Australia’s Aborigine Women’s Group has Solution to Improve Community Health

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Australia’s Aborigines have the worst health statistics and living conditions of any Indigenous group in the world, despite living in one of its richest countries. An Indigenous Australian will die, on average, 17 years younger than a non-Indigenous Australian. Aboriginal women experience poor health and have many responsibilities as mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, wives and partners; most commonly it is these women who have the main responsibility for looking after the health of other family members.

Interestingly, there is no term in Indigenous languages for health, as it is understood by us in western society. Their perspective on health is holistic, encompassing everything important in a person’s life, including land, environment, physical body, community, relationships, and law. Health is the social, emotional, and cultural wellbeing of the whole community. The concept is therefore linked to the sense of being Indigenous, which is why this following story about a group of women in place called Elcho Island, in Australia is fascinating and inspiring.

The women here all suffer from health issues, have been driven to find a solution, and have found one: to build a health retreat. This retreat will allow them to experience and learn about nutrition, share and take the knowledge learnt back into their community. This idea for a health retreat comes from the story of Dianne Biritjalawuy, a community leader who made the difficult journey back from the brink of serious health issues. In response to an acute health scare that left Dianne wheelchair bound with heart disease and uncontrolled diabetes, a friend offered to cook for Dianne, so that she could recover through healthy eating. 

Dianne’s recovery was incredible, going from being unable to walk short distances and feeling extremely breathless to experiencing new levels of energy and vitality. Empowered to understand she could transform her own health, Diane was keen for more information and tools to continue this new way of living and was supported with education, cooking lessons and help to access healthy food options not usually available in her remote community. 

Dianne’s recovery was so profound that other community members wanted to learn about the power of nutrition. It created a chain reaction where a group of nine women are now actively seeking support to experience the benefits in their own health.  They want to travel to an established health retreat for intensive training as they know they need to start with their own health, to be catalysts for healing in their community.

However, their innovative thinking does not stop there, as they want to create their own health retreat within their community to benefit others, incorporating their own traditional knowledge with the best that modern nutrition has to offer. They have created an online campaign to help realise this community dream.

Photo Credit: Start Some Good