Caring for Community Reports

The Outcomes of the Interdisciplinary Indigenous Health Research Group’s collaboration between the University of Wollongong and the Illawarra Koori Men’s Support Group are presented in the two reports below.

Research Report 2017  IKMSG_Research Report_FINAL

Community Report 2017.Caring for Community 2017

Front Cover Artwork
Artist:    Glen Sutherland
Title:    Coming Together
Meaning:         Coming from the hills and the bush and walking along the rivers to meet and celebrate with smoking ceremonies for cleansing (on each end of the painting) with many colours representing different nations coming together to celebrate.
Purpose:          Coming Together Artwork is used in this community report and has been created for the sole purpose of the Caring for Community research project.


Global Challenges Presentation 2017

 “The strength of Aboriginal communities as knowledge leaders: disrupting the narrative of vulnerability” was presented at the Transforming Vulnerability Conference by
* Professor Dawn Bessarab – Director, Centre for Aboriginal Medical & Dental Health, University of Western Australia. and
*  Professor Kathleen Clapham – Professor Indigenous Health, Australian Health Services Research Institute, University of Wollongong.


Within the current Australian climate of dismissal of  Aboriginal First Nation’s sovereignty and the right to be  included in decision making impacting Aboriginal futures and  lives, there is now more than ever an urgent need to disrupt  the ongoing meta-narrative which keeps Aboriginal people  vulnerable and disadvantaged. Transforming vulnerability  requires courage, inclusion and the amplification of  Australian voices promoting human rights and social justice.

Aboriginal people and communities are made vulnerable  through a colonising regime that continues to apply policies  of exclusion, silencing and denial of the rights of First Nations  peoples to be included in decision making about their affairs.  If we are serious about transforming vulnerable Aboriginal  communities, Australia cannot continue to place barriers  that prevent First Nations people from having a place and a  voice at the table. There is a need to change the paternalistic  and deficit rhetoric that frames Aboriginal Australians as  hopeless, undeserving and complicit in their disadvantage to  one of resilience and strength.

This presentation explores the role of First Nations people  in disrupting the narrative of vulnerability by transforming  their own communities. Case examples from Aboriginal  community controlled organisations demonstrate the  strengths inherent in communities in building resilience  and creating sustainable futures. Real participation, inclusive  decision making and transfer of power and resources will  enable real change to happen


Professer Dawn Bessarab is Director for the Centre for  Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health at the University of  Western Australia (UWA). Dawn is an Indigenous woman of  Bard (West Kimberley) and Yjindjabandi (Pilbara) descent.  Prior to joining the UWA, Dawn worked as an Indigenous  Health Researcher at the Centre for Health Innovation  Research Institute at Curtin University where she collaborated  with people working in the field of chronic disease; cardio  vascular, cancer and ageing. Dawn has extensive experience  across the Western Australian public sector, specifically in  the area of child protection, family violence, alcohol and substance abuse and the criminal justice system. She has  worked for the Department of the Attorney General across  courts and tribunal services, and the Department of Child  Protection (then Community Development) as a social  worker and an Aboriginal child protection worker. Professor  Bessarab is interested in the application of Indigenous  research methodologies such as ‘yarning’ and the translation  of research into policy and practice. She advocates the  importance of understanding the cultural traditions of  Aboriginal people and is engaged in research looking at  interventions and collaborative approaches to addressing  health issues affecting Aboriginal people. Dawn is a chief  investigator on a number of National Health and Medical  Research Council grants and her expertise in Aboriginal  research is highly regarded.

Kathleen Clapham, is a Professor (Indigenous Health) at  the Australian Health Services Research Institute, at the  University of Wollongong. Kathleen joined the Institute  in 2011. She holds a BA (Hons First Class) and PhD in  Anthropology and has over 25 years experience as an  academic in higher education, where she specialises in  Indigenous health research and education. Prior to joining  the Institute she was the Director of the Woolyungah  Indigenous Centre at the University of Wollongong. Kathleen  has been Chief Investigator on NHMRC and ARC funded and  other studies with an Indigenous health focus. Her research  interests include: social determinants of health; Indigenous  injury prevention and safety promotion; Indigenous child  health and resilience; and Indigenous health workforce  development.

Coming Together to Celebrate Artwork


Glen Sutherland presented an artwork ‘Coming Together’ to the Caring for Community IKMSG Advisory Panel in September 2016.

Following is story about the “Coming Together” artwork.

Coming from the hills and the bush and walking along the rivers to meet and celebrate with smoking ceremony’s for cleansing at each end of the painting.  The many colours representing different nations coming together to celebrate.

IKMSG Strategy Planning Day


Participants in the IKMSG Strategy Planning Day

On July 18, 2016, Nyssa Murray member of the Caring for Community Advisory Panel helped the Illawarra Kouri Men’s Support Group ( IKMSG) Board ran a Strategy Planning Day.  The day was designed to gather information and insights about future possibilities for IKMSG from the members. There were 22 participants who were involved in 6 workshops run during the day.  Nyssa worked with Uncle G and IKMSG Team to complete an analysis of data collected during the Strategy Planning Day and drafted a Business Plan for IKMSG Board to discuss and consider.

Feedback from the IKMSG Team was very positive.  The direction from Nyssa was much appreciated and the outcomes from the planning day gave them everyone a new perspective on the achievements and potential of the IKMSG.

The story of the star fish

uow194476This is the story of the star fish which is now better known as the star of the sea. These incredible creatures when harmed can regenerate a lost arm and has been used in the art work to represent renewal. The blue and brown dots surrounding the sea star are the rock pools full of water where you can often find the wonderful lifeforms of the ocean.

The artist Kevin Butler was born in Nambucca Heads, New South Wales in 1962 and is part of the Gumbaingirr People. At the age of just 2 weeks he was removed by the Aboriginal protection Board and raised by a non-Aboriginal family in Sydney. He moved to Wollongong in 1990 and these days he is employed part time as a school teacher. Kevin is involved with many community art projects within the Illawarra area, having done several murals at various schools and local council projects.

As a child Kevin always had the ability to draw but it wasn’t until 1988, when he was 26 years old, that he began painting Aboriginal art. Kevin is a self-taught artist and this was his way of rediscovering his lost culture and heritage. Further information on Kevin Butler can be found at: