Issue 10
Monday, 02 December 2019
Charles Darwin University
Indigenous Knowledges Lecturer Yasunori Hayashi
Indigenous Knowledges Lecturer Yasunori Hayashi

Brevity the key to understanding Yolngu culture

CDU is helping Top End doctors and nurses improve their understanding of Yolngu language and culture with a series of short workshops at Royal Darwin Hospital.

Indigenous Knowledges Lecturer Yasunori Hayashi said the weekly workshops were just 10 minutes in duration.

“Ten minutes may not sound like much time to unpack the vastness of Yolngu Aboriginal knowledge, yet we find that by administering things in small doses and in the right manner is highly effective,” Mr Hayashi said.

“Our clients are particularly busy people, but they can spare 10 minutes a week to invest in their cultural and language competency before returning to their regular schedules.”

Mr Hayashi said the 20-week program “Language and culture can bring about change” was being co-delivered by the hospital’s paediatric department and CDU’s College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society’s Yolngu Studies Centre.

“We focus on just one cultural protocol at a time,” he said. 

“It makes a big difference when a medical professional pronounces the name of a place correctly or greets a patient with appropriate cultural protocols.

“There is a strong expectation that this program will improve the cultural environment between hospital staff, Aboriginal patients and their families.”

Mr Hayashi said that doctors and nurses from paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology and from the renal outreach team had participated in the workshops, which began in early October.

“We thank Dr Katherine Roberts, Dr Te Aro Moxon, and Mangatjay, the first Yolngu doctor, for having initiated this competency program.”

He said the program and its outcomes would be reviewed at the end of the year.