Jilya Scholarship Recipients 2019

Thank you for supporting the Dr Tracy Westerman Aboriginal Psychology Scholarship Program and the inaugural 2019 scholarship recipients.

Your generosity is already having an incredible impact on the individual lives of these five talented and motivated students.

Thank you for believing in Dr Tracy Westerman’s vision of developing the next generation of Indigenous psychologists – the individuals who will be able to deliver culturally appropriate services to Indigenous people in our regional and remote communities.

Your generosity is supporting five outstanding Indigenous students as they work hard to complete their psychology studies at Curtin: Nikki Sinclair, Taylah Thompson-Patfield, Saira (Maheen) Rind, Yasmin Hunter and Cheyenne Conway.

These young women all have aspirations to follow in Dr Westerman’s footsteps and make a difference in our highest-risk communities.

Having seen first-hand the struggles Indigenous people face, they are all highly motivated to use their educational opportunities to effect change. Our hope is that these students, and the future Dr Tracy Westerman Aboriginal Psychology Scholarship recipients, will be instrumental in addressing the high rates of mental ill health and suicide amongst Indigenous people.

We are thrilled to be able to include letters and updates from the recipients in this report – these provide a wonderful insight into the incredible difference your support is making in their lives.

We hope you enjoy reading about these inspiring students. We are sure, like us, you can’t wait to see what incredible things they will be able to achieve for themselves, their families and their communities.

Thank you once again for supporting this important initiative. We look forward to keeping you up to date with the progress of our first scholarship students, as well as sharing information about the new recipients when they are announced.




Nikki has grown up and lived in Derby, in the Kimberley region, for most of her life. She has ties to Nykina, Jabirr Jabirr and Bardi country.

Nikki has always had aspirations to work in the Aboriginal mental health field and in a remote area.

Nikki is currently studying abroad in Canada and is expected to graduate in 2021.





Taylah is a passionate psychology student in her third year of study. Taylah resides in Midland, in outer metropolitan Perth, and has ties to Noongar, Yamatji and Thalanji country. While she isn’t studying, she is working part-time at the Department of Child Protection and caring for her two younger brothers.

Taylah strongly believes that there needs to be more people like Dr Tracy Westerman, with the voice, passion and drive to help Aboriginal people heal from past and present trauma.

This is what inspired Taylah to study psychology at Curtin. She is confident that, in the future, she will be able to provide culturally safe and effective health practices to Aboriginal people to improve mental health outcomes.

Taylah is expected to graduate in 2021.


Dear donors

My name is Taylah Thompson. I am a 25-year-old Noongar Yamatji woman born in Perth, with family connections to Carnarvon and Onslow, WA. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology at Curtin University and have recently commenced my third year of study.

What inspired me to study, particularly a Bachelor of Psychology, was my upbringing which, at times, was difficult. Growing up, it was plagued by poverty, domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse and social deprivation, causing considerable disruption and damage to mine and my siblings’ development – which still impacts aspects of our lives today and is what led me to pursue a degree in psychology.

I would like you to know that this scholarship not only assisted me and my personal and educational hardships, it has also assisted me to support my family, as I have two younger brothers currently in my care, as we face many daily challenges and barriers that most Aboriginal families face today.

This award relieves the financial pressures of maintaining my car and licence, paying expenses such as outstanding bills, providing food for my family and overcoming daily or unforeseen challenges. It also keeps me determined and motivated to work hard and complete my studies, as it helps me to believe that my current struggles are only temporary, and that all of my hard work will pay off in the long run, as Tracy Westerman is living proof of this – I aspire to follow her lead.

Given my past to current life experiences, my short-term academic and career aspirations would be to complete my studies. My long-term aspirations would be to work with young Aboriginal children or youth at risk who have suffered similar life experiences to that of my family’s. More specifically, I want to try and help Aboriginal people overcome the cycle of generational trauma, crisis and addiction, which tends to plague so many Aboriginal families today.

I am truly humbled and excited to be part of Tracy’s initiative – an initiative that has been long called for amongst Aboriginal people. I would like to thank you for your kind donation towards my studies this year.

I truly appreciate your support, your contribution assisted with my daily hardships, taking off some of my financial pressures so I can focus on my academic development and succeed in my future endeavours.

Without your involvement and generosity, I would struggle to aim high and reach my full potential.

Yours truly,

Taylah Thompson




Maheen lives in Noranda, in the northern suburbs of Perth, and has ties to Badimaya country in the mid-west of Western Australia.

Maheen’s personal experience with depression and anxiety in her own family inspired her to pursue her psychology studies at Curtin. Entering through the Indigenous Pre-Medicine and Health Sciences Enabling Course, Maheen achieved great results and is now close to finishing the first year of her undergraduate degree.

This scholarship has allowed Maheen to focus more on her studies and spend less time at work. This meant that she could give her assignments more time and attention.

Maheen is expected to graduate in 2023.




“Receiving this scholarship was a great opportunity and it gave me the financial aid to help me better my studies and get involved with my community. It’s important to me to make people more culturally aware of what we can do, and meeting Dr Tracy Westerman was definitely a highlight – she used to be like one of us, now she is so inspirational.

I used the scholarship to pay for everyday living expenses, but I also used it to pay for a trip to Borneo where I did the Borneo Indigenous Community Research Project. This was an amazing experience and I learnt so much about the Indigenous people there, and how important they are.

One day I hope to use my degree to have my own practice and get rid of the stigma around mental health, particularly for Indigenous people. I want Indigenous people to feel safe and not scared when talking about mental health.”



Yasmin decided to study psychology so she could one day give back to remote communities. “My goal is to create awareness about mental health issues and addiction for people living in those areas,” says Yasmin. “I would also like to play a big role in suicide prevention as the suicide rates in regional Australia are significantly higher than those in the cities. By studying psychology, I will be able to understand the ways to treat these issues and make a positive impact in regional and remote communities.” Yasmin lives in Trigg, in the northern suburbs of Perth and has ties to Badimaya and Nyungar country. She is expected to graduate from her degree in 2022.

Thank you for supporting these incredible young women as they embark on their own journey to make tomorrow better for themselves, their families and their communities.

We hope you have enjoyed learning about their motivations, hopes and aspirations and the inspiration that they continue to draw from Dr Tracy Westerman.

Click here to view our 2020 scholarship recipients

Click here to view our 2021 scholarship recipients