NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Our #ACCHO Members Good News Stories from #NT #WA #VIC #SA #NSW #QLD #TAS

1. Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS)

2. Queensland :  Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH)

3.NSW Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Community and Medical Service

4.Northern Territory : AMSANT Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Alice Springs

5.Western Australia : Wirraka Maya Health Service

6. Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre

 For NACCHO the acceptance that our Aboriginal controlled health services deliver the best model of integrated primary health care in Australia is a clear demonstration that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person should have ready access to these services, no matter where they live.

 Lets celebrate and share our ACCHO’s success

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or Members Good News Story ? 

 Email to Colin Cowell NACCHO Media             Mobile 0401 331 251

Wednesday by 4.30 pm for publication each Thursday

1. Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS)

Major Mural for VAHS – originally published in the Koori Mail

A huge mural has been completed on the two-storey Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) building in the Melbourne suburb of Preston.

The mural, at the busy Bell Street/Plenty Road intersection, tells a story of struggle, loss and hope.

Supported by Darebin Council and VAHS, the mural pays tribute to the services’s history of working with Darebin’s Indigenous community and families and saving lives.

It was painted by 2013 Victorian Aboriginal artist of the year Ray Thomas (Gunnai Nation) and internationally renowned mural artist Matt Adnate.

VAHS acting chief executive Michael Graham said the mural represented a journey of self-determination in both holistic health and equality for Aboriginal people.

“The mural includes an Aboriginal community march depicting the faces of the people who campaigned hard to establish VAHS and to fight for recognition of, and equality for, Aboriginal people,” he said.

“Passersby can take a photo of themselves or friends in between the people on the mural at the march.”

Mother and daughter Nikita Rotumah and Yindi are featured on one side of the mural. They represent the importance of support in good health outcomes. The mural also features a poem by creative writer and VAHS employee Joanne Dwyer, written for the 40th anniversary of VAHS. It reads :

Many, many years ago some Elders decided,

That their people needed a meeting place,

Where they could come and be united.

Their aim was community control,

To make decisions of their own,

But it was more than just a meeting place,

For many it was home.

The VAHS was established in 1973 to address the specific medical needs of Victorian Aboriginal communities. The organisation has expanded over the past 40 years to provide a range of medical, dental and social services.

2. Queensland :  Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH)

“Evaluation of this unique model of pregnancy care has shown that women able to access the program engage with health services earlier in their pregnancy and more often,” Mr Carson said.

“They are also less likely to smoke during their pregnancy and are more likely to deliver their bub at the right gestation and at a healthy weight.

“Having the resources to establish this Hub has been integral to our ability to double the number of women able to access this program each year – and it means that we can link more women in with the IUIH Model of Care, a wrap-around service providing accessible and efficient primary health care to our community in South East Queensland.”

IUIH CEO Adrian Carson said the Hub’s establishment would significantly improve the wellbeing of mothers and their children in South East Queensland.

Photo above : Renee Blackman from Brisbane ATSICHS, Chelsea and Health Minister Cameron Dick visiting the Salisbury Mums & Bubs Hub today. Read IUIH press release here : http://bit.ly/2o30kyw

Mums and Bubs Hub closing the gap

Health Minister Cameron Dick today joined the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) at the official opening of the Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) Mums and Bubs Hub, which offers antenatal and family support services to improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies.

Mr Dick said the BiOC program was aimed at closing the gap in maternity and birthing outcomes and giving Indigenous infants the best possible start in life.

He said the Hub was established with the help of $3 million of Palaszczuk Government funding for the BiOC program over two years.

“This integral funding has supported the expansion of the program through additional staff to help more mothers and their babies,” Mr Dick said.

“More employees at the Salisbury hub will allow a doubling of the number of women in the program from about 100 per year to about 200 per year.

“The funding has also helped move the program from the Mater Mother’s Hospital (MMH) to establish it at a more accessible location – Salisbury.”

He said the MMH program was limited by its location, due to issues such as parking, transport and logistical barriers to accessing primary care services.

