NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Lack of cultural understanding can inflict grave harm

Lack of cultural understanding can inflict grave harm

Lack of cultural understanding by mental health practitioners can continue to inflict grave individual and intergenerational harms for First Nations people, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ 2021 Congress was told yesterday.

Cultural experiences and the legacies of dispossession, genocide and trauma are poorly understood and too often pathologised for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Maori people. As a result, symptom control is prioritised over strengths and healing, with a real risk that ongoing generations could be lost to child removal, the justice system and suicide.

These were the messages of a thought provoking series of sessions at this week’s annual Congress of Australian and New Zealand psychiatrists, where Indigenous clinicians from across the two countries called for a decolonisation of mental health systems, and a new reckoning with First Nations ways of knowing and experiencing the world.

Palyku woman and WA’s Australian of the Year Professor Helen Milroy, eminent New Zealand psychiatrists Allister Bush and Mark Lawrence and tohunga –  or Maori healer –  Wiremu NiaNia, offered rare insights at #RANZCP2021 into cultural experiences of mental health in a structurally violent and dismissive Western system.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: Travel NQ website.

AHCSA first to gain Rainbow Tick

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) has been successful in achieving Rainbow Tick Accreditation – a nationally recognised benchmark for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI+) inclusive practice. In addition, AHCSA is proud to announce that we are the first Aboriginal organisation to accomplish this. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who identify as LGBTI+ are commonly subjected to the combined effects of racism and discrimination based on sexuality and/or gender identities.

Research findings suggest that suicidality, substance misuse and homelessness are primary health concerns for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI+ people. There is a pressing need for service providers to increase their awareness of the contemporary issues faced by this community and to take concrete steps to create more inclusive and supportive health care.

Throughout the accreditation process, AHCSA was guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI+ community members to develop unique and innovative training and support centred on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI+ experiences and needs.
Although achieving this accreditation ensures that AHCSA is a safe space, it also acknowledges that there is more work to be done.

To view AHCSA’s media release click here.

Choices program expanded to new sites

The first program of its kind in WA, Choices connects vulnerable people at risk of poor health outcomes with culturally sensitive social and mental health support upon discharge from hospital emergency departments. Choices was developed in response to substantial evidence of the over-representation of people with multiple health and social needs presenting to emergency departments.

Since launching in late 2017, the Choices program has used peer and case workers to connect with thousands of people and offer supportive intervention through drawing on their lived experience in similar situations. The service provides care coordination and supports people to access and remain connected to primary healthcare services in the community.

To view the media release here.

Jason is on a new path after meeting his partner Kirsty and taking part in the Choices program at Royal Perth Hospital. Credit: Daniel Wilkins / The Sunday Times

Jason is on a new path after meeting his partner Kirsty and taking part in the Choices program at Royal Perth Hospital. Photo: Daniel Wilkins. Image source: Perth Now.

First Nations people look for climate justice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are leading the fight for climate justice and climate action in Australia, but continue to be left out of critical national work on bushfires and other climate disasters, a First Nations Climate Justice webinar heard recently. The all-Indigenous panel discussion heard that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge holders and communities “shouldn’t be fighting for space anymore” in climate policy and research, and that climate and emergency action should recognise their deep connections to country.

Indigenous researcher Bhiamie Williamson had to stop to hold back tears when he was asked last month whether Aboriginal communities along Australia’s east coast had recovered from the devastating 2019-20 bushfires. “No,” he said after a pause. “I think there is just a deep and unending sadness that lingers in those places, you know, and may do for the rest of their lives,” he told the First Nations Climate Justice webinar hosted by the Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action.

To view the full story click here.

Photo: Tony Birch. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

Budget hits & misses – more reaction

Health groups have raised concerns about the Federal Budget’s lack of action on climate change and prevention, and also welcomed investment in areas ranging from allied health to health and medical research.

A Croakey article wraps Budget reaction from the Australian Medical Students Association, National Health and Medical Research Council, and Allied Health Professions Australia, as well as linking to a detailed analysis by Macquarie University’s Centre for the Health Economy.

To view the article in full click here.

Colonoscopy resources for our Mob

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has developed new culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to provide useful information about having a colonoscopy procedure.

The resources include a video and fact sheet that will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers understand their rights, choices and what they need to do if they are referred for a colonoscopy. Healthcare professionals and health service organisations working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are encouraged to discuss and share these resources with their colleagues, and patients and their carers.

You can watch the consumer video here and download the consumer fact sheet here.vector images of computer screen with text 'Having a colonoscopy?' & diagram of bowel & hand holding colonoscopy fact sheet

GP COVID-19 update

Join Professor Michael Kidd AM, Dr Lucas de Toca and Dr Martin Leidvogel from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (AEST) Thursday 20 May for the latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs. At the webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome. When you’re ready to join, click on this link.

The webinar will have live captioning and be available to view on-demand via the same link within a few hours of the live stream.  If you aren’t subscribed to this mailing list, join the more than 9,000 GPs who stay up to date with the latest official COVID-19 advice by subscribing here.

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Tomorrow, Thursday 20 May 2021 is the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than One Billion people with disabilities/impairments. From both a civil rights and a business perspective, people with disabilities are underserved. Common disability/impairments include:

  • Visual – People who are blind need alternative text descriptions for meaningful images and use the keyboard and not a mouse to interact with interactive elements.
  • Hearing – People who are deaf or hard of hearing will need captioning for video presentations and visual indicators in place of audio cues.
  • Motor – People with motor impairments may need alternative keyboards, eye control or some other adaptive hardware to help them type and navigate on their devices.
  • Cognitive – An uncluttered screen, consistent navigation and the use of plain language would be useful for people with different learning disabilities/impairments.

For information about GAAD click here.

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Image source: Catalyst IT website.