NACCHO #NAIDOC2016 Restoring Our Health: Aboriginal women aim to create the first traditional health retreat

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” Our people are suffering. 1 in 2 of us face diabetes and 1 in 3 suffer from chronic health issues such as heart and liver disease. This is over 100% higher than other Australians. (See our statistics below for more stats)

Every one here has lost close relatives because of this and we are afraid of losing more of our loved ones too soon and worst still our culture. Our leaders chose to make this island free of alcohol – though that is not enough – sugar and poor foods still make up most of our diet.

It’s time to reawaken our Yolngu way to vitality
We need your support to achieve our vision.
Please read on to hear our pioneering plan

Help US

We used to live long time.
We didn’t get sick” – Daisy


Since time began we, the Yolngu Aboriginals (East Arnhem Land, N.T, Australia) used to be strong, healthy, strong leaders. We were hunters in balance with nature, trading with Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, eating fresh seafood, native fruits and plants. In just 60 years since we have had western foods we have become disempowered and severely sick.

Our Hope For Health

We have re-discovered the way & have a plan for our people.

Last year we raised $60K and sent 12 of women, and leaders, from our home on Elcho Island, East Arnhem Land, N.T., Australia to Queensland to participate in a health retreat at Living Valley Springs. It was an eye-opening experience for us.

We experienced dramatic improvements including weight loss, control over diabetes and many reduced our medications over the next 3 months, through understanding nutrition and changing our food.

1 in 2 smokers quit, 2 in 5 reduced the medications, and 1 in 2 diabetics bettered recommended goals for blood sugar level.

We discovered that eating and living well is not about learning new knowledge, but it about building on our own knowledge and traditional culture. Scientific research also shows our traditional ways of living reduces and prevents chronic diseases. Good education building on our culture and language, combined with an experience of health through nutrition empowers Yolngu to live more healthy and energetic lives


After our retreat away we began to share our learning as much as we could with our communities back home with cooking classes and workshops.

But we must share the retreat experience we had with more of our people & give them a chance to have health too – our family, our community, our friends

Help us offer our hope for health to others;
But this time in our way, on our land.

A new chapter of health: A traditional health retreat, here in Arnhem Land.

The same group of us local Yolngu Elders who did the trial retreat last year are now driving the Hope For Health program and we have a new and exciting idea: A health retreat, using our ways, in our land, to help our people.

To bring widespread health to our community our goal now is to fund the first traditionally-based health retreat right here on Elcho Island, Arnhem Land. In 2016 we plan to take 30 of our most in-need Yolngu community members on a 2-week retreat.

We’ll use our traditional food, medicine and treatments as a base and we’ll be supported by health professionals, doctors and naturopaths to design and deliver the 2-week long program including medical testing, detoxification, western treatments, nutritional expertise and post-retreat support. (See further down the page for details on our traditional health retreat program)

A local retreat here in Arnhem Land would also:

  • Explore the dream of a powerful and permanent Health Retreat in Arnhem Land.
  • Skills participants to deal the real underlying causes of chronic illness in their own lives and their families.
  • Empower Traditional Culture by emphasising it’s health benefits.
  • Create local employment and opportunity for economic development.
  • Further ignite a real and tangible Hope for Health for all Elcho Island residents

Just imagine the impact that this will have in our small community of 2500 people. If this is repeated each year we are sure to solve this health problem.

But to accomplish this vision we must raise $80K
That is why we ask you to join our
cause and please donate now.

If you are a Media or PR professional, click this link to get our Electronic Press Kit

Read on to find out about:

    • What exactly is a “Traditional Health Retreat?”
    • Why we have to hit $80K and how we will use your contribution.
    • Perks: What you’ll receive in return for your contribution
    • The Top 10 best ways you can join our cause.
    • Our team of determined pioneers.
    • Our Ambassadors and Partners Support.
    • Who is Why Warriors and why is this project so unique?
    • Appendix: Top ten most shocking statistics for Aboriginal health.

This is our solution.
This is our Hope For Health.
With you, we can make our hope a reality.
Please donate and share now.


What exactly is a
Traditional Health Retreat?

The Hope For Health Traditional health Retreat will be a healing sanctuary aimed at preventative care and conducive to restoring health to those with chronic illness.

