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Hope for Health: Embracing Indigenous Wisdom and Healing

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Hope for Health: Embracing Indigenous Wisdom and Healing with Dr Kama Trudgen and Helen Padarin

Hope For Health is an indigenous charity, borne from a rich cross-cultural exchange of healing wisdom between trusted friends underpinned by the principles of "food is medicine”.

Today we are speaking to Dr Kama Trudgen and Helen Padarin about how Hope For Health was formed and gain insight into the health challenges commonly faced by indigenous communities. Kama and Helen also share with us their newest endeavour, TOGETHER Retreats, a collaborative healing initiative developed in conjunction with the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land.

Covered in this episode

[00:40] Welcoming Helen Padarin and Dr Kama Trudgen
[02:22] What is the Hope for Health project?
[08:05] Weston A. Price principles
[11:47] Food and movement
[13:54] The dangers of modern day convenience
[16:58] Awakening to the importance of food
[19:17] Homogenisation of diet and cultures
[20:51] The burdens facing indigenous communities
[25:59] Adopting and accepting change
[31:00] The medico-political complexities
[32:59] What are TOGETHER Retreats?
[38:14] Resources for further information


Andrew: This is FX Medicine, I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook. Joining us today is Dr. Kama Trudgen and Helen Padarin

Dr. Kama Trudgen is a medical doctor who stepped sideways from clinical practice to be immersed in the world of community development. She spent eight years living on Elcho Island in North-East Arnhem Land in a remote Yolngu community. In the process of overcoming heartbreaking fertility issues, Kama discovered the power of nutrition. Sharing her family's healing foods with a sick Yolngu friend started a chain reaction in the Yolngu community that birthed the Hope for Health program. Kama is passionate about the power and relevance of the wisdom held in traditional cultures and in bridging the gap between the Yolngu world and the dominant culture.

Helen Padarin is a naturopath, nutritionist, bestselling author, and speaker. Helen has been in clinical practice for 18 years, is an ambassador for the Mindd Foundation, and co-authored The Complete Gut Health Cookbook with Pete Evans, Bubba Yum Yum with Charlotte Carr and Pete Evans, and authored a chapter on paediatrics and ASD in Leah Hechtman textbook, Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Passionate about learning from indigenous communities and also wanting to give back, Helen partnered with Hope For Health to create TOGETHER Retreat

Kama is calling from Alice Springs and Helen is calling in from her clinic in Sydney. Welcome both of you to FX Medicine, How are you? 

Kama: Great. 

Helen: Were...yeah, I'm great. Thanks for having us on here. It's great to be here again. 

Andrew: Now, Kama, tell us first, what is the Hope For Health project?

Kama: So, the Hope For Health project is basically a community development work that is responding to the really devastating epidemic of chronic disease that's going on in remote indigenous communities. And we run retreats which provide experiential education around nutrition and we use the framework of the Yolngu traditional diet. 

So, we're returning people to a framework that makes sense in their worldview, it validates their identity, and you know, and it works. It's an amazing traditional diet that we can all glean amazing benefit from.

Andrew: Okay, so I've got to ask there with males and females, do you have separate medicine? How is this approached with indigenous communities? This indigenous community.

Kama: Well, I guess the foundation of the medicine that we're using is food. And food is very much something that's in the public domain so it's not a separate kind of issue for men and women. There's many aspects of health that, you know, definitely separate domains in terms of men and women, but food is right out there for everyone. 

And I guess food was not something that Yolngu people were thinking of as medicine. It was just something that they were, you know, traditionally they were able to enjoy the abundance of what nature provided. And you know, if it wasn't good for you, it wasn't called food. 

Andrew: Right. 

Kama: So, it's not something that people were looking at as a culprit when they were being struck by this epidemic of chronic disease. 

Andrew: And how did the Hope For Health project come to be? 

Kama: Well, I guess it really grew out of a very personal journey in my life that was able to kind of extend to really precious relationships that I had in the indigenous community in Arnhem Land. So, I'd been on a huge journey myself in terms of nutrition and had a lot of trouble getting through a pregnancy, and in that process was able to discover the work of Weston A. Price

Andrew: Yes. 

