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true legend
september 2022 Uncle Jack Charles has died and everyone involved with Malpa is deeply saddened and feeling the loss. JC, as he often called himself, was the face of Malpa for years and his face told the story of someone who had experienced grave injustices, but who chose to face life with optimism, courage and resolve. He was a regular special guest at Young Doctor graduations in Melbourne where his presence always excited and delighted the kids. He was a man in touch with his inner-child but incredibly conscious of his role as an Elder among his people and to the wider nation. JC was probably the most widely known and beloved Aboriginal man in the nation and we will miss his effervescent sparkle and his unstoppable determination.
back on track
July 2022 Young Doctors are to be trained in Dubbo with two new projects starting in July. The leadership team has been trained and everything is ready after a fire burned half the school down just before Christmas. “With all the other pressures of COVID and lock downs, the fire really impacted on the students and staff. Young Doctors for Life will give the kids a chance to get things back on track,” according to Amy Welbourne who led the charge to start on Wiradjuri Country.
roaring doctors
June 2022 The roar of the 50,000 crowd at the MCG was heard as Essendon burst out of the race for the Indigenous round. They were also greeted by twenty Young Doctors (Bubup Doctors) who had been chosen to form a guard of honour and to dance. A night to remember! Malpa is also developing sessions for the Young Doctors to experience the role that health and medicine play in elite sports giving them opportunities to be trained by club doctors, nutritionists, physiotherapists and other medical staff so vital to the functioning of professional athletes. And another group of Young Doctors found themselves in the middle of celebrations at the Indigenous round of the national netball league. They had a ball.
developing resilience
May 2022 The ravages of the floods on the NSW northern rivers continue to impact on the lives of everyone, not least the Bundjalung people. Now the Federal Government, through its organisation the National Indigenous Australians Agency, has invited Malpa to train one hundred Young Doctors in the Lismore (Tuckurimba) area. This will be intensely practical and the exact issues to be focussed on will be extensively workshopped by the community. We hope the new Young Doctors for Life will make a powerful contribution to developing resilience and spreading important health knowledge.
Malpa story goes global
April 2022 The Young Doctors for Life projects have just been showcased in one of the world’s leading medical journals, The Lancet. Co-author El Newchurch-Papillo said, “This is an opportunity for our traditional and innovative approach to good health based on ancient Aboriginal ways to become widely known and they might even take root in other countries”. You can view it HERE. It’s behind a paywall but Malpa will gladly send you a PDF on request.
up and running
March 2022 After two years of uncertainly and following the on/off government rules, our projects for 2022 are off to a flying start. “It’s been a difficult time”, said Bubup Doctors Project Leader Mel Harrison. “Many of us even came down with COVID ourselves. But the enthusiasm is high, and we just love doing this with the kids.” Malpa is running more than forty projects this year training more than 600 Young Doctors. Research has indicated that up to 50,00 children will disengage from education as the result of the pandemic and most will never return to school. But the Young Doctors are rearing to go with many exiting adventures ahead.
tasting success
May 2022 Every child deserves to know the sweet taste of success. So, we are especially thrilled that Woolworths has got behind Malpa. They supply every project with fresh fruit and vegies. The Young Doctors know how important good food is to their health and thanks to Woollies they get the chance to try all sorts of unusual fruit and vegetables. They all know that “you don’t have to like it but you have to try it” means they often discover amazing new things to eat.
For the love of it
June 2021 Malpa leaders have delivered over 3,700 sessions. And over that time school attendance runs at up to 100%, according to leaders, with absentees only being due to real illness or Sorry Business. Just as importantly, Young Doctor attendance continues across the week. One leader reports that kids who used to be a bit restless during school lunchtimes have now become real role models and leaders. Since Malpa began we have had only two Young Doctors who were disruptive in their sessions. Because every project develops their own Code of Respect, the kids managed one incident themselves and resolved the issues. In the other it was more complex, but it was sorted out in days. We have had no school suspensions. When asked why all this was happening, the explanation came back “Because we love what we do”.
The word is out
March 2021 Malpa’s first Public Service Announcement on TV is causing a real stir across the nation. Interest in new projects, offers of help from health professionals and even working with Monash University on a STEM project are just the tip of the iceberg. And the Young Doctors feel great pride that their work is celebrated across Australia on SBS and NITV. You can view it here. Uncle Jack Charles with the film crew – Josh and Katie Riordan. Picture taken by director Chris Riordan who used his mobile phone for the filming. Palya – thanks - goes to Uncle Jack, the film crew, Michael Newling at Venice Digital, Mark Tipple and the SBS Foundation.
