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Practicum Examination: MA student Jessica Ford

Fri. Dec. 6 10:00 AM - Fri. Dec. 6 12:00 PM
Contact: Dylan Armitage
Location: Room 1RC028

Jessica Ford - MA in Indigenous Governance

The Yiriman Project - Land-based Healing as a Protective Factor in the Prevention of Indigenous Youth Suicide

Indigenous child and youth suicide have reached alarmingly high levels across the country of Australia, with the Western and Northern regions having the highest rates of Indigenous child and youth suicide in the country.1 Australia’s overall national figure for suicide is 11 per 100,000 people. However, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the figure is 91 suicides per 100,000 people between the ages of 25 to 29 years, 75 suicides per 100,000 people between the ages of 20 to 24 years, and 44 suicides per 100,000 people for children ages 15 to 19 years. “The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides occur before the ages of thirty-five,” states the University of Western Australia,    “…and have a detrimental impact on families and communities.” One of the communities impacted by Indigenous youth suicide includes Fitzroy Crossing, a town with a population of just under 1,300 people in the Kimberly region of Western Australia. Fitzroy Crossing is home to the Yiriman Project, a community’s response to the crisis of Indigenous youth suicide

As a Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance student, I am dedicated to practising decolonizing methodologies, approaches and perspectives. What interested me in the Yiriman Project was its integration of traditional knowledge systems and indigenization. In the book, Methodology of the Oppressed, author Cheval Sandoval refers to a coalition consciousness. This approach aims to unite those who have been subjugated by colonial rule to work together towards social change. The Yiriman Project is a continuously changing structure, directed, designed and delivered by individuals from four language groups in the area. The project is supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Land and Culture Centre (KALACC) which, allows for partnerships, funding opportunities, education and awareness for all peoples in the Kimberley region. With the support of KALACC, the Yiriman Project combats universalized knowledge through exercising and representing Indigenous governance models for both Indigenous peoples as well as non-Indigenous peoples. The existence of the Yiriman Project allows for collaborations across multiple cultures while working to critique the dominant Euro-Western paradigms and allow for Indigenous knowledge systems to inform research methodologies and nurture a Third-Space. The Third-Space methodology recognizes the fallacy of amalgamating the perspectives and experiences of Indigenous cultures and promotes the inclusiveness of the voices of the subgroups within these Indigenous cultures. The Yiriman Project demonstrates this Third-Space methodology, as it is the voices of the people living in the most remote communities in the Kimberley region.