Life Saving Health Information in Language!

Our goal…
Why Warriors is looking to team up with like-minded people in Australia and around the world to develop health education resources for Yolngu people, the Aboriginal people of north east Arnhem Land that deliver real results by empowering them with information they can understand and value.  

Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM and Senior Yolngu Clan Leader is exhausted by the death rate of his people from preventable diseases such as diabetes, renal failure, heart disease and cancers. The death rate of Aboriginal people from diabetes is over 5 times as high than that of English-speaking Australians. 

Mainstream English communication just does not work for Yolngu and many other Aboriginal groups. This is especially so for traditional First Nations people who speak English as a fifth or sixth language.

Why Warriors have a discovery education model that works. Sadly because this is approach is vastly different from the mainstream way, because it comes from a Yolngu worldview, we find it extremely difficult to get government funding. 

Our success…
Renowned Yolngu elder Witiyana Marika, star of High Ground and last remaining founding member of the Yothu Yindi band, has just had another successful operation this month for his Rheumatic Heart Disease condition. 

In a phone conversation with Richard Trudgen, founder and community educator with Why Warriors, Witiyana said, “Thank you, brother, for giving me the information I needed to understand Rheumatic Heart Disease. You have kept me alive”. 

After discovery education with Richard, Witiyana started taking oral antibiotics to protect himself and underwent his first valve operation eight years ago. Since then, he has complied with all medical instructions from specialists, including the request to have a second valve replacement due to valve shrinkage. Even though he had no symptoms, he underwent the operation, understanding the need to have a proper operating heart valve.

All of this was possible because he had good biomedical education in his language around Rheumatic Heart Disease. He became empowered to control his own life.

Our reason…
Many Yolngu people in remote Arnhem Land do not have enough information to understand their medical conditions. This is why most do not attend their appointments or take their medication, and it is also why so many of them die early. This lack of information leaves them frightened, confused and in a state of hopelessness.

Richard Trudgen has had over four decades of health education in the local Aboriginal language. He has also developed a Rheumatic Heart Disease storyline that makes real sense to Yolngu people. He has used this education in many sessions, including with Witiyana. Witiyana credits this information with “saving my life”. He wants to team up with Why Warriors to make this storyline and other vital health information available to thousands of Yolngu people via online videos.

With help, Why Warriors can create culturally appropriate answers to people's questions about Rheumatic Heart Disease and other chronic diseases, empowering people with the knowledge that will keep them alive.  

Our history…
Why Warriors has worked with Yolngu people, creating resources (videos, podcasts, online learning) to answer their questions, giving them access to vital information in their own language. Our Yolngu Online Learning Centre, Djambatjmarram has over 1000 education resources, from health podcasts to business information and English language learning. Over the past three years, we produced a video series to answer Yolngu people's questions about Covid-19 that resulted in higher vaccination uptake where they were used. 

We are currently producing a series of cross cultural health videos to improve their understanding of the meaning of chronic disease.

With your help, we can produce biomedical information in a way that makes sense to people from within their own cultural understanding. This is the only way to effectively give people the information they need so they can keep themselves and their children safe in the future. We can only achieve this with your support. 


Who we are:
The Founder and Director of Why Warriors, Richard Trudgen, is a community educator and author who has lived and worked with the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land for over 40 years, learning their language and customs. Richard authored the seminal book, Why Warriors Lie Down and Die, and works passionately and tirelessly together with his local Yolngu community to increase mutual understanding and respect between Balanda (English-speaking Australians) and Yolngu.

Richard works with a Yolngu team, including Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM, senior political leader of the Gulamala clan; Maratja Dhamarrandji from Djambarrpuyngu clan; Witiyana Marika, senior elder of the Rirratjiŋu Clan and co-founder of the legendary rock band Yothu Yindi; and Dianne (Biritjalawu) Gondarra, a Yolngu leader from Elcho Island; to develop these resources in the Yolngu Matha language.

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Richard Trudgen 
Gapuwiyak NT