Kama: And that was phenomenal. And you know, I have two beautiful boys now that I'm blessed with. And that nutrition journey was a huge part of that being able to nourish my body with the food that it needed. And it was incredible to discover perspectives that I had just never heard of before to look back at traditional diets and see, you know, the consistent principles across the world of how people ate and maintained health. 

And I was living in Arnhem Land at the time doing community development work and so able to kind of test these theories that were being put forward. And seeing just that story unfolding before me of a people group that had been vibrant and strong before these modern displacing foods came in and seeing the catastrophic effects of that. 

So, it was food that I definitely embraced myself with amazing effects. And then had an incredible opportunity just to share that food with a sick Yolngu friend who was, you know, in a really serious condition.

Andrew: Serious.

Kama: Yeah and it was amazing to be able to see the transformation that happened in her just from sharing that food and not changing anything else. And that it had such an impact which, you know, it really taught us both the power of experiencing something, you know? You can talk about something until the cows come home but it's not going to change your experience, you know, you need to embody it, you really need to know it yourself. And for her to have that experience was so powerful and it motivated her to actually get the information and to understand how this food had affected her. And then that became just a living example in the community just, you know, the transformation that had happened for her, people witnessed it and they could see that it was real and they wanted to understand themselves. 

So, it really started this chain reaction and we drew on the kind of two main things that seem to be powerful in that process that we’d stumbled upon. Firstly, that element of experiential learning. And secondly, that framework of being able to draw on the Yolngu traditional diet. And so those two things combined kind of led to a retreat experience. 

So, first we went and fundraised and took a group of women to an established retreat so that they could kind of realise how, you know, just an example of how this process could be done to work out how we can do it in Arnhem Land. And then we fundraised again and tried a retreat on a homeland in Arnhem Land. And that retreat was able to be captured in the documentary The Magic Pill which was a real honour to be part of that story. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Kama: And we've gone on to continue running retreats. And in a couple of weeks time we're going to be launching a new model of retreat as well which includes dominant culture people.

Andrew: Includes?

Kama: So ‘dominant culture people’ is kind of a term I used to refer to non-indigenous people. And I guess it kind of highlights the fact that we have different cultural worlds going on. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Kama: Yolngu people definitely have a distinct world with all the elements of, you know, lore and education and governance, you know, that any culture has. And it's clashing against a more dominant culture, which is kind of the one with all the power and resources…

Andrew: Right. 

Kama: That's really calling the shots of what's going on in their community. So, unfortunately, that makes you and I part of that dominant culture. 

Andrew: Yeah, it does. 

Kama: Yeah. Which is just the fact that we all need to, I guess, come to terms with.

Andrew: Yeah, I think we need to wear it. Helen, I'm going to ask you, like we keep talking about I would have heard Weston A. Price mentioned on FX Medicine podcasts, hmm, 15, 20 times. What is the work of Weston A. Price?

Helen: So Weston A. Price as I'm sure many listeners are aware of was a dentist who was doing a lot of research, particularly in the 1930s trying to find out why it was he was seeing so many more patients with malformed jaws, like narrow jaws, crowded teeth, palate issues, dental caries, all of that kind of thing. 

And he went traveling around the world and what he found was communities who were consuming their traditional diet had fantastic dental health. It also reflected in their general body health as well, their overall health. But then yeah, he really noticed that when on their traditional diet there had really straight teeth, no dental caries, broad faces, no crowding, all of that kind of thing. And it was as soon as, you know, roads came into a place basically, and dominant culture people came into a place that then that started to change. Because that's when things like flour and sugar and those kinds of foods started coming in. And as a result, that's when the dental and general health issues really started to have a big impact. 

So, Weston A. Price really values nutrient-dense foods, so looking at good quality fats, including saturated fats, including cholesterol. Really mineral-rich foods, the fat-soluble vitamins that play a big role both in dental health but also our immune health, cardiovascular health, you know, everything as we all know. 

