Equity of access to meaningful health information is essential to improve health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. This is yet to be achieved in remote regions of Australia where traditional languages and cultural knowledge and practice remain strong. The Sharing the Full and True Stories about Chronic Conditions Project was implemented by a team of Indigenous community members (Yolŋu) and included production of numerous videos. A distinctive approach to resource production evolved through the project in which all stages, including planning, filming, editing and distribution, were controlled by the Yolŋu team. The team worked with both Yolŋu cultural experts and health staff to integrate knowledge from both the Yolŋu and biomedical domains. We will discuss the findings of a developmental evaluation that was conducted using a collaborative, qualitative approach to explore key features of the resource development process from the perspectives of both providers and consumers.
In contrast to the dominant approach of using ‘key messages’ the Yolŋu team developed video resources that provided in-depth explanations of biomedical concepts, integrating Yolŋu knowledge and interviews with Yolŋu who shared their experiences of living with chronic conditions. The use of local languages and communication protocols was critical to ensuring access to meaningful information that Yolŋu need to make informed decisions in managing their health. Rather than starting with a ‘storyboard’ the team collected a wide range of content related to the topic from ‘the heart and the mind’ (no scripts were ever used). As their knowledge deepened they were then able to edit and sequence the information to suit Yolŋu communication needs. Local production of videos in local languages, distributed at low cost (on DVD, mobile phones, USB memory sticks and the internet) enables on-going access for Yolŋu of all ages, regardless of literacy levels or proficiency in English.
Indigneous community members are in the best position to assess and respond to the health communication and health literacy needs and preferences of their own communities. With appropriate and sufficient support, effective video resources can be produced without the need for high-cost professional production enabling local control of the process.