Success stories from the frontline of Aboriginal health

Success stories, In the field, Indigenous Australia article written on the 27 May 2011

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” Never has this old saying been more apt, as digital technologies enable us to tell stories in new and powerful ways.

Recently, Oxfam Australia – in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), the Victorian Department of Health, and a number of Victorian mainstream and community-controlled health organisations – ran three digital story-telling workshops for Victorian Aboriginal health workers. Participants learned how to use images, video and audio to create personal multimedia stories about their work.

The result? A series of inspiring, first-hand testimonials about how Aboriginal health workers are striving to close the Indigenous life expectancy gap.

Participant Jock Peterson’s video depicts his experiences working for an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation in regional Victoria. “Where I work, rates of chronic disease such as diabetes are extremely high and I’m hoping by telling my story people will get a better understanding of the work we are doing in the community to address these health issues,” he says.

Penny Wagstaff emerged from the workshops a convert to the digital story-telling cause. “Three minutes when you’ve got [members of the Aboriginal] community actually talking, and photographs of community people … that can convey more than hundreds of words.”

The project is part of The Aboriginal Health Promotion and Chronic Care (AHPACC) program that has forged bold partnerships between Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and community health services throughout Victoria. “The positive experiences of Aboriginal health workers don’t get told enough, which is why we want to celebrate and share these stories,” explains VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher.

Watch the videos

Watch participants’ video stories below.

Diane – Bay Mob Sailing

Peninsula Health Koori Team

Frankston’s Aboriginal youth and elders overcome their feelings of isolation, find emotional support and friendship, and get some much-needed fresh air by learning to sail.

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Francine and Virginia – Our Nyngar, Our Story

Western Region Health Centre

See how art therapy is creating a sense of trust and belonging among urban Aboriginal people, giving them the confidence to open up about their health.

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Glenda – Bay Mob Puppets

Peninsula Health

Among Aboriginal communities, some personal and health issues are taboo or difficult to discuss directly. But this is changing – with the help of a bunch of feisty puppets.

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Jacqui – Indigenous health programs

Plenty Valley Health

As an Aboriginal woman employed in a mainstream health organization, Jacqui describes the Indigenous programs they offer: from dental and physio to a playgroup.

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Maria and Beryl – Werna Yangan (We Walk)

Gippsland & East Gippsland Aboriginal Cooperative

This women’s walking and gym group in Bairnsdale went from three members to 30 as word spread about its health, fitness and motivational benefits.

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Penny and Bronwyn – Food bank

Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place and EACH Social and Community Health

Volunteering at Mullum Mullum’s popular food bank gives local Aboriginal people a chance to mix with health workers while benefiting from a more nutritious diet.

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James (Jock) and Steve – Walk for Health

Sunraysia Community Health and Mildura Aboriginal Cooperative

Members of Mildura’s Indigenous community discover that a stroll along the Murray River is good for their health … not to mention a great opportunity to have a yarn.

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Shyvonne – Bay Mob Koori Kitchen

Peninsula Health

Weekly cook-ups at the Koori Kitchen are an opportunity for folks to have a nutritious feed at the same time as they access healthcare services and connect with other members of the Bay Mob.

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Helen – Kirrae Health

South West Healthcare

Using veges grown in their shared garden at Kirrae Health, community members cook up a storm in the Kirrae Master Chef Challenge and learn about better health in the process.

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Find out more

Find out more about our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing program