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  • New WA yoga program supports Indigenous mental health

    Author: Nicole Madigan

A new school-based program in Western Australia is making mental health part of the curriculum, while keeping Indigenous culture and practices at the forefront.

The Mindful Hearts education program is a yoga-centred program, developed by Yogazeit in conjunction with local Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers, is designed to foster improved social and emotional well-being, particularly for Indigenous students.

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Community consultation is a critical part of the program’s projected longevity, with a project impact report found the transfer of knowledge from community members to the teaching team, was a strong indicator of program sustainability and community buy-in.

Through the program, Indigenous children not only see their language in the classroom, and on cards illustrated by the children at the school, it is incorporated into the school day with in language yoga and mindfulness brain breaks.
This unique Aboriginal community-driven desire to foster learning and engagement for Western staff has contributed to the incredible success of the program.

Kerry Anne AIEO at Wangkatjungkaa Remote Community School said the Mindful Hearts program made her feel proud, particularly with regards to the movement aspects.

“I'm feeling grateful and happy because I can see my language is written on the cards. Yoga helps inside of your body. It helps when we feel stressed or we want to calm down.

“One of the favourite shapes I use is when the kids get up and walk around I ask them to do Kali (Boomerang).”

According to Yogazeit CEO, Regina Cruickshank ,The ‘Boomerang’ is just one of 57 shapes found in the indigenous curriculum, it has physical and mental benefits and supports staff as well as students.

“By providing in-language wellbeing brain breaks into the school day we are providing opportunities for staff to support their own well-being and then have tools to co-regulate the children in their care,” Ms Cruickshank said.

Aboriginal Outreach Lead Sharnell Avery said what’s known as “Yarning” was an important part of the consultation process.

“We take the time to listen and learn about a community's unique strengths and challenges,” she explained.

“We saw community members began independently sharing the activities at local community events and to other mobs in the wider region immediately after our first consultation so it's no surprise to see the strength of the program some 18
months later ”

“Embracing the differences at each remote school is the success of Mindful Hearts, as it supports social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal youth and the wider community by fostering the positives that already exist in the community.”

More than 30 per cent of all remote and very remote students in Australia are based in Western Australia.


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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications ( and a children's author.