One man’s drive to make a change can make a difference
Ochre Day is celebrated each year on 27th August; Ochre Day recognises the importance of Aboriginal Men’s Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing and forms an integral of NACCHO’s Aboriginal Men’s Health initiative.
In 2012, Dan Fischer, an Indigenous Male Health Worker at Apunipima Cape York Health Council in Mossman Gorge wanted to share with the men of his community, the support and guidance that his much loved grandfather had shown him. Dan saw that many of the programs and support services that were offered to the men in his community were developed to solve a problem, not to prevent them.
Dan wanted to help the men and boys of his community in a positive way that celebrates and upholds the traditional values of respect for aboriginal laws, respect for elders, cultures and traditions. He also saw that there was a need to encourage the men of his community to become leaders and role models.
“My Grandfather, Peter Fischer, was a great role model for me. I was lucky.” Said Dan.
From the humble beginnings, of a group of men sharing and supporting each other, in a remote community in Far North Queensland, Ochre Day was celebrated.
Ochre Day was adopted the following year, by NACCHO (National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) at an event held in Canberra, where Dan’s passion and commitment to Close the Gap and help the men in his community was recognised.
Ochre Day is now celebrated right across Australia. It is an opportunity for Aboriginal males of all ages to share knowledge and explore ways to engage with their local communities, as an essential and positive part of family and community life.
“My grandfather told me that I would do good things for the health of my people and all these years later, here I am,” Dan said.
Dan believes that the success of Ochre Day from these humble beginnings is because of the great role models he has had in his life, both personally and professionally. White Ochre Day in Mossman Gorge is Dan’s way of paying forward his good fortune.
Dr Mark Wenitong, the Public Health Medical Advisor at Apunipima said, “I was fortunate enough to attend the first White Ochre Day in Mossman Gorge, after seeing the potential affect this type of event could make, I took the opportunity to share the concept with Mark Saunders from NACCHO and who then adopted the concept and developed it into the national event it is today. Without the development through Mark and now NACCHO chair, John singer, this event wouldn’t have been possible.”
“The name has changed from White Ochre to simply Ochre Day, because of the different meaning that Ochre plays in communities and culture across Australia. Dan should be incredibly proud that he started something as significant as this for Aboriginal Men’s Health.” Added Dr Wenitong.
Ochre Day is evidence that one person can make a difference.