National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day is celebrated on 4th August. It’s an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every child.
Malpa is a charity that is doing just that. Through their health leadership program called Young Doctors, Malpa is training Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people to be health ambassadors for their communities. Designed and run by local Elders, along with respected community members and supported by health workers, this program teaches hygiene, health literacy, nutrition, and wellbeing as well as identity.
The Ngangkari, being the traditional Aboriginal healers in Central Australia, have been passing on their skills to the young for thousands of years. These skills are deeply embedded in Indigenous culture and life and now the idea has been given a new injection of life with the Young Doctors project.
As the young people become health leaders and peers to their younger community members, it is not only creating a stronger group of people but, is opening up career pathways to better health. In each of the areas the local language is used, and over a fun packed but structured program these communities are taught traditional and contemporary ways by respected members and Elders and as a result the Young Doctors are becoming health ambassadors.
The importance of hand hygiene, cleaning noses, washing, keeping the house and community clean as well as bush medicine etc. is learned by the Young Doctors. Malpa CEO, Don Palmer says:
“The whole idea is to equip kids on how to teach their brothers and sisters a healthier lifestyle.”
Some outcomes for the young doctors who have participated in this project include:
• 98% were found to be happy to go to school since becoming Young Doctors
• 100% thought about working in a job after completing school
• 100% reported knowing more about Aboriginal culture
• 3 in 5 enjoyed learning from their Elders and Aboriginal community leaders
With professionals such as doctors and dentists right across the country teaching children about having a good healthy lifestyle, the benefits about Indigenous issues are being learned; and the friendships made are about reconciliation and recognition between communities.
This Thank You Thursday, we say thank you to the team at Malpa and everyone involved in delivering the Young Doctors project.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.