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Leilani Darwin Talks Life Experiences and Working with Blackdog Institute

Leilani Darwin is a Quandamooka woman, whose ancestral home is Stradbroke Island. She is an Aboriginal woman who has been touched on a personal level many times by suicide and mental illness. Leilani yarns up with Gman on 3KND's Big Brekkie.

Through her own lived experience and work within the sector, Leilani is a powerful advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led, culturally informed practices within mainstream services. Leilani Darwin’s childhood was difficult – she dealt with violence, alcoholism, neglect and worse. Yet with fierce strength, empathy, respect and intelligence she has turned her experience into a force to dramatically reduce youth suicide statistics and help develop ground breaking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention programs. The joy she gets from her work has also given her a reason to feel hope again.

In 2016, Leilani was the recipient of the LiFE Award for Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention across Australia. Then again in 2016 she accepted an invitation to join the Queensland Suicide Prevention Taskforce for a three-year appointment. In 2017, Leilani was the proud recipient of the QLD Mental Health week Jude Bugeja Peer Experience award for devoting her professional life to assisting other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People to have access to the mental health supports. She has been published in several journals on topics such as youth suicide prevention and Aboriginal lived experience. Her recent work has included developing and creating key documents under the leadership of Professor Pat Dudgeon from University of Western Australia and LifeSpan with the Black Dog Institute for Primary Health Networks on: • Implementing Cultural Governance • Lived Experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people • Implementing Indigenous systems approach to suicide prevention

Leilani also sits on several working committees and advisory boards at the National and State level where she advocates for greater inclusion of those with lived experience alongside the need for cultural leadership, self-determination and culturally safe services and policy reform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Black Dog Institute team is dedicated to understanding, preventing and treating the significant mental health challenges that we face nationally and globally. 1 in 5 of us will experience symptoms of mental illness in any given year. In Australia that’s around 5 million people. And roughly 60% of these people won’t seek help.

As the only medical research institute in Australia to investigate mental health across the lifespan, our aim is to create a mentally healthier world for everyone. We do this through ‘translational’ research. Integrating our research studies, education programs, digital tools and apps, clinical services, and public resources to discover new solutions, foster connections and create real-world change. Our partnerships with people with lived experience, federal, state and local governments, communities, schools, corporate Australia and others in the mental health sector enables us to drive evidence-informed change in mental health where it’s needed most.

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