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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.

1min 36sec

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

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: English
Year: 7-8
Theme: Indigenous Work

Key Concepts

Health; Culture: Hero

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Everyday texts – Language: Contextual understanding
NSW:(2003 Syllabus) Stage 4 Outcome 4, Outcome 10
NT:R/V 4.1 – 4.3
Qld:Cu 5.2
SA:Texts and contexts 4.3
Tas:Communicating – Being literate, Standard 4
Vic:Reading – Texts 5.7
WA:Understanding Language
Attitudes, values and beliefs

Context / 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.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What does the video clip show?
  2. Why do you think Aboriginal people may be afraid of non-Indigenous health services.
  3. What is traditional bush medicine?
  4. How important is the need for health services in remote Aboriginal communities?
  5. What is Joan Winch trying to do?
  6. Why is this important?
  7. What is your attitude or reaction to her?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Imagine that Joan Winch is coming to visit your class. You can ask her five questions. What will they be?
  2. Is Joan Winch a ‘hero’? Decide what a hero is, and then see if she fits your criteria for the characteristics of a hero.

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 7-8, English Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10