Harsh environments, geographical isolation, trauma and the highest suicide rates among youth across the country.
Add being gay to the many struggles faced by indigenous people and growing up in the Kimberley could be tough.
But this was far from the childhood Bardi man Dwesmond Wiggan-Daan experienced, who said his journey discovering he was gay in the West-Kimberley community of One Arm Point was one of love and acceptance.
Mr Wiggan-Dann said although he was embraced by his home community, he was aware many other queer indigenous people had not been so lucky.
“My experience has been quite different to other LGBTIQ people because I’ve never had to come out and I was never had to identify anything. I was just Dwes.
“I found my own upbringing very traditional. Growing up I was allowed to be and do whatever I wanted to be.
“If that meant I wanted to go fishing or hunting I would do that with my brothers and cousins, or if I wanted to sit with my granny, sisters and mums (mother and her sisters) I could do that.
“Each person has their own journey in life and how we want to tell that story, to empower other people is very important.”
The proud Kimberley man’s story is a far contrast from those likely to be heard in a ground-breaking WA-first ECU study that has been rolled out this month, scoping out the level of resources for queer Aboriginal people around the State.
The “Breaking the Silence” study, led by Pro-Vice Chancellor Profession Braden Hill, has invited the demographic group to speak up to make a difference to help improve access to services in WA.
Mr Wiggan-Dann hoped the study would provide a platform for indigenous communities to grow and learn to accept.
“There might be a lot of young people in very remote communities or in a township that might not have an open or accepting family with whom they can be who they are,” he said.
“(This looks at) how we create that cycle in regards to mental health and wellbeing.”
Professor Hill said the study was an opportunity for LGBTQI indigenous people to have their say and inform services that should be “in tune” with needs in communities.
“Currently there is next to no research about what it’s like to be both Aboriginal and LGBTIQ, yet many young people from both communities are suffering mental health concerns and the highest rates of suicide in Australia,” he said. “Ultimately we are really hoping that health and community services, whether they be Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal organisations, will find this research a useful evidence-based tool to support the work they are already doing to become as inclusive as possible.”
Those over 18 years old can participate confidentially in the Healthway-funded study by visiting the ECU website.
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