Ya Gotta Wash Ya Face To Come To My Place

Project Overview

One of PHAIWA’s jobs is to travel to remote Aboriginal communities and provide training to Aboriginal Environmental Health Workers on how to better deliver messages to their communities. These Workers, who are at the coal face of their community are critical in ensuring basic levels of public and environmental health. The courses we deliver are skills based and run for two days. As there are often some issues with literacy, the courses are more about yarning and demonstrating than the more traditional and didactic styles. In each course the AEHWs work in groups to develop a community program based on need, come up with their key message and then develop a basic plan to address the issue. For more information on these courses read this article.

At the Halls Creek workshop, we had a group of AEHWs from Kununurra come up with a brilliant key message – You gotta wash your face to come to my place. The idea of this program was to target young adults who are looking for a partner or a bit of romance. The key aim was to increase personal hygiene and provide sexual health education. It was considered that if the young people looked clean and healthy, they would be more likely to get a date.

Getting Your Messages Out to Remote Communities was a workshop program for Aboriginal Environmental Health Workers (AEHWs) in Western Australia (WA), which aimed to transfer a range of skills and strategies needed to deliver environmental and public health messages to community members and organisations.

The community that was targeted for program was Kalumburu. Now you can’t get much more remote that this community which is the northernmost settlement in Western Australia, located off the Gibb River Road, 550 kilometres from Kununurra. There are about 450 people living there.

The AEHWs who had come up with the idea, led by Tim Bond and Clayton Bell, went back to Kalumburu and had a number of conversations about the idea. The community accepted this and the planning commenced. Often when you run a workshop and the participants head home with an idea, you don’t hear anything more. But not this project. Although the basic concept was developed at the workshop, it evolved further with the assistance of Kimberley Population Health Unit team and the Shire of Derby, and was worked up into a full proposal and submitted to, and successfully funded by the West Australian Primary Health Alliance.

The campaign message remained the same as was developed in the workshop. “You gotta wash your face to come to my place” aimed to encourage sex appeal and personal grooming to the young men, in order to attract female attention. The Kimberley Public Health Unit came up with a range of activities to take place over the course of a week, including pampering sessions, makeover classes, school competition for poster design and the No Germs on Me jumping castle, a local fishing expedition with the men to provide informal environment and health education, and a final community dinner that celebrates the week, with live music, food and dance.

PHAIWA’s specific role leading up to the week-long program was to organise clothes to be donated to enable the community members to wear a smart casual outfit to the community dinner. We were overwhelmed by the donations including a gift card donation from Target.

After many months of planning and the allocation of tasks, a collaborative team from PHAIWA, Kimberley Population Health Unit (Broome and Kununurra) and Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation, along with some Broome hairdressers, Kununurra musicians and Ningali Lawford-Wolf (Bran Nue Day, Rabbit Proof Fence, Last Cab to Darwin) all headed to Kalumburu for the week-long program.

Rather than tell the story from here, we thought we would use photos instead. Check out the photos below. You can also see a PowerPoint presentation of this event here: Kalumburu Environmental Health Community Event 2017.

We are heading back to run the program 27 – 31 August 2018! The program has flourished for 2018 with many more options for the community members … and we are excited to have Dave Pigram and some of his family join us to provide the entertainment for the community dinner.