And so yeah, the foods that we're looking at with our TOGETHER Retreats and the Hope For Health retreats are really focused on this model of what Weston A. Price was finding and what the indigenous diet was looking like. So basically, what it does come down to was it was meat and vegetables essentially, you know, there was root vegetables, fish...seafoods, turtle, stingrays, those kinds of things.

Andrew: Yeah. 

Helen: Plus land animals so kangaroo, iguana all that kind of stuff. And there's yams and, of course, berries and the like, as well. But fruits, you know, are usually tart, not very sweet. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Helen: And few and far between relatively speaking. So, what we're doing with the retreats then is modeling that as much as possible. So, we're not just looking at bush foods, but also looking at what a kind of the bush food equivalents in the local shop, for example. So that it's accessible whether they've got access to bush foods or they've got access to the supermarket, what kind of foods are reflected in that? 

Andrew: I would have thought that would have been like a dichotomous thing there. 

Helen: Well, it means that when you're in a supermarket, you're choosing from the vegetable section and the meat section.

Andrew: Oh, I see what you mean.

Helen: You're leaving the bread and flour and the sugar aisles alone.

Andrew: Yeah. You go around the outside. Yeah.

Helen: Yeah, that's right. 

Andrew: Yeah. Okay, so one thing that I've always wondered about is when we're talking about subsistence, even survival cultures versus our convenient flabby couch potato culture, you know, the obvious thing here is exercise and movement. You look at the Blue Zones and every single one of them move they don't exercise, they move. How important is that combined with diet or is it the diet that is the star?

Helen: Okay, so obviously, yeah, it's a multi-pronged approach. So, yes, movement is definitely important. And we bring that into the retreats as well. So, at the moment, you know, we have exercise sessions every day and it is exercise sessions but we do encourage walking, and when we're in the community, we're encouraging, you know, hunting and going for bush foods and doing things that do bring movement into daily life. Walking around instead of driving and that kind of thing where possible. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Helen: But yeah, food does play such a huge cornerstone in this situation because what they currently have available to them, you know, knowledge-wise and resource-wise, you know, they just don't have the information about food that we take for granted, that we have, you know? Like Kama said before, if there was something that you ate, it was food and if it wasn't food, it was poison, you didn't eat it. Whereas we eat a lot of poisons, you know?

Andrew: Yeah.

Helen: And there's a big disconnect there, or a big gap in the knowledge there. And so, unfortunately, you know, a lot of the foods that we have introduced and brought in are highly addictive as well. So there is a lot of flour, there is a lot of sugar, you know, there is soft drink and those kinds of things. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Helen: So, yeah, those things need to be changed. 

Andrew: So Kama, I was going to ask you now, as a medical doctor, how dangerous is convenience? 

Kama: Goodness me. I guess.. I mean, very. I think, you know, in terms of that question about movement and food, like I think the experience we've seen in Arnhem Land really shows us that food is the foundation. Because without that, people are so utterly malnourished, they just don't have the energy to participate in activities. 

Andrew: Right, right. 

Kama: And once you're actually fueling your body in the right way, that is something that naturally flows on, you have energy and vitality so you start engaging in movement and activity in a more significant way. And it actually feels really wrong to be kind of at people to be moving when their body has no fuel. So I thoroughly believe that movement is important and a natural part of how we're supposed to be living but without the right fuel as a foundation, it's a crazy thing. And it's beautiful to see just what naturally changes when people are fueled correctly. 

And I think convenience is a huge part of what has driven us in the wrong direction. I mean, the Yolngu traditional diet is, you know, it's not an efficient way to be acquiring your food, it takes energy and effort. And that whole process is extremely life-giving and healthy but it's not quick. So, the fact that we have not valued that time to be invested in that way has really caused significant issues for us. And I think we often feel quite trapped within that convenience now because we've designed life in a way that means we don't have time to be preparing food, you know, in an adequate way. And so, it's a massive barrier to fueling our bodies the way they're designed to be fueled. 

Andrew: We really have come so far away from the natural human state, haven't we? 

Kama: Absolutely.

Helen: Yep. 

Andrew: And when you think about it, you know, what you mentioned that hunting for food, you know, acquiring food takes energy, and yet it's almost a part of the culture, it's part of the story. 

Kama: Well, I mean, that was life. And I mean, how simple is that? That, you know, the abundance to what nature's providing is all that there is and you're not having to put this lens on that’s saying, "Oh, there's people out there who are making food that's actually bad for us and shipping it to our community just to make money." And we have created a context which is so complicated because we actually have to screen for, you know, all the incorrect messages that we're being bombarded with and being fooled by. And you know, all the convenience issues that we've made it so hard because we've invented things that are damaging to us. And things were pretty simple when none of that was around. 

Andrew: I've got to ask, again, as a GP, how confrontational was your awakening to the work of Weston A. Price and basically giving up, you know, the standard Australian diet, if you like, the S.A.D diet?

Kama: That was very much a journey that was happening in my personal health story. And you know, I was desperately trying to find what my body needed in order to get through a pregnancy. And the information that kind of crossed my path about Weston A. Price was very compelling. And I guess, in medical school, I'd been taught to scrutinise journal articles for evidence-based medicine. But that's a frame which is actually so recent. And it was really amazing to kind of have my blinkers widened a bit that there was an entire history of people, you know, living in thriving health, well before the five food groups were invented. And you know, that they were not the things that were actually enshrined in nature. And to be amongst another culture who actually didn't know about the five food groups and had their own food groups, and there's not five of them. You know, it's just a wonderful, enlightening experience to realise, hey, there's another lens here, and a bigger picture. And I think it's important that, yeah, we're not looking at the evidence as something that's been invented in the last 50 or 100 years, but we're taking that full picture of human history and, yeah, there's so much to learn. 

And what I love about Weston A. Price’s work is that it is global, it takes you across… And to me, shows us that there's not one right way to eat, you know, these people groups ate so differently and so appropriately for the context that they were in and their environments. And it's I just think so powerful to pull back and look at the principles amongst those and that's a really...then that gives you tools that you can apply anywhere. And that's what we love about the work that we're doing is we're trying to teach people how you can apply that not just in the bush but in a store because that's just the reality that we're facing nowadays. And I think it's important to be pulling back to those principles. 

Andrew: You mentioned something there about, you know, different cultures eating, you know, a variety of different ways. Helen, can I ask you a question then? Do you find that one of the problems that we've got nowadays is that we're such a homogenous mix of cultures, that it's getting harder and harder to pick what is, you know, "the diet" for that person? 

Helen: Yeah, well, I think there's that certainly an aspect of it. And then as you said before, as well, we've just come so far away from, I can't remember your exact term, but basically, our natural state of being and our natural environment that there's so many other different factors involved too. Like, you know, we're living in cities that are not at all like our natural habitat. We've got light exposure that's not at all in sync with the rhythms of the sun. We've got environmental toxin exposure that we've never been exposed to before. 

So, there's so many new elements in the mix as well. And that will impact what is appropriate for us to eat at any given point in time as well. So, yeah, it gets confusing, and it can get very overwhelming. But I think, yeah, there's frameworks that we can use that kind of work for most people, most of the time. And then you have to do some tweaking and some testing to work out...and some trial and error as well, to work out what is appropriate for any given individual. 

Andrew: So, let's now look at the background context in remote indigenous communities, and how the Hope For Health project is working. It worked with a friend of yours, wasn't it, Kama?

Kama: Yeah. So I guess the context that we find in remote indigenous communities is, you know, I think we all hear a lot of statistics and we hear about this gap between the life expectancy of indigenous and non-indigenous people. But I guess the reality on the ground of that is really distressing. It's basically a context where funerals are constant. In a community like Elcho Island where I lived for eight years, you know, they generally try and just have one funeral on at a time. So that means you essentially end up with a backlog of funerals waiting to happen. 

Andrew: Whoa. 

Kama: So at any one time, often about six funerals that are in a backlog, and it can sometimes mean months before a family actually gets to go through that grieving process for someone who's died. And in that meantime, often more people in their family have died as well. So, the grief that people are kind of constantly living in is really massive. 

