It’s the start of the season for graduations and we are pleased that over 120 enthusiastic, trained Young Doctors will join the more than 600 other Young Doctors who have graduated in four states and two territories. Together they keep making a real difference in their community and their parents, Elders, leaders, Uncles and Aunties and school mates are proud of them all.
Shwebe Zela has put his hand up to be the inaugural leader. He says that life is challenging in his area with unemployment running at more than 40% and HIV/AIDS cutting a swathe through the community leaving large numbers of children without parents. All this on top of appalling rates of poverty.
Many children have the task of bring up themselves and their siblings and Young Doctor programs aims to give them the personal resilience to do this successfully.
This invitation from Sofi Ntshalintshali is a credit to our Australian Managers, Leaders, Young Doctors and Communities who have created something special that others see as a positive way for the future.
The Malpa Project is proud to work with Isibani who have deep connections in the community and are highly respected in delivering a wide range of health services.
In the foothills of the beautiful Namadgi Ranges south of Canberra, sixteen Young Doctors are in training.
“The social and health problems that impact on the lives of Indigenous families and children are not confined to the remote Northern Territory but are very real right in the urban heart of our nation,” according to the project Manager, Karen Parter, a Kalkadoon woman from Mt Isa.
Working with project leader Daniel Greene, an Alyawarra man from Utopia in the NT, and supported by Mel Bulger, a Brungle woman from Tumut, they have exciting things planned and are working closely with the Namadgi PS to make a real contribution to improving student engagement and empowerment.
The project is generously supported by The Smith Family, The Funding Network and the Aspen Foundation. Plans are in train to start more Young Doctor projects in the ACT.
The Results are in… Last year we formally evaluated our projects. The findings are a credit to everyone – managers, leaders, Young Doctors, their communities, school and not least, the Elders.
• 100 % of Young Doctors reported thinking about working in a job after completing school
• 98 % reported feeling happy to come to school since becoming Young Doctors
• 100 % reported they are happy to see a doctor since participating in Young Doctors
• 100 % reported sharing their new learning with other children and families
• 100 % reported knowing more about Aboriginal culture
• 100 % of parents reported that their child’s school was more supportive since they offered Young Doctors
• 99 % were able to identify 1-3 people within their community to ask about healing (they mentioned Elders, parents, health professionals and teachers)
• 3 in 5 highlighted that they most enjoyed learning from Elders and Aboriginal community leaders
Troy Tungai running a session with the Ngargin Doctors as it is filmed.
The Ngargin Doctors at Barrack Heights are to feature in a new documentary about the effects of otitis media (OM), commonly known as glue ear, on Indigenous kids across Australia. Government statistics suggest that up to 91 % of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are afflicted with the condition which leads to life-long deafness if not treated. OM means kids can’t hear, can’t learn, can’t get job and often get locked into chronic ill-health and even incarceration. 83% of Indigenous men in NSW prisons are functionally deaf because of untreated OM in their childhood, according to a recent government report.
The director of the documentary, Steve Pasvolsky, was inspired to produce the program after being shocked by how much this was impacting on Indigenous kids and the inadequacy of government the response. The program not only highlights the problem but looks at solutions and Steve believes that the Young Doctor program is making an important contribution.
In the recent Closing the Gap report there was no mention of the problems surrounding otitis media.
Malpa’s Young Doctors will receive teaching and mentoring with a partnership formed with the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA). AIDA has generously agreed to support local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clinicians – doctors and medical students – to attend every Malpa project delivered throughout primary schools. AIDA’s participation will mean Malpa’s Young Doctors will have a chance learn from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctor. “We believe this will not only give the Young Doctors access to the best doctors and role models, but that this will be an inspiration to our young people to consider a career pathway in health. We look forward to working with the Malpa Young Doctors in 2016″ said Kate Thomann, CEO of AIDA.
It’s graduation time across all our projects. In Aldavilla, Aldinga, Kempsey South, Kempsey West, Barrack Heights, Berkeley West, West Kempsey Young Doctors received their Certificates and a Young Doctor Health Care Bag from EBOS.
Parents and carers came and joined Elders community members and school communities. One community had a visit from their local Federal Member. Another held a smoking ceremony.
The Young Doctors demonstrated their new skills by Auslan “signing” their pledge and performing their welcoming song. There were even a few tears because the program has come to an end.
Congratulations to everyone, the school communities but especially the Managers and Leaders who have done inspirational work.
Next year we hope to train over 500 Young Doctors in SA, Victoria, Queensland, NSW, the ACT and NT.
The Wak Wakko Doctors had a huge day at Nunkuwarrin Yunti in Adelaide with visits from two Ngangkari (Traditional Healers) Debbie Watson and Margaret Richards. They were accompanied by Inawinytji Williamson. Aboriginal Doctors, Dr Jon Newchurch and Dr Kali Hayward facilitated a range of interactive learnings which included plastering and surgery, while the Ngankeri shared some learnings with the young participants. Our Director, Sonia Waters, commented “I will never forget this day. This is what Malpa is all about. Our young people learning both our old ways and new ways, and how they come together. I hope that one day, in 10-15 years time, I will hear that these young Wak Wakko Doctors have gone on to study Medicine, because we need loving and caring souls like them to be our next generation of Doctors, or health professionals.”
This week was rather exciting the Wakwakko Doctors met Seamus Evans from Network Ten’s Totally Wild, it was a blast. We learnt lots of great information about reptiles, what to do if you are bitten by a snake or lizard and we learnt that Monitor Lizards don’t have venom but a bacteria that causes an infection that makes the wound take a long time to heal. Some of the Doctors were brave and held a monitor lizard. One of the Young Doctors, Dr Jade said “I got to hold the monitor lizard and it licked my face. It gave me and my friends lots of good memories. I love Wakwakko Doctors and wish we could do it everyday”