CHIP impacts Indigenous community


Brewarrina, New South Wales

Graduates from a Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) in Brewarrina have celebrated not only finishing the course but achieving a number of health-related goals, including reducing cholesterol and shedding a few kilos.

Our health is our responsibility—we are what we eat.

The CHIP participants, all members of the local Indigenous community, saw health improvements within a week or two of starting the program, which was run by CHIP facilitators Pastor Keith and Danuta Stockwell who minister to the Bourke and Brewarrina churches. 

One of the participants saw their blood sugar levels drop from 22 to 5; another was able to reduce her number of medications from 10 to 4 under her doctor’s guidance.

“My husband was heading for a stroke because his blood pressure was dangerously high,” Eva said. “Now it has gone right down, his sugar levels are down to where they should be and there’s the possibility he can go off his diabetic medication. We’re very pleased with him!”

The importance of CHIP for Indigenous people was something Eva emphasised as well. “Our health is our responsibility—we are what we eat.”

The Mayor of Brewarrina attended the graduation ceremony with his wife. “When he got up to hand out the certificates, he said the program is a great thing and he totally endorses CHIP,” Pastor Stockwell said.

Local health professionals were also interested in the program. The Stockwells met with the manager of Brewarrina Hospital. She and her staff members were excited about the good results people had achieved and they wanted to know how to refer others to CHIP. 

They were also full of praise for the Stockwells for encouraging people to come to the hospital for their blood tests. 

“It was good for them to see an Aboriginal man leading Aboriginal people into health,” Pastor Stockwell said.

The Stockwells are now working with local stores to encourage them to stock more health foods. A small CHIP shop operated during the program for people to buy things like tahini, tofu, nuts and grains, but the aim is to continue to support the local community through their local stores.

There are plans to run CHIP again and participants from the most recent program are keen to join in.