- Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!
- Remote NT community almost fully vaccinated
- COVID-19 and remote communities
- Rough sleepers completely ‘neglected’
- Calls for increased FIFO COVID-19 testing
- Annual health check resources
- Importance of cultural strengths in suicide prevention
- APY Lands key mental health service faces cuts
- New process for job advertising
- Save the Date
Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!
NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says NAIDOC Week 2021 calls upon all of us to continue to seek greater protection for our lands, our Elders, our people, and safeguard our culture.
“The health of Country, and the health of First Nation’s people, is firmly bound together. Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. After 250 years of dispossession and dislocation, traditional connection to Country and knowledge of Country is precarious. So much rests in the hands and minds of our Elders, our living national treasures. Right now, we have to protect the people who give us the knowledge to heal Country.”
“We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died from COVID-19. That is because the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and Governments are working together to protect our most vulnerable families and communities. Our sector should be proud. Indeed, the pandemic is not yet defeated, but at least recent gains have positioned us well and we can afford a little time to reflect on what we have achieved.”
“We have a new challenge and that is to urgently vaccinate our people!”
To view the media statement from NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills click here.
You can also watch Donnella talk about the COVID-19 vaccination in the short video below.
Remote NT community almost fully vaccinated
Tarna Andrews was scared of getting the needle. So scared that last month she visited her local clinic, sat down in the waiting room, and left before she could be seen. “I walked out because I had been speaking to some of my family, they were scared,” she said. “Now I’ve had the needle, I’m safe and happy now.”
Ms Andrews, a Pitjantjatjara teacher in Utju, 200 kms from Alice Springs, is one of many in her community who have had their first dose of the jab despite months of vaccine scepticism. Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), who runs the clinic there, said that almost everyone who was eligible in the remote community had been vaccinated, bucking a trend of vaccine scepticism among remote residents in the NT.
Fellow resident and a community worker for Congress, Frank Dixon, said word of mouth had helped reverse the tides of concern he was fielding in his community. “People started talking, gathering families and friends together to talk about it — people felt safe,” he said.
The vaccination rate in Utju is the envy of Congress’s four other remote clinics, especially as Alice Springs heads into lockdown. CAAC CEO Ms Ah Chee said the organisation hoped more people, especially in remote communities where there is a high burden of disease, would want to get the jab as a result of the recent cluster, “This is a timely reminder, we’ve been lucky for the last 18 months and it’s here. It’s not going away,”
To view the full article click here.
COVID-19 and remote communities
NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was on the panel of the ABC television program The Drum last night. Pat Turner spoke on a range of issues saying “Aboriginal communities will continue to suffer and be among the most vulnerable with every new pandemic unless we fix up the living environments and the housing of Aboriginal people. We will not close the gap without addressing these issues.” You can watch this edition of The Drum here.
Rough sleepers ‘completely neglected’
Aboriginal organisations have expressed frustration at the NT government’s “flawed” pandemic response, demanding it do more to accommodate hundreds of Aboriginal people sleeping rough around town centres they say are at risk of COVID-19. Both Darwin and Alice Springs were in lockdown amid concerns about the significant risk posed to Aboriginal communities.
The CEO of the Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, Olga Havnen said the lack of support for homeless people created a “ridiculous situation”. “The pandemic response plan doesn’t include any provision for housing people who may be homeless or visitors to town,” Havnen said. “Here we are on day four of a lockdown, and they’re only just sorting out the arrangements that might be made available for Aboriginal people, particularly visitors and rough sleepers who might need a COVID-19 test, and who will need to self-isolate.” “Who else in the community gets so studiously ignored under these sorts of circumstances? It’s either gross incompetence, maladministration or straight out racism. Or probably, a combination of all three,” Havnen said.
Danila Dilba, Yilli Aboriginal housing, AMSANT (the Aboriginal medical services of the NT) and NAAJA (the Aboriginal legal service) jointly called on the NT government to “get people off the streets today”. “Rough sleepers are among the most vulnerable people in our community, many of them have not been vaccinated, and the NT government’s pandemic response plan has completely neglected them,” the CEO of AMSANT, John Paterson, said.
To view the full article in The Guardian click here.
Calls for increased FIFO COVID-19 testing
Mining sites that operate near “vulnerable” remote Aboriginal communities and rely on FIFO workers need to regularly test staff for COVID-19, insist peak health groups.
NACCO CEO Pat Turner said people should be immediately isolated and given a rapid COVID-19 test when they arrived on site and workers should only be allowed to mingle after returning a negative result. “Every mining site that is in reasonable proximity to remote Aboriginal communities or in regional towns where there are lots of Aboriginal people should have mandatory COVID-19 testing for all workers returning to the site,” Ms Turner said. “This should be standard practice.” Ms Turner said workers should be re-tested in a week or two in case they were incubating the virus or became infected by a co-worker while on site.
Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT CEO John Paterson agreed. “Mining companies should have permanently employed physicians on-site that check [workers] in when they get in and check them out on the way out,” he said. “It’s critical that we do as much testing as possible especially when it comes to a lot of people doing a lot of travel. To view the full article click here.
Annual health check resources
The Australian Government Department of Health have a collection of resources, including videos, podcasts and print resources about the free annual health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To access the resource collection click here.
Importance of cultural strengths in suicide prevention
Suicide deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to increase and are an unrelenting tragedy for families and communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) people take their own lives at twice the rate of other Australians. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous males (vs 10th non-Indigenous) and the seventh leading cause of death for Indigenous females (vs 23rd non-Indigenous).
Suicide rates peak disproportionately young for Indigenous people; the median age for the suicide death of an Indigenous person is 29, while suicide accounts for one-third of all deaths of Indigenous children aged 5 to 17 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and is the largest cause of Indigenous child deaths. Overall, the same ABS figures show the Indigenous suicide rate increased from 21.3 to 24.6 per 100,000 people between the first and second halves of the decade from 2010-2019; by 2019 it had risen to 27.1 per 100,000.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) has established a connection between suicide and experiences of colonisation, structural racism and continuing social and economic disadvantage.
To view the full article in Croakey Health Media click here.
APY Lands key mental health service faces cuts
Some of Australia’s most vulnerable Aboriginal communities are worried they could be left without permanent on-country mental health staff for young people, despite nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse being made in the region in the past two years. Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information laws show that 947 allegations of child abuse were recorded by SA’s Department for Child Protection for the area covering the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands between 2018 and 2020.
A report tabled in the SA Parliament covering part of that same period said that “80% of children in the APY Lands have exposure to or continue to experience problem sexual behaviour”. Despite these numbers, elders and SA’s opposition are concerned that a review of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) APY will reduce services to communities in need.
To view the full article click here.
New process for job advertising
NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.
Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.
NAIDOC Week 4–11 July 2021
The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. Country that is more than a place and inherent to our identity. Country that we speak about like a person, sustaining our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.
NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians. For generations we have been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage. We are still waiting for those robust protections.
This year’s theme also seeks substantive institutional, structural, and collaborative reform – something generations of our Elders and communities have been advocating, marching and fighting for. Healing Country means finally resolving many of the outstanding injustices which impact on the lives of our people. It is about hearing and actioning the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which are the culmination of generations of consultation and discussions among our nations on a range of issues and grievances.
After 250 years, our children and our future generations deserve better. We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July 2021. For more information click here.