NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: P4JH fights racism in health and justice sectors

feature tile text'The Partnership for Justice in Health is working to address racism in health and justice sectors' P4JH logo - Aboriginal dot painting black, orange, aqua, yellow circles, Aboriginal hand & Aboriginal figure holding justice scales

P4JH fights racism in health and justice sectors

The Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH) is working to address racism in the health and justice sectors at individual, institutional and systemic levels, according to its co-chairs, Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP).

Dr Janine Mohamed and Karl Briscoe, both health professionals who have built strong, dedicated careers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, healthcare and health research, say what still comes as a shock to many of their non-Indigenous colleagues is that rather than health services being viewed as places of healing and safety, they are too often neither safe nor welcoming for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for some they are dangerous and fatal.

“The complicity and failures of the health system and professions to care for us goes back to the early days of colonisation. We saw it in medical experimentation and the lock hospitals, the removal of children from their mothers’ arms by nurses and doctors, and in ongoing, systemic abuse and neglect. In recent years, two names speak loudly to how that experience of unsafe healthcare continues for our people.”

“Ms Dhu, a 22-year-old Yamatji woman who died in custody in WA in 2014 because of “deficient” medical care — with the Coroner finding that both police and hospital staff were influenced by their racial bias. And Naomi Williams, a 27-year-old Wiradjuri woman, who was 22 weeks’ pregnant with a son when she died of septicaemia at Tumut Hospital in NSW in January 2016. The coronial inquiry into Ms Williams’ death found she went to hospital 15 times in the months before she passed away without receiving a referral to an expert, and she should have received further examination on the night she passed away. Both she and Ms Dhu died from preventable causes within racially biased systems.”

To view the full Croakey Health Media article click here.

portrait shots of Dr Janine Mohamed & Karl Briscoe

Dr Janine Mohamed. Image source: Concordia College website. Karl Briscoe. Image source: Croakey Health Media website.

Bendigo men supported by mob

Dedicated to supporting First Nations men in their local community, the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) provides a variety of services to men in their community, including a healing program which supports men who have used family violence. Beginning with funding from Family Safety Victoria in 2018, the program is titled Merrijig Mooroopook, meaning ‘healthy spirits’, a name gifted by Dja Dja Wurrung Elder Uncle Rick Nelson.

With a therapeutic based approach, the 16-week program acknowledges the effect of colonisation and trauma on Aboriginal men who use family violence. It is facilitated by Yorta Yorta man and social worker Jamaal Cross, and Uruguayan man and Men’s Program Coordinator in BDAC’s Family Safety Team Camilo Demarco. “Our programs are always out on Country, we work with Elders and culture is embedded into everything — we always do things around the fire,” Demarco told NIT. “Jamaal and I share as well; we make sure we take away that hierarchy. We’re just another man in that space sharing our own stuff … we move as far away from that classroom setting as we can because there is trauma from spaces like that.”

Both Cross and Demarco acknowledge the 16-week program is just one part of the healing process. “It’s longer than a regular course, and we acknowledge that this can be a life-long journey. You don’t finish the behaviour change course in 16 weeks and expect a man to be totally different … so it is ongoing,” said Demarco. “The last part of our program is for the men during ceremony with the group, and with an Elder present, to state what changes they want to make in their lives and that gives that accountability.

To view the full article click here.

screenshot from BDAC Healthy Spirits video, blurred image of men in bush sitting around a fire, text 'The Healthy Spirit's Program has a whole of community approach that aims to support families on a healing journey.'

Screenshot from BDAC Healthy Spirits video.

Lower limb amputation in Central Australia

Large health inequalities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians exist with Aboriginal Australians currently four times as likely as non-Aboriginal Australians to have type 2 diabetes (T2D), increasing their risk of lower limb amputation (LLA). There is a geographical variance in the incidence of LLA in Australia; the NT is overrepresented, with rates 2–3 times higher than that of the national average. Regional incidence rates are not currently known.

A study has been conducted reviewing the demographic details of those who have undergone LLA surgery in Central Australia and determining the region-specific age-adjusted incidence rate of LLA. Central Australia appears to have the highest incidence rate of LLA for any region in Australia, with Aboriginal Australians, particularly females and those undergoing renal dialysis, being disproportionately represented. Further studies should aim to determine targeted, culturally safe and successful methods of diabetic foot ulcer prevention, early detection and management with a view to reducing the high amputation rates for these cohorts.

To access the Incidence of lower limb amputation in Central Australia research article click here.

hands holding bandaged stump of below knee amputation patient, patient is a man sitting in a wheelchair

Image source: Disability Support Guide website.

Supporting Victorian Aboriginal communities

The Victorian Government has allocated funding for Aboriginal communities to deliver a range of Aboriginal-led initiatives and programs supporting local communities. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams has announced that 30 Aboriginal organisations will share in $4.6 million through the COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response and Recovery Fund to deliver 35 local initiatives.

The programs will support locally designed initiatives that provide emergency relief, outreach and brokerage for at-risk groups, cultural strengthening, and social and emotional wellbeing. Recipients include the Dhauward-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service who have received $85,000 to provide emergency relief to community members experiencing hardship following the coronavirus pandemic.

