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Using traditional knowledge systems to improve health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait men


Paul Hayes


9/01/2019 11:08:47 AM

The Federal Government has announced funding for an initiative designed to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are involved in their communities’ health and wellbeing services.

The fireside yarns encompass a number of issues, including drugs and alcohol, smoking, diet, and mental health. (Image: Supplied)
The fireside yarns encompass a number of issues, including drugs and alcohol, smoking, diet, and mental health. (Image: Supplied)

The Government will provide $1 million to Bush TV Enterprises to deliver its Camping on Country mini-series.
 
The brainchild of actor Ernie Dingo and documentary filmmaker Tom Hearn, Camping on Country currently consists of four short films, ‘fireside yarns’ with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in some of Australia’s most remote towns and communities.
 
‘We talk about everything,’ Mr Dingo, a Yamitji man from the Murchison region of Western Australia, told The Australian. ‘You want to see the way the men sing and talk once they feel safe.’
 
Speaking at the launch on the Beedawong Meeting Place in WA’s Kings Park on Tuesday, Federal Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said he believes the program has the potential to change lives.
 
‘Respect for culture has a fundamental role in improving the health of our men, who currently have a life expectancy of 70 years, more than 10 years shorter than their non-Indigenous counterparts,’ he said.
 
Camping on Country is based on the premise that working with local men as the experts in their own health and community is critical in closing the gap in health equality.’

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Speaking at the launch on the Beedawong Meeting Place in WA’s Kings Park: (From left) Murchison Elder Alan Egan; Ernie Dingo; Ken Wyatt; Kununurra Elder Ted Carlton.

The Government’s funding will commission 20 campsites around Australia over the next two years. Each camp will focus on specific topics, including alcohol and drug dependency; smoking, diet and exercise; and mental health and suicide.
 
A traditional healer and an Aboriginal male health worker are assigned to each camp to conduct health checks and provide one-on-one support.
 
‘The beauty of these camps is [that they will] enable the elders to reclaim their place,’ Minister Wyatt said. ‘Historically, for 65,000 years our elders in our communities imparted knowledge, provided the guidance, and kept communities strong. That’s why we’ve been resilient for so many decades and centuries.
 
‘But we will continue through this program to build the place of our men again in being key people, looking after and protecting our children, giving them the guidance and the wisdom that they need.
 
‘Traditional yarning circles are used to discuss health and wellbeing issues as well as concerns about employment, money, housing and personal relationships.’



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health Bush TV Camping on Country Ernie Dingo





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