JoHannah Wright
JoHannah Wright

JoHannah Wright

Indigenous Health Scholarship

University of Queensland, QLD

Bachelor of Psychological Science
Scholarship Awarded 2021 – 2022

Sponsored by:
Rotary Club of Wetherill Park

Indigenous Health Scholarship Program

How will I contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified medical practitioner or health worker?

I chose to study psychology to become a psychologist and contribute to improving Indigenous health as a qualified health worker. I understand the importance of Indigenous people having mental health care workers from their own community, who have knowledge and appreciation of the Indigenous diversity and cultural expectations. There are not enough Indigenous mental health clinicians to meet the needs of the Indigenous communities. Challenges currently exist in many cases where non-Indigenous psychologists are not always prepared where in many instances end up working in culturally unsafe ways, not only to the client but to themselves. 2022 is the final year of my undergraduate Degree in Psychology. I then plan to undertake my Master’s in Clinical Psychology on successful completion of my current studies with a view of increasing the limited numbers of Aboriginal mental health workers in this profession. My Larrakia ancestry has exposed me personally to the long-term effects of inter-generational trauma, to include both dispossession of land and culture and generational stolen generations – all bi-products of Colonisation. I understand the escalating rates of trauma and attachment-based disorders get inherited into future generations. Preventative priority strategies must be adopted at the national level to invest in the quality of lives of future generations.

Australia needs more Indigenous psychologists who understand and respect the cultural and traumatic barriers. I want to take advantage of the opportunities given to me that have allowed to me to go to university. This provides a means for me to give back to my community as well as others. As someone who’s family has been severely affected by mental health issues and suicide, I want to provide personal mental health support to Indigenous people, but also create platforms
and programs for appropriate education and awareness of how to prevent and deal with trauma independently. Delivering people with support and autonomy over their well-being and families’ health is important to me.

Through the UQ Student-Staff Partnership Program, I have the opportunity to collaborate with other students and staff to identify ways that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and perspectives can respectively shape and influence current theories and practices in psychology, to ensure culturally safe teaching and learning environments for all. This is something I am passionate about and the more I study psychology, the more I know I want a career that influences the way health and well-being is taught to ensure culturally appropriate ways for communities to benefit from the services they receive.

Current Progressive Report

During my second semester of my third year studying Bachelor of Psychological Science, I completed four units of full-time study:

  • PSYC3020 Measurement in Psychology
  • PSYC3062 Introduction to Human Factors
  • PSYC3042 Psychological Research – Interpretation and Evaluation
  • PSYC3082 Psychotherapies and Counselling

I received impressive marks, while enjoying each subject I was enrolled in. I found this to be my favourite semester of my degree. I was focused, motivated, and appreciated all the knowledge I learned which was delivered in fun and engaging ways.

I stopped working in my casual job to allow myself time to focus on my studies and prepare for my upcoming summer internship. At the end of this semester, I returned to working for Goodstart Early Learning within the Early Years Place working with families with children between the age of 0-8yrs. During this time, I helped facilitate playgroups and parenting workshops that focus on improving outcomes for all children. The Early years place works with local community agencies in the Redlands to deliver programs and service that improve child and parental well-being, strengthen family resilience, promote children’s development, and build community connections for families.

I recently started a collaboration within the Social Inclusion department within Goodstart, in identifying centres who care for children with diagnosed disabilities. In this project we are working towards providing NDIS billable services within an Early Learning setting, for these children to assist in achieving their learning, development, and wellbeing goals. I have also created connections with other working groups such as the South Moreton Bay Island (SMBI) listeners group, and frequently travelling between the Redlands and South Moreton Bay Islands. This project actively works towards creating holistic approaches to support families and children on the islands through services, playgroups and community support for families that may be struggling.

Reflecting on my motivation for study, I have noticed how practical experience doing meaningful work drives my inspiration. Engaging in my work and internships, as well as support provided from my ATSIS unit and career advisors constantly remind me of the positive impacts I can make for my community. I would like to thank my scholarship sponsor, as this financial assistance will help me prepare and better manage my time in my Honours year by allowing me to reduce my workload so I can prioritise placement hours and focus on my thesis to achieve my best marks.

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