Mareeba Men’s Camp Story

Senior kuku Muluridji traditional owners and men and youth gathered on country outside of Mareeba  to participate in cultural and health activities over the 5 days. Camping on Country is a national remote Aboriginal men’s health and culture program headed by our Chairman Ernie Dingo.

Mulungu Aboriginal Health Service attended and did health checks for our men. Doctor Derek Chong, Queensland’s first psychiatrist, attended and did a special workshop on trauma and healing.

35 men and 9 youth attended over the five days and much time was spent making traditional boomerangs, coolamon, spears, stone knives, social emotional wellbeing yarns, hunting and traditional earth cooking, fishing, dancing, singing and healthy eating and health checks under the shady trees.

Culture is at the centre of Camping on Country but the men also received health checks and flu shots at the camp with the medical team attending on one of the days. The men felt culturally safe and were relaxed about getting their health checks.

“These camps make our men feel safe. And when you feel safe you allow yourself to be creative and feel life’s purpose more. We are all here for a reason and when we find our purpose we live a meaningful life. Simple things like yarning around the fire, connecting as men, practicing culture on country help us connect to ourselves and each other. That’s why Camping on Country works.” Dr Derek Chong

Social and emotional wellbeing yarns happened around the fire each morning and were facilitated by Camping on Country Ambassador Ernie Dingo and Lomas Amini. “When we put the Lore bosses up the top and recognise them as the experts in their own community positive change happens. These men are the only ones who can close the gap on their own health. These elders here have the solutions and we are here to help give the men a voice so they can be heard.”

One of the important outcomes from the camp was the identified need for more Camping on Country in Mareeba and Cape York communities, especially for the younger men. Senior men identified this as a priority. We are now looking at ways of putting a Camping on Country Hub in Mareeba with local men managing the camps.

Congratulations to Jason Leon and the Mulungu Health team who helped us pull all this together.

Camping on Country is managed by BushTV Enterprises and is funded through the Commonwealth’s Department of Health.

We acknowledge the support of the Hon Ken Wyatt AM Minister for Indigenous Australians.

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