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One Successful Aboriginal Health Worker: A Case Study

  • Year: 2001
  • Author: Guyula, Terrence Ritharrmiwuy
  • Journal Name: Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal
  • Journal Number: Vol. 25, No. 6
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: Northern Territory

Gapuwiyak is a region surrounding a large fresh water lake in the remote district of East Arnhem Land. The community today is about 11 hours by road from Darwin and 3 hours from the mining town of Nhulunbuy. Roads in and out are dirt and so access in the wet season is mainly by air and freight barge. It was traditionally a meeting place for different tribes. In 1969, the Methodist Church established an Outstation there based around a sawmill to pro-vide the district with timber for housing. From those beginnings, Gapuwiyak has grown into a central community of about 800 people - which services several outstations that accommodate another 200. The people of Gapuwiyak are part of the Yolngu group of tribes. They all speak their original languages and have a rich culture of hunting, dancing, songs, bark painting and basket weaving. Like all Indigenous communities today, Gapuwiyak faces many difficult challenges. These include problems with education, petrol sniffing, overcrowded housing, unemployment and high disease levels. The Yolngu leaders of Gapuwiyak are working hard though to find solutions to these problems and to find ways of being proudly Yolngu in a rapidly changing modern world.

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