80% of diabetics in the program have maintained a significant reduction in their blood sugar levels over 6 months, and 50% are beating the recommended goal for diabetics (HbA1c below 6.5% - Diabetes Australia)

Our first Health Retreat on Yolngu Land was held in Sept 2016 and incorporated Yolngu healing modalities and foods. This is a short highlight video of the retreat by doco maker Rob Tate

Hope for Health is a community driven project supported and established by Why Warriors Pty Ltd. 

Founded through a grass roots movement and now headed by a steering committee of 8-12 Yolngu women, Hope for Health is now administered through the charity Why Warriors Org Ltd.

One in two adults in remote Indigenous communities like Galiwin’ku are struggling with chronic disease. This is a result of the marginalisation of traditional practices, and a lack of understanding of the link between lifestyle choices and health.

Hope for Health provides pathways for Yolngu people suffering from chronic disease to journey to good health through:

  • Access to intensive health retreats for a lifesaving and nurturing experience of lifestyle change
  • See our facebook page for some photos of the first retreat on Echo Island
  • Education in the peoples own language to understand how nutrition can help them.
  • Access to health coaching and support through the journey of lifestyle change
  • Providing access to cooking and exercise classes, and nutrient rich food alternatives
  • Integrating of Medical treatment, regular testing, with access to natural nutrition advice (built on the traditional diet) and traditional medicines
  • Building on local Aboriginal traditional and knowledge with the best of mainstream scientific evidence

Our First Yolngu Health Retreat was a success. There is still an enormous amount to do to support more Arnhem Land Aboriginal people to get control of their health.

Hope for Health has its own Website

“Here at Galiwin’ku there are funerals all the time. So many people, both young and old are affected by chronic disease and early death. We don’t want to continue this way, going through this pain and suffering. We want a different future for this community.” Dianne Biritjalawuy, HFH co-founder, then Galiwin’ku resident

Health Crisis in Aboriginal communities

When the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land came in 1948, they found the Yolngu people were in very good health, with no chronic disease issues. Fast forward some 60 years later, and Yolngu people find themselves in the midst of a devastating health crisis.

The United Nations report ‘The State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples’ (2009), indicated Australia and Nepal have the world’s worst life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Chronic disease is responsible for up to 80% of the mortality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.  Indigenous Australians living in remote communities are 4 times more likely to have Diabetes than other Australians.

In response to this crisis in living, Dianna Biritjalaway and her friends Timothy Trudgen and Kama Mico have initiated this inspirational community driven campaign to improve Yolngu health through a combination of the latest Western nutritional science and the traditional Yolngu diet.


The vision of a Yolngu Heath Retreat

Some of the Hope for Health core group try some nutritious alternatives to the processed food diet common in the community.The Hope for Heath steering committee has a long term vision of establishing a permanent Health Retreat in Arnhem Land that forms a transformative hub for people to experience vibrant health. Combining the best of Yolngu traditional knowledge, modern nutrition, and alternative healthcare practices, it will be a powerful place of healing and health wisdom. The retreat will be run and staffed by Yolngu people, creating meaningful, culturally appropriate local employment options that not only nurture healing, but promote the re-establishment of local industry.

We have now run 3 Yolngu Health retreats, with big things planed for 2021. We intend to do more each year, but the goal is to have somewhere people can come when ever they need.

A culturally relevant health-coaching program has been established created to up-skill people with the knowledge and skills they need to maintain vibrant health in their community or homeland context, providing:

  • Nutrition education, built on, and revitalising, traditional knowledge and ways
  • Education on understanding chronic disease cooking and exercise.
  • Yearly Health Retreats on Yolngu land the first of which was held in September 2016

To find out more, including Volunteer opportunities, visit the Hope for Health website.

Some of the team, volunteers and participants at our first Yongu health retreat.