And it's not just the funerals, it's the constant ill health that people are experiencing themselves, as well as in family members. And the initial community development work that I was doing was much more about enterprise development and supporting people with, you know, their kind of dreams and visions that they wanted to develop themselves for their community. But we were just constantly being sideswiped by this health issue because anyone trying to do something for themselves was really struggling to have the health and vitality to do that. And it's kind of why we decided to sidestep and put our energy into this direction when this path unfolded. Because without that foundation, people really don't have the capacity to deal with really complex socioeconomic situations that their communities are faced in. And it leaves them very disempowered with other people coming in and making all sorts of decisions about what goes on. And, you know, I really am just passionate about giving people that foundation of health back so that they have that capacity to deal with the complex situations they find themselves in. 

Because it really...I mean, at the heart of what's going on in these remote communities, it's really a lack of control. And I guess that's a really significant part of the Hope For Health process is, you know, when you're disempowered, you don't generally believe that solutions are something within your realm. They're not something that you have control over because that's not the framework that you're in. So, people are not looking at these health issues as something that they have an ability to impact. So, they're really in the dark and not, you know, suspecting foods. 

So to show people through a lived experience that what you eat, which is a decision that you have control over, has such a massive impact over how you physically feel and your health, is a really empowering process that people can then carry into other realms in their life as well. Because they're realising that there's things that they can change, that they have the power to change. And that's certainly not a change that is easy or change that happens overnight. But once you've actually experienced that, you kind of can't un-experience that. You've lived the fact that your choices can make that impact. And that's a really important foundation of the whole work. 

Andrew: You know what I've just woken up to? And forgive my ignorance, but I've just woken up to the typical government approach to any...certainly, a health issue. And that is if there's a cliff, and people are falling off a cliff, common sense would say, "Build a barrier so that people don't fall off the cliff." But governments don't do that. They say, "Oh, we need more ambulances at the bottom of the cliff to take them to the hospital. And if there's more people falling off the cliff, well, we need more ambulances."

Kama: Yeah, it's even a step further back from that. That it's often easy to look at that situation and think, yeah, if we build a barrier that will prevent that. And often it's, you know, people frequently suggest things like, "Oh, we just need to ban soft drinks in these communities." And I guess the approach that we're coming from is that we need to give people information, not solutions. 

Andrew: Ahh, yeah. 

Kama: And that if we can actually give people the ability to understand that there's a cliff there, people are not wanting to fall off a cliff.

Andrew: Yes, you're right.

Kama: You know, once they have the information themselves, they're not going to fall off. And more than anything is really just that understanding of our mutual humanity. That more than anything, we all care about our kids, you know.

Andrew: Yeah.

Kama: That's really at the heart of both of our societies. And people don't want a sick, you know, toxic future for their kids. So, people are starved of information. And that's what we need to be focusing on is giving them the information and lived experience can make that information real so that people can come up with the solutions themselves and not just be, yeah, catching up the train wreck at the other end.

Andrew: Okay. But a question for you, Helen, is when you've got the choice and the empowerment of knowledge of their, you know, true foods, cultural foods, and then you've got the seduction of the sweet spot, you know, that we were so pointedly explained in That Sugar Film, and you've got these very convenient, nice foods that are very well-marketed. Indeed, they're marketed to be cool...

Helen: Yeah.

Andrew: ...you know, and somebody has a choice, how successful is empowering somebody to know about that choice?

Helen: Well, I think that's where the lived experience is so powerful. Because knowing something, in theory, doesn't quite have the same pull as a physical, felt experience. So again, that's one reason why I'm so such a big fan of retreats in general because people do have that lived experience and you can't unknow that. 

Andrew: Right. 

Helen: And I think a lot of the time people as well when they're making those choices, most people these days don't even realise that they don't feel great because, you know, we've become accustomed to feeling subpar and that being normal. Whereas when you get a taste of what it is to feel better, you're like, "Well, that is so much better than that little bit of, you know, short-term pleasure I got from..." whatever it is, you know, the convenience food or whatever.

And so, I think the other thing as well is tapping into people's ‘why’ and why care about it? You know, we're emotional beings and often need emotional reasons to make changes. It's one reason why parents will...you know, adults will often make changes once kids come along because they really care so much about either being there for their kids or their kids' health and wellbeing as well. 

