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

1.QLD Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s (IUIH) Sports Health Carnival attracts 600 kids

2. NSW Coffs Harbour Aunty Mary ” 94% of vision loss in Indigenous Australians is preventable or treatable

3. SA : Sharon Bilney ACCHO Nurse celebrate and acknowledges NAIDOC Week

 4.SA : Community Controlled Health Service works to close the life expectancy gap in Murray Bridge

5. WA : AHCWA In battle ” meth use problems rival alcohol abuse

6. NT  : The NT ‘Intervention’ led to some changes in Indigenous health, but the social cost may not have been worth it

7.VIC : VAHS Indigenous superhero empowering the next generation of ‘smoke-free ambassadors’                                  

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1.QLD Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s (IUIH) Sports Health Carnival attracts 600 kids

The University of Queensland has welcomed the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s (IUIH) Deadly Choices Junior Murri Carnival to the St Lucia campus.

From 26-29 June, the carnival is showcasing the strong links between health, wellbeing, sport and education.

More than 600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 6 to 12 have nominated to participate in rugby league and netball games, in addition to a tour of the campus, demonstrations from Faculties, and meeting some of their sporting heroes, including the Brisbane Broncos and Queensland Firebirds.

UQ is supporting the IUIH event through the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit.

Director of the UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, Shane Drahm, said the carnival demonstrated strong links between UQ and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to highlight our partnerships and the fantastic work of IUIH and the Deadly Choices program in community,” Mr Drahm said.

Deadly Choices General Manager Keiron Lander said the event focused on promoting positive messages for the young participants and their families.

“A healthy choice is a deadly choice,” Mr Lander said.

“The carnival is a smoke-free, sugar-free and alcohol-free event. All the children here this week have been attending school and have undergone a health check through their local services.

“The event is about bringing little people together in a safe environment focused on health, education and physical activity.”

2. NSW Coffs Harbour Aunty Mary ” 94% of vision loss in Indigenous Australians is preventable or treatable

“I think it’s important for other Aboriginal people to hear my story and understand it is important to take your health seriously and listen to your doctor,

“Most cases of blindness in Aboriginal people are preventable and I want to prevent others losing their sight like me.”

Aunty Mary lost her sight to diabetes and will speak about the importance of maintaining a healthier lifestyle to prevent this illness.

INDIGENOUS elder Aunty Mary Hooker has a full dance card for her upcoming visit to the Coffs Coast for NAIDOC Week.

The Bundjalung woman will be at Coffs Harbour Showground on July 5 as a guest in the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT information stand at the Who Ya Gunna Call forum.

She will also visit family fun days in Nambucca Heads and Grafton during her stay.

A keen knitter and painter, she will be bringing along a giant 5.5 metre scarf she knitted in the colours of the Aboriginal flag as an example of how she keeps busy.

“Guide Dogs came to my home to teach me cane training, how to get to the shops, cross the road safely and move around my community on my own.

“I wouldn’t have gained my confidence without the free training and support.

“Now I have a cane in Aboriginal colours and it makes me feel proud.”

Guide Dogs orientation and mobility specialists will be on hand at the forum to speak to anyone who may be experiencing or know someone experiencing sight loss.

Regional manager Jeremy Hill said Aboriginal adults are six times more likely to be blind than other Australians.

“Yet 94% of vision loss in Indigenous Australians is preventable or treatable,’ he said.

“We’re hoping our information stand will help to reduce these worrying statistics by providing eye health advice and practical solutions if they are having trouble getting around due to vision loss.”

3. SA Sharon Bilney ACCHO Nurse celebrate and acknowledges NAIDOC Week

“Deciding to become a nurse is a decision that I’ve never regretted,

It’s a career that you can have around children and I’ve loved the opportunities that have come with it as well – I loved that I’ve worked in a hospital setting but also been able to lecture and have the chance to mentor and support young Aboriginal students on their path into nursing.”

The mother of four, who is Manager of Client Services for Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service, began her early career working at Port Lincoln Hospital.

Going home with the feeling that she’d made a difference in someone’s life that day is what Sharon Bilney says is the best part of being a nurse.

“When I was working at the hospital, it was just so nice to feel as though I’d made a difference,whether it was to an Aboriginal patient that day or educating a non-Aboriginal person about Aboriginal culture,” Ms Bilney, who belongs to the Kokatha family group, said.She also had a two-year stint lecturing in nursing at TAFE South Australia’s Port Lincoln Campus.

Ms Bilney is speaking about her nursing career to help highlight NAIDOC Week, which runs from Sunday, July 2-9, and is urging young Indigenous people to explore nursing as a career option.

The theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week is Our Languages Matter.

“I highly recommend nursing. Even if you don’t want to work in a hospital, the possibilities and options are endless. Take every opportunity that comes your way,” Ms Bilney said.

“NAIDOC week is an important week to celebrate our history and culture. If not for anything else, it is just a wonderful opportunity to recognise our people for one week.”

Ms Bilney said the best thing she had ever done was switch from her previous career in office work to nursing.

“Once I knew that I would be able to study at home part-time while I still had my youngest little boy at home with me, I thought the opportunity was just amazing,” she said.

