A former NRL player, the Moree Boomerangs and health experts were just some of the guests at a community barbecue last Wednesday, who gathered to talk about health priorities in the Moree Aboriginal community.
Aboriginal Go4Fun co-hosted the barbecue with the Ministry of Health and Hunter New England Population Health, opening the evening meal to members of the public.
“There were at least 100 people who showed up, which shows an incredible sense that the community has taken ownership of this topic,” Aboriginal Go4Fun manager Nicole Turner said.
Aboriginal Go4Fun aims to improve health and well-being in the community, raising nutritional rates and lowering higher levels of chronic diseases.
“We discuss the importance of health checks and why it’s important to keep an eye on cholesterol and glucose levels,” Nicole said.
Aboriginal Go4Fun runs 10 week programs during the school term, where families learn about nutrition and physical activity. The programs were recently held on a Wednesday at Miyay Birray Youth Service Inc.
”If a child is taught about nutrition and physical activity from a young age, you have a better chance of preventing the development of chronic disease. For adults who are already experiencing chronic disease, Aboriginal Go4Fun’s aim is to help them manage it,” Nicole said.
Nicole pointed out that even the simplest of nutrition facts weren’t so obvious.
“One thing that surprises a lot of people is when they learn that fruit juices can have as much sugar in one serving as soft drink. We need to get the message out there: more water, more vegetables and lots of exercise is the way to go.”
Nicole is one of four qualified Aboriginal nutritionists working in Australia. She is also the Indigenous Allied Health Australia chairperson and Make Healthy Normal ambassador.
“I wear many different hats,” she said
Nicole employs Aboriginal people from the community to help with her crusade, saying it makes it easier to connect with the community.
“My staff know the people, their culture and their values.”
Former NRL player Nathan Blacklock also appeared at the community barbecue, and took over the reins to talk about suicide prevention.
“Nathan spoke with the Moree Boomerangs about looking after themselves and their social and emotional well-being,” Nicole said.
The presence of the Boomerangs means a great deal to Nicole, who says they are important role models to Moree’s youth.
“When you have top members from the committee showing an interest in topics like nutrition, other people are more likely to catch onto the topic. Many of the Boomerangs players are fathers, husbands, mothers and wives. They have an important role to model a healthy lifestyle.”
On that score, Nicole is far from disappointed.
“They have been really getting behind the message that health checks are so important.”