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About Us

Maar Koodjal, in our translation is ‘hand-in-hand’, an Aboriginal not-for-profit organisation based on the traditional values of First Nations Peoples in Noongar Country.

Its programs focus on four main areas; Traditional Culture and Language; Walking in Two Worlds; Healing of Trauma; and Employment Pathways.

Maar Koodjal primary position is that of the Nyoongar Eldership – Cultural Identity is a strength that needs to be fostered in our people. This position is also supported by research both nationally and internationally.

Maar Koodjal works to educate Nyoongar people about Wadjella ways and educate Wadjella people about Nyoongar ways – this intercultural awareness fosters a harmonious state from which truly collaborative initiatives can be launched.

Our logo depicts two hands representing the different cultures that make up our community, around the six Nyoongar seasons to remind us how we are a part of Nyoongar Country – it further represents a mutual understanding, respect and equality within the community.

Dennis Smoking Ceremony IMG 2807Strengthen Cultural Identity

Having a positive cultural identity is increasingly recognised as a strength that buffers against the negative effects of environment and historical factors and promotes the reaching of one’s potential. Bell and Anderson (2004) showed that Indigenous language and culture programs are positively associated with improved self-esteem, school attendance, reading skills, academic performance and reduced dropout rates. Social, cultural, emotional and spiritual wellbeing has also been shown to be crucial in reducing suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (Krysinska, Martin, & Sheehan, 2009). In line with our Elders position that Cultural connection is a strength we intend to contextualise all of our programs through Nyoongar culture, Connection to Country and the six Nyoongar seasons.

Cultural Healing on Country

The Maar Koodjal on country cultural healing program is based on First Nations ways of healing globally and has a close connection with eco-pyschology in that we use the landscape as a therapeutic tool for healing.  Some of its First Nations way of healing feature Yarning and Mindfulness activities; Dance and Art; Tool Making; Food Collection and Plants; Seasons and Totems; Family Structures and Kinship; Traditional Hunting Techniques; Storytelling; Connection to Land; Traditional Concepts of Spirituality; Traditional medicine and Healing techniques.

We support participants to develop a strong sense of cultural identity and wellbeing by fusing traditional cultural and contemporary psychological facets.

Our programs are developed and delivered by Maar Koodjal CEO Dennis Simmons, a respected cultural authority in Whadjuk Nyoongar country with many years’ experience working with youth and community, and he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

Through the strengthening of cultural identity as a community, we hope to address both transgenerational and intergenerational trauma, and prevent the devastating effects of adverse social determinants such as domestic violence, recidivism, suicide, poverty and poor health outcomes.