On Monday, the Governor met with Dr Tracey Westerman to discuss the success of the Dr Tracy Westerman Aboriginal Psychology Scholarship Program.
The Scholarship Program was launched at Government House in May 2019 and supports Aboriginal students studying psychology at Curtin University in undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The inaugural 2019 Scholarships were awarded to five Indigenous students studying a Bachelor of Psychology.
Dr Westerman is herself a Curtin graduate and Managing Director of Indigenous Psychological Services. She is also a proud Njamal woman from the Pilbara region, Western Australia’s Australian of the Year in 2018 and recent winner of the WA 2020 Telstra Small Business Award.
Dr Westerman’s vision is to reduce the alarming suicide rates in rural and remote Indigenous communities, where children as young as 10 years of age are ending their own lives.
“These students represent the future of our communities and it is a privilege to be able to support their dreams to improve the mental health and wellbeing of Indigenous people,” Dr Westerman said.
“Across Australia, Indigenous suicides occur at double the rate of non-Indigenous suicides, and, alarmingly, 40 per cent of child deaths in Indigenous communities are by suicide. Through this program, we are supporting Aboriginal students with rural and remote connections to become psychologists, skilled in Indigenous-specific mental health, suicide prevention and intervention programs.”
Scholarship applicants are required to meet eligibility criteria, including connections to and a desire to continue their work in rural and remote communities on completion of their studies. The scholarship provides eligible students with $10,000 to help with their study, living and transport costs, providing vital financial assistance at any stage of their undergraduate or postgraduate degree.
The inaugural scholarship recipients were: Taylah Thompson-Patfield, aged 24 from Midland, Cheyenne Conway, aged 19 from Crawley, Nikki McKenzie, aged 32 from Derby, Yasmin Hunter, aged 18 from Trigg, and Saira (Maheen) Rind, aged 19 from Noranda.
More details about the background, aspirations and progress of each student can be found here.
Supporting the program
Dr Westerman personally donated $50,000 over five years to launch the new scholarship program, which has attracted additional donations from others who share Dr Westerman’s vision to reduce suicide rates in Indigenous communities.
More details on the program and how to provide support can be found here.