Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

Journey to Reconciliation

  • Share


SANE is focused on ending mental health inequity through systematic change, and eliminating stigma, discrimination, and social exclusion. In line with this, we acknowledge the significant intergenerational impact colonisation has had and continues to have, on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health and wellbeing.

SANE is committed to our people and processes following a partnership approach to help ensure we continue to listen and learn from First Nations people to support their needs.

SANE supports people throughout Australia and acknowledges traditional custodians of country and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and Elders past, present and emerging.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people mental health and wellbeing

SANE’s RAP Artwork: Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha, by artist Kelly Taylor.
  • For many Indigenous Australians, good mental health is indicated by feeling a sense of belonging, having strong cultural identity, maintaining positive interpersonal relationships, and feeling that life has purpose and value (Dudgeon et al. 2014; Dudgeon & Walker 2015).
  • In 2018–19, among the total Indigenous Australian population, an estimated 24 per cent (187,500) reported a mental health or behavioural condition and an estimated 31 per cent reported experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress. (ABS 2019).
  • The rate of active participants with a psychosocial primary disability was almost three times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than other Australians (468.1 people per 100,000 and 164.0 respectively) (AIHW 2022).
  • Indigenous Australians are 2.7 times as likely as non-indigenous Australians to have high or very high levels of psychological distress. (AIHW 2023).


SANE is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torrs Strait Islander people, communities and partners to implement cultural governance and social and emotional wellbeing practice within our model of care in support of Closing the Gap targets.

As part of this we are:

  • Building connections with local Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander custodians to develop guiding principles to better serve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Committed to building a culturally safe workplace for First Nations employees. To support this work, our RAP committee Chair has endorsed a First Nations online cultural training program to be deployed to all staff and we are delivering an immersive training experience for management and people leaders.
  • Collaborating with Aboriginal and Torres Islander Community Controlled organisations, universities and other partners to develop a Social and Emotional Wellbeing workforce to support First Nations service users.
  • Working with First Nations people to ensure our services are culturally safe, including our online Community Forums co-design project.
  • Committed to engaging in key cultural events to walk alongside our First Nations community as part of our Reconciliation initiatives.

Traditional smoking ceremony cleansing and blessing, and cultural competency immersions.

On 26 May 2023, SANE staff members in Melbourne and Sydney were given the opportunity to experience a traditional smoking ceremony cleansing and blessing, and cultural competency immersion.

Pictured here, alongside Koomurri aboriginal dancers at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, from left to right: RAP Chair Tom Brideson (second), SANE Patron Janet Meagher AM (third), SANE Board Chair Lucy Myer (fourth), SANE CEO Rachel Green (fifth).

Rachel Green and Lucy Myers with indigenous representatives

Key Milestones


SANE began reflecting on its cultural practices, gaining input into SANE service design and embedding acknowledgement of first nations culture. 

  • Development of a draft Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.
  • Mapped partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. 
  • Co-designed SANE’s major services transformation with support from the ALIVE Centre for Lived Experience Research involving dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people focus groups. 
  • Ensured Acknowledgement of Country in SANE meetings and encouraged staff to research Traditional Owners of the Lands (their own and wherever they join their meetings from).  
  • Acknowledged NAIDOC Week, National Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week (internal and external). 
  • Ran Reconciliation events in Sydney and Melbourne for SANE’s staff, volunteers and ambassadors and included smoking ceremonies and cultural awareness education.


Commissioned artwork for SANE from Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha artist Kelly Taylor to be displayed in our offices and published on the front cover of SANE’s Innovate RAP. 

26 January 2023

SANE employees were given a choice to work on this historical public holiday, or swap this day for another.

23 May-3 June 2023

Reconciliation Action Week. An important week for SANE to recognise.
Events were held in Sydney and Melbourne to commence our Reconciliation Action Journey. 
Patron Sandy Jeffs, and LEAC co-chair Margaret Tayar both shared with us at the smoking ceremonies in Melbourne and Sydney, that this is the first time SANE has held an in-person smoking ceremony and Reconciliation and Sorry Day event.   

26 May 2023
We recognise Sorry Day and the resilience and acknowledge the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the ongoing impact of the Stolen Generations on First Nation families, communities and peoples. We all have a role to play in reconciliation and committed our support to the YES vote.  
Announced SANE’S new independent chair of our Reconciliation Action Plan Committee, Mr Tom Brideson. SANE becomes a signatory to the Proud Spirit Declaration, and establishes a partnership with Gayaa Dhuwi in pursuit of further code design of our recovery model to bring that together with social emotional wellbeing principles. 
SANE’s Reconciliation Action Plan Committee formed. 
August 2023

SANE supports a YES! vote in the Federal Referendum. Our people are invited to have conversations about the vote, and learn more visit 

SANE leaders recognise and promote The Voice including the experiences and contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities with the aim of promoting a society free of racism, inequality and inequity. 

Set reconciliation goals as part of SANE’s Strategic Plan 2024-2027. 

Stay in touch

Never miss an important update from SANE.

Please let us know your first name.
Please let us know your last name.
Please let us know your email address.

Please select at least one newsletter