Professor Dawn Bessarab is an Aboriginal woman of Bard (West Kimberley) and Yjindjarbandi (Pilbara) descent. She is a highly regarded and experienced senior social worker and researcher who graduated with her PhD in 2007; a qualitative study exploring the impact of the gendered lived experience of Aboriginal women and men in families on the development of their masculine and feminine identities.
Dawn is particularly interested in the application of Indigenous research and qualitative methodologies particularly participatory action research and the translation of research into policy and practice. Dawn has developed the framework on yarning as an Indigenous conversation which is now widely applied across the Australian and international communities.
Dawn has a strong background in family and domestic violence, drug and alcohol having worked in the area of child protection for the last 20 years. She has taught and delivered workshops in the area of family violence and child abuse to Departmental workers and was a former founding director on the board of the Aboriginal Family Legal Service in Perth, an Aboriginal organisation that delivers legal services to Aboriginal women and children who are victims of family violence. Dawn has also been a former chair of Nadine Women’s Refuge in Perth that provides services for women and children escaping violence and is currently a secretary on the Langford Aboriginal Association committee which is an Aboriginal grass roots organisation providing services to the local Aboriginal community in Langford in the City of Gosnells, Western Australia.
Dawn’s expertise is highly sought in the area of research and training where she receives many requests to provide culturally safe training to service providers working with Aboriginal people. Dawn has published widely both individually and collaboratively on her work and joint research projects in the area of social work practice, community development and Aboriginal health and wellbeing. Dawn is currently the Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health which in collaboration with the School of Indigenous Studies provides alternate pathways for Aboriginal people into medicine at the University of Western Australia. CAMDH teaches Aboriginal health across the medical faculty to all the medical students and provides pastoral and academic support to all Aboriginal students studying medicine.
Appointed Director, Independent August 2019.