NOONGAR women from around the district gathered together at the Population Health premises in Moora last Tuesday for the first Boodjari Yorga Expo.
As the Noongar language title conveys, the special focus of the gathering was women (yorga) who are pregnant (boodjari) or who have just had their baby.
Up until recent times, many Noongars were born in bush locations, not only prior to the arrival to the area of modern medicine practices but in early days afterwards when hospital doors were often kept closed to the Noongar women.
Expo organiser and health promotion officer Jodi Davis said it was the first of three such expos being held in the districtwhich had been designed as a community, hands-on approach to introducing services and reinforcing healthy practices for Noongar women and their babies.
“We have encouraged all women in the family to come along so that every age group can have the opportunity to engage with the full range of health services we can offer,” she said.
The women were welcomed to the day’s event with a meaningful Welcome to Country given by aboriginal liaison officer, Dorinda Barron.
Between them, women doctors, nurses and aboriginal health workers provided consultation, immunisation and medical check services while dieticians, physiotherapists and other health professionals provided activities to engage with and involve the women.
A lovely lunch was provided by the GATE Program participants from the CY O’Connor Institute.
A key contact at the expo, midwife Melanie Woodhams, confirmed the invaluable opportunity for contact made possible by the event.
“Due to a perceived shame, although perinatal mental health issues are prevalent they are under-reported among Aboriginal women,” she said.
“They often have a high level of anxiety about childbirth and parenting but are also very unlikely to admit these feelings as they’re concerned about their child being removed.
“The expo provided a sensitive, community space for all aspects of support and advice for these women.”
A second expo for the district has been arranged for May 9 at the Wongan Hills Primary Health Centre.
The third will be again held in Moora on June 19.