The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation truly acknowledges the Cultural Stories, Significance and history of the Traditional Lands and Waterways of which we live and work and pay our deepest of respect to the Ancestors and their spirits, all past and present First Nations Peoples and the Future Generations to inherit the knowledge, responsibilities, strength and wisdom to keep our culture alive.
The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation believes in a whole-of-family, capacity building and traditional cultural mentoring approach to breaking the cycle and healing Aboriginal People’s.
Our Foundation is working to revitalise culture, which at its very essence is the sustained wellness of country, community and self.
Through establishing a village of purpose, belonging and connection for community members to thrive, the Foundation strives to incorporate the “old ways” such as the importance of Connection to Country, understanding of structures that kept Aboriginal people living well for over 80,000 years and the importance of embodying and living by the traditional non-material values of Respect, Responsibility and Accountability.
We exist to give Aboriginal people the choice to practice Traditional Culture and to play a role in supporting them to reconnect to and find strength in their own cultural journey.
It is too often Aboriginal people don’t have the opportunity to have culture shared with them, when this is the case, they don’t have a choice. Our Foundation strives to provide that choice.
To provide long-term community driven cultural mentoring services with an early intervention and prevention focus that contribute to eliminating violence in all forms, incarceration and suicide in the Aboriginal community, creating a harmonious village of holistic wellness, connection and sustainability.
Healing and building the capacity of Aboriginal People and Families through Connection to Culture, Country and Community.
Respect, Responsibility, Accountability for Self, Others, Country, Culture and Community.
The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation provides community led whole of family traditional cultural mentoring and personal development programs for Aboriginal community in the West Metro Region of Melbourne.
The Foundation has a proven track record of delivering successful programs that are:
• Strengths-based & cultural capacity-building
• Long-term / on-going, minimum 3 years; (mentoring sessions delivered on a weekly basis and regular bush camps)
• Tailored to provide individual mentoring and support
• Preventative and early intervention focused (incarceration, suicide, all forms of violence)
• Based on the traditional values and concepts of Respect, Responsibility and Accountability for Self, Others, Country Culture & Community and include activities such as traditional song, dance, language, bush tucker and medicine, games, arts / craft, storytelling and more
Swipe below for more on our programs
The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation Ltd has a group of elders appointed to offer cultural oversight and guidance to the operations of the Foundation, to uphold and enforce the foundations underpinning values of respect, responsibility and accountability for self, others, country, culture and community. A significant role of the Foundation elders is to provide emotional and spiritual support to Foundation staff, families and community.
For thousands of years Aboriginal elders have been the holders of lore and wisdom that is imperative to creating sustainable, safe, positive, empowering and thriving communities. It is the intention of the Aboriginal Wellness Foundation to put elders back in their rightful place within the traditional role structure of our community village.
The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation is proud to be led by a team of committed and passionate grassroots Aboriginal People who are dedicated to making a positive contribution to the Victorian Aboriginal Community:
Will Austin –
Will Austin is a Keerray Wurrung / Peek Wurrung values-driven First Nations Man who is committed to building the capacity of Aboriginal People’s and Communities to break through cycles and find strength and purpose in Cultural identity, knowledge and history.
Over the past 5 years Will has worked predominately in the non-for-profit sector. Will has extensive experience in Program Governance and Design, Project Management, facilitation and has done significant work at a National scale within the Aboriginal community.
Will is now being mentored in developing his knowledge base in organisation operations and governance as part of his role as Executive Director of the Aboriginal Wellness Foundation and co-founder of Aboriginal led business, Yarn Bark.
Will has a deep passion towards understanding reasons and solutions around the issue of Suicide in the Aboriginal youth population and truly believes that connection to ancient cultural practices and knowledge is the basis for all early intervention and prevention initiatives.
Tania Rossi –
General Manager /
Parrayt Thanampool Cultural
Tania Rossi (nee Burns) is a strong proud Yorta Yorta / Wiradjuri woman and mother of three. Tania has never lived on her family’s country but inspires to retire there one day
Tania comes from a very strong lineage of women that have taught her some of the most incredible life lessons. Tania has a strong desire to help Aboriginal children through their journey by connecting them to culture. Whilst fully understanding she cannot do this alone, acknowledging that it requires elders, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and each other to make it possible.
Rowena Price –
Preventing Cycle of Violence Project Manager / Thanampool Meerreeng Cultural Mentor
Rowena Price is an Aboriginal woman who has Yorta Yorta and Palawa heritage as well as Irish, Scottish, English and German heritage.
Rowena has spent the last 18 years working to reclaim her Identity as her family’s Aboriginal heritage was never passed down.
Rowena was born on Wemba Wemba country (Swan Hill), then moved to Melbourne to pursue education opportunities, completing a bachelor of Arts at Victorian University.
Rowena is deeply passionate about connecting with people through stories, exploring what connection to Country means and the reclamation of Indigenous knowledge’s.
Benson Igua Saulo –
Foundation Chair Person
Benson Saulo (32) brings insight, passion and experience that he has develop throughout his working life from across corporate, not-for-profit and government sectors. In 2011, Benson was appointed the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations in which he undertook a national engagement tour to gain a deeper understanding of issues impacting Australian youth. Benson then represented Australian youth at the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly as an accredited member of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Benson became the founding director of the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy (NIYLA), which engages young Indigenous Australians to develop and drive youth-led social action campaigns. NIYLA participants developed and launch ten social action campaigns focusing on suicide prevention, climate change, mental health and welcoming refugee and asylum seekers. Benson was selected to participate in the U.S. State Department’s International Leaders Program that enabled him to engage First Nation’s groups to explore leadership, economic development and cultural opportunities.
Benson was formally the Head of Partnerships – Investments at Australian Unity within their Wealth and Capital Markets business, which explore investing into Indigenous businesses to scale their impact through employment, financial empowerment and governance.
Benson’s work has been recognised as a finalist for Young Australian of the Year (VIC), Human Rights Medal and 2012 NAIDOC Youth of the Year, and becoming a Sustainability Ambassador for City of Melbourne’s Knowledge Week. Benson is also a non-executive director of Innovation Unit ANZ and supports Impact Investing Australia’s Impact Ready Growth Grants and Sidney Myer Family Trust Poverty and Disadvantage Grants.
The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation is partnering with Family Safe Victoria to implement a project “Creating A Thriving West Metro Community with the Revitalisation of Traditional Cultural Practices” to Prevent the Cycle of Violence within the Foundation and broader West Metro Community.
The project aims to support Victorian Aboriginal people to be culturally strong, whilst being safe & self-determining with families & communities living free from all forms of violence.
As past of this Project the Foundation has provided 20 cultural mentors the opportunity to undertake a 9-day intensive Culturally Integrated Trauma Informed Healing Training and will cover the costs for three community members to become qualified Family Therapist through the Bouverie’s centres Graduate Family Therapy Course, building the capacity within our Foundation to respond to and prevent Family Violence.
Get in touch
For all enquires including: interest in our cultural mentoring programs, invitations to speak or perform (traditional dance and song) at events, cultural education and immersion workshops or any other enquires please contact us on the below:
AWF acknowledges and pays our respects to the past, present and emerging traditional custodians of the land on which we work and live.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users are advised that this website may contain images and voices of people who have died.