Using health retreats, health coaching and regular medical checkups, Hope for Health, supported by Tearfund Australia, has had a significant impact on the lives of many Yolngu women and men.
In 2013, Yolngu woman Dianne Biritjalawuy, who lives on Galiwin’ku/Elcho Island in Arnhem Land, experienced an acute health scare that left her wheelchair bound with symptoms of heart disease and uncontrolled diabetes. She was just 47 years old.
Dianne turned to her friend Dr Kama Trudgen (from Tearfund's partner Arnhem Human Enterprise Development Project - AHED) for help and together they helped Dianne eat her way back to health. Her remarkable health improvement didn’t go unnoticed and other Yolngu wanted to know more about how healthy eating could improve their lives.
From this humble beginning Hope for Health was born. Utilising health retreats, health coaching and regular medical checkups this program, supported by Tearfund Australia, has had a significant impact on the lives of many Yolngu women and men.
One in two adults in remote Indigenous communities like Galiwin’ku are struggling with chronic disease. This is a result of the marginalisation of traditional practices, and a lack of understanding of the link between lifestyle choices and health.
Hope for Health provides pathways for Yolngu people suffering from chronic disease to journey to good health through:
The health retreats, first occurring in Kin Kin Qld, and later on Elcho Island, NT, have provided an opportunity for Yolngu people to learn about the effects of highly processed foods and to relearn healthy eating habits. Recipes are learned and the participants gain knowledge about how they can scale the recipes to different size gatherings.
Hope for Health staff also help to ensure that participants get ongoing regular health checkups so that they can maintain their diets and the health improvements that they have achieved.
Participants have lost weight, reduced their blood pressure, been able to achieve and maintain healthy blood sugar levels and maybe most importantly Yolngu people have been able to protect, promote and facilitate the reclamation of “rom walngaw” – their way to vitality!