I am a Malgana Aboriginal woman from Shark Bay – Guttharraguda. My late mother’s (Helen McNeair nee Bellottie) family are the Bellottie family from Shark Bay and traditional owners of Malgana country. Shark Bay is where I go to relax, recharge, and reconnect; Malgana country supports me to continue learning, being a solid mother to my two sons, and continue working as the district psychologist for Child Protection in the Pilbara.
This scholarship is very important to me – there are not enough Aboriginal psychologists, and it is difficult to create traction and change in the discipline of psychology alone, as well as in large systems such as government. We need more Aboriginal psychologists producing research to inform best practice when working with Aboriginal children and families, so we can reduce the number of Aboriginal deaths relating to suicide and the amount of Aboriginal children coming into care.
It is vital that more Aboriginal Psychologists are working directing with Aboriginal children ; doing the assessments and interventions so Aboriginal families are supported given the rates of suicidality in our communities. Given that I work full time, have two children to support and study, a scholarship to support my Masters of Clinical Psychology will support my ongoing placements and financial costs associated with studying. I would like to continue to work with children when I graduate in my current role as district psychologist and progress to Senior Psychology positions to create change that supports reducing the number of Aboriginal children coming into care and dying from suicide.
In my role as district psychologist in the Pilbara I use the Westerman Aboriginal Symptom Checklist for Youth (WASC-Y) and Adults (WASC-A) and I believe these psychometric screening tools have given me ongoing opportunities to incorporate culturally appropriate, valid and reliable screening of Aboriginal children and an opportunity to support young people and Adults to communicate with me directly what they need psycho-socially, and therefore attempt to directly reduce the number of Aboriginal people dying from suicide.