Monday, 21 May 2018
For the first time in its 13-year history, EON Foundation has expanded its successful EON Thriving Communities Program to the Northern Territory.
The health and disease prevention program is being implemented in the three remote Aboriginal communities on Groote Eylandt, thanks to an invitation and funding from the Traditional Owners and Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC).
The island’s schools, children and families of Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra are working with EON’s new Program Manager, Clancy Hearps, who moved to the island in April.
Under the five-year program, the children and their families will participate in fortnightly classes in how to grow, prepare, cook and eat healthy food and learn the vital link between good nutrition and disease prevention.
EON Chair, Caroline de Mori, congratulated the ALC for initiating the program to improve the residents’ health, Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island Enterprises (GEBIE) for providing the funding and the community schools and community members for their enthusiasm.
“This is the first time in our 13-year history that we have been funded by a land council. During my many visits to the island, residents said how concerned they are about the current high levels of nutrition-related diseases, including Type II diabetes, early death and food insecurity. They are now taking matters into their own hands by partnering with EON to ensure there is sufficient good food available and that the link to better health is well understood and built into their daily lives.”
“Children cannot learn and stay engaged at school if they cannot hear, are malnourished and constantly fighting infections” said Ms de Mori. “By improving nutrition, we give them the chance to grow up healthy, thrive at school and to participate effectively in the workforce later on”.
Ms de Mori said demand continues to grow for the ‘invitation-only’ Program with more than 20 communities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia on its waiting list. EON is working to secure further funding so that it can meet demand.
“We only partner with a community to establish the program when invited by the Elders and school. It’s our practical, collaborative approach that is the key to the success of the program,” she said.
GEBIE Group CEO, Corallie Ferguson, is thrilled with the start of the Program. “EON has been long admired on the Groote Archipelago and we are fully invested in supporting this major, five-year Nutrition Program in Schools. Clancy is already well ahead in making positive changes with the Schools, the children and their parents and we look forward to supporting her into the future.”
In the second half of 2018, EON will also for the first time establish its program in the Murchison region of Western Australia.
EON Thriving Communities Program is a practical, hands-on gardening, nutrition education, cooking and hygiene program, developed in partnership with remote communities and schools and based around developing large fruit, vegetable and bush tucker gardens.
Poor nutrition accounts for 19% of the Aboriginal health gap. 95% of Aboriginal children have an inadequate daily intake of fruit and vegetables and suffer nutritional anaemia and malnutrition at 30 times the rate of non-Aboriginal children with an 18-times higher rate of childhood diabetes. Middle ear disease is so high that over 70% of children start school with some degree of permanent hearing loss.
The Program operates strictly by invitation only from remote, Aboriginal communities and addresses these problems in a practical, community-driven way. By developing the program in consultation with community members and adapting its approach, EON Foundation supports local decision-making, capacity-building and sustainability.
To date, the program has been successfully implemented in 24 remote communities across the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia with great success.
In 2017, a landmark survey into the impact of the EON Thriving Communities Program detailed the findings of more than 300 face-to-face interviews with Aboriginal children and adult community members from 10 remote Western Australian communities participating in the Program.
The results of the survey confirmed significant impacts for children and adults in terms of health and education including:
- 96% of teachers had seen positive changes in student attitudes and behaviours as a result of the EON program;
- 57% of teachers believed that the EON Program had had a positive impact on student attendance at their school;
- 83% used the EON Program as a basis for lessons in other learning areas; and
- 65% had seen improvements in the health of their students since the school had partnered with EON.
In February 2018, EON Thriving Communities Program was featured as a successful case study in the Prime Minister’s 2018 Closing the Gap Report, stating ‘outstanding local solutions, delivering exciting outcomes’.