DHALAYI DOCTOR GRADUATION IN BELLBROOK
This week our first set of Dhalayi Doctors from the Kempsey region graduated.
The group from Bellbrook took great pride in finishing the program and receiving their graduation certificates in front of Elders, parents and school mates. Uncle Bob Mumbler, CEO of the Dunghutti Elders Corporation, welcomed everyone to Country and presented the awards. A ceremony involving the passing of knowledge from elder to leader to student took centre stage at the event.
After a successful treatment for nits was discovered in the first few weeks of the program – Tea Tree and olive oil – our Dhalayi Doctors help successfully treat the entire school and have felt invigorated by everything they’ve learnt. This week they even approached teachers asking what they should do about the cases of conjunctivitis they had spotted amongst their peers. This is exactly what the Malpa Project stands for, we want our Young Doctors to feel empowered to make a positive change in their community.
Special thanks Sammi Fatnowna and Aaron Ralph for their inspirational leadership. They are now working their magic at Aldavilla PS.
Visit facebook.com/malpaproject for more photos.
UTOPIA: OUTBREAK OF HEALTH
A Malpa milestone was reached recently when Don Palmer went to Utopia for the first Young Doctor graduation ceremony. The project had originally employed two Alyawarre leaders and two Elders to train fifteen Umbarkalya Doctors one afternoon a week. But there was a surprise. Rosabella Long and Roselyn Turner had actually been taking four sessions a week and there were thirty nine doctors from Soakage Bore and Soapy Bore eager to graduate!
Malpa’s medical advisor, Dr Howard Goldenberg, wryly commented that “the kid doctors are multiplying and you and they might just be responsible for an outbreak of health”!
Under some beautiful white gums the Elders presented each of the children with a beanie made in the colors of the Aboriginal flag and bearing the words “Umbarkalya Doctor – Malpa”. Each child also received a formal certificate of achievement and graduation.
Then the graduates led a bush tucker hunt and many fat witchety grubs were gathered from out of the roots of the dry scrub. The children were so proud of their certificates that many of them took them along on the hunt.
Over the ten week course the children have learned about leadership, nutrition, environmental health, health literacy and hygiene. They gathered bush medicines and hunted for healthy bush food including kangaroo, perrente (large, meter long lizards) and bush turkey.
All the team deserve congratulations for their enthusiasm and commitment and the fact that they have adapted the program to meet their specific local needs.
Our leaders will now start preparing to run the project at nearby Boundary Bore and Thommyhawk Swamp.
DHALAYI DOCTORS IN BELLBROOK
Aaron Ralph and Sammi Fatnowna are doing an incredible job leading the Dhalayi Doctor program in Bellbrook.
The young people helped identify head lice as a local problem and they devised a friendly alternative to head shaving and kerosene as a remedy. The lotion blends bush medicine and olive oil to provide a safe and effective solution. The blend was approved by our medical advisors and a local Kempsey pharmacy. The kids love it and so do the parents.
NSW Health department statistics reveal that Aboriginal people living in the area are nearly four times more likely to have to go to hospital, more than twice as likely to contract asthma, four times more likely to suffer from diabetes and twice as likely to be born pre-term. The needs are huge and now local people are stepping up and doing something about it for themselves. Child health is almost as compromised as it is in the Northern Territory.
Meanwhile we continue to work with the Dunghutti Elders to lobby government to build a proper road into the Bellbrook Aboriginal community. It has taken government and council over 25 years to respond and even after a major report by the NSW RTA more than four years ago, nothing has changed. Emergency services can’t drive in, post isn’t delivered and parents find it difficult and dangerous to get their children to the school bus.
FUNDING FOR THE FUTURE
We are delighted to announce that the McKinnon Family Foundation has made a significant grant to Malpa committing to support our work for at least three years.
We thank the Foundation for their confidence in our work which helps us attain the sustainability that enables us to build confidence in communities.
The director, John McKinnon, has extensive experience in social justice and best practice in delivering appropriate community development when he was Australian Program Coordinator for TEAR Australia. His passion for bottom up development is reflected in this generous investment.
We also thank everyone at The Funding Network and those who were part of their event at Macquarie Bank which raised $ 20,000 for our work in Utopia.
DHALAYI DOCTORS AND UMBARKALYA DOCTORS
Young Doctors is a program in which respected community members empowers kids to become health ambassadors. It connects the traditional wisdom, knowledge and experience of Elders and delivers health promotion modules in fun, creative activities. Primary school aged children learn about both Western and traditional approaches to health and medicine. The program is completely delivered by community members with input and support from the Elders and from Malpa.
Aboriginal communities around Australia are unique and extremely different from each other and the experiences of those community members varies widely. Malpa honours the individuality of each community by working closely with the community to tailor Young Doctors into ways which are appropriate and community-driven.
Dhalayi Doctors is based in Kempsey, dhalayi being the local Dunghutti word for young child. Dhalayi Doctors is run in close connection with local primary schools who already have some fantastic health promotion programs in place. The project is led by Sammi Fatnowna who is partnering with community stakeholders to tailor Dhalayi Doctors to the needs of the local communities. We were privileged to meet with the Dunghutti Elders Council, led by Bob Mumbler, and are appreciative of their support.
Umbarkalya Doctors is a Young Doctors program based in the Utopia Homelands, 250km NE out of Alice Springs. We are excited to have Rosabella Long as project manager with Roselyn Turner. Rosabella conducts sessions with the kids which involve a mix of Western medicine, bush tucker and bush medicine and involving a range of other community members in this process. The support of Urapuntja Aboriginal Corporation and the Urapuntja Health Service is deeply appreciated.
UPDATE: SEWAGE CRISIS IN ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY
When Rex talks about how important it is to do things “two ways” he knows what he’s talking about.
“The key to solving the problems that make life hard for my people is understanding white and black ways and working jankujurra [together]” he says.
Rex is a Senior Walpiri Man from the Western Desert and a custodian for Mina Mina Dreaming. But he’s also an ordained pastor. He speaks Walpiri and English and has extensive experience interpreting and translating. His work as a mentor is in high demand as he seeks to resolve social conflicts which beset many communities.
He’s an award winning artist and recently received an ANU scholarship to engage in post graduate studies. This builds on his Bachelor of Education from Deakin University.
Rex ‘s remarkable breadth of experience includes being a representative for ATSIC, several years as Chairman for the Central Lands Council, as a Teaching Chairperson for the World Council of Indigenous People and much more. He brings considerable wisdom and invaluable insights as the Tjitji Doctors program is developed and delivered.
His work has led him to lecturing at Macquarie University in art, culture and community governance.