But stay tuned!
March 2021 The Bubup Doctors in Melbourne had a visit from Ambulance Victoria Paramedics and were trained in a range of emergency skills. One of them commented “I’m so excited to go in the ambulance. I am shaking.” Another said, “That was the best Malpa so far!” And there is much more to come in 2021. In fact, the Young Doctors across Australia have all bounced back from the restrictions of COVID-19 and are going full steam ahead. Even more leaders were inducted in Adelaide and it looks like a bumper year ahead for everyone.
Let’s do it again!
October 2020 Malpa Projects are springing back into action as the restrictions around COVID-19 are eased. A favourite activity for Malpa projects in South Australia is the Indigenous Culture for Kids excursion at the Botanic Gardens. They follow the Bush Tucker and Artefacts trail under the great leadership of Trent Hill. “We saw the Supermarket Tree,” one Wak Wakko Doctor commented. “You can make shields, catch possums, get bush medicine – heaps of stuff from one tree.” They learned so much about culture and respect for the old knowledge according to leaders Jenny and El.
Good head space
September 2020 The COVID-19 lockdowns have affected people worldwide. One major issue that has come to the surface is mental health. Many young people struggle with not seeing their friends, not being at school and even not seeing Uncles, Aunties and grandparents. Malpa leaders, Mel and Shara, have been consulting experts across Australia to develop a raft of practical resources for other leaders and the Young Doctors. This provides useful tools to help people look after their own mental well-being. It is something the traditional healers, such as the Ngangkari of the Central Desert, have always done and now the Young Doctors honour that role in their community.
March 2020 “It’s no secret that face and hand hygiene is the best way of fighting the Coronaviris outbreak. Our kids practice that because they understand why it’s smart”, said Matt Walford, the Leader of the Boori Doctors in Albion Park Rail. “It’s good that they teach their brothers and sisters, too.” Hygiene has been the starting point of every Young Doctor session for the last six years so more than two thousand young people already know how to prevent the spread of infection.
ACEM and Malpa
January 2020 Young Doctor projects are to receive a shot in the arm with medical practitioners from the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) partnering clinicians with some projects. “We know we need to identify and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students much earlier than medical school if we want to make a genuine impact on the number of Indigenous emergency doctors in years to come” according to ACEM’s General Manager of Strategic Relationships, Amelia Howard, General Manager of Strategic Relationships. “We believe Malpa’s Young Doctors are the perfect age to be inspired”, Ms Howard added. Amelia Howard visited a project with ACEM Immediate Past President, Dr Simon Judkins and he commented “Watching the kids engage with each other, learn techniques to look after their mental health and be excited about education was an absolute privilege”.
Go Wak Wakko!
January 2020 When this Wak Wakko group meets south of Adelaide, they have their own unique way of doing the Young Doctor pledge. They are the first all-male Young Doctors. Too deadly.
December 2019 One of our principals tells of a young Aboriginal student who came to him to self-report an incident where he had behaved badly towards some other students. After they had talked through the problem the principal said to him “Will you be OK now?” The young man replied “I am going to Malpa next so everything will be alright.”
Boori Doctors kicking goals
November 2019 The Boori Doctors had an exciting program which included a visit from the leadership team from the St George League’s Club who ran a session on diet, exercise and mental well-being. They also went to the Towri Bush Tucker Garden in Wollongong to experience bush tucker and bush medicine and learn about local native vegetation. The Young Doctors even learned how to cook simple meals. Many of the kids went home and cooked for their parents. One parent joked “Why are you teaching my kid about heathy vegetables. It’s costing us a fortune!” One important health outcome was that Leader Debbie Hodson identified about 75 kids who needed hearing testing. She has arranged for staff from the local Aboriginal Medical Service to come and check the kids ear health and put in place clinical pathways for kids who needed them. The impact on learning, socialising and general well-being will be considerable. Albion Park Rail PS, 100 kls south of Sydney, is a school committed to the social and emotional well-being of its students and has recognised the particular needs of its Aboriginal cohort. There is even a dedicated Koori room and children are free to pop in whenever they are in need. The Boori Doctors leadership team of Matt Walford, the school’s Aboriginal Education Officer and Debbie Hodson selected hygiene, nutrition and well-being as their areas of focus. Debbie is not only a great teacher, but she used to be a nurse. What a bonus this is for Young Doctors!
