Malpa’s Young Doctors Project is reviving traditional healing and hygiene practices to tackle modern Indigenous health issues, like those contributing to deafness.

Malpa CEO Don Palmer says the project gives young people the training and confidence to be health ambassadors in their own communities, ensuring generational change in approaches to health.

“The Young Doctors Project was developed in response to continued poor health outcomes in Aboriginal Australians. We recognise that 87% of Aboriginal households in the Northern Territory are without access to water or power, so an understanding of traditional hygiene practices would result in health benefits.”

“By improving hygiene we can expect to see an improvement in incidence of otitis media, a leading cause of deafness suffered by more than 90% of Aboriginal children. The Young Doctors learn about the need for washing, cleaning noses, keeping the house clean and a whole lot more. Independent research has shown that these simple techniques will significantly improve primary health outcomes and will likely reduce longer term chronic health problems.” He said.

Mr Palmer says the enthusiasm of young people and elders, and the approach of blending new and old ways has contributed to its success. Malpa aims to support Aboriginal elders to deliver traditional bush medicine techniques to the younger generations. Children gain an understanding of the remedies their ancestors used to treat a range of ailments, including abrasions, muscular and bronchial problems.

The project, inspired by similar successful World Health Organization projects in Indonesia, India and Nepal has been running for two years in the Alice Springs Town Camps and now operates in the Northern Territory town of Utopia and The NSW township of Kempsey.

Canberra professional services firm Noetic Group has been a sponsor of Malpa for two years, collaborating on a number of projects, including the Young Doctors Project. The firm is evaluating the Young Doctors Project to measure its impact on the communities.

Noetic CEO Peter Murphy says NAIDOC week is the perfect opportunity to recognise the great work being done by groups like Malpa to make a difference to the lives of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly in health where life expectancy can be as much as 20 years less than non-Indigenous Australians.

“This has been an important relationship for Noetic. It has allowed us to apply the company’s expertise in strategy and evaluation to an organisation that is making a difference. It has allowed us as a company to contribute to helping ‘close the gap’, even in a small way,” he said.

Don Palmer concludes, “The challenge for any charity is to prove that the money that generous people contribute is getting results. The power of quantitative and qualitative data is beyond question and having the backing of the highly respected Noetic Group provides us with the capacity to look our donors in the eye and say “your support does make a real difference”.”


NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to commemorate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In 2013 the theme is: We Value the Vision, honours the 50th anniversary of the presentation of the Yirrkala Bark Petitions to the Federal Parliament.

Media Contacts:

+      Noetic: Carol Yong 02 6234 7777

+      Malpa: Don Palmer 0417 297 010