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Winthrop Professor, Dawn Bessarab, is an Indigenous woman of Bardi (West Kimberley) and Indjarbandi (Pilbara) descent, who has a background in Aboriginal child protection, family violence and community development.
Dawn is Winthrop Professor and Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health, University of Western Australia (UWA), and is a highly regarded and experienced senior social worker and researcher. She advocates the importance of understanding the cultural traditions of Aboriginal people and is engaged in research looking at interventions and collaborative approaches to addressing health issues affecting Aboriginal people.
Prior to joining UWA Dawn worked as an Indigenous health researcher at the Centre for Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University.
Dawn has worked for the Department of the Attorney General across courts and tribunal services, the Department of Child Protection (then Community Development) and as a social worker and an Aboriginal child protection worker. She has considerable experience in the field of family violence and was the chair of a women's refuge in Perth for four years.
Dawn is currently a member of a team of chief investigators (CIs) on a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early start to life parenting project ‘Too solid’ at the Telethon Kids Institute. This innovative parenting program is currently in its second year of being trialled and is one of the first Aboriginal parenting programs developed by a team of Aboriginal researchers. As one of the CI's involved in this project she works with other CI's to provide debriefing, cultural supervision, training and support to the team delivering the parenting program.
Other research projects that Dawn is involved with are: a collaborative research partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations in an urban and regional location; Indigenous mentoring and supervision to the principal researchers; and co-facilitates workshops to build the capacity of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners.