From accountant and sportswoman to championing Indigenous mental health

26/10/2021 | 4 mins

Ways to promote positive social and emotional wellbeing among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that can help build resilience and prevent suicide will be the focus of a new postdoctoral fellowship awarded to research associate Dr Ee Pin Chang from The University of Western Australia.

Dr Chang, from the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) at the School of Indigenous Studies at UWA, has been awarded the two-year Suicide Prevention Australia Post-Doctoral Fellowship to develop evidence around culturally appropriate suicide prevention interventions.

“I’m thrilled to receive the grant and hope that my research will be able to inform strategies and policies that can contribute to reducing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who die by suicide or who are in the justice system,” Dr Chang said.

“It will also allow more Indigenous people to benefit from the Cultural, Social and Emotional Wellbeing (CSEWB) Program, which was co-designed and developed through extensive consultations across 11 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in response to high rates of psychological distress, self-harm and suicide, and has been found to be life-changing.

“I’m passionate about justice and equity and have felt very privileged over the past year to have been involved in the meaningful and important work that Professor Pat Dudgeon has devoted her life to.” 

Professor Dudgeon is the director at the CBPATSISP, and Chief Investigator on an NHMRC Million Minds Mission Grant, Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing, at the School of Indigenous Studies at UWA.  

Dr Chang said she would use the CSEWB program, a strengths-based, holistic Indigenous mental health framework, to promote self-determination and resilience, and empower those caught up in the justice system. 

"I believe that participation in the program will facilitate their transition back to society. Past community participants reported reduced psychological distress, which improves social and emotional wellbeing and is a protective factor against suicide.

"Some participants are now involved in meaningful roles within their communities, including counselling and facilitating the CSEWB Program."

Dr Ee Pin Chang

Born and raised in Singapore, Dr Chang obtained a Bachelor of Accountancy Degree at the National University of Singapore. She has worked in various multinational corporations as an auditor and accountant in Singapore and Hong Kong, including Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse First Boston, KPMG and Arthur Anderson. 

She moved to Perth in 2010 to fulfil a childhood dream of studying psychology and was awarded a PhD in Psychology from UWA’s School of Psychological Science, working as a postdoctoral researcher at the school looking at the biological risk factors of suicide.

Dr Chang is also an endurance athlete who has competed in international adventure races, including the 2002 New Zealand Southern Traverse, a six day biking, running and kayaking event over 500km, and a three-time national kayaking champion in Singapore and a two-time Ironman triathlete.

More recently she participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 200km ride in Perth to raise funds for cancer research. For now though all eyes are on her fellowship which starts in December. 

Media references

Liz McGrath (UWA Media Advisor) 0433 795 509

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