Murray volunteer inspired by Aboriginal people

VOLUNTEERING with Aboriginal people inspired a Mandurah mother to do a PhD on the subject.

Three years ago, Caroline Nilson, a registered nurse and midwife was approached by the Murray District Aboriginal Association to help run a health and wellbeing program in the community.

She began a cooking class, named the Deadly Koolinga Chefs, for children and due to its success a similar program was created for women, called the Deadly Yorgas Health Program.

“It developed into more than just cooking,” Ms Nilson said.

“The women said ‘What about fitness? What about yarning’ and it grew into a multi-faceted program; a holistic program of wellbeing.”

Ms Nilson realised early on that the program should be recorded in the hope it would become a blueprint for other Aboriginal communities.

It was at this point she decided to apply for a PhD scholarship at Murdoch University to record the group’s progress.

Now with two cooking classes – one for women and one for children – various fitness groups, an art class, a community vegetable garden and a walking group which goes through the traditional native land of the community, Ms Nilson is busy as ever.

The next step is to develop systems to help the community and make the program sustainable.

Ms Nilson said the Indigenous communities she worked with “welcomed the change for future generations”.

 “I don’t want to leave an empty path; the path leads to something and will be sustainable,” she said.

“I don’t think I’ll ever not be involved.”

Caroline Nilson with an art piece created as part of her Aboriginal health and wellbeing program.

Caroline Nilson with an art piece created as part of her Aboriginal health and wellbeing program.

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