Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation
How it began
It was while filming That Sugar Film that Damon Gameau learned of the achievements made through the work of community owned and directed organisations such as the Mai Wiru Regional Stores Council, Nganampa Health Council and Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council (NPY Women’s Council).
Determined to support the APY communities in their mission to take control of their nutrition and improve their health status, Damon founded The Mai Wiru (Good Food) Sugar Challenge Foundation in 2014.
The health challenges of Aboriginal people are well documented; current research indicates a 10-year gap between the life expectancy of Indigenous and non-indigenous males and 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).”
Nutrition is identified as a key social determinant of Indigenous health, with more than 75% of Indigenous deaths resulting from potentially avoidable causes. This includes Type 2 diabetes, a preventable, non-communicable chronic disease, and excessive weight. Of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, approximately 70% of adults and 38% of children were considered overweight or obese in 2015. Additionally, 8% of children are underweight, another major contributor to an avoidable cause of poor health and death.
The Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation recognises that the relationship of nutrition to health is a complex issue, especially in remote Aboriginal communities. By combining modern and local traditional knowledge of food preparation, the foundation aims to reduce sugar intake by encouraging delicious healthy alternatives and supporting an innovative program of health promotion.
Update: July 2019
The Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation is rapt to say we have now raised $47k to bring our Palyaringkunytjaku project to fruition!
We are ready to turn Ina’s dream – to offer an immersive educational and physical experience to a number of APY Land elders – into a reality.