NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations’ health everyone’s business

First Nations’ health everyone’s business

Associate Professor Luke Burchill has written an article examining why of Australia’s 71,1000 medical specialists only 110 identify as Indigenous. He wrote “racism and lack of cultural safety are key deterrents to our mob entering specialist training. So that you can understand what this means on a personal level let me share my experience of training and working within what I call the “problem space” of Indigenous health.

This is not a space that Indigenous people have created. It is a space that has been created for us over 230 years. It is a space in which the people and community you love are reduced to stereotypes of deficit, disadvantage, and dysfunction. A problem space where Western science is valued over Indigenous knowledge.’

‘It is a problem space where standing against racism often means standing alone. Where in addition to your fulltime job, you are expected to be “all things Indigenous” – adviser, mentor, committee representative, community member, cultural safety support, etc. A problem space where trying to minimise risks to community increases the risks of harm to yourself. A problem space where lateral violence is accepted as the norm. But perhaps more than anything the problem space is a lonely one where, in ticking boxes for others, you are left with little time to tick boxes for yourself and the very things that define who you are – connection to country, culture and community.’

‘The problem space itself is a key barrier to delivering tangible solutions that benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in ways that are meaningful to them. This makes building a solution space for Indigenous health urgent work. It is time for a solution space that sees advancing health and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as everyone’s business. Not just because we need to Close the Gap but because it’s the right thing to do. A solution space that understands the fundamental importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being empowered to lead this work in culturally safe and responsive workplace environments.’

To view the full article click here.

Associate Professor Luke Burchill. Image source: Melbourne Medical School website. Feature tile image source: ANZSPO website.

Keeping community strong on Wiradjuri country

On Wiradjuri country in regional NSW, the community controlled Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS) has been providing medical and primary health care services to the local Orange community since 2005, and outreach dental services to Bathurst, Cowra, Parkes and Forbes since 2010.

One of many important services the OAMS provides is the opportunity for Indigenous people from the region to access their free annual 715 Health Check. The 715 Health Check is offered to and designed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, covering mental, physical, social and spiritual health.

“A 715 Health Check is significant not only for identifying issues of illness and disease in communities, but it’s a tool to connect with our people,” says OAMS CEO, Jamie Newman. “We use the 715 Health Check as an engagement tool to assist our people identifying their health care needs and helping them manage their health care into the future.”

To view the OAMS editorial in full click here and to view a video about the 715 Health Check click here.

Vaccine for remote Kimberley on way

A large logistical operation will see the Pfizer vaccine rolled out in remote Indigenous areas of the Kimberley for people under 50, giving them priority access ahead of the wider population. The original plan to use the AstraZeneca jab was thrown into disarray when the risk of blood clots prompted the federal government to only recommend the vaccine for people over 50.

In the month that followed, federal and state health authorities declined to say what the new vaccination plan would be for the under-50 cohort in the remote Kimberley.  But Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS), which represents seven health services in the region, has now revealed the Pfizer jab is on track to be available from the second week of June.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: KAMS website.

Partnership for Justice in Health

A new organisation linking healthcare and the justice system has been launched with a campaign to stamp out racism in both sectors. Kuku Yalanji man Karl Briscoe is the co-chair of the Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH). He says the partnership has been years in the making.

“It really kicked off with the Miss Naomi Williams case,” he said. Wirdajuri woman Naomi Williams was 22 weeks pregnant when she died of septicaemia at Tumut Hospital in January 2016. A coronial inquest heard Williams made 20 visits to Tumut Hospital in the seven months before her death but had not received adequate care. “It was all of us coming together, and saying, ‘Look, we actually need to really, really do something here, we can’t just sit back and let these kinds of things happen to our mob,’” Briscoe said.

The Partnership links organisations including: AIDA, CATSINaM, IAHA, Institute for Collaborative Race Research, The Lowitja Institute, the National Association of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Workers & Practitioners, and the National Justice Project.

P4JH launched their website at P4JH.org.au, which they hope will become a hub for resources about racism within the health and justice systems. Briscoe said the partnership will shine a light on the interrelationship between the justice and health systems, and the poorer outcomes that Indigenous people have in both of these spaces. “Our combined vision of our network is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to enjoy health and wellbeing that’s free from racism in the health and justice system.”

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

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Supporting remote stores to sell healthy food

Health workers in remote First Nations communities are exploring new ways they can support local store operators to sell and promote healthy food and drink options, in an Australian first telementoring initiative by Health and Wellbeing Queensland. Over 30 health practitioners, public health dietitians and nutritionists from across Queensland, the NT and WA are dialling in weekly for eight weeks to Australia’s first Creating a Healthier Remote Stores Food Environment Project ECHO-series.

“Evidence tells us just how important remote stores are to their local communities and that isn’t lost on us. I have seen first-hand the critical nature of these facilities,” Chief Executive of Health and Wellbeing Queensland, Dr Robyn Littlewood said. Health and Wellbeing Queensland Principal Lead – First Nations Communities, Dr Simone Nalatu reported that in remote communities the store was often the primary source of food and played a vital role in the diet and health of residents.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: Outback Stores website.

New service for Alice Springs town camps

The Territory Labor Government has invested $2.7 million to establish and operate a new Child and Family Centre service across town camps in Alice Springs. The service is to be run over five years in partnership with Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation. Using a ‘hub and spoke’ approach, TCAC will work with families across the Larapinta Learning Centre, Hidden Valley Community Centre, Truckies Community Centre, southern camps and northern camps to coordinate the delivery of support services to children, young people and families and assist them to navigate the local service system to ensure they get the help they need. Families will be able to access a range of support services including maternal and child health; early childhood development and learning; and parenting support.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Suicide Strategy input – only days left

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (DPSA) has been tasked by the Commonwealth Government to renew the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy (NATSISPS) in consultation with stakeholders and community members.

There is now less than a week left for final public consultations for the draft National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021–2031. This consultation period will be open until Friday 28 May 2021.

To review the draft NATSISPS and provide your comments, please visit here.

Ironbark project seeks higher degree student

The Ironbark project is an Aboriginal healthy ageing research project, comparing the healthy impact of two different programs Ironbark: Standing Strong and Tall (weekly exercise and yarning circle) and Ironbark: healthy community (weekly social program).  Both programs run for a year, for groups of older (45 years and older) Aboriginal people.

The Ironbark project is seeking an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher degree student to work on the project.

For further information about the project click here and for details of how to submit an EOI click here.

banner text 'The Ironbark Project' drawing of a tree without leaves covered in Aboriginal dot painting