Project tackles suicide

National senior consultant for the NEP Adele Cox (left) and Northam co-researcher Dezerae Miller.
National senior consultant for the NEP Adele Cox (left) and Northam co-researcher Dezerae Miller.

The National Empowerment Project (NEP) aims to address this rate with the investigation of the cultural, social and emotional health of Aboriginal people in nine sites across Australia, including Northam.

According to the 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics census, Northam has a population of 6580 and 468 of those people are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, which accounts for 7.1 per cent of the population.

The Northam NEP site’s partner organisation is Sister Kate’s Home Kids Aboriginal Corporation, which is assisting with the development of the local project.

The organisation is primarily set up to assist children and their descendents of the Sister Kate’s Home to address the intergenerational trauma they experienced from being part of the Stolen Generations.

Northam co-researchers Tjalaminu Mia and Dezerae Miller have conducted local consultations to identify cultural, social and emotional wellbeing issues and identify ways to reduce suicide rates.

They have collated and analysed responses from community workshops and interviews in the past 20 months during the research stage of the project.

Workshops were held earlier this week to finalise the second stage of the project ” a local empowerment, healing and leadership program ” which will run for six weeks at each site, pending ongoing funding.

Ms Miller said one of her parents was part of the Stolen Generation and the trauma caused by it has been intergenerational.

‘We do know that people have been affected by racism and discriminatory legislation, feeling like they are not accepted in the community,’ Ms Miller said.

The project was initiated by the Department of Health and Ageing after the success of the Kimberley Empowerment Project in 2011, which was developed to address similar issues surrounding the rate of suicide among Aboriginal people in the Kimberley.

NEP national senior consultant Adele Cox said the project was in partnership with the UWA School of Indigenous Studies, which was the fund holders for the project.