Authors: Caroline Nilson, Catherine Fetherston, Paul Morrison, Sharree Kearing
This article discusses the experiences of a group of Australian Aboriginal yorgas (women) in a regional setting in south west Western Australia, who participated in the group fitness and walking group component of the Binjareb Yorgas Health Program (BYHP). The BYHP was community owned and collaboratively developed and facilitated with non-Indigenous health professional researchers from September 2012 to September 2013. The study used an ethnographic action research approach guided by the Making Two Worlds Work Aboriginal health promotion framework and aimed to explore the ways in which the BYHP facilitated lifestyle changes. The group fitness and the walking group aimed to provide a culturally appropriate platform for the development of new skills and knowledge regarding the implementation and importance of regular exercise to maintain personal and family wellbeing. Seventeen yorga participants aged between 18 and 60 years consented to participate in the BYHP, which comprised cooking and nutrition classes, group fitness classes, walking group sessions, and a community vegetable garden project. The group fitness classes and the walking group classes were facilitated weekly during the school terms for the period of the study. Data were gathered in the form of participant and direct observation, group yarning (focus group) and individual yarning (interview) sessions, and works of art. Four major themes emerged: loss of traditional knowledge and practices; withdrawal due to shame; community facilitation enabling enjoyment in engagement; and experiencing a sense of place and reconnection to land and culture.
Keywords: Australian Aboriginal physical activity; Australian Aboriginal community health promotion; Aboriginal health; Physical activity; Group fitness; Community health promotion