NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-led, wraparound solutions a better way to navigate child protection systems

feature tile - better ways to navigate child protection systems, black and white image of young Aboriginal girl from the back walking down a corridor

Better way to navigate child protection systems

This week the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is holding a hearing focused on the experiences of First Nations people with disability and their families in contact with child protection systems. Over recent months Health Justice Australia has engaged with the Royal Commission legal team about health justice partnerships and the role this collaborative model can play to support better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

This engagement and Health Justice Australia’s written submission were drafted based on the experiences of practitioners within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led health justice partnerships, and the perspectives of NACCHO.

To view the Health Justice Australia media release click here.

Aboriginal woman and Aboriginal child portrait shot

Image source: AbSec website.

Mental health first aid includes traditional knowledge

A couple on a mission, Joe and Natasha Collard are breaking the stigma around mental health through the Birrdiya Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid workshops. The proud Noongar duo run Birrdiya, an Aboriginal consultancy and advisory services company which provides a range of culturally appropriate services and solutions. The Perth-based organisation delivers Cultural Events Management, Cultural Awareness Training, Traditional Language Workshops and the Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid (AMHFA) Training.

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

Aboriginal woman and Aboriginal child portrait shot

Image source: AbSec website.

portrait shot of Joe and Natasha Collard

Joe and Natasha Collard. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

SWAMS petition for new medical hub

South West Medical Aboriginal Services (SWAMS) is calling on the WA state government to provide funding which would allow them to build a multi-faceted and holistic Health Hub for Aboriginal and Indigenous clients living in the South West. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson recently travelled to Perth to present a petition, signed by over 1,400 local residents, for funding to Bunbury MLA, Don Punch who has agreed to present it to Parliament.

Lesley Nelson said “SWAMS has outgrown our current facility in Bunbury and even after over 20 years of providing important culturally appropriate health care to the Aboriginal community in the South West and providing huge cost savings to the local public health system, we still do not have a place to call home, instead we spend copious amounts on rental premises.However, despite many applications for funding, completed business cases, visioning documents, environmental analysis and DA Approval being granted, SWAMS is yet to be given a commitment for funding from State or Federal Governments.”

To view the full article in the Bunbury Mail click here.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch with SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson with the petition for WA State Parliament

Bunbury MLA Don Punch with SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson with the petition for the WA State Parliament. Image source: Bunbury Mail.

Children still being separated from family

The rising tide of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed from their families continues at an alarming rate, with the majority of those children permanently separated from their parents. The Family Matters Report 2020 reveals that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates – disrupting their connection to community and culture.

Family Matters Chair Sue-Anne Hunter said,  “Our children are 9.7 times more likely to be living away from their families than nonIndigenous children, an over-representation that has increased consistently over the last 10 years. It is time to completely change this broken system that is not working for our kids.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children represent 37% of the total population of all children that have been removed from their parents – a staggering 20,077 children – but represent only 6% of the total population of children in Australia.  Without urgent action, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care is projected to double by 2029.

To view the Family Matters media release click here.

Aboriginal man pushing young Aboriginal child on a tricycle in desert community

Image source: The Conversation.

Growing Stronger Together Award

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) 2020 Growing Stronger Together Award has gone to Dr Justin Hunter, a Wiradjuri man who grew up on Gumbaynggirr country and started his training here. The Growing Strong Together Award recognises an exceptional Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander GP in training.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Awards are for going above and beyond to care for their patients and communities. Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Professor Peter O’Mara said “This year’s recipients are truly exceptional and an inspiration for our profession. Australia needs more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors like Dr Hunter – his hard work and passion have resulted in significant achievements at a very early stage in what I am sure will be a long and successful career.”

To view the full article in Coffs Coast Of the Area News click here.

portrait image Dr Justin Hunter

Dr Justin Hunter. Image source: Coffs Coast Of The Area News.

RACGP’s highest accolade winner

The annual Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) awards are designed to ‘recognise outstanding achievements and exceptional individuals for their contribution to general practice’. Associate Professor Brad Murphy, a GP at Ashfield Country Practice in Bundaberg, Queensland, and founding Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, has been awarded the RACGP’s highest accolade ­– the Rose–Hunt Award.

‘It is the greatest honour to receive the Rose–Hunt Award. It is extremely humbling … to be among so many of the college’s legends and mentors I have had along the way. It is the 10th anniversary of us starting the national faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and I think it’s acknowledgement of the great work the team within the faculty have done,’ Professor Murphy said.

To read the full newsGP article click here.

portrait Associate Professor Brad Murphy

Associate Professor Brad Murphy. Image source: newsGP.

Dan Murphy’s megastore not wanted at any location

Helen Fejo-Frith says the Bagot Aboriginal community does not want a Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin — at any location — and that her feelings about it could not be any stronger. “We don’t want another [alcohol] outlet here, we’ve got enough as it is,” Ms Fejo-Frith said. “The message is as strong as I can put it.”

