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Bush camps funded for better Indigenous health in Durack

Bush camps funded for better Indigenous health in Durack

Well-known actor, television presenter and health advocate, Wajarri Yamatji man Ernie Dingo, who hails from Mullewa in the Durack electorate, will front a TV program Camping on Country that aims to address health and wellbeing challenges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in a culturally safe way, thanks to a $1 million grant.

Federal Member for Durack and Minister for the Environment Melissa Price said the Federal Government will provide $1 million over two years to Ernie Dingo’s TV media company BushTV Enterprises to deliver the program.

Announcing the funding on the Beedawong Meeting Place in Kings Park on Tuesday, Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt AM said the grant would ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men have a strong voice in health and wellbeing services in their communities.

“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.

Murchison Elder Alan Egan and Kununurra Elder Ted Carlton will join Ernie and a traditional healer as well as an Aboriginal male health worker at each camp.

Minister Price said she welcomed the funding and was pleased to see Elders given the opportunity to pass on their knowledge and stories to the younger generation with the assistance of high profile identity Ernie Dingo.

“The program puts culture and language at the centre of daily activities and also uses the expertise and knowledge of local men’s groups, traditional owners and local Aboriginal organisations in Durack,” she said.

“I’m pleased to acknowledge that Yamatji man Ernie Dingo - who hails from Mullewa in the Durack electorate – has developed the Camping on Country program with his BushTV partner Tom Hearn.”

The funding will commission 20 campsites around the nation over the next two years.

“The first two camps will be rolled out in Durack, in the Kimberley and Mid West,” Minister Price 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.

Minister Wyatt said Camping on Country is about building the resilience of our men and our young boys.

“The journey that they take through the program that Ernie has designed and is working through with community at the local level is one way that we can close the gap, and closing the gap has been a significant initiative of subsequent governments, and this will enable that to occur,” he said.

Elder Ted Carlton from the Miriwoong and Gajerrong community in Kununurra said the camp was a very positive move.

“It’s an incentive by our mob to work with our young people in the community, especially based around community health, Aboriginal health and so on,” he said.

“I think it’s about time our men in our community grab hold of the opportunity provided, and we’d like to thank the mob that’s working with us and I think the Miriwoong Gajerrong mob will be living positively with the program into the future, and I think it’s a good move and well supported by our mob as well.”

Mid West Wadjarri country Elder Alan Egan agreed.

“I’m really happy to be here on this day to do what we want to do with the younger people that, you know, that are coming behind us and we want to do as much as possible,” he said.

Ernie Dingo said the first thing they’ve got to do is get healthy.

“On the inside, the mind, the body, and the soul is all there ready to go, once we get that strength and those men standing up in our community - men like Ted, for instance, and my brother Alan here - that’ll make things a lot easier in a direction that there’s a strength that grows from within the men when they have a chance to stand up in their rightful place in the community as leaders and elders of our community; we should listen to them,” he said.

“We don’t listen to them - we’re going to lose a lot of beautiful stuff that we don’t read in books because they don’t teach it anymore.”

The $1 million funding will also support BushTV Enterprises to partner with a university and Primary Health Alliances to conduct research to track improvements in remote men’s health and enhance health and wellbeing services.

A video message stick will be produced during each camp and made available to all levels of government associated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

BushTV Enterprises is an Aboriginal-owned community agency specialising in grassroots advocacy and producing and distributing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories.


Pic caption: Camping on Country: Some of the participants of the program gather on the Beedawong Meeting Place in Kings Park at the announcement of the $1 million funding – Elder Alan Egan, second from left, Ernie Dingo, Nyoongar man Dr Richard Walley OAM, Elder Ted Carlton, Minister Ken Wyatt AM right, and Aboriginal health workers.

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