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Curtin University of Technology
Building Mental Wealth Building Mental Wealth
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Winthrop Professor Dawn Bessarab

As/Professor Dawn Bessarab

Dawn Bessarab is a Winthrop Professor and Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health, University of Western Australia, and is a highly regarded Aboriginal researcher who advocates the importance of having an understanding of the cultural traditions of Aboriginal people. Her own research has enabled her to identify ways in which Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal service providers interact counter-productively because of differing cultural assumptions. She has extensive experience in providing support services for Aboriginal and other Australians across WA. This has led to Dawn recognising the lack of cultural understanding of Aboriginal people and the dynamics of Aboriginal family life in contemporary urban and regional environments that undermines the generally well meaning efforts of many service providers. The importance of the extended family, maintaining relationship to the land and practicing traditional values, are often not appreciated by non-Indigenous people. Yet these factors are intrinsic to the mind, body and spirit conception that Aboriginal people have of health. Professor Bessarab contributed to the overall leadership of this research program and her insights into the misunderstandings that can develop between Aboriginal & non-Aboriginal people were particularly valuable for this research.