about wayapa

our story

We walk in the footsteps of a thousand generations

connect to earth

In 2014, Gunaikurnai Maara Nation Descendant Jamie Thomas and Canadian Welsh Australian Sara Jones co-founded Wayapa Wuurrk®, which means “Connect to the Earth” in the language of the Maara & Gunaikurnai Peoples respectively.

Wayapa was created to change thinking around how we view the idea of what it means to be well with a focus on Indigenous thinking that includes learning how to develop a relationship with our environment through the concept of ancient earth mindfulness. No matter how many gym sessions we do, steps we count or stretch our bodies into various postures, we can’t be well if Mother Earth is sick.

So in 2013, Jamie and Sara spent a year developing Wayapa Wuurrk to create an internationally-accredited modality that would add the most important word “Earth” to the well-known concept of Mind Body Spirit Wellbeing.

Today, Wayapa Wuurrk isn’t just about Sara and Jamie’s story it belongs to the growing number of certified Wayapa Practitioners who come from all walks of life, heritage, backgrounds and religions but who all have one thing in common, the desire to share the wisdom of their own ancestors who use to live like the First Peoples of Australia, connected to the Earth to live life well.

In March 2024, due to personal reasons, Jamie made the decision to step away from being a Director and Co-Owner of Wayapa Wuurrk, handing these responsibilities to his daughter, Phoebe Watson.

Phoebe is deeply honoured to step into her dad’s footsteps, to carry on his legacy, of creating intergenerational wellbeing alongside Sara.

our patrons

Wayapa Wuurrk® is proudly supported and endorsed by our Elders:

  • Ngarrindjeri Senior Elders Uncle Major “Moogy” Sumner AO and Aunty Loretta “Bubbles” Sumner
  • Peek Whuurrung Kirrae Whuurrung Maara Senior Elders Aunty Daphne Lowe, Aunty Adeline Thomas & Uncle Rob Lowe.

Meet The Wayapa HQ team

Phoebe Watson

Phoebe Watson, Gunaikurnai & Maara

Wayapa Wuurrk Director & Co-Owner 

Phoebe has been a part of Wayapa Wuurrk from the beginning… watching its inception, its growth, and even supporting her dad, Jamie, when he delivered wuurrkshops.  Phoebe was an employee of Wayapa during her “gap year” in 2017 between high school and heading off to RMIT University to become a Game Designer. It was during this time that Phoebe created the digital artwork of the Wayapa Element Cards that we still use. Today, Phoebe, is one of the leading Indigenous Game designers.

Sara Jones, Canadian Welsh Australian

Wayapa Wuurrk Director & Co-Owner

Co-Founder and Managing Director, Sara is the driving force behind the shared vision of Wayapa. With an extensive background working in Community and corporate spaces, Sara is passionate about embedding connected systems of wellbeing into the workplace.

Jem Stone, BunDjalung
Wayapa Training Manager, Trainer & Practitioner

An entrepreneur, consultant, and Healing Practitioner, Jem empowers and advocates for earth reciprocity and wellbeing by embracing Indigenous perspectives. Jem passionately integrates traditional wisdom through connection and decolonised learning methods.

Leslie Tarrant, Maori & Pacific Islander
Wayapa General Manager & Practitioner

Leslie combines decades of experience in enterprise business with her passion for wellbeing in managing our Wayapa programs. Her love of traditional healing modalities makes Leslie a life long learner and hands on practitioner in her community.

giving back

Wayapa Wuurrk is based on the Indigenous concept of reciprocity, that we must give to receive from Mother Earth. This concept also underpins our business philosophy so since running our very first Practitioner Diploma in 2016, we have always given away at least one scholarship to an Indigenous person for every diploma…sometimes it’s three. 

So whenever a workshop, 6 week immersion or a diploma course is purchased, a portion of the profit goes towards providing Indigenous people with scholarships to help create eco-centric, purpose-driven micro businesses.

Since 2016

31 x scholarships given away = $108,500

Additionally, we also seek sponsorships to fund extra Indigenous scholarships.

14 x sponsored scholarships given away = $49,000

Total value = $157,500

Wayapa Wuurrk Charities

As a business, we also proudly support the following charities:

  • Sea Shepherd
  • Planet Ark Seedling Bank
  • The Australian Dingo Foundation
  • Wildlife Victoria
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare
  • Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Fund (Bushfire Recovery)