But everybody has that...well, pretty much everybody, has that point, you just have to find it, you know, why it is important to them. And I think when you have the knowledge, and you have the experience, it empowers you to be able to see what's possible. And yeah, as Kama was saying, it gives you back that hope. That actually, I can make change, you know, I have the ability to affect how I feel and what my life experience is like. So yeah.

Andrew: Yeah. Kama, obviously, you know, I mean, when we're talking about change, we're talking about coming from somewhere bad to somewhere good and regaining something. Is it the case, though, that people need to learn the hard lessons and go, "Ooh, I didn't like that," or can we just entrench ‘the good,’ so that it becomes the new normal?

Kama: Well, I guess, you know, change is hard and that's a reality in any culture. I mean, it's certainly not the case in the dominant culture that people just get informed of the right way to do things and, you know, that's sufficient. 

And I guess, change is even more complex in a context like Arnhem Land. Because people are dealing with such complex socioeconomic conditions. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Kama: They're dealing with such phenomenal levels of grief and trauma and they're so under-resourced. So I guess any dominant culture person who makes the decision that they want to make a positive change has any myriad of resources that they can draw on, in-person, online, you know, resources all in their own language and, you know, ample access to those things and those options. And for Yolngu, this is totally new territory and there aren't resources in their language that can, you know, take them through that journey. 

And you know, we're trying to train up a team of local health coaches who can be supporting our participants through that journey of making change. But it's very much new territory. Of working out, what is it that people need access to, to overcome the obstacle to making that change? 

But, you know, it's a natural part of that process to fall off the wagon. And I think that can be a really powerful part of that process as well. Because, you know, you can't...you know, it doesn't work if you've gone to a retreat and you think that's a magical fix. That, you know, you need to go through that process of saying, "When I eat the right foods, this is the result. When I go back to eating the wrong food, that result is reversed and this is where I end up." 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Kama: And that's what really makes it a choice is when you've actually had that process of seeing the cause and effect. And that's a really powerful part of the process. 

So all of our participants go off track at various times. And, you know, as a project, we try and hold space, that there is that pathway there, and there is support there, and people are really motivated to get back on track.

Andrew: I’ve got to say, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I've had my own little...just a weight loss journey, if you like, and I was going to make the #notasfat. 

But Helen, I was going to ask a serious question, though, about the medico-political machine that goes on. Are they listening? Do you have data that you can show them to go, "Look, you numpties, there's something here that's happening, and it's real, and we can show, we can prove results, why are you not listening?" Or, "Can you listen?" Are they listening? What do they need to do? What do they need to change?

Kama: There's a lot of layers to that. And I guess, you know, there's a lot of complexity to accessing funding. 

Andrew: Sure. 

Kama: And unfortunately, it's not as simple as something being effective. And, you know, we're definitely a program that doesn't fit boxes conveniently. So we are definitely working hard to gather data and put things in a research framework that can be speaking that same language that authorities like to hear. Because people don't generally like to hear that, you know, we've empowered a group of people to have hope and vitality, you know? 

Andrew: Yeah.

Kama: Although that's a very real and powerful thing that is really tangible. But the great thing about health is that health is so tangible, you know, there are lots of things that we can measure. So we can show what happens to people's blood sugar, we can show what happens to people’s weight, and we can put solid data behind that. 

Andrew: Yep. 

Kama: So we're definitely working to put that in place to be to able to speak that language. And yeah, a lot of it is about having the time and resources to be able to do that. And so, we're definitely always trying to do far too much with far too little. But you know, that's kind of the way it's going to stay I think because this is a massive, massive issue. And yeah, we are throwing everything we can at it.

Andrew: Well, and we need help, we'll talk about that in a tick. But I firstly, I just want to touch on what are TOGETHER retreats? Now, I've got to say, I clicked on the website and I was enamoured by there that something that looked like a hongi from New Zealand, the touching of the forehead and the nose, like the greeting.

