Reflection from our IAHA Workforce Development Manager from the Barunga Festival 

The 33rd Barunga Festival, held in the small community of Barunga, 80kms from Katherine in the NT over the June long weekend (8th – 11th June).  Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) had a community engagement stall for the 4th year at the Festival.  IAHA staff members Donna Murray (CEO) and Kylie Stothers, along with IAHA Chairperson Nicole Turner ran the IAHA stall over the weekend. 
The festival is a celebration of music, sport and culture and for the past few years, Festival organisers have been promoting healthy foods and a smoke-free event.   
This year the Barunga Festival Committee and Event Organisers were supporting that there would be no sugary drinks for sale during the festival.   This was supported at both the community store and at all the food stalls at the festival. Water and sugar-free drinks were only available for sale.
 “Too much sugar is a bad thing, we have made this decision not only for our people but for the people that come from all over to the Barunga Festival,” said Traditional Owner and Chairperson of the Bagala Store Esther Bulumbara.  (quote from https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/news/barunga-festival-says-no-to-sugary-drinks
IAHA was fully supportive of this initiative taken by community leaders and ensured that the IAHA stall gave an opportunity for conversations with children, adults and families attending the festival to talk not just about health careers but looking at healthy choices and lifestyle.  IAHA Chairperson Nicole Turner ran interactive Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle sessions with the kids (and some adults). Nicole is one of very few qualified Aboriginal community Nutritionists in Australia.  Nicole held small interactive and fun sessions with the kids talking about issues such as how much sugar is in popular drinks like coke, sports drinks and energy drinks.  Water was promoted as the drink of choice for kids and they learnt how much water they should be drinking each day.  The kids learnt about the importance of brushing their teeth and why, the importance of getting enough rest and sleep and of course being more active and doing exercise.  IAHA (with the support of the local Katherine Woolworths) ensured that festival goers and the kids participating in the session had access to fresh fruit whilst talking with Nicole about healthy food choices.  The kids finished each session by participating in some exercise and yelling out “I love water”, which could be heard across the community.  All kids (and adults) that participated in the sessions were given a prize (IAHA promotional material). The sessions were very popular and it is estimated that over 250 kids would have participated in the sessions over the weekend.

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