Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

Lungmarama Yolngu Nha: (1) a Week in the Life of an Outreach Program

Academic journal article Australian Aboriginal Studies

Lungmarama Yolngu Nha: (1) a Week in the Life of an Outreach Program

Article excerpt

Abstract: The Yolngu of north-eastern Arnhem Land have lived with alcohol for just over 30 years. For some, particularly those who permanently or transiently camp on the fringes of the predominantly non-Indigenous township of Nhulunbuy, it has resulted in devastating health, social, family and cultural impacts. The Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation Outreach Program is a response to alcohol use by this Aboriginal community. We examine the outreach program in terms of its conception and development and 'success'. The impact that funding (or lack of funding), the funding source, and different expectations by the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities can have on the success or otherwise of such a program are manifest in this case study. Extracts from a journal written by one of the researchers while involved in the program provides a grounded insight into the practicalities and realities of undertaking this type of activity in a remote community. The outreach program has achieved some success by helping a small number of Yolngu to turn their lives around and move off a path of self-destructive alcohol use. However, the program has been narrowly fashioned and continues to be driven by the concerns of the non-Indigenous community for whom its "success" has been the attention given to litter and antisocial behaviour.

**********

The Yolngu of north-east Arnhem Land have lived with alcohol for just over 30 years. In that short time it has had devastating health, social, family and cultural impacts. This is particularly the case for a population of Yolngu who permanently or transiently camp on beaches and skirting woodland around the predominantly non-Indigenous township of Nhulunbuy. The Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation Outreach Program is a response to alcohol use by this Aboriginal community. Miwatj Health also delivers primary health care and encourages lifestyle and drinking behaviour change. For Yolngu, alcohol forms part of the conjunction of Western and traditional influences they deal with as they forge a contemporary and distinctive Yolngu society. Miwatj Health sought a comprehensive review of the outreach program as part of their wider commitment to bringing Aboriginal-controlled health care to the region. An insight into the day-to-day operation of an alcohol misuse intervention program and an evaluation of that program is provided using excerpts from a journal written by one of the researchers involved in the evaluation.

Research design and methodology

The aim of the outreach program was to assist and support Yolngu who chose to camp in and around Nhulunbuy and who were heavy consumers of alcohol. The specific objectives of the program were:

* to decrease the rubbish around the town beach and drinkers' camping and drinking places;

* to educate the target group on their legal rights and responsibilities under the Liquor Act and other relevant legislation; and

* to develop longer term strategies to sustain reductions in rubbish and levels of public drunkenness in Nhulunbuy, including diversionary and other activities.

Our evaluation of the outreach program was more than an assessment based on its stated objectives. It explored the conception and development of the program, drawing heavily upon the thoughts, concerns and priorities of Yolngu. Determining the effectiveness or otherwise of an intervention is difficult, for example changes in alcohol consumption may be influenced by a range of factors such as employment, housing and education, as well as or in spite of participation in an intervention program (Gray et al. 2004). Any evaluation must therefore be cognisant of what realistically it can assess.

There have been few evaluations of alcohol intervention programs undertaken in a culturally appropriate way (Gray et al. 2000, 2004). In this evaluation no party was unclear about the intentions of the research: to be of primary benefit to the outreach program. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.