Project seeks to better support First Nations LGBTQIA+ mental health

Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge) is a peer-led national research project, seeking to hear from the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQIA+ people with mental health, wellbeing and support.

The groundbreaking project will focus on the lives of young people, using interviews and yarning groups and a national survey to lead into co-design with LGBTQIA+ young people and services.

The research will also help provide essential information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives not readily available to lawmakers and service providers seeking to develop meaningful inclusion in mental health service provision.

Research team members Lulkbudia McLean and Shakara Liddelow-Hunt joined Danielle Brigoli on RTRFM to tell OUTinPerth and All Things Queer more about the project.

“What we’re really looking to do is understand the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing for young Aboriginal LGBTQ+ mob,” Shakara explains.

“We started by yarning with young mob here in Perth and we’re now looking to launch a national survey.”

“Once that’s all wrapped up and we have some actual data to work with, we’re going to start doing some co-design with young mob here in Perth and also with services so we can sit down, have a yarn and actually work out – what can we put together that’s actually going to help young mob and be tailored for them.”

Lulkbudia adds that the project and co-design will give queer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a voice and allow their experiences to be heard.

“I really love the process of co-design, that means that it’s created by community, for community. We know that queer First Nations people, they know what they are needing from these services and what is lacking.”

“We can all form together to actually work and create these interventions themselves, which is really important. We’re going to get everyone to share their stories, then we’re actually going to go in and make those interventions.”

“You may be able to go to an Aboriginal health service, but then that might not be queer friendly, and you can go to an LGBTQI+ service but then that’s not culturally safe.

“It’s really speaking from my own perspective as a queer First Nations woman that caused me to look at my identity as something that’s disjointed,” Lulkbudia continues.

“I’ve got my cultural identity, and I’ve got my queer identity and those are two different things – but if we’re having services that cater to both of those things and see you as an individual and those identities overlapping, being a part of one another, and having those services available, I think that’s going to be really healing.”

The Walkern Katatdjin National Survey is open now for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are LGBTQIA+, between the ages of 14 and 25. To take part in the survey or find out more about the project, head to

Artwork: Shakyrrah Beck

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