Kama: So that's actually what that was. It was Nicola Robinson Evans, who is from New Zealand, who came to Arnhem Land and was able to have that cross-cultural experience with them.

Andrew: Right. 

Kama: And be adopted into Yolngu family. Yeah, that was a beautiful cultural exchange there that was captured. 

Andrew: Wow. Just before we get to how we can contribute because I think this is critical and we really need to step up and help you guys, but what are TOGETHER Retreats?

Helen: TOGETHER Retreat is an opportunity for indigenous and non-indigenous to come together to heal basically, that's the short version of it, on all levels. 

Because I think, you know, we've been talking a lot today about what the challenges are in Yolngu culture. But we haven't really touched so much on what the challenges are in dominant culture. And we have many of the same challenges in different ways. And we have other challenges as well. So we also have challenges of high rates of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and kidney disease and cancer. So, these things are going on in both cultures. We need to be able to address this as well. 

We also have kind of this epidemic of disconnection, right? We live in this very kind of insular societies in dominant culture where we're all connected to our technology, but not so much to each other, and not so much to our community or to nature, or to the earth. And so what we are finding is that each cultural group, you know, Yolngu and dominant culture, we each have things that the other actually needs to heal. So, the only way for us to all really heal is to come together to do that. And that is what TOGETHER Retreats is about. 

So healing, it is a health retreat so yes, we're focusing on food and movement and that kind of thing. But it's also about healing that cultural gap, coming together, connecting with each other. It's about healing on emotional and mental levels, as well.

Andrew: Oh, yes. 

Helen: And looking at our behaviours and our triggers and how we interact, you know, with ourselves and each other. So, yeah, we really need to come together to be able to heal. And as I said, each culture has what the other is needing.

Andrew: Okay, so how can we contribute, guys? Kama, I'm going to ask this of you.

Kama: Sure. So I guess, you know, the biggest privilege of this work is that we've been able to bring people along in this journey. Like I, the first time I was reaching out to people to support this work that was really hard and scary. And I've found it just mind-blowing, how many people want to contribute to the indigenous health crisis, and just don't know how. And how little good news there is out there. So it's so wonderful that we really do have hope. And we really do have a pathway that is positive and making a really powerful impact, and it's one that people can contribute to. And without people's contributions, it would not be alive. 

So it has literally been from individual donors that we have been able to stay alive and do what we're doing and see it grow to where it's grown so far. So we are just blown away that people are coming on this journey with us and seeing this expand and develop. So we're always just thrilled when people feel like they can contribute in that way. So we are a charity with tax-deductible status, so people can make tax-deductible donations to support our work. And that really makes a powerful impact where we're in a position where every donation is felt and received with great gratitude. 

We have other opportunities for people to get involved. We do have volunteer positions, not often enough to meet the interest in demand, but our retreats are quite dependent on volunteer practitioners in order to run. And yeah, people following us on social media will hear about those opportunities as they come about. 

And obviously, people diving in and participating in a TOGETHER Retreat is another way that people can contribute and really have a life changing experience themselves whilst also paying that forward to sponsor a Yolngu participant. So yeah. 

Andrew: Ah, brilliant, yes.

Kama: So yeah, that's the model, that's how it works. So yeah, we really want people on that journey with us. 

Andrew: And the journey shall happen. So where can we find out more? And how exactly do people get involved?

Kama: So, jump on the website hopeforhealth.com.au or at togetherretreat.com.au.

Andrew: Either of those will get to you, and obviously, you can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram?

Kama: Absolutely.

Andrew: Absolutely.

Helen: Yeah. Instagram and Facebook, and share as much as possible. That's another way that people can help is just getting the word out there and the message out there, that would be amazing.

Andrew: I hope you are going to be deluged with interest from this. You know, I got to say...

Kama: I hope so too. 

Andrew: I wish I had a hat right now because I would certainly take it off. Thank...you guys are awesome. Well done, Kama and Helen, for your interest in participation in this and bring it to the fore, you guys are just incredible. And well done on your work. I just, I can't thank you enough, brilliant, brilliant stuff.

Together: Thank you very much, Andrew.

Andrew: This is FX Medicine, I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook.


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