Key issues for our community

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Summer 16-12-2009

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



Two Aboriginal men, Darryl Kickett and Darrell Henry, recently held a Public Forum, hosted by the Institute for Health and Rehabilitation Research at The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus. Their focus was working to turn the tide on the current crisis in Aboriginal health in Nyungah country.

They discussed their visions for bringing positive change to health and social wellbeing. This included developing a ‘whole of community and a whole of state’ approach to issues. They also talked about creating a confluence of new and old to generate new healing and therapeutic vehicles for family and community wellbeing, suicide prevention, life expectancy and restorative justice. Underpinning everything was the wisdom of cultural immersion, reconnection and strengthening, coupled with support for a strong Nyungar nation and governance.

Darryl Kickett was born in Narrogin and is a descendant of the Wilmen and Ballardong Nyungah people. Over the past thirty years he has worked in varying government and Aboriginal community controlled organisations. He is currently working with Aboriginal groups in Nyungah country to establish a regional structure, with the aim of providing a voice for Aboriginal health and building capacity within urban and rural areas to close the gap in life expectancy.

Darrell Henry has worked for twenty years as a Psychologist, predominantly in the areas of drug and alcohol abuse, Aboriginal family violence, and child sexual abuse. He works with Aboriginal men, women and children in their families and communities to focus on Healing. Darrell’s Aboriginal grandmother’s country is with the Wunmulla people from the Canning Stock route in Desert Western Australia. He currently works as a clinician in Warmun and Narrogin where he trains lay Aboriginal community people in working clinically with chronic trauma and in old and modern ways of healing.

Associate Professor Beth Hands PhD, Director, Institute for Health and Rehabilitation Research, said the event was a huge success and highlighted some key issues for our community to consider as a whole.

“Two key messages emerged,” she said. “The first was the importance of multiple sectors and organisations working together, under the leadership and guidance of the Aboriginal community.”

“Secondly, young Indigenous youth need the opportunity to get back to the bush with their elders.”

Facilitator of the event Professor Anna Haebich, Research Professor with Griffith University and currently a Visiting Fellow with the Institute for Health & Rehabilitation Research said that a central message in the current policy debate over Aboriginal issues is channelling any government assistance money to people who the community trusts.

“Trust is a very important word in the context of these policy discussions. Aboriginal people are really the agents of change, not victims.”

“The reality is that so many Aborigines, and their families, are strong. The key is building on Aboriginal strengths and using Aboriginal ways of working,” she said.

Media contact:

Rebecca Cassidy 08 9433 0611, 0408 959 138