Background / history

The Formation of AIPA

The disparities in social and emotional wellbeing and mental health outcomes stimulated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists from all over Australia to meet in Melbourne on March 28 2008. This meeting was the first time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists had formally met together. The meeting was chaired by Pat Dudgeon. At the meeting, a unanimous decision was made to form the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA) under the auspices of the Australian Psychological Society.

A further meeting was held in Adelaide in July 2008 where the CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, Romlie Mokak, facilitated the group to develop an Action Plan for its first year. An interim Steering Committee was formed at this meeting, chaired by Associate Professor Pat Dudgeon.

AIPA was formally launched at the Australian Psychological Society conference in Hobart on September 24 2008.  The launch included local Aboriginal people and a presentation of traditional ceremonial implements to the President of the APS, Amanda Gordon, by AIPA members Carmen Cubillo and Christine Gillies. Carmen Cubillo read letters of support - Acrobat icon - small from Congress of Aboriginal andTorres Strait Islander Nurses, the Australian Indigenous Doctors Associationand the Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma.

The formation of AIPA has allowed us, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists, to work collectively and to speak with a united voice about the issues impacting on the social and emotional wellbeing and mental health of our people. Until AIPA formed, we were unable to engage collectively to contribute to closing the gap in social and emotional and mental health outcomes. Now we have formed a representative body, we hope the psychology profession, governments, and other health professions and bodies will draw on our collective expertise and work collaboratively with us to help to close the gap in social and emotional wellbeing and mental health issues. 

Christine and Carmen with water carrier