My name is Belle and my family descends from the Nyungar-Bibulmun people from the South West of Western Australia. I grew up in the Yallingup-Dunsborough area and went to school in Busselton. Throughout my school years I always knew I wanted to help people, so I moved to Perth in 2002 to study psychology at UWA.
I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts at UWA and graduated with Honours in Psychology in 2005. Like many university students, I struggled with juggling study, part-time work, social life and family. However, the biggest difficulty was the absence of Aboriginal cultural perspectives being taught in the courses, as there was a lot of content that seemed different to Aboriginal beliefs and world-views. So at the back of my mind I was often playing a balancing act of what fits and doesn’t fit for Aboriginal people.
In 2008 I completed my Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and then completed the two year internship as a Registrar. I am now a fully qualified Clinical Psychologist and work with adults with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, trauma, eating disorders, psychosis, and personality disorders. I have worked in both community organisations and government departments, and with a variety of people from different cultural backgrounds and age groups. I really love my job and profession, especially knowing that I have the skills and ability to be able to help someone through a difficult time in their life.
Not so long ago, there were virtually no Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists in the field, and there was little recognition of the importance of cultural perspectives in psychology and mental health. Yet today, I am working in a field where cultural knowledge is highly valued and there are many Aboriginal psychologists who serve as great role models. There is even the new Australian Indigenous Psychological Association which is the professional body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists and students, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community. This gives me a great sense of optimism for the future, not only for my own career, but also for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community needing culturally appropriate psychological services.