“Once I was enrolled, I just wanted to focus on getting through the next five years of study and really achieve that goal of becoming a nurse.”

In her final year of study, Ms Bilney received the Federal Government-funded Rural and Remote Undergraduate scholarship, through the Australian College of Nursing (ACN). ACN Chief Executive Officer, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, said Ms Bilney was a perfect example of how diverse a career in nursing could be, and how it could be explored at different stages in life.

“Sharon was a mum at home caring for her young son when an opportunity came her way to be able to study nursing,” Adjunct Professor Ward said.

“On completing her studies, she has had the opportunity to work in a hospital and experience theatre work, accident and emergency, the surgical and medical wards and has also had the chance to work in palliative care and mental health.

“She has also lectured in nursing and been able to mentor young Indigenous students and is now leading the way in providing health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Port Lincoln.”

4.SA : Community Controlled Health Service works to close the life expectancy gap in Murray Bridge

Imagine two newborn babies lying next to each other, one Aboriginal, one white.

Their whole lifetimes lie ahead of them.

But on average, one can expect to live about 10 years longer than the other.

That is the problem the Moorundi Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service hopes to solve in the Murraylands and Fleurieu areas of South Australia.

Photo above Clinton thanks  Moorundi Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service for donating $500 dollar’s to our go fund me page and also Murray bridge community for helping to by donating to our walk. Thank you Moorundi and Murray bridge community for helping us by donating to keep us going on our walk

The service held an open day, with a free lunch and health checks, on Wednesday at its Standen Street, Murray Bridge premises as part of wider Reconciliation Week celebrations.

But closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians would take a much wider effort, said Aboriginal health Director, Damian Rigney.

He hoped Moorundi staff could scan every person in the Murraylands’ Aboriginal community for the common conditions which tended to affect them more than the general population: diabetes, heart problems and chronic obstructive diseases of the lungs and airways.

‘A lot of what we’ve got to talk about is tobacco cessation, staying active, eating the right foods,’ he said.

‘We hit risk factors at quite a high level in the Aboriginal community.’

‘Regular testing played an important role in preventing chronic disease,’ he said.

‘Better to run a urine analysis and find out about kidney disease at an early stage, before a patient became tied to a dialysis machine for the rest of his or her life.’

But Mr Rigney said the service was still a long way away from connecting with every member of the Aboriginal community.

Many Aboriginal people still centred their health care on their everyday General Practitioner, he said, perhaps not realising that more holistic help was available.

‘Our goal would be that every Aboriginal person in our catchment has an annual health check, and if they have a chronic disease they have a care plan to help with that disease,’ he said.

Source: The Murray Valley Standard

5. WA : AHCWA In battle ” meth use problems rival alcohol abuse

“While there is evidence that alcohol use is still higher than methamphetamine use, from the Aboriginal community perspective, we are certainly seeing methamphetamine use becoming just as significant as alcohol use.”

AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox

Read more in this story from Page 6 in the North West Telegraph

6. NT  : The NT ‘Intervention’ led to some changes in Indigenous health, but the social cost may not have been worth it

The measurable health outcomes of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response (NTNER), better known as The Intervention, have scarcely been documented. Health-related assessments have focused on the process itself, perceptions of those affected and some limited data regarding eventual dental and hearing health.

From the Conversation

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association released a “health impact assessment” of The Intervention in 2010. But the report did not seek to evaluate health impacts and instead attempted to predict what these might be. At that stage, three years after the start of the NTNER, the message was:

the intervention could potentially lead to profound long-term damage, with any possible benefits to physical health largely outweighed by negative impacts on psychological health, social health and well-being, and cultural integrity.

Direct health care activities were a limited component of the NTNER, accounting for less than one-tenth of its A$1.4 billion budget from 2007-2012. Any enduring health benefits stemming from the policy were always likely to relate to the focus on housing and education – key social determinants of health.

Policies directed at the social determinants, as well as child health checks, certainly played a part in some health-related changes. But the overall implementation of the NT Intervention was so coercive that the negative feelings associated with it would likely outweigh any of the measurable health impacts.

Community-based child health checks

The major defined health care initiative of the NTNER were the community-based child health checks.

These were closely aligned with the government’s initial driver of The Intervention, which was to “protect Aboriginal children in the NT” – in part a response to the earlier “Little Children are Sacred” report. When initially implemented, the health checks were compulsory for all Aboriginal children aged 0–15 years. While these aimed to identify and treat health problems, their purpose was also to investigate for effects and evidence of sexual abuse.

Like much of the NT Intervention, the initially compulsory, intrusive and contentious nature of such assessments of children without carer consent ensured a difficult reception.

The policy also suffered from staffing issues. Although detailed numbers are difficult to ascertain, it was clear many of the 1,080 well-meaning clinicians who responded to the NTNER staffing hot line had little or no experience of Indigenous or remote health.

The child health checks failed to integrate with and support existing primary health care (such as GP clinics). A “fly-in, fly-out” workforce created the perception existing health providers were in some way inadequate, or complicit in the health issues the checks were detecting. Whether this undermined existing staff morale or contributed to already high turnover of remote primary health care staff is difficult to assess.

