Video #7 COVID-19: From animals to people

Coronavirus – where did it come from? Maratja Dhamarrandji, Mr. C. Yunupingu, and Richard Trudgen discuss the coronavirus.

Maratja says he understands it’s a serious killer disease, particularly for people with Chronic disease or who are elderly. He explains that many Yolŋu want to know how it began and where it comes from. They want the “dhuḏi-dhäwu” – the deep, full, foundational story about the disease. Richard talks about how the virus started in Wuhan Province in China and was transferred from bats to humans in live animal markets.


This video is designed as an educational tool to help the Yolŋu (Aboriginal people from north-east Arnhem Land, Australia) population understand COVID-19.

It was created using several, open sourced, online resources. The graphics and video steps shown are not intended to target any group of people but provide background information to Yolŋu who, due to language barriers, can struggle to understand where this disease comes from and its consequences for them.

The traditional worldview of Yolŋu means they want in-depth, science-based information in order to understand any new topic. This is what Yolŋu call the “dhuḏi-dhäwu” – the deep true story. This full series of videos attempts to answer some of their questions from a Yolŋu worldview, using their linguistic construction of knowledge.

Commonly asked Yolŋu questions about COVID-19 include understanding what a virus is, where it comes from (wäŋa), its shape/size/colour (ganda’), and how it is transmitted, reproduces and causes sickness (gakal).

Also in some communities, disease and sickness are thought to be caused by some form of sorcery, spiritual event or sickness country in the same way Europeans did before germs were discovered (for example the word “influenza” has its origins in “influence of the stars”).

Although germ theory is widely known and understood throughout most of mainstream Australia it has never been properly explained to most Yolŋu people.

This full series of videos attempts to answer some of those questions from a Yolŋu worldview using their linguistic construction of knowledge.



Hardwords discussed