Community Development 

Yorgum considers that a complimentary part of the counselling work is the need to provide community development and education in an attempt to reduce levels of violence in the community. 

The aim of the community development program is to raise awareness about family violence to Aboriginal communities, families and individuals and to develop ways of enhancing the safety of family members. This is achieved by building on the cultural strengths of community, through activities and strategies identified by the community, as relevant and suitable to them.  

Grandmother’s Group 

 The Yorgum Grandmother’s Group consists of elders who meet every month. The women come together to do art, craft and yarn. Clients (primarily children) sit in with the group and do art and yarn with them. It is very beneficial to both the women and the clients. 

Workforce Support Unit 

The Workforce Support Unit or (WSU), is a new addition to Yorgum. The WSU will provide training and support to OATSIH’s Aboriginal funded Social and Emotional Well Being services within the Perth Metropolitan, Southwest, Great Southern, Wheatbelt, Goldfields, Midwest, Murchison and Gascoyne Regions. These services include the Link Up, Bringing Them Home, Substance Use and Mental Health Programs. The WSU will work with a Registered Training Organisation who will facilitate the Training Needs analysis and training for all staff within those services. The WSU will also be responsible for ensuring supervision and support for those staff members and services to meet their individual training needs. The WSU consists of a Coordinator, a Caseworker and a part time Administration Assistant all of whom are based here in the East Perth office. 

Link Up Program Building Solid Families Program 


In September 2006, Yorgum was successful in the tender process for the Link-Up & Building Solid Families program.  

Building Solid Families 

The Building Solid Families program provides social and emotional well being services including culturally secure information, support and advice services to the Aboriginal communities particularly those affected by trauma, grief and loss; affected by mental health problems; and at risk of self harm, in particular youth who are living in the metropolitan region. 

What can Building Solid Families do? 

  • Client assessments and care plans;
  • Provision of and referral to general counselling and support services.  Establish counselling and referral protocols and support services networks
  • Develop and support clear pathways for referral and receival with Department of Health mental health services;


Link Up Program 

The Link up Program is more formally known as the Access to Effective Family Tracing and Reunion Services Program.  It provides funding to organisations, not individuals, for the purpose of family tracing and reunion services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been separated from their families as a result of the past removal policies and practices of Australian governments. 

What can Link Up Services do? 

There are a number of core activities required from the Link Up Services under the Link Up Program, including: 

a.         Client contact, assessment, referral and support and guidance;

  1. Support and Guidance – Initial Family Contact;
  2. Counselling, support and advocacy;
  3. Researching family history information and other relevant information;
  4. Secondary Link Up Service negotiation and liaison;
  5. Reunion management;
    Phase 1 Pre-reunion (preparation);
    Phase 2 Reunion; and
    Phase 3 Post Reunion
  6. Post Reunion Support;
  7. Cultural and Family Value Awareness;
  8. Public Awareness (i.e. promoting the Link Up Services);
  9. Staff Training and Development;
  10. Representation on Government and Community Forums; and
  11. Administrative Management, including the development of Memorandums of Understandings.


The following activities are ineligible under this program: 

  •  Native title, land rights, compensation or reparation claims; 
  •  Return to Country reunions; 
  •  Erecting of monuments; 
  •  Relocation; 
  •  More than one reunion; 
  •  Funeral attendance (including funding for transport and other related costs); 
  •  Genealogy assistance; and 
  •  Locating missing persons. 

Who can access the Link Up Services? 

The Link-Up Services assist people that include: 

  • People affected by past removal policies and practices and their families; and
  • Individuals and families, who have been adopted, fostered or raised in institutions.


Funding need not be strictly confined to support only those who can demonstrate that they have lost contact with their families and communities as a direct result of the past removal policies and practices of Australian governments. 

Link-Up Services can provide assistance to clients identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or who believe they have Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage.  However, if records or research indicates Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage has not been documented, Link Up Services will be unable to assist further. 

 An appropriate referral agency will be recommended in this instance e.g.: Salvation Army – Family Tracing Unit, Jigsaw (SA) and Post Adoptive Resource Centre.  The person is able to return to the Link up Service to become a client if they find documentary evidence of their Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage. 

An individual, who may or may not have already confirmed their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, may be trying to establish and document their family history – this is a genealogy or family tree exercise – not family tracing, and accordingly cannot be undertaken by a Link Up Service.  Referral should be made to the State Museums, State Libraries or Genealogical Societies. 