“The new location with expanded services, and the collaborative approach that drives the BiOC, will help us to reach the Close the Gap target for child mortality rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies,” Mr Dick said.

“Through the BiOC program every woman has their own midwife on-call 24/7, and a support team that includes Indigenous health workers, Indigenous student midwives, doctors, and other health professionals.

“The hub will provide continuity of care through pregnancy, birth and labour care, up to six weeks postnatal care, birthing support, Stop Smoking in its Tracks incentive program, perinatal mental health, breastfeeding support and family support services.”

He said research funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council found 97.8 per cent of the women supported by the BiOC program had five or more antenatal visits and only 4 per cent had birthed a low weight baby (less than 2500gms).

Other encouraging improvements between women in the BiOC program and Indigenous women across Australia include:

  • 80 per cent of women in BiOC had their first antenatal visit in the first trimester of pregnancy, compared with the national Indigenous average of 52 per cent
  • 36 per cent of women in BiOC smoked during pregnancy, compared with the national Indigenous average of 48 per cent
  • 7 per cent of women in BiOC gave birth preterm, compared to the national Indigenous average of 14 per cent.

IUIH CEO Adrian Carson said the Hub’s establishment would significantly improve the wellbeing of mothers and their children in South East Queensland.

“Evaluation of this unique model of pregnancy care has shown that women able to access the program engage with health services earlier in their pregnancy and more often,” Mr Carson said.

“They are also less likely to smoke during their pregnancy and are more likely to deliver their bub at the right gestation and at a healthy weight.

“Having the resources to establish this Hub has been integral to our ability to double the number of women able to access this program each year – and it means that we can link more women in with the IUIH Model of Care, a wrap-around service providing accessible and efficient primary health care to our community in South East Queensland.”

3.NSW Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Community and Medical Service

 ” This year, Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Community and Medical Service has been welcomed to the Dalang Project.

“Dalang” is a Dharug word for learning and the Dalang Project has four key outcomes:

  • Improve Aboriginal oral health and prevent obesity in Aboriginal communities
  • Improve local capacity and provide employment for Aboriginal people 
  • Provide a positive learning experience for new graduates in Aboriginal health 
  • Strengthen the evidence in Aboriginal health promotion and early intervention.

“Oral health promotion interventions are more likely to be effective in Aboriginal communities if they achieve community ownership of the intervention or program. ”

Indigenous children on the Far South Coast should have great smiles and healthy teeth thanks to an innovative project funneling resources and training into the local Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Community and Medical Service.

The Dalang Project combines oral health service delivery, with graduate training and delivery of oral health promotion and obesity prevention in Aboriginal communities, and the project is made possible by the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Sydney.

Rachael Moir is senior project officer Oral Health (Research) at the Poche Centre and visited Katungal medical centre at Narooma last week to catch up with the recent graduates and see the project being implemented in the region.

“It is really exciting to be working with the team at Katungul and we look forward to the year ahead,” Ms Moir said.

The staff at Katungul Medical Service are very grateful for the support and the project as allowed dental therapist Kylie Tran to move and practise in Narooma for 12 months.

Working alongside her is dental assistant Stephanie Morris, who already has her Certificate III in Oral Health and is now working on her Certificate IV, while trainee dental assistant Jaydean Lonsdale is now working on her Certificate III.

Katungal’s dental coordinator Yvonne Stewart said the Dalang Project had allowed these two local women to receive training and start working on improving the health of their fellow Koori people.

“It’s contributing to the oral health of our people from Batemans Bay to Eden and the whole catchment areas of Katungal,” Mrs Stewart said.

“Their primary focus is working on the dental van that will visit as many schools as possible over the next 12 months while we have our dental therapist here.”

Mrs Stewart said Katungul medical service was very grateful for the support of the Poche Centre and the Dalang Project, which meant not only were people being treated but that young people were being educated about how to take care of their teeth and oral hygiene.

“We’re very grateful as it has enabled us to deal with the very high need that people have for dental treatment,” she said. “All our children need a lot more dental treatment.”

Ms Moir explained the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health was established and funded by philanthropists Greg Poche AO and Kay Van Norton Poche in 2008.

