Three postgraduate psychology students are the 2012 recipients of APS awards for the financial assistance of people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, funded through generous donations from APS members which raised more than $30,000 towards this year’s award fund. The APS awards were established in 2006 by the then APS President Amanda Gordon in acknowledgement of the disadvantage experienced by Indigenous Australians and to accelerate the growth in the numbers of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander psychologists, with funds initially raised from the Bendi Lango series of art exhibitions. This year’s recipients brings to six the number of Indigenous students whose postgraduate psychology studies have been supported since then.
Members will again have the opportunity at this year’s membership renewal to make a tax-deductible donation to support Indigenous students in their pathways to careers in psychology.
Danielle is a descendent of the Arrente people of central Australia. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Clinical Psychology program at the University of Adelaide. Personal experience of the scarcity of Indigenous psychologists in Australia contributed to Danielle’s decision to apply for the award: “My dad was a member of the Stolen Generation and he was looking for an Indigenous psychologist and could not find one.” Danielle has worked as a children’s swimming teacher and has volunteered her time to the Panic and Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive and Eating Disorder Association of South Australia. Recently she applied through the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme to tutor undergraduate psychology students at Adelaide University. Danielle hopes that offering this assistance might decrease the drop-out rate from the program and increase the interest of Indigenous students to pursue postgraduate study in psychology. On completion of her studies Danielle plans to work with Indigenous Australians in rural areas.
Karen is a descendent of the Wurundjeri people of the Fitzroy region of Melbourne. She discovered her own heritage some years ago after her grandfather discussed the family secret, as he grew up in generations of discrimination and the White Australia Policy. She is currently studying a Master of Clinical Psychology degree at the Australian Catholic University. As a mature-aged student with three children, Karen brings a rich life experience to the field of psychology, having worked for 24 years as a psychiatric nurse. She has also worked in the remote outback community of Lightning Ridge in domestic violence and mental health services. These experiences exposed her to the disparity in physical and mental health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and have been the driving force in her decision to study psychology. Her thesis supervisor describes her research as an original study that uses innovative behavioural measures with long-term substance abusers.
Stacey is a registered psychologist seeking to complete her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology through the University of Newcastle. She states a desire to refine her skills in the application of service delivery to Aboriginal clients as well as to focus on goals of continued education and consultation to non-Aboriginal staff to ensure culturally appropriate interventions. Stacey is a descendent of the Kooma people of Queensland, and says that “being an Aboriginal person has given me an appreciation for the multidimensional concept of health which embraces all aspects of life, spirit, community and living”. Working with the Newcastle Mental Health Team has enabled Stacey to raise awareness of Aboriginal aspects of mental health issues, and to explore ways in which service delivery could be more flexible and culturally respectful for Aboriginal people. Stacey is already doing this by providing education to multidisciplinary staff and acting as a liaison person between her service and the local Aboriginal Health Service.