Your Healthy Life

The aim of the "Your Healthy Life" project was to produce a multimedia resource to support healthy lifestyle choices amongst new arrivals attending Junction Park State School (JPSS).

From July through to September 2009, interviews (recorded) were conducted with members from four different cultural groups – Sudanese, Burundi, Iraqi and Karen. Prior research had identified that these would be the communities that would benefit from the resources being produced as part of the project. These are also major community groups with whom JPSS and NAQ are working.

Discussions were held with community members from each of the groups about the challenges they faced since arriving in Australia. The main focus was on challenges the groups had found with feeding their families and keeping their families healthy and active. These meetings provided an opportunity to photograph (with permission) clients and their families. This gave not only a great collection of photos to use in the digital stories but more background material about the challenges new arrivals are facing in relation to achieving a healthy lifestyle in Australia.

Material gathered in relation to the aim of the project and the health messages that needed to be conveyed was analysed during October to December 2009. This analysis identified that learning to speak English is one of the highest priorities for the new arrivals. With this in mind the decision was made to produce a far more useful resource for new arrivals that had a strong focus on building English and therefore a decision was made to produce digital stories in low level English rather than translate into the four languages.

It seemed it was necessary to provide an overview of the challenges that are faced by new arrivals to Australia in relation to choosing a healthy lifestyle. As the material in this digital story was to involve complex messages and themes, it was decided it was necessary to translate this “introduction” into the four languages (Arabic, Kirundi, Swahili, Karen).

During this period, the dialogue for the digital stories was written. The introduction to “Your Healthy Life in Australia” plus seven stories relating to a healthy lifestyle include:

o Margaret Goes Shopping (Food Shopping)
o Food for School (cooking and preparing food for a family)
o Emily’s Kitchen (food hygiene)
o Rose’s New House (managing a home)
o Dafroza’s Children Go to the Dentist (maintaining oral health)
o Topisa has Diabetes (developing a basic understanding of the symptoms of diabetes) and
o Grace Keeps her Family Active (being active )

Between January and March 2010, photographs for the stories were sourced and matched to every sentence in all the dialogues. The photographs were taken by the project officers – during the interviews and visits to Junction Park State School. Photographs were also sourced from the internet, taking care to choose photos that are freely available to the public.

Written translations into Kirundi, Karen, Arabic and Swahili of the introduction “Your Healthy Life in Australia” were made with the help of community members currently working in Inala and Zillmere.  This proved to be a wonderful decision, those community members who were recommended as translators were delighted to be involved and paid for some work. Three of the translators are women educated in their own languages but presently not working. Opportunities to work for Nutrition Australia Qld (NAQ) like this are important to community members, providing “work experience” suitable for curriculum vitae. It also gave them a sense of participating in the Australian community and being valued.

All the dialogues, 7 stories and 4 introductory stories, had to then be voice recorded.Project officers recorded all the English language stories, using slow, easy to understand speech, good for listening, understanding and building English language proficiency.

Women from the various ethnic communities were chosen to record the Arabic, Karen, Swahili and Kirundi language stories. Again it was a conscious decision to work with women, in particular, mothers who are managing their families’ new life in Australia. Empowering these women with skills and knowledge to make healthy lifestyle choices for themselves and their families has been fundamental to this project.

The voice recordings were then matched to the photo stories.

In addition to this work, other resources were concurrently developed for the CD, including : 

• Games and Activities and Background notes (9)
• Readers (7)
• Recipes (7)

On 23 March 2010, as part of the NAQ Annual General Meeting, a seminar was presented “Empowering New Arrivals Better Choices Better Health”. This occasion allowed the project officers to present an introduction to the work being done and to talk about how the resources will be used.

Between May and June 2010, all material required for the CD was finalised and collated and proofed. The design and layout were finalised and production of CD and booklets arranged.

In summary, there has been some divergence from the original set of strategies as set out in the grant. This in fact created a greater workload for the project officers but has resulted in a resource which all involved believe will be highly regarded and used by teachers, health professionals, students and community members. It is a resource that:

• Has been well researched
• Meets the needs of the community
• Has had strong community involvement

The project has produced100 copies of “Your Health Life” CD, containing:

• Background information (About the project, JPSS, Principal story, Acknowledgements, Picture Credits)
• 5 Digital Stories – An introduction “Your Healthy Life in Australia” (English, Swahili, Kirundi, Arabic, Karen)
• 7 Digital Stories in basic English covering shopping, school lunches, food hygiene, managing a home, oral health, diabetes, being active
• PDF resources for downloading -
1 x set of notes for health professionals
9 x games/activities/teaching notes
7 x readers – based on the 7 digital stories
7 x recipes – for classroom and home use

• 700 readers (hard copy) -
100 copies x 7 readers = 700 Readers – printed A5, simple stitched binding and based on the 7 digital stories.

Resource sets (1 CD plus 7 readers) have been distributed by JPSS and NAQ through their networks in Brisbane to key stakeholders working with newly arrived refugees. As well copies have been distributed to all community members involved in the project.

It has been a pleasure to work with staff at JPSS with particular thanks to the principal for her encouragement and support given in helping bring the project to fruition. To the members of the newly arrived communities with whom the project officers have worked - we have been humbled by their experiences and can only admire their strength and courage as they settle their families into their new lives in Australia.

To the Queensland Government - thank you for the opportunity you have provided through the Community Partnerships Program which has allowed professionals from a range of backgrounds to work together and share their expertise to produce a resource which can address a wide range of outcomes in a wide range of settings.

For more information, please contact us.