AJ Williams-Tchen is of Wiradjuri / Wotjobulak background. AJ Founded Girraway Ganyi Consultancy in 2007. He has over 30 years’ experience in the health and community service sector, Aboriginal organisations and communities, TAFEs and universities. Holding qualifications in Social Work, Nursing, Youth Work, Aboriginal Health Work, Community Development, Leadership & Management, Business Studies & Aboriginal Leadership.
Victoria University’s Alumni Awards celebrates outstanding leadership and innovation, and the significant impact individuals have made on their industries and communities.
VU alumni AJ Williams-Tchen (Wiradjuri / Wotjobulak) had the honour of taking home not one, but two awards; the Professional Achievement Alumni Award and the Spirit of Victoria University Alumni People's Choice Award.
For AJ, winning the awards was a memorable experience. “It's an honour that recognises the contributions I've made over the years - you don't realise that contribution until it's packaged together and you think, ‘Well, this what you've actually achieved over a period of time, since graduating from Victoria University’.
Today AJ is the Director and founder of Girraway Ganyi Consultancy, a business that provides cultural awareness training, mental health first aid, mentoring programs in schools with Aboriginal adolescents and cultural support programs for Aboriginal workers in the workforce.
“I had been working at the Western Suburbs Indigenous Gathering Place and I noticed there was no Cultural Awareness training at the time. Slowly my business got a name for itself and now Girraway Ganyi has a national profile.”
AJ recently delivered his 450th cultural awareness course, and his 730th mental health first aid workshop. His YouTube channel received a Reconciliation Victoria HART Award for truth-telling and story-telling of Elders and young people.
With over 30 years’ experience in the health and community service sector, Aboriginal organisations and communities, AJ’s path to success began when he studied a Bachelor of Social Work (1994-1997), followed by a Masters of Education and Training (2000). “These were great courses because no matter where I ended up working, I had the skills to work with anybody, anywhere.”
Right now, there are over 270,000 VU alumni, across more than 140 countries, sharing the skills and knowledge they acquired during their time at VU. “I’m proud of my VU qualifications. My advice to new graduates is value your qualifications because your skills and knowledge that you get throughout your course is exactly what industry is looking for. Dream big, and never give up. It may take a few pathways to get there, but that is what makes VU so unique – there are many paths to help you achieve your dreams.”
AJ is a Principal Master MHFA Instructor, who has provided nearly 600 Mental Health First Aid workshops since 2008 and facilitated over 650 Cultural Awareness programs across Australia since 2003. He provides cultural mentoring & support programs to 3 Independent schools and has successfully worked with schools and organisations in developing & implementing many Reconciliation Action Plans.
AJ is an Ambassador for Butterfly Foundation, a lead cultural support for ANZEAD and a Cultural Advisor for Beyond Blue and Independent Schools Victoria.