The Poches, along with their friend and co-founder Reg Richardson AM, had seen an opportunity for the skills, expertise and resources of the University of Sydney to be harnessed to improve Aboriginal Health.

The focus for the Poche Centre is on “Healthy Kids, Healthy Teeth and Healthy Hearts” and its approach is to ensure each project is guided by the principles of respect and collaboration; following a collective impact process; and incorporating service delivery, service learning, workforce development and research, Ms Moir said.

“Our work is informed by evidence about what works, both from a community capacity building perspective and a prevention, early intervention, treatment and rehabilitation perspective,” Ms Moir said. “As always we work in partnership with communities, Aboriginal health services and local organisations to develop unique responses that meet the particular needs of the communities.”

The Dalang Project is a collaboration between Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD), Centre for Oral Health Strategy (COHS), the Rotary Club of Sydney and the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

In February, seven oral health therapy graduates were allocated to a host Aboriginal Medical/Health Service. Majority of the graduates moved away from their family and friends and will embed themselves into their new communities for one year.

This year, Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Community and Medical Service has been welcomed to the Dalang Project.

“Dalang” is a Dharug word for learning and the Dalang Project has four key outcomes:

  • Improve Aboriginal oral health and prevent obesity in Aboriginal communities
  • Improve local capacity and provide employment for Aboriginal people
  • Provide a positive learning experience for new graduates in Aboriginal health
  • Strengthen the evidence in Aboriginal health promotion and early intervention.

“Oral health promotion interventions are more likely to be effective in Aboriginal communities if they achieve community ownership of the intervention or program. In order to provide sustainable and long term oral health promotion in these communities, a large proportion of time will be dedicated to community consultation with each community to identify what type of oral health promotion strategies are needed and culturally competent; and to ensure community ownership of the program,” Ms Moir said.

“Healthy teeth are extremely important for overall health. This is why our Heathy Teeth strategy covers the full spectrum: from influencing oral health policy to delivering oral health services, building capacity within communities, and promoting oral health.”

4. AMSANT and Congress Alice Springs

Close the Gap event in Alice Springs – just some of the moments captured by Patrick Johnson

With Normie Gee and Elisabeth Heenan in Alice Springs.

5. Western Australia : Wirraka Maya Health Service

Wirraka Maya Health Service is leading the fight against FASD in the Pilbara.

Picture: Courtney Fowler

Wirraka Maya Health Service is leading the fight against Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the Pilbara, raising awareness through a two-month project with a leading FASD consultant on an issue which is a having devastating impact on the community.

FASD occurs when pre-born babies are exposed to alcohol in the womb.

It can cause facial abnormalities, growth deficiencies, skeletal deformities, organ deformities, central nervous system handicaps and behavioural problems in later life and its impact on Pilbara children, while not statistically documented, is suspected to be widespread.

Bringing more than 20 years experience working in the US, Canada and India, Carolyn Hartness is working closely with Pilbara Aboriginal medical services, a Telethon Kids research team and remote communities.

She said increasing awareness of the vast spectrum of disorders associated with FASD was crucial to better prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disorders.

“I will provide training and consultation in any way I can to keep the message out there that FASD is with us, it’s going to stay with us and people need to be educated,” Ms Hartness said.

“There is a lot of turnover in the health services — that means when we educate people. We can’t think the job is done, we have to continue to educate workers regularly.

“I’m hoping we can train people who are really interested in keeping the information out there and confident enough to facilitate discussions about the topic.

“This is a community issue; the recognition of it has to be a community-driven intervention.”

For many Pilbara health, childcare workers and police, tackling FASD is one of the Pilbara’s most important social issues.

Wirraka Maya chief executive June Councillor said the effects of fetal alcohol exposure were life-long and could include poor health, developmental and educational outcomes.

Senior Sergeant Dean Snashall said because people with FASD were less likely to engage at school, they had a higher likelihood of ending up in the judicial system.

“Often people with FASD have problems educationally, are less likely to go to school and therefore more likely to (play truant) or on the streets when they should be in school,” he said.