Staff and Regional boundaries 

The Link Up program consists of a Coordinator and five Caseworkers, a Link up Counsellor, State-wide Research Officer and Admin Officer covering the following regions; the Building Solid Families program consists of a caseworker who covers the metropolitan region; 

  • Midwest/Murchison – Mary Nannup (Caseworker)
  • Bunbury Southwest – Melbourne Hart (Caseworker)
  • Goldfields – Dwesmond Dann (Caseworker)
  • South East – Gail Wynne (Case Worker)
  • Wheatbelt – Sandra Ryder (Caseworker)
  • Metropolitan – All caseworkers
  • Link Up Counsellor – Mildren Penny
  • State-wide Research Officer – Leah Young


Sub Offices

Link-Up Service has office space through the development of MOU’s in regional areas, which are located at;

  • Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service servicing the Murchison/Midwest region,
  • Bega Garnbirringu Aboriginal Health Service servicing the Goldfields and South West region,
  • South West Aboriginal Medical Service servicing the Bunbury and South west region,

NB.Regional visits are conducted on a monthly basis to ensure that the regions are being serviced regularly.

Clinical Section- Counselling

Yorgum offers a unique team of counselling staff that are all Aboriginal including one Male counsellor in an environment that is supportive.

The target group are Aboriginal children and adults of all ages who have experienced the following:

-          Family Violence

-          Childhood Sexual Abuse


We provide counselling that is:

  • One-on-one counselling for individuals
  • Relationship Counselling for couples
  • Group Counselling for families, siblings, family groups

Counselling staff are trained to provide counselling that can cover a wide range of issues for Aboriginal people as we recognise that there are multiple and transgenerational issues that affect Aboriginal people that may need to be addressed through counselling

Ongoing clients of the service can also be provided with counselling in the following areas of need:

  • Grief & Loss
  • Trauma & Crisis resolution
  • Advocacy for Family Violence issues through other agencies such as Stronger Families
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Dealing with Racism
  • Anger Management



Child Sexual Abuse Therapeutic Service

The primary target group for this is children, where services are provided within a whole of family context. A culturally sensitive framework allows Yorgum’s Psychologist and Counsellors to reduce sexual abuse and the effects of sexual abuse on children. The thrust behind this approach is to change the psyche of the individuals so that constructive behaviours replace the previous destructive behaviours. 

Yorgum supports the United Nations Charter that all children have the right to feel safe and secure in having their basic needs met, and also have the right to safety within their environment and cultural identity.

The framework encompasses:

  • Cultural security and cultural context by following cultural protocols;
  • Nyoongar Sociology and Kinship;
  • Nyoongar psychology acknowledging and encompassing spirituality;
  • Protective behaviours mainstream practices adapted for Aboriginal ways of working with children;
  • Narrative therapy using language;
  • Art therapy using a range of mediums;
  • Visualization;
  • Sand play therapy;
  • Healing of self be it physical, emotional, mental or spiritual;
  • Aboriginal language or slang (predominantly Nyoongar), and
  • Recovering and rebuilding of self, family and community.

The effect of applying this framework is to reinforce the child’s rights and the family responsibilities by re-connecting to the identity/self-identity, language, and kinship structures to enable cultural meaning and validation to their story.

Narrative, art and visual therapy encompasses teaching the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community protective behaviours to empower them with the information to feel safe and to have the right not to accept inappropriate and unacceptable abusive behaviours (to know and to differentiate inappropriate touching or any forms of abuse).

The protective behaviours are developed for the children to learn to protect themselves.  This involves teaching self protective skills and behaviours, training for assertiveness, building self esteem, and body ownership/body knowledge.

The clinical team in the Counselling section delivers this service. 


Aboriginal Children Experiencing Family Violence Counselling

This service is available through a range of counselling and treatment methods five days a week at a central location in the metropolitan area (East Perth). 

The focus is on meeting the counselling and support needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families who are victims of family abuse. The clinical team in the Counselling section delivers this service. Clients are either self-referred or are referred by government and non-government agencies.

The service concentrates on one-to-one counselling and family group counselling. The goal is to move towards peer/group counselling, so that children realise they are not alone in their experiences. Counselling is provided in specific counselling rooms or in the designated therapy room.

Yorgum staff will refer clients to specialist support agencies as required on an individual basis.

Family Violence Aboriginal Advocacy and Counselling Program (funded by FaHCSIA)

The Family Violence Aboriginal Advocacy and Counselling Program’s focus is the provision of culturally secure counselling and the provision of an holistic service to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by family violence, sexual abuse and associated issues.  This service covers a range of ages and genders.

The project aims to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, youth, adults and families affected by family violence, sexual abuse and associated issues. It will also promote and sustain a non-violent, safe environment in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can live, nurturing and reflecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values of caring and sharing, to support and meet the emotional, physical, spiritual and social needs of family members.

Yorgum’s Family Violence Aboriginal Advocacy and Counselling Program provides a collaborative approach to family violence and sexual abuse by working with appropriate departments and agencies.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and families affected by family violence will have access to an Aboriginal counsellor/advocate within Aboriginal surroundings under an Aboriginal Terms of Reference, thus improving the awareness of family violence and sexual abuse, including basic rights.

The Counsellor/Advocates will employ a range of healing strategies which can enhance the healing of individual and/or group clients. Clients will be empowered with knowledge on human rights, protective behaviours, parenting, self esteem and to be in control of their own healing.