Can We Help? Community Finder

Ngaalang Moort Dointj-Dointj Koorliny Waanga Waangkaniny

(our) (families) (together) (coming) (stories) (talking)


Collaboration and consultation between Caroline Nilson from Murdoch University School of Health Professions (MUSOHP) and key women Leaders and Elders of the Murray District Aboriginal Association (MDAA) has led to the development of the ‘Bindjareb Yorgas Health Program’ (BYHP) and the ‘Deadly Koolinga Chefs Program’ (DKCP). These programs specifically address the Pinjarra Bindjareb women’s concerns regarding health issues in their community and are aimed at developing knowledge and skills to improve health and wellbeing.

The BYHP is currently running and has received funding from the Australian Government Swap-it-Don’t-Stop-it campaign and Ngulluk Koolbaang funding from the Government of Western Australia Department of Health, North Metropolitan Public Health Unit and the South Metropolitan Public Health Unit. It is anticipated that the DKCP will recommence in March /April 2013.

The BYHP engages 10-15 Bindjareb women and offers a weekly Zumba class, a weekly cooking and nutrition class, a weekly health informatics yarning class and a weekly walking group. The DKCP engages Bindjareb children aged 11 and 12 years in a nutrition and cooking adventure, where they learn how to plan, shop for and prepare a healthy meal for four. Each week the children took home their prepared meals, together with their new skills and knowledge, to share with their family.

Currently, both programs are delivered from the MOASH community building situated on the grounds of the Pinjarra Primary School. A project is underway to refurbish the Pinjarra Bindjareb Community Centre (Centre), and it is anticipated that both programs will run from the Centre to provide continued community involvement and engagement which will have a positive impact the health and well-being of the Pinjarra Bindjareb community. In addition, a community vegetable garden is being established at the Centre, which is being supported by Greening Australia and Fairbridge Training WA. The garden will provide fresh produce for the cooking programs and to the Bindjareb community to assist with food insecurity.

Both programs are jointly coordinated by Caroline Nilson, who is a Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife, Lecturer and PhD student and Karrie-Anne Kearing, a Bindjareb women Leader from the MDAA.

The Art Project

The aims of the BYHP and DKCP is to create a supportive environment to encourage participation, encourage communication and relationship building, to develop personal skills in achieving and maintaining wellness and to strengthen community actions by facilitating community ownership and leadership. Through art, the women and children will share their personal experiences of being involved in the programs, which will aid in the expression of the Pinjarra Bindjareb community’s collective identity and will communicate their stories across many cultures, to a range of audiences.

Art works painted by the women and children will be displayed for public viewing in an exhibition to be held in August 2013 at the Centre for Contemporary Art; INQB8 in Mandurah, Western Australia. The painting workshops commenced in mid-April, 2013 and concluded at the end of May, 2013. The workshops were facilitated by Gloria Kearing, a well-respected Bindjareb woman artist and coordinated by Karrie-Anne Kearing and Caroline Nilson. This will be made possible with funding from Community Arts Network WA and the City of Mandurah who through INQB8 provided an in-kind marketing and administration package.

The art workshops and exhibition:

Provides the participants of the DYHP and the DKCP with an opportunity for personal expression, enjoyment, creative action, imagination, emotional response, aesthetic pleasure and the creation of shared meanings, within their cultural context.

  • Enables each participant to develop their own kind of symbol system or language to portray their feelings and beliefs about their experiences during the programs. The participants developed knowledge of and learnt to ‘read’ the conventions of the symbol systems used in their work and use them to communicate and exchange ideas about their views, experiences, values and beliefs.
  • Assists the participants to appreciate their own artworks and those of others and to recognise the roles of artists and how their experiences and new knowledge can be interpreted through art.
  • Provides the participants with an opportunity to explore different techniques and to use tools to provide valuable ways to develop further skills and think more about their own representational activity.
  • Assists the participants to make connections between how they interpret the subject matter and their culture and how their ideas are developed using particular techniques (e.g. by using washes of colour or bold abstract shapes of colour).
  • Supports the development of self-awareness, self-development and community connectedness through participation and engagement.

As Aboriginal art is used to convey different kinds of storytelling and is an important link to disseminating important knowledge of an aboriginal society, this method is considered meaningful to cultural information sharing. Moreover, it is important that the innovative approach taken here will also lead to embedded stories in the local cultural group, around the processes and outcomes; a re-telling of the narrative of the project (de Mello, 2007). This ensures that positive stories can be told many times over with different groups of people and the potential influence of the project is on-going and leading to changes in peoples’ lives (Keen & Todres, 2007; Wingard & Lester, 2001). 



de Mello, D. (2007). The language of arts in a narrative inquiry landscape. In D. Clandinin (Ed.), Handbook of narrative inquiry: mapping a methodology (203-223). California: Sage Publications.
Keen, S., & Todres, l. (2007). Strategies for disseminating qualitative research findings: three exemplars. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8(3), Art. 17. Retrieved from
Wingard, B., & Lester, J. (2001). Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger. Adelaide: Dulwich Centre Publications Wilson, S. (2008). Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Fernwood Publishing