How does early trauma affect the cognitive, affective and social processes of children? This question has fascinated Paul Gray since he witnessed the challenges faced by - and extraordinary resilience of -foster-care children that were welcomed into his family home by his parents. Now Paul, a 27-year-old Wiradjuri man from the Bogan River in NSW, is attempting to answer the question through research conducted as part of his PhD studies in experimental psychology at Oxford University.
Paul is one of Oxford's inaugural Charlie Perkins Scholars. This annual scholarship, established in 2009 in honor of the activist, sportsman and politician, is designed to enable two Indigenous students deemed to be potential leaders in their field and the community to study at the historic university. The postgraduate studies will complement Paul's work at Community Services in NSW, where he was employed as a cadet following an undergraduate psychology degree at the University of Sydney.
Paul is one of the members of the flourishing Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association, an organisation established under the auspices of the Australian Psychological Society in 2008, and which is doing much to increase awareness of the unique experiences and needs of Australia's Indigenous population - and also increase the number of psychologists drawn from within these diverse communities. Also established with the support of the APS was the Bendi Lango Foundation, which uses the proceeds from the sale of art to provide bursaries to Indigenous students studying psychology at postgraduate level.
Read more about Paul's studies at Oxford in the full-length article published in InPsych, the member journal of the Australian Psychological Society, in August 2011.