Palyaringkunytjaku – Towards Wellbeing

By Damon Gameau

Campaign Completed on
23-07-2017

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Countdown Palyaringkunytjaku from Mai Wiru on Vimeo.


Palyaringkunytjaku - Towards Wellbeing is the brain child of Inawantji (Ina) Scales, a young Pitjantjatjara woman from the APY Lands. Ina has seen too many family and friends, too many Anangu (people from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands) die from diet related illnesses. Ina wants to give Anangu the same opportunity Hope For Health has given Yolngu in the top end.


In 2016 Ina met with Damon Gameau, the founding director of the Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation. She told him of her sadness from watching so many people become ill and pass away, she also told of her personal experience from visiting Living Valley Springs and the happiness she felt at now understanding the solutions. Ina asked Damon for his help, and the Foundation’s help, to share her experiences with other people on the APY Lands.

Here we are today, raising funds to send 10 senior and influential women to an intensive health and nutrition retreat where they will learn and be able to personally experience firsthand, the benefits of healthy eating and living. By providing a culturally appropriate setting with language interpretation, we will free participants to focus, distraction free, on learning the extensive information that will be provided. These strong community leaders will then be able to return to community to share their experiences and become healthy living champions.


This is a 2 week trip with an interpreter and staff member to support the women through their learning and experiences, and further to be able to support the women on their return to community. This will also ensure longer lasting results and help participants maximise their learnings and minimise any stumbling blocks they come across.

Our aim is to have an intensive and immediate impact for these women, enabling them to experience the benefits of healthy eating and living, and to expand their understanding of the impacts of foods on their bodies, to understand the how and why foods have such influence over us. In their roles in community they can then spread the word about their positive experience and help others make healthier choices.

The participants are being selected based on their location and their capacity to influence on their return. As a result, these women will become healthy living champions, sharing their knowledge and experience in their regions.

We can't do it without you.

Help Ina make a good impact on the health of her people, of the Anangu nation.


  • The rate of kidney failure in Aboriginal communities is 15 x the rest of Australia; Type 2 diabetes is 3 x the national average.
  • For too long now high Aboriginal death rates have been attributed to alcohol consumption. The communities and region of the APY lands have now been alcohol free for 40 years yet average life span on the lands is just 55; 20 years lower than the rest of Australia. This is because of poor diet.
  • Professor Paul Torzillo, Medical Director of Nganampa Health Council said in Fighting for “Good Food” (Mai Wiru), submitted by Lorenzo Piemonte, International Diabetes Foundation (2015) “The rates of obesity and insulin resistance syndrome in our communities are now so high that the majority of the adult population over 35 will be affected. This provides a situation in which we are not aiming to target a subset or at risk group of the population with a nutrition strategy but our whole population is both at risk and suffering disease.”
  • Dr Amanda Lee et al in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Nutrition in remote Aboriginal communities: Lessons from Mai Wiru and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, (2015), state that more than 75% of Indigenous deaths result from potentially avoidable causes. This includes type 2 diabetes, a preventable, non-communicable chronic disease. About 70% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, and 38% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were considered overweight or obese in 2015, with an additional 8% of children who are underweight, another major contributor to the avoidable deaths.
  • Communities on the APY Lands have a long history of being proactive, for example, communities took back management of their stores to ensure food security (the availability and affordability of healthy food and essential items on a daily basis through their local store).
  • There are programs in place that address nutrition and health, but the scale of the problem necessitates a spot fire approach and they are struggling to extend and achieve the progressive results needed to combat chronic health and nutrition issues in the Aboriginal population.
  • The success of service delivery in remote communities depends on the level of community involvement and buy-in. By providing an intensive experience with ongoing support community members will be empowered to create and manage change in their communities.

To make this program fly we need your wonderful support to get there!

We know you’re all very busy people and this is why we appreciate your help more than you can know! Here is a list of 10 things that you could do to help us make Ina’s dream of Palyaringkunytjaku – Towards Wellbeing a reality.