Ms Fejo-Frith, the Bagot community advisory group president, was one of the most vocal opponents to this initial proposal and feared the potential for harm if the large liquor outlet was within walking distance of her dry community. “For Bagot Road, we didn’t want it on there because we’ve seen so many people getting hit and deaths on that road and because of the alcohol,” Ms Fejo-Frith said.

To view the full article click here.

portrait Helen Fejo-Frith Bagot Aboriginal community

Helen Fejo-Frith. Image source: ABC News website.

Stay In Bed single drops

Naarm-based Wergaia / Wemba Wemba woman, Alice Skye has released her latest single and video “Stay in Bed”. The song was penned after a phone conversation with a friend and the realisation they were both experiencing difficult times of depression. The song’s relatable truths become an anthem of uplifting support to herself and those loved ones around her, reassuring them of the light that exists within and nearby. Alice Skye has a raw musicality, sensitivity and maturity well byong her years.

The single is available on Bad Apples Music, the prolific Indigenous record label founded by Yorta Yorta rapper Briggs. The label aims to use music as a platform for social change and fostering the talent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

To read more about “Stay in Bed” and Alice Skye’s previous work click here.

moody filtered image of singer Alice Skye

Alice Skye. Image source: The Music Preview Guide to SXSW 2020.

New clinical training facility in Charleville

Bringing modern, best practice training for nursing, midwifery, and allied health students will be one of the important outcomes of the new Southern Queensland Rural Health (SQRH) clinical training facility recently opened in Charleville, Queensland. The new facility boasts a fully equipped clinical simulation lab, telehealth studios, clinical consultation rooms as well as videoconferencing equipped training rooms, meeting rooms, staff offices and an outdoor education area and will provide significant long-term health care support to the Charleville community and wider region

SQRH engages with the South West Hospital and Health Service; the Royal Flying Doctor Service Charleville; Charleville and Western Areas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health; Cunnamulla Aboriginal Corporation for Health; and other community stakeholders to increase the number of students able to access rural and remote health experiences.

To view the full article click here.

photo of the new Southern Rural Health Clinical Training Facility, Charleville

Southern Rural Health Clinical Training Facility, Charleville. Image source: University of Southern Queensland website.

Bush fruit 50 times better than oranges

A Sydney doctor has praised the virtues of an Aussie bush fruit that’s got 50 times more vitamin C than an orange and is better at fighting the flu.

Dr Zac Turner said that during parts of his life, he’d dedicated time to learn about bush medicine from Indigenous Australians. Growing up, he said, he was lucky to live on farms in small rural communities like Bourke, Dubbo and Emerald where both his parents worked on the land as well as in youth support programs. During this time he had his first exposure to local bush medicine from some truly inspiring Aboriginal elders. Learning about these traditional medicines that have been shared and passed along for millennia was one of the key factors in Dr Turner wanting to study biomedical science and eventually medicine.

“We’ve known from tracing back in history that plant medicine has been used for quite some time – that’s more than 20,000 plus years if you factor in Aboriginal Australians. One of the fascinating things about this is that for a lot of us (including many doctors and avid bush enthusiasts) is that Australian bush medicine remains somewhat of a mystery. Indigenous knowledge is passed on through speaking, song and dance and as this practice is becoming more limited, we are at a significant cultural loss.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal hands holding Kakadu Plums

Kakadu plum harvested by Kimberley Wild Gubinge. Image source: SBS website.

NSW government needs to address mental health needs

In 2019–2020, Aboriginal people in NSW have endured displacement and destruction of their communities due to bushfires, floods, drought, and COVID-19. Aboriginal people experience these traumatic events in addition to the transgenerational trauma that exists from colonisation, loss of land and language and Cultural practices.

The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) and its Member Services work to address the Social Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) and Mental Health needs of Aboriginal people across NSW. Unfortunately, not all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in NSW have sufficient funding to ensure communities are kept safe and maintain resilience to manage the past, current, and emerging environmental challenges, and disparities. The AH&MRC, on behalf of the NSW ACCHO Sector, is calling for an increase in funding to provide and develop culturally appropriate SEWB and Mental Health services and programs.

To read the AH&MRC’s press release click here.AH&MRC logo

Remote health services COVID-19 response

The Australian Journal of Rural Health has a produced an issues paper called Remote health service vulnerabilities and responses to the COVID‐19 pandemic which looks at how the rapid response to the COVID‐19 pandemic in Australia has highlighted the vulnerabilities of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in terms of the high prevalence of complex chronic disease and socio‐economic factors such as limited housing availability and overcrowding.

The response has also illustrated the capability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Sector, working with the government, to rapidly and effectively mitigate the threat of transmission into these vulnerable remote communities. The pandemic has exposed persistent workforce challenges faced by primary health care services in remote Australia.

Specifically, remote health services have a heavy reliance on short‐term or fly‐in, fly‐out/drive‐in, drive‐out staff, particularly remote area nurses. The easing of travel restrictions across the country brings the increased risk of transmission into remote areas and underscores the need to adequately plan and fund remote primary health care services and ensure the availability of an adequate, appropriately trained local workforce in all remote communities.

To read the issues paper in full click here.

Utju Areyonga Clinic

Utju Health Service, NT. Image source: CAAC website.