AJ is finalist in Victoria University Alumni Awards
Bachelor of Social Work, 1998
Master of Education (Education & Training), 2003
Director, Girraway Ganyi Consultancy
Andrew-James (AJ) Williams-Tchen is a proud Aboriginal man of Wiradjuri/Wotjobaluk background whose family is from Wellington / Dubboin in New South Wales and Dimboola / Horsham in Victoria. He has over 30 years of experience working in areas of mental health, community service, and education.
He dedicated most of his career collaborating with communities, schools, and universities to supporting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by providing them a safe environment to thrive. He led the development and implementation of RMIT University’s To-gip Gabaareng: Indigenous Employment and Career Development Framework. As a cultural consultant for Independent Schools Victoria, he worked with schools in the east of Melbourne to develop Indigenous Mentoring programs and workshops for its students.
AJ holds a Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Education from VU, and a Master of Social Work from Melbourne University. He founded the Girraway Ganyi Consultancy in 2007, an initiative that promotes mental health and cultural awareness through counseling services, and mentoring and literacy programs.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, AJ and his team developed a YouTube channel (external link) as a platform for members of the Aboriginal community to share their stories, and for allies and friends to learn more about Indigenous culture. This initiative was recognised at the 2021 Hart Awards for its contribution to local reconciliation outcomes.
He is also a Principal Master Mental Health First Aid Instructor providing workshops and facilitating cultural awareness programs across Australia. He has delivered 715 mental health first aid training to organisations around the country. He believes that sharing his experiences of issues of Stolen Generations, and mental health will lend a voice to the Indigenous people who experienced trauma.
AJ was awarded the inaugural Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Social Worker of the Year Award in 2021, and the Allied Health Awards COVID-19 champion in 2022 for his outstanding leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was also the Victorian Indigenous Emerging Leader Award winner in 2016, and the Frankston Mornington Peninsula NAIDOC Community Award winner in 2019. He was a finalist in the Hesta Impact Awards 2021 for his work in mental health.