Posted on 26 June, 2020

Yolŋu Radio fights the spread of COVID-19

Yolŋu Radio fights the spread of COVID-19

ARDS is playing a pivotal role in keeping Yolŋu informed and prepared for COVID-19.

In mid-March, ARDS/Yolŋu Radio rapidly switched into emergency mode, dedicating almost all our capacity to Yolŋu Matha communications about COVID-19.

When COVID-19 first reached Australia, there was great concern about the potential impact on remote communities. Working closely with the Northern Territory Government, East Arnhem service providers and Yolŋu community organisations, ARDS quickly developed a range of COVID-19 education resources.

Yolŋu Radio presenter Sylvia Nulpinditj presented a daily news bulletin at the height of the pandemic, providing regional COVID-19 updates broadcast to Yolŋu throughout the region and online.

Meanwhile, Yolŋu and Balanda cross-cultural facilitators in Darwin and Nhulunbuy have been developing a range of audio programs designed to reduce confusion. Programs like ‘Learning about COVID-19 with Dr. Jamie Mapleson’ (Guŋga’yunaramirri dhäwu COVID-19-puy Dr. Jamie-wuŋu), featuring Dr Jamie Mapleson and Yolŋu elders answering common Yolŋu questions about COVID-19 and some of the myths that have arisen around it, aim to explain the dhuḏi dhäwu (underlying story) about the virus.

Other programs explained the temporary laws around travelling and quarantining, and other impacts on people’s lives, like funeral restrictions. We also created a series of health messages: Advice to Protect Ourselves and Our Families (Nhaltjan ŋayi dhu yolŋu djäga nhanŋuwuy ŋayi, ga nhaltjan dhu djäga nhanŋukalaŋaw gurruṯumirriw); and hosted and filmed a Q&A special in Yirrkala Arts Centre to address community questions and concerns.

In all, Yolŋu Radio has broadcast 360 hours of COVID-19 material since 17 March, and our social media channels have attracted tens of thousands of visitors each week with individual online posts reaching over 5 000 people.

All of these resources were uploaded to a dedicated information portal. With the details around COVID-19 changing all the time, we’ve been busy updating this portal, taking down any resources that become outdated, and putting them back online when we have added the new information.

As the NT transitions to ‘the New Normal’, ARDS is continuing to produce up-to-date resources and engage with local Yolŋu stakeholders. A key focus will be supporting Yolŋu leaders to inform their local communities about Local Pandemic Plans.

Check out ARDS/Yolŋu Radio’s COVID-19 resources at

Photo: Yolŋu Radio presenter Sylvia Nulpinditj recording a COVID-19 news update in Yolŋu Matha

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