With a family to support there is no way I could have committed to full-time postgraduate study in 2008 and 2009 without the support of the Bendi Lango bursary. I would have been resigned to doing the whole degree part-time, a long process indeed.
That was an important period because it was when I first understood and began to take seriously the idea that things like culture, historical context, and policy are major factors that contribute to people's mental, social and emotional well-being, or lack of. This is true, I believe, for all populations, and is particularly relevant for minority groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (among others).
During that period I also became involved with the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA), an organisation that is trying to increase the number of Indigenous trained psychologists, and promote the importance of developing cultural competence when working with Indigenous Australians in urban, regional and remote areas.
The Bendi Lango support for my two years of clinical psychology training and my continuing time on the steering committee of AIPA has helped to develop my professional skills, and along with my counselling work, has provided a basis for me to begin my PhD research on Resilience to Trauma. Part of this research involves investigating the way in which strength and protective factors such as cultural identity, social support, and having a sense of control in one's community and personal life, directly contributes to resilience and greater health outcomes within the context of significant trauma exposure.
At the end of 2009 I was asked to be on the Board of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation. The aims of the Foundation are to support the development of successful healing initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to promote healing and provide skills training in the prevention and treatment of trauma, and to conduct community-driven, culturally-appropriate research and evaluation about what works. This has been some of the most meaningful and important work of my life, and I'm grateful to the Bendi Lango bursary for being a part of what has enabled me to work in this capacity.