Indigenous disability management: online training remote Australia

Mary, above, is both a participant and a real-life expert. This video captures her mid-program, reflecting on her experience of managing the virtual patient called Joe.


It’s interesting. You get curious, what will happen to Joe?

Home and Community Care, participant in Bamaga community, Far North Queensland.
ClientLifeTec and the Australian Government
ScopeDisability management training for indigenous communities.

Culturally-appropriate online training for rural, remote indigenous Australians.

 ‘Joe’s Story’  was a 6 month real-time delivery of an online scenario that represented remote indigenous life and the communities’ health and social issues. In 2000, five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities participated in this health and community service training.

The end-program was transferred to CDRom for housing officers and teachers as preparation for working within these remote, marginalised communities.

This statewide project piloted Reality Learning’s culturally appropriate model of digital training – a model designed to engage reluctant learners living with ongoing crisis and competing priorities, and targeting challenged learners –  linguistically, socially and professionally. 

When real life merges with a fictitious online story, interesting crossovers develop with real life change occurring for participants and their communities’ health and well-being.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following program CD may contain images and voices of deceased persons. This is a collaborative program between indigenous communities, Judith Hewitson and LifeTec Qld.


Delivering face-to-face education to remote Queensland communities is costly, often culturally inappropriate and has poor uptake by local people.

Community members who required training were diverse, from a womens group through to indigenous health workers. Training needed to reach and engage all.

Implementing real life change in these diverse, remote communities is a continual challenge.

Our challenge was to develop a model of online training that engaged local people in creating solutions that developed community self reliance, capability and health.


The solutions:

Learners participated in the program through adopting the new technology available in 2000, (video conferencing, webcam, computers). This was a time when email was non-existent in most of locations. Participants were supported in IT training.

All community sectors were actively engaged within the interactive scenario. This occurred as the stories were identified as their own.

New local solutions were identified by the participants in response to the scenario’s emerging issues in management of disability.

Community resilience increased with a greater capacity to locally manage health and community wellbeing.

Inter-community networking and mentoring resulted in a higher success of health services eg the Home and Community Care program in Palm Island.

Participants reported an increase in personal self-confidence.