To view the media release in full click here.

back of worker in hall making up food packages

Image source: Yarra City Council website.

AMA welcomes extra vaccine funding

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has welcomed the Federal Government announcement of extra funding for longer GP consultations to inform patients of benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 and assist them in making informed decisions. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the announcement by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, would allow GPs to spend more time with patients to ensure that they were aware of all the benefits of a COVID-19 vaccination, and boost confidence in the vaccine.

Dr Khorshid said he had been raising the need for doctors to spend more time with patients with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health for several months, and was pleased with the Government’s announcement of a new level B equivalent Medicare item that could be used in addition to the standard COVID-19 assessment items for patients who require longer consultations.

To view the AMA’s media release in full click here.

GP in rooms sitting at desk & computer talking to Aboriginal man patient also sitting in a chair

Image source: GP Synergy website.

Corporate Australia must walk the talk

The corporate sector is on notice after a wide-ranging review of Woolworths’ proposal to build a Dan Murphy’s alcohol store in Darwin, commissioned by the company, found it had failed to “adequately consider the issues of social value and legitimacy in the eyes of First Nation’s people”. Among its findings and recommendations, the report called on Woolworths to make sure that future liquor outlet proposals “explicitly consider the social and health impacts on at-risk groups and vulnerable communities” before progressing them. It is noteworthy that the report repeatedly mentions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as “vulnerable” when this is really a story about the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, leaders and communities in campaigning successfully against corporate power.

Olga Havnen, CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin which had fought the store proposal for five years, said in a statement that the review’s implications went beyond Dan Murphy’s and Darwin. “This is a landmark decision that will have important implications for the liquor industry and corporate Australia, and government,” Havnen said, describing the report as “an excellent case study into the failures of corporate Australia to walk the talk of corporate social responsibility”.

To view the full article in Croakey Health Media click here.

back of businessman in a suit with briefcase walking across black & white striped road

Image source: Croakey.

Deinstitutionalised design for new ACCHO Building

Newman’s Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service healthcare hub has been voted one of the best examples of public architecture in the State at the 2021 WA Architecture Awards this month. NSW-based company Kaunitz Yeung Architecture designed the Newman facility last year with a focus on community ownership and involving local Aboriginal people.

The PAMS healthcare hub was the first primary healthcare facility of any type to be constructed in Newman. Kaunitz Yeung Architecture director and co-founder David Kaunitz said he had called on experience from working with more than 30 Aboriginal communities in building culturally sensitive projects. “What’s most important is that projects like this are well used and well embraced by community,” Mr Kaunitz said.

“We’re dealing with quite traditional Aboriginal communities and it is quite foreboding to go to a health facility. We’re trying to deliver buildings that are deinstitutionalised and really make people feel comfortable going and receiving health care.” Mr Kaunitz said features such as the courtyard, landscaping, rammed earth and the art all play a role in achieving this. “The way the building is planned minimises the internal experience of clients. The waiting room is quite linear, full of glazing and the courtyard serves as a waiting area. The consultation rooms are not far from the waiting area.”

To view the article in full click here.

external view of Puntukurnu AMS Newman, gravel, native gums, red walls, rusted iron

Puntukurna Aboriginal Medical Service, Newman. Image source: Architecture & Design website.

Racism in health webinar

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Sydney is hosting a Key Thinkers Forum – Racism in Health. The current models of practice are not working to effectively “Close the Gap”. Despite a growing willingness and need to consider new proposed models of practice, there remains a deep-seated resistance to identifying and addressing institutional and systemic racism and racist attitudes, including unconscious biases held by individuals. How can we get the ‘r’ word on every agenda?

The webinar will be facilitated by Professor Tom Calma AO with panel members including: Carmen Parter, Karen Mundine, Leilani Darwin and Raymond Lovett.

The webinar will be held from 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM AEST on Wednesday 7 July 2021. Register for this FREE event here.

large cardboard sign text 'racism is a pandemic' in black font, white background, letter 'p' in red font' sign against wall

Image source: Crikey.

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World Drug Day, is marked on 26 June every year, to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse. This year’s theme is Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives.

Each year, individuals, entire communities, and various organisations all over the world join in on this global observance, to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent for society. Every year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issues the World Drug Report, full of key statistics and factual data obtained through official sources, a science-based approach and research. UNODC continues to provide facts and practical solutions to address the current world drug problem, and remains committed to attaining a vision of health for all based on science.

COVID-19 has brought unprecedented public awareness on health, protective measures for staying healthy, and most importantly, and on  protecting each other. A growing sense of global community and solidarity continues to emerge, as does the need to ensure health care for all. World Drug Day is a day to share research findings, evidence-based data and life-saving facts, and to continue tapping into a shared spirit of solidarity. UNODC invites everyone to do their part, by taking a firm stance against misinformation and unreliable sources, while committing to sharing only the real science-backed data on drugs and save lives.

For further information click here.

banner background blocks of green, red, yellow overlapping watercolour paints, top 2 syringes pointing down 2 capsules, 2 tablets & pack of tablets, text '26 June International Day Against Drug Abuse & Trafficking' in white font

Image source: AFEW International.