NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHO funding needed for prison health care

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care in prisons requires federal funding of community controlled services, image of 3 prisoners & 2 guards walking down enclosed walkway of prison

ACCHO funding needed for prison health care

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in prisons. They are 15.6 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous Australians. Yet, there are virtually no staff skilled in engaging with cultural protocols in health services in prisons. And current policies and procedures do little to extend cultural care to families when the death of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person in prison has occurred.

State health departments make miniscule allocations to health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – the commonwealth largely has responsibility for this., and because prisons fall under state and territory responsibility, prison health is also rarely mentioned in national frameworks.

  • the National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions makes no mention of prisons, despite people in prison disproportionately experiencing chronic conditions
  • the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan acknowledges the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison and their greater risk of suicide and drug overdose after being released, but it offers no leadership on state and territory action
  • the recent inclusion of a justice target in the Closing the Gap framework is likewise not focused on improving health services in prisons. It only aims to reduce Indigenous adult prison numbers by 15% and youth detention by 30%

Currently, over 140 ACCHOs operate across Australia, with membership to NACCHO. Data indicate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have low levels of access to mainstream government services compared to community-controlled health services. These health services are also allocated disproportionately less funding than mainstream services. And since the royal commission, there have been few funding schemes to support these health services to work in or with prisons.

To view the full article click here.

protestors with BLM placards

Image source: The Conversation.

Prisons are creating disability

The Age has run a story about the horrific treatment of Sony Ray Austin in police custody rendering him a quadriplegic.

Dr Hannah McGlade, a Noongar human rights lawyer and the executive officer of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, said prisons are creating Aboriginal disability. Dr McGlade said Aboriginal women in particular were vulnerable to disability in prisons because of the inconsistent availability of healthcare. “Prisons are supposed to be rehabilitative, but in reality they are highly traumatic and dangerous for Aboriginal people,” she said. “Their health doesn’t seem to matter.”

To view the article in full click here.

portrait photo of Dr Hannah McGlade on steps of office building

Dr Hannah McGlade. Image source: The Age.

Youth detention policy immoral

More than 70 organisations, including the RACGP, have called on all governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility.

A 10-year-old child behind bars, being arrested, or presenting in court is an unsettling reality in Australia, which has long-lasting impacts. According to latest data, on an average night in 2020, there were 798 young people in youth detention, with 80% aged 10–17 years, and 91% male. Nearly two thirds (64%) of these young people in detention were unsentenced, either awaiting the outcome of their court matter or sentencing.

Experts are concerned that these children are more likely to reoffend, with Australia’s flawed youth justice legal system ‘setting them up to fail’. As a result, the RACGP and more than 70 other organisations this week signed the 19 May statement of the Meetings of Attorneys-General (MAG), which strongly supports the Raise the Age campaign and advocates for the removal of criminal responsibility for children aged 10 years old, to at least 14 years.

To view the full article click here.

head of youth eyes closed against wire fence of jail

Image source: MamaMia website.

Horse healing program expands to remote communities

An innovative program that uses horses to support the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal children is being expanded to remote communities in WA. Yawardani Jan-ga is an Equine Assisted Learning initiative that works with young people in some of the world’s worst affected areas for suicide.

Since it was established two years ago in Broome, in WA’s far north, around 400 participants have attended the program, which is delivered by local Indigenous practitioners. By tapping into the Kimberley’s rich pastoral history, Yawardani Jan-ga has been able to prosper in a region where mainstream services often struggle to make an impact.

To view the full article click here.

Tia &Boyo Petrevski standing with hands through gate stroking horse, trees in the background

Tia and Boyo Petrevski, who run a pastoral station outside Halls Creek, will help roll out the program there. Photo: Matt Bamford. Image source: ABC News.

Birthing program overlooked in budget

Aboriginal health experts have criticised the lack of federal budget funding for Indigenous-led birthing services, including for a Brisbane-based program that has halved preterm births among mothers at the centre.

To view the full article click here.

Photo: Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

Speaking up for health equity

The 2021–22 Federal Budget is being hailed in many mainstream circles for its “big-spending glory” and focus on the COVID-19 recovery, aged care, mental health, and women.

But experts at a webinar last week delivered a different verdict. They say the Budget is in many ways a disaster for health equity, climate health, and the social determinants of health, failing to address structural inequity, prevention, climate change, poverty, Indigenous health and justice, and the crisis in housing.

One panellist said it was a Budget of “expediency not equity”, another that it begged the question: “what hope is there for the future?”. For another, the “number one missing piece” is real action to fix poverty, with households and communities across Australia now back to relying on desperately low Job Seeker payments after the coronavirus supplement, which brought so many benefits, was once again removed.

Webinar participants from across the health, social and disability sectors, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait health leaders, were asked by moderator Dr Melissa Sweet to reflect upon three questions: What were you happy to see in the budget? What was missing? And what are your key takeaways for health equity?

To view the full article click here.

Image source: Croakey.

Remote PHC Manuals update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. The RPHCM provides monthly updates to health services and other organisations will keep them up-to-date during the review process. The May 2021 monthly update advised that three more protocols have been endorsed by the RPHCM Editorial Committee with no major changes being made.

To view the RPHCM May 2021 monthly update click here.