Young Doctors learn healthy lessons

Barrack Heights Public School Ngargin Doctors project leader Troy Tungai (centre) with graduating students Lucas Simmons-Barnett, Dakoda Callaghan, Jai Russell, Jorja Ricards, Colleen Callaghan and Tenielle Lenartowitz. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Barrack Heights Public School Ngargin Doctors project leader Troy Tungai (centre) with graduating students Lucas Simmons-Barnett, Dakoda Callaghan, Jai Russell, Jorja Ricards, Colleen Callaghan and Tenielle Lenartowitz. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

A group of Young Doctors from Barrack Heights will now give their peers lessons in the art of nose-blowing, hand-washing and sneezing.

The year 3 and 4 students, from Barrack Heights Public School, are the latest to graduate from an innovative health leadership program aimed at indigenous children.

The Ngargin Doctors program - which means young doctors in the local indigenous language - aims to tackle long-term poor health in indigenous communities by educating young leaders.

At Barrack Heights, both indigenous and non-indigenous students participated in the 10-week course at which they were given basic lessons in health and hygiene. The children also took part in a field trip where Aboriginal knowledge keeper Anthony "Spud" Moore taught them about bush medicine and traditional cures for sunburn and stomach aches.

Project leader Troy Tungai said Barrack Heights was the third location to trial the program, after Alice Springs and Kempsey.

"The program features five themes - nutrition, leadership, health literacy, environmental health and hygiene," he said. "We've received great feedback from the students who are talking to other kids as well as their families about what they've learned.

"It might seem basic but many of the kids didn't know how to blow their noses properly, or that they needed to wash their hands after playing with animals and so on."

Mr Tungai said the sessions at the school and in the bush were filmed for a segment for SBS News about the program, run by the Malpa Project.

The group of 12 students graduated as Young Doctors on Tuesday while another group will soon start the program.

They are among about 400 to be trained in NSW, Victoria and the Northern Territory this year.

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