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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: SOSE/HSIE
Year: 9-10
Strand: Culture
Theme: Indigenous Work

Key Concepts

Health; Culture: Hero

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Studies of society and environment, Culture
NSW:7-10 History Stage 4 Topic 3
NT:Social systems and structures, Band 5: Soc5.2, 5+.2
Qld:1-10 Studies of society and environment, Culture and identity CI5.1
SA:Societies and culture 5.8, 5.9
Tas:Social responsibility — Understanding the past and creating preferred futures
Vic:7-10 History Level 4: SOHI 0401
WA:Society and Environment, Culture

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. What is Joan Winch’s role?
  3. What is your attitude or reaction to her?
  4. How does the filmmaker influence your reaction to her?
  5. Would you describe Joan Winch as a ‘hero’? Set out your definition, and see if it applies to her.

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Joan Winch stresses the philosophy that health and other services available to Indigenous people need to be delivered by Indigenous people, and that they can be less academic, and more practical and ‘hands-on’. Do you agree with this approach? Or might it result in the delivery of services that are different to those available to non-Indigenous people?
  2. Research the most recent census statistics about the distribution of Aboriginal people in Australia. Prepare a map or diagram showing your main findings.
  3. Culturally sensitive issues exist in many communities. For example, many women prefer to go to male doctors; there are strict rules about male teachers cuddling young kids in kindergartens or primary schools. Research some other culturally sensitive issues that might exist in different Australian groups. Remember that this research and the way you present it will also require cultural sensitivity from you.

Modules That Use This Clip

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