About the project

Wungening Aboriginal Corporation, in partnership with Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), has just completed the research stage of the Aboriginal-led Birdiya Maya Homelessness Research Project. Funded by Lotterywest, the project provides a public platform for Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness in Perth to tell their stories and identify ways of improving responses to homelessness.

The aims of the project are to:

  • Identify barriers for Aboriginal people in the greater Perth area in connecting with accommodation and having their needs met, especially in a crisis

  • Develop an understanding of the lives of Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness, including the nature of their mental health, health, use of alcohol and other drugs, social supports, and connection with services

  • Provide recommendations for future policy change and service delivery

Aboriginal-led research

Despite being an ACCO, we do not take for granted the insights and knowledge of the community we serve. We know how important it is for Aboriginal issues to have Aboriginal-led solutions and for research to be led by the community. As a result, community members guided the direction of the research project, through extensive engagement from Elders (the Community Ownership Group) as well as input from research participants.

The Community Ownership Group met regularly throughout the project to steer the research, ensure it was culturally safe, and prioritized the diverse voices of Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness across Perth.

Community Ownership Group (l-r):

Fred Penny, Greg Ugle, Raylene Indich, Roslyn Indich, Beryl Weston, Marie Pryor, Lynette Cox, Vivienne Weir, Jonathon Blurton

Missing Members: Lenny Yarran, Shirley Harris, Barbara McGillivray, Jon Blurton, Marian Kickett, Bev Louis, Millie Penny

Award-winning research

The project approach led to the awarding of a prestigious prize from the Lowitja Institute in June 2023. The project won the Tarrn-doon-nonin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Ethics Award, which acknowledges research conducted to an exemplary standard in line with Aboriginal principles and practices.

Wungening receiving the Lowitja Institute Tarrn-doon-nonin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Ethics Award (l-r)

Lucy Spanswick, Selwyn Button (Lowitja Institute Chairperson, Board of Directors), Jocelyn Jones (NDRI), Dot Bagshaw, Daniel Morrison (Wungening CEO), Delwin Little, Lindey Andrews, Jackie Oakley, Janine Mohamed (Lowitja Institute CEO), Louise Southalan

Community report

The project’s community report was launched on 27 June 2023 where it was received by Hon. John Carey, Minister for Planning, Lands, Housing, and Homelessness. The report elevates the voices of Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness, showcases their art and stories, and provides recommendations for addressing Aboriginal homelessness.

Suggested citation:

Birdiya Maya Project Research Team. (2023). Birdiya Maya Homelessness Research Project: Community Report 2023. Wungening Aboriginal Corporation.

Click the image below to view the report


The project incorporated creative methods by which participants could express themselves and share their stories and ideas. These methods included yarning, photography, writing, and drawing.

The participants’ artworks were showcased at two exhibitions. The first was held at Perth Town Hall in November 2022 and was attended by participants, members of the Community Ownership Group, Aboriginal leaders, researchers, and leaders from the government and community services sector.

The second exhibition was held at John Curtin Gallery at Curtin University, from 4 June to 9 July 2023. At these exhibitions, quotes from the participants accompanied photos and artworks about their experiences of homelessness, giving viewers greater context, insight, and power to the work.

First exhibition at Perth Town Hall (November 2022)

Second exhibition at John Curtin Gallery at Curtin University (June-July 2023) (l-r)

Hon. John Carey (Minister for Planning, Lands, Housing, and Homelessness), Daniel Morrison-Bird (Wungening CEO)

Project films

Three short project films were launched concurrently with the report. These films offer insight into the aims of the research project, the nature of the community ownership group, the participants’ experience of being involved in the research, and details of the report’s recommendations.

Click the image below to view the films

 Jackie Oakley and Betty Mippy


A series of posters were created for the first exhibition, to detail the project and showcase the people behind the research: the team from Wungening and NDRI, and members of the Community Ownership Group.

An additional poster was created to reflect on and challenge dominant models of home.

Click on the image below to view the posters


Research participants were encouraged to submit a song which they felt reflected their experience with homelessness. The Spotify playlist below is a collection of these songs, which were played at both exhibitions.

Click play.

The next steps

The results of the research will be used to push for policy and service change across the sector. We will also chart the impact of the project over the course of 2023 and 2024.