“By nature, that leaves them at risk to harming themselves or at risk of committing criminal offences.

“Ninety per cent of crime in the Pilbara is alcohol or drug related … it would be fair to say many of the kids we deal with could be FASD children.”

The Telethon Kids Institute has been studying the spectrum disorder in the WA youth justice system, but a lack of FASD clinics had prevented authorities getting a grip on numbers.

Ms Hartness said when she became aware of FASD in the 1990s, she realised there was a clinical reason behind many of the problems she was seeing within the native American community in the US.

“This is why these kids are in prison, this is why grandparents are coming to parenting classes (instead of parents), this is why all these kids in classes (are restless and can’t learn) … I was just amazed,” she said.

Yet, while FASD is the most common preventable cause of intellectual impairment in developed countries, affecting up to five per cent of people, there still has not been enough research conducted into its various disorders, Ms Hartness said.

She said the biggest challenge was the lack of funding for FASD research and programs and the fact at this stage there was no single tool available to diagnose those with the disorder.

She also said FASD was not just an issue for indigenous communities — research showed it was a wider societal problem.

“Now the research shows, more than likely the next woman in America to have an affected kid is a white professional and educated woman,” she said.

“And a lot of that is the glass of wine (she might have) with dinner every night.”

Ms Hartness said while 80 per cent of women quit drinking during pregnancy, it was the 20 per cent who found it hard to stop that needed help.

She also said the alcoholic drinking women did in the weeks or months before they realised they were pregnant could also play a critical role in causing FASD.

Ms Hartness added the best way to avoid putting a fetus at risk of FASD was by carefully planning pregnancies to avoid the effects of the initial period drinking before women realise they were with child.

“I’m not asking everyone to quit drinking. I am just saying let’s plan pregnancies and let’s be sober during the pregnancy,” she said.

Ms Councillor said although there was a long road ahead in the fight against FASD, Wirraka Maya’s programs were making a difference in the Pilbara community.

“We have established the FASD network, that is a forum or a vehicle to bring people together across the services, across the community to talk about FASD and some of the strategies that we need to put in place to address it and prevent it,” she said.

“We have got our primary health care that we provide to the community, we also provide social and emotional wellbeing programs to the community and that includes family and domestic violence, indigenous family hearings so child sexual abuse, severe mental illness through our personal helpers and mentors program.

“Fetal alcohol goes across all of the whole spectrum and we have them all those services in the one place … we are very well placed in the community to be able to be leading the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder strategy.

“It is quite a broad project, but I think it is important that we do it because for us to make a difference in the future, we have to start now.”

6. Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre

Penalty for deliberate damage to Aboriginal relics in Tasmania jumps to $1.6m

The penalty for deliberately damaging Aboriginal relics will jump from $1,570 to a maximum of $1.57 million under new legislation tabled by the Tasmanian Government.

The Aboriginal Relics Amendment Bill 2017, which aims to remove or amend outdated elements of the 1975 act, also removes the 1876 “cut-off” date for what is considered Aboriginal heritage.

The date marks the death of prominent Aboriginal woman Truganini, inferring that anything made after that date had no heritage value.

Under the changes, a new Aboriginal Heritage Council will be established and the time available for commencing prosecutions will be extended from six months to two years.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) chief executive Heather Sculthorpe welcomed parts of the bill, but said it did not go far enough.

“There are two good things about the Relics Amendment,” she said.

“One is they have removed 1876 as the cut-off date beyond which there can be Aboriginal heritage, and secondly, they have significantly increased the penalties for offences under the act,” she said.

“But on the other hand they have removed the offences of strict liability and they have enabled only two years for a prosecution to be brought — that is better than the six months that it was, but we have urged the Government to say that there should be no time limit.”

Ms Sculthorpe said it was “contradictory” of the State Government to introduce stronger protections for Aboriginal relics, while also trying to reopen four-wheel drive tracks in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area on Tasmania’s west coast, an area of Indigenous significance.

“What they have not done is look at all the other ways Aboriginal heritage needs to be protected,” she said.

