Client story: Together Retreat

Date: 21st September 2019

Together is a perfect way to describe what the transformational health retreat in Northern Australia, Together Retreat, is all about. It brings together individuals with communities; health care professionals with those in need of wellness; modern science and ancient wisdom; old friends and new visions.

Participants at Together Retreat

*See below for captions

It also brought Wanaka osteopath and Findlay Sidekick client, Jin Ong of MetaMed, together again with her former health practitioner and mentor, Helen Padarin.

What is Together Retreat?

Founded by natropath and nutritionist Helen Padarin and Dr. Kama Trudgen, in association with Why Warriors Org, Together Retreat is an intensive two week retreat that blends traditional Yolngu culture (the native culture of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory) with integrative wellness and life shifting experiences. Activities at the retreat include nutrition education, daily movement, massage, osteopathic and cultural education.

Together Retreat Helen and Sandra

Helen & Sandra

What is most significant and unique about this retreat is that for every person participating in the retreat, a Yolngu person in need is sponsored a place at the retreat.

The once self-sufficient and optimally healthy Yolngu people of East Arnhem land, now find themselves in the midst of a devastating health crisis with chronic disease responsible for up 80% of the mortality gap between themselves and non-indigenous Australians.

Together Retreat and the organisations around it, aim to close this gap.

Helen and Kama believe that the best way to learn and create change is through experience, rather than just knowledge. For this reason they are very passionate about creating immersive programmes and experiences that provide opportunities for empowering insight and transformation.

How Jin got involved

Helen & Jin

Jin Ong and Helen Padarin go back a long time. Long before Jin was a business owner in Wanaka, she worked in Wellington as a newly qualified osteopath. Seeing Helen for nutrition and naturopathy treatment, Jin was inspired to study herbal medicine, adding to her already impressive list of health and wellness qualifications (osteopathy, acupuncture, psychosomatic therapy).

Fast forwarding to 2016, Jin established an osteopathy practice in Wanaka, this practice had clear goals from the start. Jin has a strong sense of purpose and in business she puts passion ahead of monetary goals. She finds satisfaction in promoting community health education and professional development.

So early in 2019, when Helen Padarin presented with her with the opportunity to work as a volunteer osteopath at Together Retreat in her home country, to help the Yolngu people and further her passion for community wellness, Jin was right onboard.

Even as an Australian, Jin knew very little about the indigenous culture and the experience did take her outside of her comfort zone. However, joining together with the impressive team of professionals – another osteopath, two naturopaths, two massage therapists, and several Yolngu leaders from Elcho Island in Arnhem Land, Dianne Biritjalawu and the trio of Kama, Timothy and Richard Trudgeon (former long-term residents and community figures in Arnhem Land) – Jin knew she would both learn from, and be inspired by the team and the experience.

At the retreat

Together Retreat Jin and Guyupul

Jin & Guyupul

The two week retreat consisted of education and experiences around nutrition, movement, culture and creativity including:

  • Education on food, diet and gut health
  • A three day detox
  • Cooking classes on traditional food such as damper made out of native nuts
  • Dancing, walking and fitness classes
  • Artistic workshops including traditional weaving
  • Traditional fishing and hunting trips – mangrove worms, giant snails, crabs, turtle eggs and possums.
  • Osteo, massage, naturopathy consults


Jin describes the experiences of both the Yolngu and non-indigenous participants as transformational. Here’s a sample of the outcomes:

  • 42kgs were lost across the participants during the retreat
  • Four diabetics on insulin managed to stabilise their condition through dietary changes and came off their insulin or blood sugar medication
  • Some managed to quit smoking

The positive changes were not limited to the participants. Jin explains that the retreat has helped reinforce her perspective on life. It has reminded her to slow down, to reduce ‘busyness’ in her life and it has strengthened her belief that intentions are very important.

Jin has also benefited from the experience of removing herself from her relatively new business (now a Wanaka and Queenstown practice with a team of seven osteopaths and four admin staff). It gave her the opportunity to reflect on her achievements, and also to test how the clinic runs without her. It turns out, that it runs very well, a testimony to her meticulous planning and effective management!

Findlay Sidekick love hearing inspiring stories from our clients. We particularly like working together with clients like Jin from Meta Med, supporting them in their goals, whether they are personal, lifestyle-oriented, or financial.

*Photo collage – clockwise from top left:

1. Participants at Together Retreat
2. Jin morning testing with Geraldine
3. Guyupul, Wayne and Kama
4. Jin and Garngulkpuy on her first walk and first time in years wearing closed shoes. The crew took her to a podiatrist in town to finally address her inch long toenails! She only managed to walk down the driveway but was a huge achievement!
5. Stephanie with turtle eggs.

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