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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
 

North East Arnhem sexual health project

 

Overview

The North East Arnhem sexual health projectis funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services, and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and has been in existence for over 10 years. The aim of the project is two-fold: to increase understanding of the concept of germ theory of disease among Yolngu people in NE Arnhem Land; and to increase understanding of sexual health, including sexually transmissible infections (STIs), among young Yolngu men and women.

The project involves face-to-face education sessions on germ theory and sexual health in communities and homelands in NE Arnhem Land. These education sessions are based on the educational methodology espoused by the Aboriginal Resource and Development Services (ARDS) which incorporates principles of adult education, discovery education, cross-cultural communication, and applied linguistics. The sessions are conducted in Yolngu Matha (the language of the people of NE Arnhem Land) to facilitate understanding of the session content.

The education sessions for germ theory involve 'live microscopy' whereby microscopes are taken to the homelands. Following education on what a microscope is and how it works, blood (white blood cells) and 'live' germs in the soil and saliva are examined under the microscope. Discussions on the immune system also form part of this educational session.

The sexual health education sessions are directed at young men or women and take place in a small group setting in a comfortable environment. The sexual health topics that are generally discussed include: what STIs are; infection transmission (incorporating germ theory of disease and use of microscopes); and the protective function of condoms.

To generate further awareness among Yolngu people about sexual health and germ theory of disease, the educational sessions are complemented by eductional programs that feature on Yolngu Radio - a radio station that is available to all major communities and over 30 homelands throughout NE Arnhem Land and Darwin. Programs have been produced on several related topic areas including: sexual health, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and germs.

To date, the project has found some existing knowledge of STIs, their symptoms, and modes of transmission among Yolngu men. There is however little biomedical understanding of health in Yolngu worldview and limited understanding of germ theory of disease. Therefore, much work remains in addressing the misunderstanding about infectious versus non-infectious disease, and the transmission of infectious disease among Yolngu men and women.

Contacts

Aboriginal Resource and Development Services (ARDS)
Darwin Office
374 Stuart Highway
Winnellie NT 0821
PO Box 36921
Winnellie NT 0821
Ph: (08) 8984 4174
Fax: (08) 8984 4192
Email: info@ards.com.au

Related publications

Aboriginal Resource and Development Services, Trudgen T, Lacey MM, Bukulatjpi EG (2007)

Nyumurrku' buwayak warrakan' mala (Small invisible animals/ Germs) [DVD].

: Aboriginal Resource and Development Services

This DVD was produced to provide the Yolngu people in North East Arnhem Land with an understanding of microscope literacy and germ theory. It was filmed on location at Elcho Island and delivered in the local language. The resource aims to give people a basic tool to understand the causes of sickness and disease which will enable them to develop strategies for containing health problems in Indigenous communities.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Sexual health radio programs: hepatitis (2010)

Aboriginal Resource Development Services

This educational program on hepatitis is currently on air on the Yolngu Radio Service. The program includes 14 series and provides a range of information on hepatitis such as: introduction to hepatitis; causes of hepatitis A, B, and C; explanation of hepatitis carriers; lifecycle of hepatitis C; and the impact of hepatitis on the liver. Each series runs for approximately 6 - 20 minutes and is provided in MP3 audio format where it can be played in Media Player or downloaded.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Sexual health radio programs: HIV and AIDS (2010)

Aboriginal Resource Development Services

This educational program on HIV/AIDS is currently on air on the Yolngu Radio Service. The program includes 19 series and covers topics such as: the body's immune system and how HIV impacts on immunity; explanation of HIV and AIDS; epidemiology of HIV/AIDS; transmission; and prevention. Each series runs for between 1 minute and 13 minutes and is provided in MP3 audio format where it can be played in Media Player or downloaded.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Sexual health radio programs: STIs (2010)

Aboriginal Resource Development Services

This sexual health educational program is currently playing on air on the Yolngu Radio Service. The program includes seven parts and focuses on sexually transmissible infections (STIs) in men. Topics covered include: a description of STIs; symptoms and treatment of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis; and correct condom usage. The program content is culturally appropriate for Indigenous men and is presented by two males. The program is provided in MP3 audio format and can be played through Media Player or downloaded.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

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Last updated: 21 July 2011
 
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