“On the one hand they are amending the relics act, then … they are determined to let four-wheel drive vehicles run amok in takayna [Tarkine].

“Then they are acquiring land to put a cable car on kunanyi [Mount Wellington], as well as to cut down trees and destroy much of the pristine nature of takayna.”

The TAC called on the State Government to increase penalties under the Aboriginal Relic Act 1975 last year, after vandals defaced “priceless” Indigenous rock art believed to be up to 8,000 years old in Tasmania’s Central Highlands.

The ancient ochre paintings in a rock shelter had been scratched with a rock.

Ms Sculthorpe said charges had still not been laid.

Under the current legislation, the maximum penalty for offences against the act is 10 penalty units ($1,570) or up to six months’ jail.

Under the changes, maximum penalties for deliberate acts related to harming relics will be 10,000 penalty units ($1.57 million) for companies and 5,000 penalty units ($785,000) for individuals .

The maximum penalties for reckless or negligent offences will be 2,000 penalty units ($314,000) for companies and 1,000 penalty units ( $157,000) for individuals.

For “lesser offences” the maximum penalty will be 100 penalty units ($15,700) for companies and 50 penalty units ($7,850) for individuals.

Driving over middens to attract fine

Tasmanian Regional Aboriginal Communities Alliance (TRACA) co-chair Rodney Dillon said the changes were overdue and would better protect Indigenous sites under threat from four-wheel drives.

“This act will support us in stopping those sites from being destroyed. If people are going to drive over middens these penalties apply,” he said.

Heritage Minister Matthew Groom said if the legislation was enacted it would be the most significant advancement in the protection of Aboriginal heritage in 40 years.

“It has resulted from consultation with the Aboriginal community,” he said.

“We recognise up front that there will be many people that will think this legislation does not go far enough.

“But what we have seen time and time again where previous governments have sought to do this in one go is that it has failed.”

Government showing ‘two faces’: Greens

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the Government was showing “two faces” on Aboriginal heritage.

“You have got this Government with two faces; it says it wants to reset the relationship with Aboriginal Tasmanians and protect Aboriginal heritage, but it wants to unleash four wheel drives in the Tarkine,” she said.

“It just does not make sense, and Aboriginal Tasmanians are not buying it.”

Mr Groom said the Government stood by its position on the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Reserve.

“We have stated very clearly that we believe that there should be access to the Arthur-Pieman but that it should be done in a way which is consistent with the proper protection of natural and cultural values in that area,” he said.

In February the ABC reported volunteers from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) and the Wilderness Society found middens, artefact scatters and stone tools in the wilderness region in Tasmania’s north-west.

Following the find, the TAC called for the area to be declared a national park to better protect the sites.

The legislation is expected to be debated next month.

State government’s proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 met with lukewarm reception from Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre

The state government’s positive changes to the Aboriginal Relics Act are undermined by its disregard for Indigenous Tasmanians, a leading voice in the Indigenous community says.

While she applauded the government’s efforts to amend the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 so that it was more sensitive to indigenous heritage, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre chief executive Heather Sculthorpe said the changes did not accord with some of the government’s other policies.

“Whilst they’re bringing in small amendments to the Relics Act, they’re continuing with their determination to open tarkayna [the Tarkine] to 4WD tracks, which will … wreck aboriginal heritage,” Ms Sculthorpe said.

“They’re still chopping down trees in tarkayna … to offend us as the owners of tarkayna.”

The Aboriginal Relics Amendment Bill 2016 seeks to better protect aboriginal heritage in Tasmania.

Some of the amendments the bill proposed were: changing the name of the original act to ‘Aboriginal Heritage Act’; removing a reference to the year 1876 as the so-called cut-off date for aboriginal heritage; increasing penalties for damaging aboriginal heritage; and removing the six-month time limit for the prosecution of offences.

Environment Minister Matthew Groom said the Hodgman government was committed to “reset[ting]” the state’s relationship with the Tasmanian aboriginal community.

He said the government would further consult the aboriginal community to resolve any remaining issues with the act.

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