Podcast #5 COVID-19: The meaning of pandemic and lockdown

Djiniyini Gondarra asks what the English word pandemic means. He explains that many Yolngu are hearing it on the radio and on TV but it makes no sense to them. This podcast looks at the origins of the word pandemic and its contemporary meaning.

Richard and Djiniyini then explore the meaning of the English word lockdown. Djiniyini says it has no real meaning to Yolngu at all. They can see that “lock” has something to do with locking the door, and they get a picture of the key in the door, but what does the word “down” have to do with it. Richard talks about how compound English words can cause similar problems for Yolngu who are English second language. Richard and Djiniyini look at the 2 separate words and its compound meaning. They also explore the meaning of lockdown from a Yolngu law perspective.

The discussion of the meaning of lockdown continues and how it relates to the different levels of government authority (State/Federal) and the rules they have been implementing.  The program works through the different roles of the two levels of the Federal and State/Territory governments. This has been very confusing for Yolngu as it has been for many other Australians. However, it is complicated by the fact that there is very little information for Yolngu people to access in their own language.


There are 4 Stories in this podcast. Please see time stamps below:

  • Story No. 1 Pandemic Meaning  0:00
  • Story No. 2 Lock Down Meaning No 1 10:30
  • Story No. 3 Lock Down Meaning No 2 20:54
  • Story No. 4 Lock Down Meaning No 3 30:48


Click on the links below to listen to the other podcasts in our COVID-19 series: 

Please note: Podcasts 1 & 2 are not currently available online due to the unfortunate death of one of our presenters.