At the heart of our Yawardani Jan-ga are a team of passionate and skilled Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal equine specialists who understand horses and their healing power and are connected to Aboriginal heritage and traditions. Their expertise, cultural knowledge, and unwavering commitment to fostering positive change through equine-assisted learning sets us and our programs apart.
The Founder of Yawardani Jan-ga, since 2018, Juli is trained in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy through the Equine Psychotherapy Institute of Australia and holds a Degree in Education, a Masters in Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a PhD contextualising Aboriginal young people’s experiences with Bullying and relationship issues in Western Australia.
A dedicated horseperson since she could walk, Juli has a vision of being able to provide the connectivity of horses to young people all over Australia when and where needed. After spending most of her life in the Pilbara Coffin now resides in Broome where she has been for the last 8 years and heads up this amazing program where over 1000 Aboriginal young people have been engaged and 30 Local Aboriginal people between Broome and Halls creek have been trained in this EAL work of Yawardani Jan-ga.
Juli has shown, bred and started many horses over the years and has run one of the largest pony clubs in WA as well and provided riding tuition for dressage, showing/hacking and EAL work readiness for horses, including handling and temperament assessment.
Renée is the Program Manager at Yawardani Jan-ga and has a Certificate IV in Education Support and Business Administration and had owned and operated two small businesses in Broome. Renée has worked in the Kimberley region for 15+ years. Whilst having a love for horses and working with Aboriginal young people, she really appreciates and enjoys working in such a rewarding community engaged program at Yawardani – Jan-ga.
Sheryl started with Yawarndani Jan-ga as the Community Engagement Manager but has worked in the Research field for the last 6years engaging with Youth Families and services. Sheryl is from Fitzroy Crossing and is from the Gooniyandi/Kija language groups in the Central/East Kimberley but has lived in Broome for the last 15years. Sheryl is looking forward to being apart of this awesome team at Yawarndani Jan-ga and seeing the rewards from this program.
Murray is a practitioner at Yawardani Jan-ga and has been working here for just over a year. Murray is Jaru and Gooniyandi man and has grown up on a cattle station in Halls Creek surrounded by horses. Murray has a certificate as an Equine Assisted Learning Practitioner. He enjoys working with young kids and seeing positive outcomes.
Kiera is a practitioner at Yawardani Jan-ga and has a certificate as an Equine Assisted Learning Practitioner. Kiera is a Yamatji woman who has grown up in Perth but decided to move to Broome in 2023. She is currently doing her undergrad as a primary school teacher and has been working with children for 4 years. Kiera has always had a passion to work with children.
Dr Sharmila Vaz has a BSc (Occupational Therapy), an MClinSc (Occupational Therapy Major) and a PhD (Occupational Therapy). She holds a Senior Research Fellow position at the Ngangk Yira Institute for Change, Murdoch University. Sharmila works closely with Professor Juli Coffin on the Yawardani Jan-ga Equine Assisted Learning Program – which aims to support the social and emotional wellbeing of Kimberley Aboriginal young people by implementing a place-based, culturally secure interventional approach. Sharmila’s research interests span the fields of child and family studies, mental health and wellbeing, healthy ageing, intervention design and program evaluation. Sharmila has worked as a clinician in hospital, community, and school-based settings in India and Australia. Dr Vaz is experienced in conceptualising and leading large-scale multi-disciplinary multi-sector translational research projects. Sharmila strives to use innovative research designs and analytical techniques to understand consumer-driven research questions – with the translation of research at the core of her work.
Tia is a practitioner at Yawardani Jan-ga. She works at the Halls Creek site and has been working there for about two years. Tia is a Jaru and Bard. She has been living in Halls Creek for most of her life. Tia’s love for horses started when her children started to ride in gymkhana and campdrafting. If Tia had it her way, she would sit around and watch the horses feed and play all day.
Krste is a practitioner at Yawardani Jan-ga. Krste is Kija and was born and bred in Halls Creek. He has been working at the Halls Creek site for two years after completing the EAL practitioner training. Krste love for horses started at school when he would attend Burks Park for the station skills program.
Danny is the driver/ yards person at Yawardani Jan-ga. He was born in New Zealand and grew up in Perth from the age of 10. Danny moved to Broome in 2023 for a much quieter scene. As the driver, Danny connects with the kids before and after their session and enjoys seeing their spirits lifted. He has also found a love for horses and loves hanging out with them.
EAL practitioner and Aboriginal Research Officer