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Reawakening Yolngu Vitality

Reawakening Yolngu Vitality

Using health retreats, health coaching and regular medical checkups, Hope for Health, supported by TEAR 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 TEAR'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.

Watch Dianne's inspiring story

From this humble beginning Hope for Health was born. Utilising health retreats, health coaching and regular medical checkups this program, supported by TEAR 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 Team
The Hope for Health Team

Hope for Health provides pathways for Yolngu people suffering from chronic disease to journey to good health through:

  • Access to intensive health retreats for a lifesaving and nurturing experience of lifestyle change
  • Education in the peoples own language to understand how nutrition can help them.
  • Access to health coaching and support through the journey of lifestyle change
  • Providing access to cooking and exercise classes, and nutrient rich food alternatives
  • Integrating of Medical treatment, regular testing, with access to Naturopathic advice and traditional medicines
  • Building on local Aboriginal traditional and knowledge with the best of mainstream scientific evidence

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!

Hope For Health Women Walking
Walking exercise to the beach at Dharrawar to start the day at a Hope For Health Retreat. Hope for Health is a project that is using traditional culture & nutrition to prevent cornice disease in Galiwinku N.T. Supported by TEAR.
TEAR’s work with the First Peoples of Australia
Learn more