Using food as medicine, detoxification, traditional Yolngu healing treatments, tailored naturopathic consultations, exercise, education, and the guidance of orthodox medicine, participants are able to experience first hand how influential their food and lifestyle choices are in affecting dramatic improvements in their energy, symptoms and pathology.

Based in a quiet, secluded area of Elcho Island – a day at the HFH retreat will involve rising with the sun, enjoying some stimulating exercise, nutrition workshops, and healthy detox friendly foods. As the sun starts to lift, a workshop will be held in circle about diet-related health imbalances in the community (drawing on Yolngu traditional knowledge and connecting it with modern scientific research).

Each participant will be assessed and monitored by a Naturopath and a Doctor and experience a range of carefully selected healing treatments. Yolngu guests experience therapeutic and detoxification treatments such as herbal sauna sessions using medicinal bush plants, sand bath healing, lymphatic drainage massage, osteopathy, Yolngu massage therapy and more.

Hunting, harvesting local foods and craft are all intertwined into the retreat schedule to encourage connection, inspiration and mindfulness. The use of language, cultural knowledge and these activities on Yolngu country empowers Yolngu identity, and validates traditional ways that have been sidelined by modern medicine since colonisation. It will demonstrate the positive effects of bringing them into our modern world and reinforce their place on the path to Yolngu health.

At the end of the retreat, it is our vision that participants will be left feeling revitalised, empowered and inspired to not only continue their journey towards health, but to additionally share the knowledge they have gained with their community via story, community workshops and by example; all supported by Hope for Health and the Why Warriors team.

Why we have to hit $80K and what we will do with your contribution.

It costs a lot getting anything to our Island. We have already raised $20K this year in other donations, but we need at least another $80k in order to make this project happen with the 30 participants we need to help. Here’s the breakdown of expenses:

  • +$22,000 Health Professional Staff: Flights, Accomodation
  • +$10,000 Local Workers Wages and Expenses
  • +$35,000 Equipment: Medical, Hunting, Bedding, Furniture, Cooking
  • +$17,000 Facility Construction: Venue setup, Traditional steam bath
  • +$7,000 Transport to retreat
  • +$2,000 Materials: Stationery, Resource books, general
  • +$20,000 Food for 2 weeks
  • +$4,000 Why Warriors Staff for support
    TOTAL: $117,000

What happens if we get more or less than $80K?

By hitting $80K we will have enough funds to make the retreat happen in the way required to support 30 locals!

More or less than this amount means more or less chronically unwell participants experiencing health transformations – and we have a long list of people to support.

We have found a winning formula for Indigenous health – the retreat will happen but we have to hit at least 60K to do this. Less than 60K and we will have to spend extra time applying for grants – an uncertain process that requires time we don’t have due to local seasonal restrictions. That is why it is so important to donate now.

Anything over our project budget (over $117K) means we won’t have to apply to other sources for support such as grants and would be used for complementary post-retreat support such as our curriculum delivery and community health workshops.

Why is this project so unique?

Many education programs have been run and many short camps have taken people out for health workshops, but none have delivered the whole package needed to empower the Yolngu people for real change. This project brings together the experience of improved health with culturally appropriate education in the local language.
The project emphasises providing:

• A serious 2-week retreat with detox program that will ensure that people experience the powerful healing effect of diet.

• An education program that builds on Yolngu knowledge and fills knowledge gaps to ensure people can build their own health solution into their lifestyle.

• The use of the local language (Yolngu Matha) and a cultural framework that ensures understanding, creates a safe environment and builds trust.

• A nutrition model built on ancient practice, Yolngu knowledge and modern evidence.

• Uncompromising but compassionate approach. We understand the struggle to change one’s lifestyle because we have been there, but we won’t include short cuts or compromises into the program delivery.

Perks: What you’ll receive
in return for your contribution

As well as an incredible sense of fulfilment in being a part of this worthy cause you will also receive a “perk” based on the level of donation you chose. You’ll find something there for everyone. Whatever you can afford, we appreciate the kindness. Read on for some more info on these great perks:

Perk 3 and up: Some of our perk packages include an
Organic Sister E-Book Package!

PERK 4 & 5: Get your Hope For Health T-Shirt!
As part of some of the donor packages you can choose:

Your choice of colour: yellow, pink, white or green.
Your choice of size: SML, MED, LRG, XLARGE, XXLARGE
Your choice of logo colour: yellow, pink, white or green.

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