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Michael J. Smith lived with his foster mother before living and studying at Tranby College in Sydney. When he was 22, he met his Kija family in the north west of Western Australia beginning a journey of healing and poetry writing. Part of his role as a health worker in Broome, Perth and Darwin was acting for videos and plays about health issues and later he went on to join the cast in Jimmy Chi's musical, Corrugation Road. He studied for a Bachelor of Counselling at the University of New England.