Coronavirus 16-18: Stopping the Virus – Social Distancing and Vaccines

Here are 3 important education programs about the Coronavirus.

These programs are primarily in Yolŋu Matha and are available with English subtitles.

These are perfect for English speaking people involved with Yolŋu so you can listen together and have an informed conversation.


From WHY WARRIORS PTY LTD’s YouTube channel

Produced by Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra and Richard Trudgen

CORONAVIRUS 16: Traditional Yolŋu Social Distancing Law (with English subtitles)

Djiniyini Gondarra opens the program by asking Richard Trudgen what the phrases “physical distancing” and “social distancing” mean. These are two English concepts used in conversations about the Coronavirus that Yolŋu find difficult to understand.

Richard explains what social distancing means and Djiniyini says there are 2 similar processes in Yolŋu culture. One is the avoidance of some people in certain relationships, as part of the kinship structure. The other is an intricate concept called goŋ-wukundi.

Goŋ-wukundi comes into practice under Madayin law when somebody touches a dead body or is associated with caring for a person who has passed away, while they are in the coffin through the ceremonial process, before burial. The group looking after the deceased become goŋ-wukundi; their hands are painted with yellow, white or red ochre to distinguish them from others. People outside this group are not allowed to be near them, touch them, or touch any of the articles they’ve used, like their plate or food.

Click here for the full Covid:19 playlist



CORONAVIRUS 17: No Microscopes Before (with English subtitles)

In this program, Djiniyini Gondarra asks what social distancing is for. Richard Trudgen says it’s to stop the spread of Covid-19. Djiniyini explains how goŋ-wukundi law was for the same reason – to stop the spread of disease. They discuss the reasons why this was in place with the law given to Yolŋu by the Great Creator, Waŋarr. This was necessary before the development of microscopes and before people knew the reason why social avoidance was required around the control of disease and sickness.

Djiniyini asks to discuss the use of the word warrakan (animal, birds, meat) when referring to live disease agents like bacteria and viruses. Twenty years ago Djiniyini and Richard first began teaching germ theory to Yolŋu, using microscopes and live samples. The term buwayak warrakan (invisible animals, birds, meat) was used to name bacteria so Yolngu would understand bacteria and viruses are a living disease agent that can multiply and cause problems in the body.

Click here for the full Covid:19 playlist


CORONAVIRUS 18: Looking for Medicine to stop the Virus (with English subtitles)

In this program, Richard Trudgen asks Djiniyini Gondarra to explain the concept of ḏilthan.

Dilthan is a process where Yolŋu take particular trees and plants, crush them and then throw them into the water. This takes place particularly in deep water where “we can’t get there to fish with a spear”. The chemicals from the trees and plants kill the fish and they rise to the top of the water, but they are still edible. Dilthan is also the name for when people get sap on their skin from the ganyawu tree (also known as the rrayung or bunydjarrnga tree) and don’t wash it off quickly. The skin swells up (bolbolyun) and sometimes small infected, watery heads appear.

Djiniyini and Richard discuss how medical companies are trying to find the right chemical to ḏilthan this virus. They explore the two ways that are being considered: one will destroy the virus and the second will involve finding a chemical that blocks or renders useless the spines in the little arms of the virus that can inject its chemical into body cells to make more viruses.

This is the first part of our series that introduces people to how the virus replicates. Djiniyini and Richard promise to return and talk more about how the virus actually makes people sick.

Click here for the full Covid:19 playlist


Join us to explore more videos and podcasts on health issues and a range of other subjects here.


Thank you to © Helix Animation 2020 for the animation in these programs. All rights reserved.

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