Truth-telling and understanding Aboriginal culture in Halls Gap (Budja Budja)

On Thursday 17 November, the Going Rural Health team facilitated a student Aboriginal Cultural Training Day in Halls Gap in partnership with Budja Budja Aboriginal Co-operative - located in the heart of the Gariwerd/Grampians National Park in Country shared by Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali Traditional Owner Groups. The Cooperative is an initiative of the local Djab Wurrung Aboriginal Community and services the region encompassing Ararat, Stawell, Halls Gap and Gariwerd, Dunkeld, Mortlake, Dadswell Bridge and St Arnaud and all areas in-between.

Allied health students on placement in the  Grampians region of  southwest central Victoria at the Yanng-Ngalung Maligundidj Cultural Training.

Eleven allied health students an two local health  professionals were transported to the Budja Budja Medical Clinic for a tour of the clinic - which is the only primary health care, GP and community health facility in Halls Gap and surrounds. The clinic tour was then followed by the Yanng Ngalung Maligundidj cultural training which means ‘walk with the Wergaia People’, and facilitated by Jo Harrison Clarke, proud Wotjobaluk woman, and Lissy Johns from Grampians Public Health Network.

Jo provided an insight into the history of the region, customs and traditions of her mob and her own personal story which, while confronting; helped to demonstrate causes of some of the healthcare challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Jo Harrison Clarke, proud Wotjobaluk woman and Yanng Ngalung Maligundidj cultural training facilitator.

Throughout the day students had the opportunity to ask questions during the training, morning tea and lunch breaks, which were spent together as a group.

The content considered by students to be the most useful in the recent training included:

  • Jo’s lived experiences
  • Understanding Aboriginal history
  • ‘Truth telling’ - the true Australian history since European settlement
  • Intergenerational trauma and social and emotional wellbeing in the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community
  • Adapting healthcare practice for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Asking the question ‘Do you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander’ and how this might be triggering for some community members
  • Kinship in the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community

Participating students’ feedback was extremely positive:

‘This sort of thing should be delivered everywhere! Should be taught to everyone no matter where they work or study. It's so important and drastically changed my views on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.’

‘I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity and it gave me a lot of good information to take forward both as a person and as a professional working in allied health.’

‘It was an invaluable experience and I am so grateful for the opportunity. Thank you!’

The Halls Gap (Budja Budja) Student Cultural Training has been running for five years, with two workshops running each year. It has proven to be fantastic learning experience for nursing and allied health students on placement in the region and will continue to run in 2023.

For more information contact:

Trish Thorpe - Rural Placement Coordinator
Going Rural Health 

More Information

Giacinta Caione