, a Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (with distinction) and a PhD with an award in excellence. Professor Coffin has a keen interest in Aboriginal languages and ways of learning and combines her education and cultural learnings to deliver outstanding translation of research into practice. She is highly regarded by her peers as being creative and innovative around some of the particularly controversial and complex areas in Aboriginal health and education.

An accredited Equine Psychotherapy Practitioner Professor Coffin established the Yawardani Jan-ga (meaning ‘horses helping’ in Yawuru language) based in Broome, with hubs in Derby and Halls Creek. First of its kind in the Kimberley, Australia and the world, Yawardani Jan-ga responds to community concerns over youth social and emotional wellbeing, and community requests for a strengths-based research program to build healthy coping skills among Aboriginal youth. Yawardani Jan-ga supports the social, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of young Aboriginal Australians through the delivery of a culturally secure Equine Assisted Learning program owned, developed, and implemented by community members, delivered across the Kimberley. Equine Assisted Learning is grounded in a strengths based approach, with a focus on developing social and emotional skills such as self-regulation, positive social behaviours, persistence, and coping ability.

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Associate Professor Roz Walker

Senior Principal Research Fellow - Healthy Families and Communities

Dr Walker is committed to Aboriginal community engagement and empowerment for positive social change. She is involved on several research projects focused on improving Aboriginal mental health and social and emotional wellbeing outcomes in maternal health and early childhood development and supporting resilience and wellbeing in young people. She has extensive experience in qualitative, community based participatory action and mixed methods research approaches with a focus decolonising and empowering Indigenous research methods and methodologies. She has co-authored several seminal publications with the Ngangk Yira team and with Professor Pat Dudgeon’s Transforming Indigenous Health and Wellbeing team at the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Western Australia and the School of Population and Global Health. Roz has been involved in research, evaluation, policy reform, education and training with Aboriginal communities and Community Controlled organisations and Government and non-Government agencies for over thirty five years. She has extensive experience working with organisations and community groups to identify problems and develop solutions and advocate to improve maternal, child and adolescent health, mental health and social and emotional wellbeing at individual, organisational and community levels as well as promoting system level change and individual and organisational cultural competence and cultural security.

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Jayne Kotz

Project Lead, Baby Coming You Ready?

Jayne is a nurse practitioner, midwife, child health nurse and researcher, and since 2014 has led the Baby Coming You Ready? Project at Ngangk Yira. Conceptualised as part of her PhD project - Kalykool Moort - Jayne has worked closely with the Aboriginal community over a long time to bring about a highly innovative, culturally safe and game changing screening and assessment process focussed on Aboriginal women’s perinatal mental health.

Throughout her career, Jayne has worked alongside women in prison and women and their families in their own communities in Australia, Africa and Vanuatu. In her role at Ngangk Yira she is building an exceptional team of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal colleagues to take Baby Coming You Ready? into the Western Australian health system. The eventual goal is for BCYR to be used nationally.

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Akilew Adane

Dr Adane is an epidemiologist with a research focus on maternal and child health over the life-course, including perinatal mental health issues, adverse perinatal outcomes, child health and development.

He received a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Queensland, and an MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a Bachelor’s in Public Health from the University of Gondar, Ethiopia. Previously, Dr Adane held a Postdoc Research Officer (Epidemiologist) position at Telethon Kids Institute and was a lecturer at the University of Gondar.

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Associate Professor Caroline Nilson

Associate Professor Caroline Nilson commenced her academic career at Murdoch University in 2005, and has  thirty years of clinical nursing and midwifery experience in Africa, England and Australia. As an Associate Professor in the Discipline of Nursing, she has developed, coordinated and taught units in both the Undergraduate Bachelor of Nursing program and the now obsolete Postgraduate Master of Midwifery program. Caroline’s research interests are in health promotion and health education with Indigenous communities to improve food literacy for long term health and well-being outcomes. Caroline received recognition for her collaborative research in this area in 2018 when awarded with the WA Nursing and Midwifery Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Health. The co-designed and co-facilitated Bindjareb Yorgas Health Program offered a suite of activities for community women, including group fitness and walking, cooking classes, vegetable garden activities (seeding, planting, weeding, and reaping), and health yarning. Deadly Koolinga Chef Program (DKCP), a co-designed and co-facilitated translational nutritional health research initiative, is currently being conducted under the umbrella of Ngangk Yira Institute for Change. Each week during the school terms, DKCP engages Aboriginal children and adolescents in a nutrition and cooking adventure, where they learn how to plan, shop for and prepare healthy meals for themselves and their families. Each week the cooking class participants take home their prepared meals, together with their new skills and knowledge, to share with their families. The aim of DKCP research is to develop a specific Aboriginal nutritional health promotion framework that can be translated to Aboriginal communities across Western Australia

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Ella Gorman

Ella Gorman (BA(Hons), University of Western Australia) is a PhD candidate and Research Associate at the Ngangk Yira Institute for Change, Murdoch University. With a background in psychology, her interests include how social and emotional health and wellbeing can be best supported for different people across the lifespan, with lenses of decolonisation and emancipation informing her approach. Both Ella’s PhD and research work are linked with the Young Indigenous Peoples’ Resilience and Wellbeing Project (YIPRaW) at Ngangk Yira. Her PhD focuses on quantitative methods used when measuring young Aboriginal peoples’ social and emotional wellbeing and resilience with an aim of identifying culturally safe instruments which may be appropriate to use in settings such as health and support services.

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Learn more about our research

See how our team is using co-design to premise Aboriginal perspectives on complex issues to ‘close the gap’ for health outcomes and issues of equity and access.

Discover case studies