Megan Krakouer is a proud Menang person of the Noongar Nation, residing in Boorloo (Perth) on Whadjuk Noongar boodja (land). Megan is a nationally renowned activist, law reformer, and staunch advocate for the First Peoples, particularly those who have effectively been forgotten, rejected and maltreated by colonial mainstream society.
Megan is the co-founder and director of the National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project (NSPTRP), director (Wagyl Kaip) and chair of the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC), and holds a Bachelor of Laws from Deakin University.
Megan uses her platform to elevate the voices, stories and lived experiences of our Mob who are neglected and failed by the system. She works tirelessly to ensure our First Peoples affected by incarceration, child removal, suicide, deaths in custody, trauma and systemic racism are supported, heard, and advocated for – and believes that those who have been lost, should never be forgotten.
I and my colleagues have been at the sides of wailing families as life supports have been turned off on children who should never contemplate suicide but felt no option other than to end their lives in what for other children is the brightest bloom of life.
In her role as director of the NSPTRP, she works alongside her dear friend and co-founder Gerry Georgatos. Megan describes Gerry as the greatest human rights champion and kindest person she’s ever met. She says this has been both her warmest and most harrowing role. Together, Megan and Gerry fight the fights all of society should – to keep children alive, to turnaround downtrodden lives, and to change harsh and discriminatory laws, supporting those who have been doomed even before they were born.
Megan contributed to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, visiting 27 adult prisons in four states and over 30 remote communities to collect, record and share the stories of victims. She says, “their stories broke my heart, gave me understandings of mangled lives, shattered spirits”. Megan brought the devastating stories of hundreds of our people to the Royal Commission as she knew the importance of being heard – something our most vulnerable and marginalised people are not often afforded.
Through the NSPTRP, Megan and Gerry, alongside their volunteer crew, have substantially supported over 25,000 First Peoples during the last four years. They work on a triage needs basis, and first and foremost support those in crushing poverty. Currently, the NSPTRP has not lost anyone to suicide. However, with suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the highest they have ever been, and at tragic rates for our children, Megan and Gerry are constantly fighting and advocating for change, and supporting the families of victims. Gerry is a renowned experiential researcher and his research premises have been changing broader narratives for decades.
The suicide rates will continue on this harrowing trajectory without support from state and federal government to change the horribly disproportionate toll on First Peoples. We need people to lead from the grassroots level as Megan is doing, with support and backing from government.
Someone who can survive an arc of issues, a death in custody, a child removal. Someone who’s gone from being homeless to now securing their own property. Someone who is a mother or father, grandmother or granddad that manages to keep 5, 10, 15, 20 kids out of the system, or if they’re in the system, helping and supporting them. That’s Black excellence to me. Black excellence is, in the face of hardships, doing more than what many expect is humanly possible.
For Megan’s never-ending incredible work and advocacy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, she was awarded a 2023 Australian Mental Health Prize. This drew attention to the outstanding contributions Megan has made and continues to make in mental health leadership, not only at a community level, but also at a national level. Megan was Perth’s 2023 Citizen of the Year, 2023 National NAIDOC Person of the Year Award finalist, and was also the recipient of the Dr Yunupingu Award for Human Rights at the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards in 2018.