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Women the focus of NAIDOC Week 2018

headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation joins with all Australians in celebrating NAIDOC Week, which honours the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This year’s theme, “Because of her, We Can”, seeks to highlight the essential role that women have played – and continue to play – as active and significant role models at the community, local, state and national levels.

headspace Board member and proud Worora and Walmajarri woman, Katina Law, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women had long advocated to secure improvements to the health and wellbeing of their communities.

“From civil rights activists Pearl Gibbs and Faith Bandler to more recently, Federal MP Linda Burney and Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have been in the frontline of the struggle for equal rights and justice for our communities for decades,” she said.

“Furthermore, when a challenging or traumatic event takes place, it is often Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who respond. It is the women who bear the weight of care and responsibility of family and friends.

“Here at headspace, we are working hard to honour their legacy by ensuring our mental health services and programs are suitable to and accessible to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.”

For Raja Clay, a young Aboriginal woman and member of headspace Youth National Reference Group (hY NRG), this year’s NAIDOC Week theme served as a powerful reminder of the strengths of women in her family and the community.

Raja Clay

“I really like this year’s theme because it’s very empowering. It is amazing to be able to look up to my grandparents, my ancestors and all the iconic women who took up the fight for us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Ms Clay said.

“My grandmother - Iris Clay - was one of the freedom fighters from Palm Island. She did a lot for the community up there; my grandmother established Aboriginal Hostels Queensland.

“My mum definitely was also a very big inspiration for me. She lived a very inspiring life and taught me a lot about resilience, and the strength to keep going.

“I applied to join hY NRG because it’s an awesome opportunity to work in youth mental health, share my story and have an impact on my local community and future generations.”

headspace CEO Jason Trethowan said the National Youth Mental Health Foundation is committed to working with local communities to address their needs.

headspace has successfully attracted young people from marginalised and at risk groups,” he said.

Jason Trethowan

“In 2016-17, 6,351 young people who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visited a headspace centre. This figure is testament to theunique culturally appropriate service delivered by headspace. In addition, headspace run a targeted Yarn Safe campaign to encourage help seeking from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

“In 2017, we launched the next phase of our Yarn Safe campaign, which was informed and created by young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to encourage help-seeking behaviour,” he said.

“Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Mental Health Traineeship Program provides young people with education and employment opportunities. The program, which is funded by headspace corporate partner Future Generation Global (FGG), has led to the expansion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health workforce in remote areas and is continuing the conversation around mental health within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

“Additionally, we’re trialling a collaborative outreach service in the remote Pilbara with schools, youth centres and directly with families and elders to deliver bespoke mental health support to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“We know there is still much more to do, but we will continue to strive to ensure our services are suitable and adaptable to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.”

If you or someone you know is going through a tough time, visit your nearest centre or call eheadspace on 1800 650 890.


For an interview with headspace CEO Jason Trethowan please contact:

Hollie Bone
headspace Media and Communications Manager
0413 025 385 or hbone@headpace.org.au