Psychologist Tracy Westerman and football star Sam Kerr among WA Australians of the Year (via ABC News)

Aboriginal psychologist Tracy Westerman has been named Western Australia's 2018 Australian of the Year.

Njamal woman Dr Westerman has spent more than two decades working to reduce mental illness in Aboriginal people and ensure minimum standards of cultural competence in her profession.

Born in the Pilbara, she studied psychology at university in Perth, where she struggled to reconcile mainstream psychology with Aboriginal culture.

Dr Westerman's PhD research led to the development of unique psychological tests to identify Aboriginal people at risk of suicide and mental health issues.

In 1998, she founded Indigenous Psychological Services to address the high rates of mental illness among Aboriginal people in the absence of government funding.

Dr Westerman has trained more than 20,000 clinicians in culturally-appropriate psychological approaches and delivered her suicide intervention programs into remote Aboriginal communities throughout Australia.

She has been an expert witness at numerous parliamentary inquiries and her Aboriginal suicide prevention strategies have been emulated in Canada.

"I hope that I can stand here as an example to every young Aboriginal kid in remote communities in Western Australia and Australia as well, that nothing is not achievable if you believe in yourself strongly enough," she said.

"I think as Aboriginal people, we absolutely do suffer from this horrific thing called the tyranny of low expectations.

"What I would like to do as West Australian of the year is to cultivate environments in which expectations of success become normalised for Aboriginal young people, rather than expectations of failure."

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