A partnership of NWRH, James Cook University and the remote Aboriginal communities of Doomadgee and Mornington Island; funded by the Federal Governments’ “Breaking the Cycle” Initiative.


This collaborative research project addresses the consequences of chronic alcohol and other drug use in remote Aboriginal communities, and the pervasive cycle of re-offending identified as a key consequence.

Recommendations stemming from research promote a different approach to reduce re-offending rates at a community level; including diversionary programmes such as on country bush camps and support for former offenders when they return to their communities.

The primary aims of this project were to work with the communities to identify those factors and consequences, to educate and empower all Aboriginal communities to make healthy life choices, and to design and trial the implementation of options such as on country bush camps for people returning from prison.”

With the communities determined to drive innovative solutions forward, a resource package and documentary stemming from recommendations have been created to assist in delivering a powerful message on the importance of breaking the cycle.

Promoting and supporting the benefits of a community-based co-design of services to improve health outcomes in remote Aboriginal communities North and West Remote Health and James Cook University look forward to sourcing partners to further develop and expand this initiative.




Visual Resources


This is an original song that the NWRH Men’s Group (supported by Gidgee Healing) in Normanton wrote the lyrics for and had recorded as part of their local activities in Queensland’s Gulf. The men chose a blues theme to fit with how everyone was feeling at the time waiting for the wet season to arrive.

About the NWRH Mens Group supported by Gidgee Healing

The Mens Group is made up primarily of Normanton locals, with participants being 99% Indigenous and aged 16 years and over. Meeting once a fortnight the Group provides a platform for yarning and talking about everyday problems, participating in health and wellbeing activities, learning new life skills and to gain support in community issues.


The concept for this project originated about 12 months ago after Chris Ruyg, NWRH Healthy for Life Coordinator worked with Wahoo Business – who design and deliver programs that inspire, promote laughter, learning, health and wellbeing through music, the arts and engineering.

Wahoo Business were working in the local school building Cajons (box drums) and Ukuleles with children and were invited along to NWRH Men’s Group that night to perform and played the handmade instruments. Surprised by the size and camaraderie of the Group plans were made to work together in the future next time they were in the region.

With a date locked in a number of ideas were discussed; with writing and recording a song selected given the Men’s Group had a number of musicians in it.

Working with a select number of the Mens Group musicians and respected members Wahoo Business and NWRH facilitated a 3 hour workshop in which a whiteboard song writing session; which included picking a musical style, writing the lyrics and then recording the music.

A Blues style was settled on as it set the scene at the end of a long year, with things getting hotter and many waiting for the rain to arrive.

The Group all contributed to the lyrics as the verses were put together; participants calling out their thoughts and ideas. The chorus represented what the men saw as the main parts of Normanton life; hunting and fishing being the two major past times, and working in the heat (including station work) and long drives to get anywhere common place.

Once the words were finalised a few takes of recording the chorus and lyrics were next with the music and verses led by Wahoo with all Group members singing the chorus, 6 members playing the African drums and a couple of members playing guitars.

A welcome coincidence, NWRH Mount Isa, Mornington Island and Doomadgee Recidivism Officer Otis Smart was also in Normanton the day of the workshop; contributing his talents to a few choruses.

When the workshop was finished Wahoo took and mixed the recordings in a professional studio in Brisbane giving life to the final product.

Listen to the Normanton Blues song below-