Rolling up their sleeves
September 2019 It’s amazing what Young Doctors do. No sooner have they learned about things like hygiene, dealing with everyday cuts and bruises and even oral health than they are using that knowledge and making a difference to their community, particularly to the younger kids. “It's really fun helping the young kids get healthy” said one Dhalayi Doctor. There have been more graduations in South Australia, Kempsey and Melbourne and now schools in Western Australia want to start their own projects. At two graduations the Young Doctor’s had presented their own rap of their YD Pledge. There have even been enquiries from Kenya to start projects. If Malpa can secure funding then we can send staff to take this Aboriginal concept there and help them set up their very own version of Young Doctors.
New Malpa training video
August 2019 “One thing I love about the Young Doctors is that they’re taking control of their own lives” according to Luke Carroll, Malpa’s new Ambassador. Luke was the anchor for Malpa’s new video production to help train new leaders and facilitators. “Helping the Young Doctors discover how strong they can be, and how useful they can be to their families and friends is a great gift. They really love being taken seriously and being part of a club.” The production is called “Palya linko” which is a Pintupi expression meaning “that’s good. It show cases leaders from Thornbury, Elizabeth Grove and Albion Park Rail who share their passion, experiences and tips. The production was co-funded with the Australian Government Department of Health. Helping make the production a success were cameramen Mark Tipple, Brandon Batten and editor Michael Newling.
May 2019 The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a deeply felt cry of pain and at the same time an expression of hope for the future of Aboriginal people in this nation. Its authors, the respected Indigenous men and women who have carried the burden of the struggle for acknowledgement and recognition for so long, call for all Australians to walk together. “When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.” This is the essence of what Malpa’s Young Doctors experience. It is empowerment for the good of all. Malpa is proud to endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart and to walk the journey with people of courage and vision.
January 2019 How many Young Doctors does it take to change everything? There are now 1,200 Graduate Young Doctors bringing pride to their communities. Next year they will be joined by the Jawoyn and Dagomon kids in Katherine and even more projects in South Australia and Victoria. One manager said “This has given me back my oomph”. In 2018 there were six South Australian projects - co-funded by AnglicareSA. In Kempsey, where there are more than 450 Dhalayi Doctors, six projects ran and there were five in Melbourne. Booris Doctors in Berkeley Heights and Ngargin Doctors at Barrack Heights continue the long record in Yuin Country while there were nearly one hundred Namadgi Doctors who graduated in the ACT. So many proud Young Doctors, parents, carers and leaders taking control of their health future. The endless and welcome refrain we hear from school principals is “When it is the Young Doctors Day, we get 100% attendance – even on Fridays!” “Cop that for change!” - as Malpa Ambassador, Uncle Jack Charles says.
Hands up if you like it?
August 2018 “We are just as excited as the kids,” says the Manager at Christie’s Beach, Stewart Allen. Following on from the project in Aldinga Beach, SA which was awarded the Governor’s Award for Children’s Week, 240 new Young Doctors will be trained in the next year in South Australia. In a landmark move Malpa and AnglicareSA are co-funding sixteen new projects in the next twelve months. The eighteen new staff have undertaken a two-day planning workshop and programs have already begun in Aldinga Beach, Blakeview, Munno Para, Salisbury Downs, and Christie’s Beach. Projects will run at levels 3 and 4 and 5,6 and 7. The managers, leaders and parents are already planning a huge mass graduation in December where 120 Young Doctors will graduate before a further 120 are to be trained in the first half of 2019.
No truancy officers needed
March 2018 “At Malpa we have always believed that if school is a welcoming and culturally safe place with a relevant curriculum then kids will beat down the doors to be there. But even we were surprised when a bunch of kids climbed high walls around an outdoor space where the Bubup Doctors do their thing. “Can we join in?” they said. Kids breaking into school to learn! Where will that sort of behaviour end? “We were thrilled that they were so keen”, said Wiradjuri/Dja Dja Wurrung/Yorta Yorta manager Shara Graham. “Everyone seems so pumped”.

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