On the plus side, many Indigenous children had health screening in association with the NT Intervention. More than 10,000 children up to 15 years of age, representing more than 50% of the population, had health checks over the first 18 months. The fact that half did not is perhaps testament to the limited value local communities placed on such screening. Whether such screening would have occurred irrespective of the NTNER remains unclear.

There were other benefits too. Two-thirds of children were referred for follow-up review, including 39% to local primary health care, 35% to a dentist, 14% to audiology, 12% to paediatricians and 9% to ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists.

Reassuringly, by 2012, the majority (94%) of children identified as requiring referral had been seen, including 94% for dental, nearly 100% for audiology and 97% for ENT care. This appeared to have measurable health impacts. Oral health problems decreased by 12%, hearing loss by 10% (and 60% in those with documented hearing loss at initial review) and ear disease by 21%.

Whether this translates to sustained improvement remains to be seen. Without change in the underlying social determinants of health, this is unlikely.

Social determinants

While the NTNER did not include measures for new housing, it occurred in close association with the Strategic Investment Housing and Infrastructure Program, a partnership between the NT and federal governments. The emphasis this program placed on secure tenure of properties made the negotiation and provision of long-term leases to the government a core requirement for housing support.

In close parallel with the health care component of the NTNER, people and organisations had to cede autonomy and ownership to the government to access adequate accommodation.

Unlike many elements of the NTNER, this received some initial cautious support from the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association’s health impact assessment. Nonetheless there remains little evidence this government takeover of Indigenous Australian housing has improved the quality of housing or overcrowding. Indeed, measures of household overcrowding have barely changed over the time of the NTNER.

The NTNER had the initial plan of encouraging education attendance by linking income support and family assistance payments to school attendance for everyone on Aboriginal land and providing meals for children at school at parents’ cost. Unfortunately Indigenous school attendance rates for years one to ten remain stubbornly fixed at 80% nationally and 69% in the NT.

The right thing, the wrong way

While the NTNER may have brought about improvements in the ear and dental health of children, the process was associated with disenfranchisement of Indigenous Australian communities. Broader change in the underlying health determinants relating to education and housing have not been seen. The experience has also created further mistrust in the relationship between Indigenous Australians and governments.

The overall message is that investment and resourcing of initiatives to improve Indigenous Australian health can bring about measurable improvements. These must nonetheless occur in partnership with stakeholders and communities and empower services that already exist and, as in the case of primary health care, are functioning well.

The NTNER has both demonstrated how increased resourcing of health care for Indigenous Australians can lead to positive measurable change while, at the same time, showing how not to do it.

 7.VIC : VAHS Indigenous superhero empowering the next generation of ‘smoke-free ambassadors’                                  

“You smoke, you choke!” That’s the message to the youngest members of our Indigenous community.

And the messenger is a fictional anti-smoking superhero by the name of ‘Deadly Dan’.

Cloaked in possum fur – and using a boomerang, ‘Deadly Dan’ highlights the dangers of smoking, in a new book.

“I can smell cigarette smoke all over Wurundjeri country,” ‘Deadly Dan’ shouts from the pages.

“And if my people call me, I can fly as fast as Bunjil.”

For the three and four-year-olds at Yappera Children’s Services in Melbourne northern suburbs, the message seems to have had an impact.

“Smoking is bad,” little Maya told SBS World News.

Aliyah added” “It makes you sick.”

‘Two fruit, five veg’

A collaboration between the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and Quit Victoria, ‘Deadly Dan at the League’ also aims to spread the word about healthy living.

During a visit to Yappera, the children sing along to the super hero’s song:

“Two fruit, five veg, they’re the bomb. They keep our bodies, healthy and strong.”

“Let’s tell our mob, let’s tell them quick – cigarettes, they make you sick!”

The book is set in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, using local landmarks the children are familiar with.

Laura Thompson, the regional coordinator at ‘Tackling Indigenous Smoking’, said the aim was for the children to then initiate a conversation with their families.

“We found that they’re our best smoke-free ambassadors, and that they’re able to go back into their homes and have a Quit conversations with their parents actually, and advocate for smoke-free environments.”

Quit Victoria Director, Dr Sarah White, said young people were the strongest advocates of anti-smoking campaigns.

“A lot of people are surrounded by adults and their role models smoking, around them.”

“If you look at the community, about 60 per cent, or a bit over 60 per cent, are 30 and under. So if we reach the children, we’re actually reaching a big proportion of Indigenous communities in Australia.”

Having an impact

The Aboriginal Health Service has seen an increase in the number of adults visiting its clinic, wanting to quit.

But there’s still a way to go.

While the smoking rate is declining among the Indigenous community, it’s still high, at 39 per cent.

That’s compared to 12.2 per cent, for the overall Australian community.

The ultimate aim of the ‘Deadly Dan’ book is to ensure the smoke-free message has a lasting legacy in these youngest of ambassadors.

“When they go to any environment, it’s a healthy, smoke-free environment, that they can enjoy,” Ms Thompson told SBS.

“And that our next generation of kids, choose not to smoke, and that their elders and parents, before them, are on their quitting journey.”


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