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Indigenous Health Workers

Video clip synopsis – Indigenous people, particularly those from remote communities, fear seeking medical attention. Joan Winch, an Indigenous health professional, set up a health worker training college for Indigenous health workers.
Year of production - 2003
Duration - 1min 36sec
Tags - health, identity, indigenous cultures, see all tags

play Warning - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should exercise caution when watching this program as it may contain images of deceased persons.

Indigenous Health Workers

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About the Video Clip


Indigenous Health Workers is an excerpt from the program Joan Winch (26 mins), an episode of Australian Biography Series 9 (7 × 26 minutes), produced in 2003.

Joan Winch: Nurse, midwife, academic, educator… Joan Winch has overcome numerous professional and personal hurdles to make an extraordinary contribution to Aboriginal health. The innovative and internationally acclaimed education programs that she has established focus on preventative and holistic medicine and community participation, integrating Indigenous practices and values. In this interview, she talks about her work and philosophies, the discrimination experienced by her family and her people, and her own journey from isolation and loss to a sense of purpose and spiritual awakening.

Australian Biography Series 9: The Australian Biography series profiles some of the most extraordinary Australians of our time. Many have had a major impact on the nation’s cultural, political and social life. All are remarkable and inspiring people who have reached a stage in their lives where they can look back and reflect. Through revealing in-depth interviews, they share their stories – of beginnings and challenges, landmarks and turning points. In so doing, they provide us with an invaluable archival record and a unique perspective on the roads we, as a country, have travelled.

Australian Biography Series 9 is a Film Australia National Interest Program.

Curriculum Focus


This digital resource can be used to achieve the following outcomes:
H.1 A student demonstrates understanding of how relationships between composer, responder, text and context shape meaning.
H.2 A student describes and explains different relationships among texts.
H.3 A student demonstrates understanding of cultural reference in texts.
H.5 A student demonstrates understanding of how audience and purpose affect the language and structure of texts.
H.6 A student interprets texts using key language patterns and structural features.
H.9 A student engages with the details of text in order to develop a considered and informed personal response.

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.

Background Information


In many remote Aboriginal communities there has been a failure in delivery of health and education services. Part of this has been the inappropriateness of the services as delivered by non-Indigenous people who have not been accepted by the Indigenous people of the community. Many Aboriginal people living in remote communities are afraid of hospitals and western medicine. An alternative medical solution has been to develop culturally-sensitive programs by Indigenous people for Indigenous people. This has meant that many of the programs have had to be re-structured in line with the degree of training appropriate to the Indigenous deliverers of the programs

Classroom Activities

    1. Write a 50-word summary of the video clip starting with, ‘This video clip is about’.... Include the message of the video clip and an explanation of ‘Good hands’.
    2. Imagine that Joan Winch is coming to visit your class. You can ask her five questions. What will they be?
    3. Is Joan Winch a ‘hero’? Decide what a hero is, and then see if she fits your criteria for the characteristics of a hero.
    1. List the reasons Joan Winch gives to explain why Aboriginal people may be afraid of non-indigenous health services.
    2. Write a brief explanation of the term, ‘traditional bush medicine’.
  1. Discuss and write answers for the following questions.
    1. What is Joan Winch trying to do?
    2. How important is the need for health services in remote Aboriginal communities?

Literacy Activity: Focus= Listening / Analysing

  1. What was the ‘big leap forward’? (1 mark)
  2. Why are we shown a class being taught in this clip? (1 mark)
  3. What is the purpose of having people from the local community involved in this project? (1 mark)
  4. What does ‘Marr Mooditj’ mean and why is this important for the workers? (2 marks)