“Chronic health disease resonates with every Indigenous community and every Indigenous family, where sickness is unfortunately just a way of life. My own childhood was marred by this. I saw my Nan suffering from tuberculosis and diabetes, whilst my grandfathers passed as middle-aged men do, way before their time.
Through the years, my mum constantly educated us about the importance of healthy choices – she worked hard for us to have a choice. She ensured we knew that we had a choice.”
Denning-Orman is a proud Birri & Guugu Yimithirr woman from FNQ and Channel Manager at NITV – nitv.org.au #NITV
Opinion Piece originally published by Daily Life – dailylife.com.au
NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper available as a FREE lift out in Koori Mail 6 April or as Download HERE or on the Koori Mail APP (see below)
My mum’s name is Lilly. She puts me to shame in many ways. She is a healthy Aboriginal woman, 65 years old and was recently given some rare news from her doctor. Excitedly, he explained that her cholesterol levels had dropped. It’s something that he rarely gets the opportunity to say to older Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people – ‘you’re getting healthier’. But fighting against the norm, Lilly is. She walks everywhere and makes healthy choices – because she can.
My mum uses education, choice and a rock hard determination to not only improve her health, but also the health of our people. Living in Central Queensland, she has dedicated most of her working life as a health worker to improving the lives and experiences of others.
Through the years, my mum constantly educated us about the importance of healthy choices – she worked hard for us to have a choice. She ensured we knew that we had a choice.
I chose an Aboriginal Medical Service for my pre and anti-natal care and for my son to be born with an Aboriginal midwife. It felt right. I chose to put my baby’s and my health into the hands of someone I trusted to have the knowledge and the cultural sensitivity of the issues that confronted us. It is now 45 years since the first Aboriginal Medical Service started up in Redfern.
Since then, there have been numerous examples of Indigenous-controlled health success stories, including the Mums and Babies program at the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Services, the ‘Nutrition: at the heart of good health’ initiative by the Jalaris Aboriginal Corporation; the Good Food, Great Kids project at the Yarra Valley Community Health Service and the Healthy Housing Worker program at the Murdi Paaki Regional Housing Corporation.
Whilst these programs are diverse, their commonality is powerful and relevant – local people with the control and empowerment to find solutions at their local level, with successful outcomes for the health issues they confront.
Chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases are the principal causes of early death amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Health professionals agree that improving diet and nutrition is a fundamental starting point to tackling these issues, where removing barriers to obtaining healthy food and promoting healthy nutrition amongst Indigenous families are the key first steps. Indigenous peoples have thousands of years of bush food knowledge bringing healthy and sustainable living – even the farm produce on missions was healthier than the food offered in community stores today.
Our people are very aware of our health. Whilst health indicators tell us we aren’t where we should be, Indigenous health workers are tireless advocates for holistic and preventative healthcare.
The answers to the Indigenous health crisis are clear. Indigenous communities are capable of finding the solutions. Indigenous health workers like my mum are living proof – individuals that are dedicated and working hard to provide solutions. Through improved knowledge of and access to health services, increased resourcing, cultural sensitivity and empowering local communities in the health planning processes, we will significantly improve outcomes.
The health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is unacceptable. From mental health to heart disease and everything in between, it’s a continuing crisis that affects the young and old with no obvious signs of a resolution. Raising awareness of Close the Gap and all it represents is an essential and positive step in the right direction, however, targets need to be achieved by effective action.
Linked closely to other areas of Indigenous disadvantage, Indigenous consultation is imperative in all areas of Closing the Gap. Our people are key to our solutions, as is appropriate funding to ensure that essential services, like water, electricity, education and healthcare are prioritised within communities.
Only then we will see a consistent improvement in health statistics and start to realise the dream of Closing the Gap of life expectancy by 2030.
Only then will we bring about real change so that Lilly’s story won’t stand in isolation.
NACCHO would like to thank NITV for filming our pilot episode of Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service : View here
The interview with Sol Bellear Redfern AMS chair was just one of the approximately 200 board, staff and community members in up to 20 urban, regional and remote NACCHO member organisations. see Work in Progress here
“Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands for healthy futures “ was produced and edited by the NACCHO production team of Wayne Quilliam, Yale Macgillivray and Colin Cowell :
Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands for Healthy Futures Exhibition and travelling road show 2016
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in partnership with Wayne Quilliam Photography and Yale MacGillivray Editor have developed a visual narrative that has been created to foster awareness, exploration and understanding of “Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands.”
Our exhibition of 24 photographic images, melded with a series of video interviews embedded within the images will stimulate individual thinking and dialogue relating Aboriginal Community Controlled Health.
National Aboriginal Healthy Futures photography and video Exhibition roadshow 2016 will achieve the following objectives:
Healthy Futures Videos will highlight how investing in NACCHO the national authority in comprehensive Aboriginal primary health care and its 150 members will lead to generational change and Close the Gap
Healthy Futures Videos will highlight success stories that our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are making towards Closing the Gap targets and key priorities in areas such Early Childhood development
Healthy Futures Videos will illustrate how keeping our people well and on the road to good health through our ACCHOs is a key principle objective of NACCHO and all our members.
Healthy Futures Videos will highlight how we achieve this is by working in collaboration with our national partners and stakeholders to address the expansion of our health services and to meet the growing health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in urban, rural and remote Australia
Bookings are now open for 2016