The Westerman Jilya Institute for Indigenous Mental Health, (“The Jilya Institute”, or “Jilya”) is an Aboriginal Community Controlled not for profit organisation, registered as a charity with the Australian Charity and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

Jilya was created in response to the 13 deaths of Aboriginal young people in the Kimberley, the subject of the 2019 Fogliani Coronial Inquiry. These deaths, and the continuing deaths of Aboriginal people by suicide, compelled Dr Tracy Westerman AM to act and do something to support improved access to culturally and clinically complex mental health services which could provide measurable outcomes for high risk communities.

Jilya’s vision is to reduce Indigenous suicides, build resilience and strengthen wellbeing in Indigenous Australians. We hope to achieve this through leading the development of culturally and clinically informed mental health and suicide prevention responses, and increasing the number of Indigenous Psychologists working in Australia, in our highest risk regional and remote communities.


The Jilya Institute is committed to increasing the number of Indigenous Psychologists in Australia. This directly addresses the needs of Indigenous communities and families who continue to have a lack of access to clinically and culturally appropriate specialist services. This will provide the best opportunity our Nation has in addressing the escalating rates of Indigenous mental health and child suicides, which are now the highest in the world. Through the Dr Westerman Indigenous Psychology Scholarship, Jilya intends to #BuildAnArmy of Indigenous psychologists.  The scholarship preferences those who have remote and rural connections and/or who wish to return to a remote or rural area to work in Indigenous communities upon the completion of their degree. The scholarship includes:

  • A $10,000 bursary (plus 17% admin) that can be used to support the student in a way that enables them to meet the rigorous demands that come with Psychology training
  • Mentoring and support of scholarship recipients via research, training and other networking opportunities

Why Do we need more Indigenous psychologists

Imagine having a child caught in the grip of  mental illness and there are no services to help. Imagine when you do find a service they struggle with the very basics of cultural understanding that the opportunity for healing is effectively lost”

Dr Tracy Westerman

The ‘system’ has been built by non-Indigenous people, to meet the needs  of non-Indigenous people, and is delivered to Indigenous people by, frequently, non-Indigenous people. It is therefore unsurprising that this is failing and the implications of doing nothing new or different are clear. Listen here to Dr Tracy Westerman speaking on ABCs “All In The Mind” on “Why we need more Indigenous Psychologists”

Our children deserve a better future.

Indigenous children die by suicide at 6 times the rate of non-Indigenous children. Our highest risk communities are consistently our most remote. Help us to #BuildAnArmy of Indigenous Psychologists to address the needs of these communities, where successive Governments have failed. Our country has now had generationally the highest child suicide rates in the world. The Dr Tracy Westerman AM Indigenous Psychology Scholarship Program directly addresses the needs of bereaved Indigenous parents and communities by ensuring access to specialist clinical and cultural services into these regions.