NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Landmark report on Australia’s First Nations women and girls

Landmark report on Australia’s First Nations women and girls

A landmark report on Australia’s First Nations women and girls has been released, with an ambitious, female-led plan for structural reform. 

Wiyi Yani U Thangani—(Women’s Voices)—Securing Our Rights, Securing Our Future Report 2020 is a comprehensive, whole-of-life document and the result of over a hundred engagements with thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls of all ages in remote, very remote, regional and urban communities. 

The Report calls for the urgent establishment of a National Action Plan, an advisory body and targets and benchmarks for women and girls to lead in all areas of life.  

“What we have here today, is not a report for the shelves; it’s a call to action. It’s a strengths-based message for all Australians to see, to hear, to learn of the remarkable resilience and capabilities of our women and girls, who have the solutions but lack a seat at the table,” said Commissioner June Oscar.  

“The voices of our women and girls are on every page of this Report. This is their Report. 

“When my team and I embarked on this journey, we had no set agenda, no imposed framework. 

“We gave Indigenous women and girls the space to say what they wanted, to share their ideas, without fear or favour. That’s exactly what they did. My team and I have been moved by the sheer resilience of our First Nations women and girls, who despite ongoing disadvantage across all areas of life, continue to hold their communities and families together.” 

“To our First Nations women and girls; you have been heard and you will make a difference. And now, it’s time to put these recommendations into action, with the second stage of Wiyi Yani U Thangani, ” said Ms Oscar. 

The Report includes principles to guide change, seven overarching recommendations and a series of priority actions to enable communities to thrive and overcome profound disadvantage. 

Wiyi Yani U Thangani has been supported by a multi-year partnership with National Indigenous Australians Agency. It is the first national engagement project of its kind since the Women’s Business Report in 1986. 

To access Commissioner Oscar’s speech click here.

AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship 2020

A physiotherapist who switched to medicine after seeing the needs of remote Aboriginal communities is the recipient of the 2020 AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship.

Lloyd Diggins, now in his third year as a medical student at the University of Notre Dame Australia, is currently working in Kununurra as part of the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia. He plans to become a GP with subspecialty training in palliative care and dialysis, two key needs in rural and remote communities.

Mr Diggins, 29, is a Wongi Aboriginal man who grew up on Whadjuk and Wardandi Noongar countries in Western Australia.

Working as a hospital physiotherapist in Perth, Mr Diggins saw firsthand the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the healthcare system. However, he was discouraged by senior staff from combining his culture with his work, and became frustrated by racist experiences.

His sister, a nurse, encouraged him to move to Darwin, where she was providing culturally safe healthcare and was enjoying living within and caring for a larger Aboriginal population.
He was offered the opportunity to develop the allied health service at Gove District Hospital in East Arnhem Land, and discovered that while the area needed a full-time dietitian and physiotherapist, it also needed another GP.

“I had fallen in love with the Yolngu people and the Gove region, and I thought that if I was going to live in Arnhem Land for the rest of my career, I ought to ‘duck into town’ and pick up a degree that would let me provide the type of help that the local people needed,” Mr Diggins said.

Since commencing his medical studies, Mr Diggins has continued to work for WA Country Health Service alongside his immediate and extended family.

“I have seen how a lack of palliative care in rural and remote areas is devastating to Aboriginal people, who are dying away from their country and their families,” Mr Diggins said.

“I have seen how young people are growing up without their parents because dialysis isn’t accessible to Aboriginal people in rural areas.

“I have seen the importance of an Aboriginal medical workforce, where my improved confidence in combining my culture with my healthcare provision has reduced other staff’s racism, and improved Aboriginal people’s confidence and engagement in healthcare.”

Mr Diggins eventually hopes to develop a formalised Aboriginal medicine training program for future students.

To read the full AMA media release click here.

Participation in Aboriginal Workforce Research Project Reminder

The University of Sydney is asking you to help with an employment project about identifying the push and pull factors that help Aboriginal workers in the health, ageing, and disability sector in NSW to stay in their roles.

The NSW based project, led by an Aboriginal research team Associate Professor John Gilroy and Folau Talbot in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, aims to find out why Aboriginal staff either stay or leave their jobs in these sectors. With this information, we then plan to design and recommend strategies for these workforces to keep Aboriginal staff.

A vibrant Aboriginal workforce influences Aboriginal families access to quality health services, as such this research is essential to help improve the experiences of Aboriginal people working in these sectors.

The two surveys include:

  1. First survey is to be completed by Aboriginal employees who have direct client or patient contact and who do not have university qualifications. The link to the survey is here.
  2. Second survey is to be completed by Managers of agencies who employ and/or supervise Aboriginal people who work in these sectors. The link to the survey is here.

It would be great if you could complete these surveys by 19 December.

Beck Family Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Injury Prevention Scholarship

“The Australasian Injury Prevention Network (AIPN) has announced the opening of the Beck Family Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Injury Prevention Scholarship. Enhancing the capability of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander injury prevention workforce is essential to reducing injury in the First People of Australia. This scholarship will support an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researcher, community-worker, practitioner or policy-maker to attend an injury prevention conference. 

Applications close Monday 1st February 2021, 5pm AEST.

More information also available here.

Donating blood is more essential than ever!

Blood and plasma products are needed daily to support cancer patients, new mums and babies, people with immune deficiencies or blood diseases, and people who need surgery or have suffered trauma.

Blood is like milk. You can’t just buy a lot of it and save it for later – you need to have a regular, fresh supply for patients who need it!

At the moment, fewer Australians are donating blood than usual. Around 900 donors cancelling appointments or rescheduling them each day.

Blood donation is an essential service to our mob! We urge healthy, eligible individuals to donate and help avoid potential shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information, click here

Consumers Health Forum and NPS MedicineWise Consumer Mentoring Program

The Consumer Mentoring Program will provide support to new and less experienced consumer representatives to build their capacity to participate in one of NPS MedicineWise’s Advisory Groups.  

The program will take up to four pairs of mentors and mentees and will be implemented over one year in 2021. 

Why get involved? 

Mentees: The program is actively seeking to build the capacity and diversity of new and less experienced consumer representatives who may already be involved with your organisation, or who want to get involved in advocacy.  

Mentors: It is also a chance for experienced advocates to provide mentoring support and guidance, and share their knowledge in a supported, formal program. 

When is the Consumer Mentoring Program happening? 

We will begin advertising this week and accepting applications until 31 December. Applicants will be chosen by mid-January and the training will begin by the end of January. 

How can you get involved? 

If you think there may be people within your networks who might consider joining the program, we urge you to share the application links below. 

Mentee application form

Mentor application form

Applications close 31 December 2020. For more information click here.

A trial of the controversial cashless welfare card will run for two more years

Despite fierce debate among politicians over the past week in determining whether or not the cashless welfare program would be made permanent, reactions from community leaders to an extension of the card’s trial have been more nuanced.

The Government’s original plan was to make the card permanent in Ceduna in South Australia, the East Kimberley and Goldfields regions of WA, and the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region of Queensland.

After failing to win support, it was instead agreed trials at these four sites would be extended for another two years.

To read the full story click here.