NACCHO #NTRC Royal Commission and Aboriginal Health : #FASD , Malnutrition, hearing and #mentalhealth are major factors

jamesfitzpatrickinfc

 ” The profoundly damaging consequences of heavy drinking by pregnant women, malnutrition in early childhood and intergenerational “psychic trauma” are neither properly diagnosed nor treated in Aborigines coming into contact with the law, a royal commission has heard.

The effects of these conditions, which can stunt a child for life, meant affected youngsters were both more likely to become involved in criminal activity and less likely to benefit from punitive forms of rehabilitation.”

As reported in the Australian today

 ” Studies linked FAS-D to a “profound level of social morbidity in terms of violence, engagement in the justice system, depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide, very low chance of meaningful occupation and a very high risk of being in prison as adults requiring mental institution and support with drug addiction

Professor Boulton and NACCHO FASD Articles

 ” Most infants with FASD are irritable, have trouble eating and sleeping, are sensitive to sensory stimulation, and have a strong startle reflex. They may hyperextend their heads or limbs with hypertonia (too much muscle tone) or hypotonia (too little muscle tone) or both. Some infants may have heart defects or suffer anomalies of the ears, eyes, liver, or joints.

Adults with FASD have difficulty maintaining successful independence. They have trouble staying in school, keeping jobs, or sustaining healthy relationships. They require long-term support and some degree of supervision in order to succeed. “

Make FASD History  Image above a full story see below

 “Many boys caught up in the Northern Territory’s juvenile justice system suffer a “disease of disadvantage” that has crippled almost every aspect of their lives, the Northern Territory’s royal commission into youth detention and protection has heard.

Jody Barney, who works as a deaf indigenous community consultant, told the inquiry she has spoken to several young Aboriginal people with hearing impairments who have had their faces covered by spit hoods and bound behind bars.

News Report

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The Royal Commission website is available at https://www.childdetentionnt.royalcommission.gov.au.

Moreover they were perpetuating, meaning the effects could be passed through neurological and genetic means from generation to generation, the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT heard today.

The Commission looks likely to probe these effects more deeply, following depressing but insightful evidence given by University of Newcastle professor of pediatrics John Boulton, who clearly captured the commissioners’ interest.

“I think the Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder issue, together with the evidence that we have had this afternoon about deafness, throws such a complexion upon the participation of so many of these children in the criminal justice system, not to mention the child protection system, that we need to look at this carefully,” Commissioner Margaret White said.

“I think it’s fairly original inasmuch as the other many reports that we’ve been exposed to … have not had an opportunity to consider these areas of study.”

Professor Boulton told the Commission there was an urgent need for FAS-D and to be recognised under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. He said estimates in Canada of the lifelong cost of treating the condition reached into the millions of dollars.

“If there are one or two per cent of the total population of whom a fraction are severely affected with FASD, and therefore suffer the huge mental health and other subsequent complications and disabilities with FASD, then we are talking about an enormous burden to the overall Australian community in the tens of millions of dollars,” he said.

Studies linked FAS-D to a “profound level of social morbidity in terms of violence, engagement in the justice system, depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide, very low chance of meaningful occupation and a very high risk of being in prison as adults requiring mental institution and support with drug addiction” Professor Boulton continued.

He likened FAS-D to the thalidomide disaster, heavy metal poisoning or radiation sickness.

Professor Boulton said progress had been made through alcohol restrictions brought about in the Kimberley towns of Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing by local women. He said the restrictions had produced a “massive reduction in the amount of violence and of women seeking refuge”, and that there was evidence young children were growing better.

Earlier in the day the Commission was told many Aboriginal youngsters from the remotest areas suffered hearing problems related to ear infections in early life. In one example retold before the Commission, a boy before court had been crash tackled by a guard who thought he was trying to escape, when in fact the boy simply hadn’t heard an instruction.

Deafness holding NT’s indigenous kids back

Many boys caught up in the Northern Territory’s juvenile justice system suffer a “disease of disadvantage” that has crippled almost every aspect of their lives, the Northern Territory’s royal commission into youth detention and protection has heard.

Jody Barney, who works as a deaf indigenous community consultant, told the inquiry she has spoken to several young Aboriginal people with hearing impairments who have had their faces covered by spit hoods and bound behind bars.

“Taking away another sense from a person who already has a limited sense is frightening. And that fear stays forever… long after their sentence,” she said.

Footage of boys being tear gassed, shackled and put in spit hoods at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre was aired on national television in July, sparking the royal commission

Psychologist Damien Howard told the inquiry a chronic housing shortage is creating an “epidemic” of hearing loss in indigenous children that leads to learning difficulties, family breakdown and criminal involvement.

“It’s very much a disease of disadvantage,” Dr Howard told Darwin’s Supreme Court.

Crowded housing overwhelms a child’s capacity to maintain hygiene, allows infections to pass quickly, and increases exposure to cigarette smoke and loud noises, while the poverty limits nutrition.

On average, non-Aboriginal kids experience middle ear disease for three months of their childhood while indigenous children can get fluctuating hearing loss for more than two years.

This can result in a permanent condition, which Dr Howard says is a “smoking gun” leading to over-representation in the criminal justice system.

Make FASD History

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are 100% preventable. If a woman doesn’t drink alcohol while she is pregnant, her child cannot have FASD.

There is a humanitarian crisis in the Fitzroy Valley region of remote North Western Australia, which has one of the highest Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the world.

The effects of alcohol on the fetal brain are a common cause of intellectual impairment in developed countries. Problems that may occur in babies exposed to alcohol before birth include low birth weight, distinctive facial features, heart defects, behavioural problems and intellectual disability.

Most infants with FASD are irritable, have trouble eating and sleeping, are sensitive to sensory stimulation, and have a strong startle reflex. They may hyperextend their heads or limbs with hypertonia (too much muscle tone) or hypotonia (too little muscle tone) or both. Some infants may have heart defects or suffer anomalies of the ears, eyes, liver, or joints.

Adults with FASD have difficulty maintaining successful independence. They have trouble staying in school, keeping jobs, or sustaining healthy relationships. They require long-term support and some degree of supervision in order to succeed.

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Bright Blue is very proud to partner with Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services to support the development and implementation of a comprehensive, evidence-based prevention and community capacity building programme, which aims to make FASD history.

The outcomes of this programme will work to:

  • Improve the health, quality of life and social and economic potential for the next generation of Fitzroy Valley children, and thus the fabric of the community itself;
  • Identify practical strategies that can be implemented elsewhere in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities to reduce and eliminate FASD;
  • Make WA a leader in FASD prevention;
  • Decrease costs associated with service provision, productivity, welfare and justice.

stacks_image_6848Led by Aboriginal community leaders Maureen Carter and June Oscar; and Paediatrician Dr James Fitzpatrick, it is important that the leadership of the Marulu strategy reflects the community ownership of the process.

Bright Blue needs your support to assist in prevention and capacity building, to develop an effective community – level support for women to abstain from drinking during pregnancy and child bearing years, so that all babies born in this community and across Australia have a full potential for a long and productive life.

Become a part of history. Together, let’s make FASD history.

The inquiry led by co-commissioners Margaret White and Mick Gooda continues.

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