NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Support needed to close the mental health gap

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Support needed to close mental health gap

To mark World Mental Health Day and World Mental Health Week 2020, NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills has issued a Media Statement emphasising that the commitment in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap needs continued funding support to close the mental health gap. In Australia, the rate of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continues to grow. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills states, “Our people experience very high levels of trauma at nearly three times the rate of other Australians and recent statistics point out that we are twice as likely to commit suicide.”

Image source: Department of Health

“The new targets in the National Agreement on Close the Gap focuses on 16 socio-economic targets which were not included in the previous Closing the Gap strategy such as suicide, children in out-of-home care, adult incarceration and juvenile detention. To meet these targets, NACCHO believes sustained funding support for Aboriginal led, culturally appropriate mental health and suicide prevention programs is critical. We will not stop advocating for appropriate funding to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) until the Mental Health Gap is closed. We need funding support for sustainable community-led solutions to expand their mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, suicide prevention, and alcohol and other drug services, which use best-practice trauma-informed approaches,” said Ms Mills.

To read the NACCHO Chair’s media statement click here and to read the media release from Mental Health Australia click here.

Innovative program helps reunite families

Almost 400 children have been safely restored to their parents thanks to an innovative program designed to drive down the number of children in out-of-home care, which is funded by an Australian-first Social Benefit Bond (SBB).  NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the Newpin program has achieved unprecedented restoration results for vulnerable families across NSW. “Newpin is designed to reunite families by providing long-term therapeutic support that builds parenting skills and addresses issues like mental health, isolation, social disadvantage or family violence,” Mr Ward said.  “Over the course of the seven-year pilot, more than 60% of children returned to the care of their parents. Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the program demonstrates what can be achieved when Government works with organisations that have the right expertise to deliver the best outcomes for communities.

To view the media release click here.

mother watching small child as he draws on chalkboard

Image source: Social Ventures Australia.

Donnella Mills reaction to the Budget 2020 on ABC NewsRadio

Listen to NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills providing a reaction to the Budget 2020 to ABC NewsRadio, welcoming the increase in funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and stating that NACCHO will continue to press the Government for targeted infrastructure investment in our clinics.

To listen to the interview click here.

VIC ACCHOs to lead local responses to COVID-19

More than $500,000 in grants under the first round of the $10 million Aboriginal Community Response and Recovery Fund has been announced. The Fund – announced in July – was set up to provide support for communities during the pandemic, including emergency relief, outreach and brokerage, social and wellbeing initiatives – as well as cultural strengthening and virtual celebration opportunities.

Four Aboriginal organisations were successful in the first round, including Wathaurong Aboriginal Corporation in Geelong, The Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited in North Melbourne, the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Corporation and the Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association in Hastings.

To read the Victorian State Government’s media release click here.

Image source: Victorian Government Twitter.

Culturally appropriate care for chronically ill

A program by Blacktown-based service, Western Sydney Integrated Team Care (ITC), is ensuring chronically ill Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have improved access to quality holistic care in the greater Western Sydney region. The federally funded program is facilitated by Western Sydney Primary Health Network and is operated by WentWest. It has proven itself to be a success and over time tailored itself to the community’s needs. With the largest urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Australia and one of the highest diabetes rates compared to the national figure, as well as heart and respiratory diseases, hepatitis and asthma becoming increasingly common within community, the importance of the service is not lost on the Western Sydney ITC team.

To view the National Indigenous Times article in full click here.

Aboriginal health worker standing in front of window with words Western Sydney ITC Program

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

More needed to address eye health services backlog

The Fred Hollows Foundation has welcomed the Government’s six month extension to telehealth services announced in the Federal Budget, but said more must be done to address the backlog of eye health services caused by COVID-19. The Foundation’s CEO Ian Wishart said urgent action was needed to address the backlog of cataract surgeries and other ophthalmic treatments because of the pandemic. “Already long waiting lists are getting longer. Without targeted investment to support cataract surgery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, there is a real concern that gains made over the past decade in closing the eye health gap could be lost,” Mr Wishart said. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are three times more likely to be blind than other Australians and we know that more investment is needed to close the gap in eye health. We need commitment from all levels of government towards the implementation of Strong Eyes Strong Communities, a five year plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision care.”

To read the article in full click here.

Aboriginal artist Peter Datjin with eye patch in outdoor setting

Indigenous artist Peter Datjin. Image source: The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness website.

Healing through connection and culture report launched

Lifeline Australia, in partnership with The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, have launched the Wellbeing and Healing Through Connection and Culture Report. Authored by Professor Pat Dudgeon, Professor Gracelyn Smallwood, Associate Professor Roz Walker, Dr Abigail Bray and Tania Dalton, the report is the first literature review undertaken in Australia analysing the emerging research and knowledge, key themes and principles surrounding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural perspectives and concepts of healing and social and emotional wellbeing as they relate to suicide prevention.

To read the Lifeline Australia media release regarding the launch click here.

nine Aboriginal people on beach at dusk, dance & digeridoo

Image source: SNAICC website.

Record investment in WA Aboriginal communities

More than $750 million has been committed in the 2020–21 WA State Budget to enhance the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal communities. This record amount of funding aims to build the resilience and capacity of Aboriginal communities and individuals. The funding is split over three key policy areas: building strong communities, improving health and wellbeing and delivering social and economic opportunities. An important component is $9.77 million for Aboriginal regional suicide prevention plans in each region of WA, prioritising Aboriginal-led and locally endorsed initiatives. Suicide affects the whole community, and a whole-of-community approach is required to prevent it.

To view WA Mental Health Minister Roger Cook’s media release click here.

Aboriginal woman and male youth in foreground against building in remote Australia

Image source: Government of WA Department of Communities website.

More can be done to prevent diabetes related vision loss

Diabetes-related vision loss is the leading cause of blindness for working-aged Australians, yet it’s almost entirely preventable. A recent Australian study found that only half of the people with diabetes get the recommended annual eye checks. Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people three times more likely to develop diabetes than non-Indigenous Australians. There is potential to prevent blindness in more people with diabetes if the ongoing improvement of eye care that involves and empowers people with diabetes, their health teams, and communities to develop services, systems, new technology, and policies that meet their needs is pursued.

To view the full Micky Newsletter article click here.

Aboriginal woman and male youth in foreground against building in remote Australia

Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Health care equity post graduate scholarships available

The Centre for Research Excellence – Strengthening systems for Indigenous health care equity’s (CRE-STRIDE) goal is equitable health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through quality improvement (QI) and collaborative research to strengthen primary health care systems. CRE-STRIDE’s research approach is based on growing evidence of the importance of community-driven, culture-strengthening interventions in Indigenous primary health care settings. CRE-STRIDE’s way of working puts the strengths, needs and aspirations of Indigenous people at the centre of the research process informed by methodologies that reflect Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing and advance international Indigenous scholarship.

CRE-STRIDE is offering scholarships to support honours, Masters of Research and PhD candidates. 

To view the CRE-STRIDE website click here and to view details about the scholarship program and how to submit an Expression of Interest click here.CRE-STRIDE banner - words CRE-STRICE in semi-circle, Aboriginal meeting symbols and yellow red grey dots in background against purple banner