Thank You Thursday: Young Healers

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.

Thank You Thursday: Knitting for Good

As we settle in to the heart of Australian winter I thought it would be timely to share the story of a small non-profit that was established about this time fifteen years ago. Melbourne experienced an extremely cold winter in July of 2004, that was when Ros Rogers noticed how popular knitting had become in winter, particularly knitted scarves, and that led her rally some family and friends and they knitted 180 scarves for those experiencing homelessness. The following year Ros established an official not-for-profit organisation called kogo – which stands for knit one, give one.

Thank You Thursday: Dedicated Doulas

With less than 10% of Australian women having the same medical professionals through pregnancy and birth, a doula can bring continuity and fill the gap.  But what is a doula?

From the Greek word meaning ‘servant of a woman’, a doula is a trained birth support companion who provides practical and emotional support and information to a woman during pregnancy, birth and early parenting.

Thank You Thursday: A Delicious Destiny

December is here and Christmas is fast-approaching. It’s a time of giving, sharing, tinsel and, of course, pudding! So, when choosing your pudding, Christmas treats or even gifts why not look for an option that is also having some social impact in the world too?

The Diamond Collection is a boutique range of quality goods handmade with love and care by some very special women in regional NSW. The collection includes an exclusive chocolate range made with the finest Belgian Callebaut® chocolate and at this time of the year, they specialise in Christmas puddings!

The Diamond Collection operates as a social enterprise of Destiny Haven, a non-profit residential place of healing for women whose lives have been shattered by life-controlling illnesses such as addiction, eating disorders and self-harm. Set on a beautiful 42 acre property in the picturesque Hunter Valley, Destiny Haven provides the professional, physical and emotional nurturing needed to restore the health and capacity of women.

In addition to generating income to support the much-needed service for our most disadvantaged women, The Diamond Collection also provides training and opportunity for them to learn skills that can transfer into employment in the future.

Destiny Haven’s residential program is unlike many other recovery programs in that it is long-term and women can reside there for up to a year or more. Residents live in a warm and caring family environment, sharing daily life and responsibilities of the household.

The Christmas puddings are made from quality ingredients with a three-generation recipe, cooked in the traditional coppers and wrapped in calico. Also on offer are the pudding truffle balls, a beautiful milk chocolate ganache blended with the homemade puddings and encased in a rich dark chocolate shell.

So this Christmas, we’d like to give a shout out to the team at Destiny Haven and their Diamonds. And, if it’s not with Destiny Haven, try to find others where you can be a little more sustainable with your shopping and gift-giving.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick

Thank You Thursday: Community Connections

A recent report by VicHealth suggested that there is a new public health challenge emerging and it might not be what most of you would think. It’s loneliness.

According to VicHealth “loneliness is proving to be more than just part of the human condition. New research shows it’s a serious public health problem, for young people as much as the elderly“.

While it may not be a surprise that loneliness can have links to depression, global studies are showing links but the idea that loneliness can be associated to poorer cardiovascular health, faster cognitive decline rates and possibly even dementia.

There’s a stigma to loneliness too, but a new Australian non-profit is here to change that.

Friends for Good raises awareness of loneliness as a significant issue in the community and addresses gaps in services to foster a greater sense of connection and wellbeing for individuals and communities. They are doing research, educating the community and providing services targeted to socially isolated people.

They are currently conducting an online survey, called Time We Talked, where from almost 600 respondents they are learning that over a quarter are currently feeling lonely. Earlier this year Friends for Good launched Friendline, a support line for anyone who is suffering from or affected by loneliness.

And in November, the organisation will host the first national conference on loneliness in Australia. The Australian Loneliness Dialogue aims to bring people together to understand loneliness in our communities, raise the profile of this issue and to develop recommendations for actions required by government, policy makers and practitioners.

This Thank You Thursday we give a shout out to the team and Friends for Good. In a short amount of time this small non-profit already seems to be punching above its weight. We look forward to seeing how they foster connections and build community further as they grow.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick

Thank You Thursday: Bales of Love

Here in Australia we live in the second-driest continent in the world with average rainfall less than 600mm every year on most parts of the land.  Across the country, April to June this year has been the fourth-driest in over 100 years. Drought is definitely upon us.

For many Australians this concept of drought is an abstract thing, but for the farming families living on the land it is their every day reality.  Diminished crops, dwindling feed for livestock, water levels in creeks and dams dry up and eroding land is damaged.

For many farmers, even some in their 60s, this is the worst drought they’ve experienced in their lifetime. And recent rainfalls across parts of NSW have not really made much difference. It will take much longer, and much more rain, to see improvements in agriculture, let alone end the drought.

Two small non-profits have been working to help Aussie farmers before the drought, but are really stepping things up and advocating for them through this really tough time.

Rural Aid was founded in 2015 by Charles and Tracey Alder to provide a holistic support program to rural Australia after hearing about how some farmers were having to shoot their own cattle and being forced off the land. One of their main initiatives is Buy a Bale and helps get bales of hay to farmers in need. A trailer of hay can cost up to $2,500 and sometimes up to $5,000 in transportation costs which can often mean the difference between cattle surviving or not.

Friends Natasha Johnston and Nicki Blackwell began Drought Angels just over four years ago when they heard stories of farmers – who were working hard to feed Aussie families – were struggling to put food on their own tables. Among the support that they provide, they ensure a personalised approach with the provision of food hampers, care packs, prepaid visas, local store vouchers, stock feed and hay.

Rural Day Off is one of their initiatives that invites farming families to a day off their properties. They have a whole day to socialise, feel valued and reminded they are not alone. Mental and emotional wellbeing are an important part of healthy farming communities and the Rural Day Off helps provide some time out in a relaxed and friendly environment.

So this Thank You Thursday, we say the heartiest thanks to the founders of these two wonderful organisations and the work that they each do in supporting farmers.  But perhaps the biggest thanks should go to the Aussie farmers who work so hard, day in, day out, for their entire lives to grow the crops and breed the livestock that help feed our country.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.