  1. Share our emails – when you receive our emails – share them with your friends and networks.
  2. Share our Social Media posts – Follow us on Facebook and invite your friends to do the same.
  3. Talk to your friends, family, colleagues – tell them what we are doing and how they can support us.
  4. Give us a call. We are looking for more support and are ready to answer calls. We can talk in more detail about the project and who knows where a conversation may lead. Email [email protected]
  5. Hold a fundraising event. Be creative - a donation box at your work for a month, hold a concert, a dinner party with tickets, a raffle, a physical challenge among your friends, a percentage of your office mates salaries for a month. Design your own style of fundraising.
  6. Create your own campaign under this 'Palyaringkunytjaku' umbrella - simply click the button at the bottom of the screen that says 'Fundraisers - Create Your Own'. You can select one of the impact levels and let your friends and family know what the funds raise will enable. You might like to do '6 Spoons in June (and July)' for the length of this campaign and ask for sponsorship, as an incentive
  7. Keep a close eye on our campaign-we need to hit the target, so if we get close and time is short consider donating again to get us over the top
  8. Have you got something special to give? Relevant health products or services? Donate towards our perks or retreat or help with distributing perks to donors.
  9. Send a message through your networks. Do you have a voice in your community? Do you have a big social media following? Perhaps a lot of professional networks? One or two emails during the campaign from you could result in thousands of dollars towards our very important work. We have email templates for you to use and technical support available if you require. Email: [email protected]
  10. Did we mention sharing our social media, emails and talking to people you know about what we are doing? When people hear and understand your passion, they can be inspired to jump on board.

All donations are tax deductible.



Check out a lesson in language by Damon and Zoe. Like with many people, 'Palyaringkunytjaku' is not an easy word to say, yet the passion for what we are doing is strong.




The Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation is an indigenous community-led initiative, implementing nutrition programs in central Australia’s remote APY Lands. After two years of consultation, and multiple visits from nutritionists to indigenous communities, the team are working on three key projects: opening healthy living cafes, funding permanent nutritionists on the ground, and intensive nutrition workshops.

Melbourne filmmaker Damon Gameau embarked on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived, or promoted to be ‘healthy’. Damon’s now acclaimed documentary The Sugar Film raises awareness of the hazards of any diet containing too much sugar. In making the film Damon included a segment about an innovative health program initiated by Indigenous communities in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara(APY) Lands, where stores were stocking healthy foods and nutritionists were advising customers on the best food choices. Damon determined to give back to the APY communities who featured in That Sugar Film by supporting them in their mission to take control of their own nutrition and improve the health status of Aboriginal families on the APY Lands.

Damon founded the Mai Wiru (Good Food) Sugar Challenge Foundation, a not-for-profit enterprise working with APY communities in an indigenous-led initiative to improve their health.

The health challenges of Aboriginal people are well documented, with current research identifying a 10 year gap between the life expectancy of indigenous and non-indigenous males and indigenous and non-indigenous females. The report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare : Indigenous Health (2014) found that ‘The largest gap in death rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians was in circulatory disease deaths (22% of the gap) followed by endocrine, metabolic and nutritional disorders (particularly diabetes) (14% of the gap)’.


You can start your own campaign to raise money for Palyaringkunytjaku - with a goal for one of the impact levels below:

  • For the flights - 1 participant (12 in total) = $767
  • For the 2 week health workshop - per participant (10 participants) = $5,990
  • Meals during transit per person - 4 days (12 people) = $300
  • Vehicle expenses - hire, mileage, fuel, maintenance. Pickup and return to community - 3 vehicles for all participants = $11,169
  • Accommodation Alice Springs - per person 2 nights (each direction) twin share = $150

What happens if we get more or less than $63,500?

By hitting $63,500 we can make Ina’s dream a reality and take 10 participants from the APY Lands on this program, it means Palyaringkunytjaku can go ahead as Ina hoped. There are always many people from the APY Lands who would benefit from this experience, therefore the amount we raise will directly impact on the number of people Ina and the Mai Wiru Foundation are able to support


If you would prefer to make a donation by bank transfer/direct deposit, please see our bank account details below. Please advise by email - [email protected] - when donation is made so we can issue a tax receipt. Thank you.

Account Name: Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation
Bank: Suncorp
BSB: 484 799
Acct No: 507433042
Description: Please enter your email address

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