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  Working for the empowerment of
Yolngu & First Nation people



If you only read one thing from us this year, PLEASE read this......

We’d like you take just a minute to think about how Coronavirus could impact remote Indigenous communities. Imagine these 2 things......

#1 I bet you’re currently learning lots about the Coronavirus from the media. Getting information from the government, scientists, international news plus stories from friends around the world. But imagine if all this vital information was in a language you didn’t fully understand? How would you feel if you knew there was something huge going on and you could see people panicking, but you didn’t really know why? Or what if you didn’t know something was going on....

How would this affect the choices you make for you and your family?

#2 I’m sure you’re aware that Australian Aboriginal people have the highest rates of Chronic Disease in the world. Existing health problems and crowded housing mean these communities are at particular risk from Coronavirus.

So what happens when #1 and #2 collide? When a very serious health event comes along and a highly at risk population, thousands of whom speak English as a second language, have a severe lack of information?

Pat Turner, the CEO of the National Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO), says this "If this virus gets into Aboriginal communities, it will be absolute devastation, absolute devastation without a doubt."

During the 2009 swine flu outbreak, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders made up 11% of all identified cases, 20% of hospitalisations and 13% of deaths (a death rate 6 times that of non-Indigenous Australians.)

So understandably we’re really worried about what could happen with Coronavirus.



What Yolŋu people are desperate for is in-depth, medical information in a language they can understand. What Yolŋu call the “dhuḏi-dhäwu” – the deep true story.

As a result Nikunu and Richard have created the first 4 podcasts telling the deep story around the Coronavirus in Yolŋu Matha.

Quarantine & self-isolation, restrictions on travel to communities, handwashing & good hygiene, and social distancing are all obviously important. However if Yolŋu don’t understand what the virus actually is and how it spreads, then people don’t really understand why these types of precautions are important.

This is difficult for most mainstream people to understand, but the majority of Yolŋu who are English-second language DO NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND GERM THEORY. So translating ‘please wash your hands’ into Yolŋu Matha is NOT enough. Once Yolŋu have the deeper story, then all the prevention information actually makes sense.

The Why Warriors team including Djiniyini Gondarra, Nikunu Yunupingu, Birijalawu Gondarra, Maratja Dhamarrandji and Richard Trudgen have been investigating the questions that Yolŋu have about COVID-19. They’ve been finding out what Yolŋu already know, and what their points of concern or confusion are.

These 4 programs are aimed at filling in the knowledge gaps that Yolŋu have in relation to the subject and other connected subjects which include; what IS a virus, how does Coronavirus move from one person to the other, is Coronavirus a lifelong sickness, and what’s an immunisation?

Effective, culturally-appropriate information is here. Now we really need your help to get the word out.



There are 3 different ways you can access the podcasts, both online and offline, and also with English subtitles.

(A) On our Djambatjmarram website the 4 programs are combined into one continuous audio file. Go to Introduction to the Coronavirus / COVID-19

(B) Do you want English subtitles, so English speakers can follow what’s happening? This is great for trainers and medical staff so you can listen together with Yolŋu and have an informed conversation. The 4 programs are available on YouTube separately and you can find them here

(C) Need to take the info offline to share where there is no internet? On SoundCloud you can download the information here .
The 4 programs are combined into one continuous audio file.

Email us for a copy of the English transcripts of the programs if you need them.



Please SHARE EVERYWHERE. Help to get information in Yolngu Matha out to communities, health clinics, hospitals, schools, everywhere.

If Yolŋu people you know listen to these programs and have more questions please get in touch with us.
This is important - when Yolŋu get answers to their questions rather than being given prescriptive instructions this is genuine community driven education. It helps us create more programs that are truly effective.

Send question and comments to
or ring on 08 8987 1664

THANK YOU! We truly appreciate all that you do.

Take care in these changing times - The Why Warriors Team


Justine Speed

(Executive Assistant to Richard Trudgen)
From 2001 Justine worked with Aboriginal Resource and Development Services (ARDS) in Nhulunbuy as Event Manager, before joining Why Warriors in 2010. She has worked alongside Richard Trudgen for nearly 20 years. She studied English at the University of QLD and also has qualifications in community work and counselling.