Tag: arnhem land

Working Together to Close The Gap On Oral Health

Working together to close the gap on oral health

Sitting in a portable dental chair in a small community in remote northeast Arnhem Land, a young child is having fluoride painted onto his teeth.

It will help prevent tooth decay in an area of Australia where there is no fluoride in the water and where it can be difficult to visit a dental practitioner.

Bachelor of Oral Health student Caitlin Wilkie checks a young boy’s teeth. Picture: Supplied

The person applying the fluoride, and checking the young boy’s teeth, is a University of Melbourne student on a four-week immersion program as part of her studies.

“Until you are up there, on country, it is impossible to understand the challenges and the complexities with regards to health,” says final year Bachelor of Oral Health student Laura James, who spent five weeks earlier this year working in the region.

The Melbourne Dental School is working with Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation to tackle the issue of oral health in these remote communities. Together with the other community health providers in the region, they are working on an Oral Health Plan for East Arnhem Land.

“The problem the local community has identified is that dental disease is up to four and a half times worse than in non-Indigenous communities,” says Professor Julie Satur, who leads the Melbourne Dental School work on country in northeast Arnhem Land.

“Our project has come from the community, which is really important. They have identified the problem and we’re bringing the expertise and some of the resources and power of the University to build capacity to help address it.”

Laura James and her fellow students were based in Nhulunbuy and travelled to clinics and schools in remote communities across the region.

“We were doing fillings and extractions but also prevention and health promotion, working with children from pre-school to grade six. And for some of these children, English can be their fourth or fifth language,” Laura says.

Bachelor of Oral Health students Laura James (left) and Caitlin Wilkie (right) produced picture books to help share the importance of good oral health with children living in remote communities. Picture: Supplied

Once they realised that language could be a barrier to oral health, the students decided to produce picture books, using their textbooks and images found online, which they laminated and took to schools and health clinics in remote communities.

“And we found that these picture books really resonated with the children.”

Professor Satur says access to dental care and a lack of preventive care is an issue for people living in remote communities. She says part of the University’s role is helping to bring together the services on offer in the region.

It also includes contributing policy and research evidence to inform planning, bringing in students who can help with clinical and outreach dental services and boost service capacity, and providing support for locally driven research.

“If we can get this plan working, there are things in it we can achieve – around health promotion, tooth brushing programs in schools, getting the water fluoridation plants running and thinking about how we shape our messaging to fit with beliefs that already exist,” she says.

“You know, instead of imposing beliefs on people, how do we work with existing cultural beliefs and Indigenous knowledge to improve oral health.

“A preventive approach, in my view, is the way to tackle this. It’s not going to produce fast solutions but I’m more interested in sustainability and having the community empowered to deal with the problem than riding in on a white horse and doing a heap of fillings and leaving town. That is not to say that providing treatment is not important – but on its own it is not enough.

“I think the really important bit of work we have to do is at community level – understanding how people and communities think about oral health and what they see as the problems and what they see as the solutions, because they’re the experts in their own lives. It is also important that over the longer term we develop pathways for Yolgnu people to lead these programs themselves.”

Bachelor of Oral Health students completed a four-week immersion program in remote northeast Arnhem Land. Picture: Supplied

Professor Satur says poor oral health is related to systemic health issues including heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and premature birth – both contributing to and making these conditions worse. But she says it can also be a social determinant.

“Toothache will stop a child performing at school,” she says.

“If they have chronic infection and pain in their mouth they don’t sleep or eat properly, and the family doesn’t sleep properly, the child goes to school and their learning is impeded, they fall behind, they don’t want to be there and then they stop going.”

The University of Melbourne has a long relationship with the Yolgnu people in northeast Arnhem Land, which was formalised in 2015 through a partnership with the Yothu Yindi Foundation. The oral health project is one of several that have developed as a result of this partnership.

Professor Satur believes the importance of having students on country in Arnhem Land is twofold.

She says it is important that they have the opportunity to understand local community perspectives on oral health, what they see as the problems and what they see as the solutions.

“But I also want to make sure that we produce a workforce that cares about the gap in Indigenous oral health and wants to do something about it.

“And really mainstreaming Aboriginal culture and knowledge in Australia, making it a celebrated part of how we understand the world.”

 

This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article.

Female ranger taken by crocodile in Gan Gan

A FEMALE ranger has been taken by a crocodile infront of horrified onlookers in a remote region of the Northern Territory.

The woman was attacked while on the job at 10am today near the community of Gangan, about 206km south west of Yirrkala in Arnhem Land. She has not been seen since. News.com.au understands police are enroute via dirt roads and boat to the area but were at least a few hours away mid-afternoon Friday.

The Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation, which runs the Yirralka Rangers program, first reported the attack to authorities, and has since closed its office.

Rheumatic heart disease going undiagnosed by NT’s fly-in doctors, cardiologist warns

The Northern Territory is home to some of the highest known rates of rheumatic heart disease in the world, but the transient nature of the region’s medical practitioners could be hindering the fight to stop it.

The entirely preventable condition affects mainly Indigenous people living in remote areas, and in the Arnhem Land community of Maningrida, children as young as four have died from the disease.

Police targeted in Arnhem Land attacks

Police in two remote Arnhem Land communities have been forced to call in reinforcements after coming under attack from youths armed with slingshots, spears and rocks.

In one settlement on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria, the unrest is believed to be related recent successful operations targeting cannabis traffickers.

‘One of the most profound experiences of my life’

Sometimes, in order to learn, you need to slow down and shut up. Which is exactly what my TV crew and I were told to do when we entered the sacred ceremonial grounds at Gulkula in North East Arnhem Land, the home of the Yolgnu clan for more than 50,000 years.

While flying along the red dirt road to the campsite for the Garma festival, I carefully read the “behaviour protocols” provided by the Yothu Yindi foundation. They state: “Remember you are on Yolngu land and entering Yolngu time.

Galiwin’ku Community Library to Challenge Dewey Decimal System

“There is always a balanda way to do things, but this is our way” – Amanda Gumbala, Galiwin’ku Community Library Officer.

Yolŋu Rom Napurrn Dhukarr: A Living Room Project – Galiwin’ku Community Library

On the 1 August in the big city lights of the Gold Coast, Council’s Regional Manager Children, Families & Library Services, Carol Stableford, shared the story of the Yolŋu Rom Napurrn Dhukarr – the Living Room Project. A project partnership with Northern Territory Library.

Here’s the Abstract from the Asia Pacific Libraries and Information Conference where the presentation was made to a room full of delegates.

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When Melvill Dewey first created the Dewey Decimal Classification System, we wonder did he envisage it would continue to be used more than 100 years later in remote Aboriginal community libraries in Australia?

There is a very remote community called Galiwin’ku off the coast of East Arnhem Land. Just over 2,000 people live in this island community, which is only accessible by sea or air. The Galiwin’ku community recently opened a brand new library of which they are justifiably proud.

In Galiwin’ku, like many multilingual Aboriginal communities, English is not the first, second or fourth language for many people in the community, and western mathematical concepts are not aligned with Yolŋu mathematical concepts. So the Dewey Decimal System upon which their local library collection is classified is an artificial construct. This means that we have a local Aboriginal community collection, classified according to Western knowledge constructs, created by an American in 1873. This classification practice is repeated in all Aboriginal Community Libraries throughout the Northern Territory.

We think there is another way. A Yolŋu way.

The Northern Territory Library and East Arnhem Regional Council are partnering in a unique and innovative pilot. Together, we hope to architect a new user experience for community library officers and their community using the ‘living room concept’. We plan to challenge ‘the Dewey’ and realign community collections in a Yolŋu way ie. In respect to concepts of classification and how they relate to Aboriginal knowledge.

We don’t know yet if this project will be successful, but we are willing to try and share our journey with you.

This is a story about a quiet revolution in a tiny community of 2,500 people, on a small island off the coast of Arnhem Land. An Aboriginal Community Library where we dare to create a new way, a Yolŋu way of classifying a library’s collection. A way, we hope will lead to more quiet revolutions, disrupting and energising community libraries throughout the Northern Territory and beyond.

Rare glimpse of Arnhem Land funeral ceremony filmed to promote understanding of Yolngu law

Funeral ceremonies in the Northern Territory’s Indigenous communities are often spoken about, but rarely seen by outsiders.

At a homeland burial site near the Arnhem Land community of Galiwin’ku, water, smoke and songlines have been used to cleanse clan members and guide a spirit home.

Senior clan members have allowed the ceremony be filmed, in the hope that non-Indigenous people — known as balanda — can learn about the ceremony’s place in Yolngu society.

Marine debris on north Australian beaches doubles in a decade; foreign fishers may be to blame, researchers say

Trash from the sea washing up on Arnhem Land’s once-pristine beaches has doubled in the last decade.

Researchers say there is up to three tonnes of marine debris per kilometre along 11 monitored beaches in northern Australia, and that much of it is related to increasing foreign fishing activity, some of it illegal.

In June, the ABC spoke with residents of Cape Arnhem, near Nhulunbuy, who detailed the level of rubbish that was washing up on local beaches.