NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community control vital in managing pandemic

feature tile text 'community control important in ATSI communities in managing pandemic' & photo of elder receiving vaccine at Tharwal (NSW)

Community control vital in managing pandemic

In Australia we have learned how important community control is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in managing the pandemic – and in places like Walgett in northerwestern NSW we are now seeing both how easily infection can come to these communities, and how imperative it is that they are provided with the resources to manage this.

A recent paper in Nature Medicine looks at Indigenous communities that, to date, have been missing from global perspectives on the pandemic – those who live in Artic regions. The lessons echo those learned here in Australia.

The Artic covers a vast area in the Northern Hemisphere encompassing parts of Canada, Denmark (Greenland and Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States (Alaska). These area are sparsely populated by a total of some seven million people.

These Artic populations generally have high rates of health conditions that make COVID-19 dangerous (particularly true for the Indigenous populations) and their remote settlements have limited access to healthcare and possess few healthcare resources with which to fight the disease.

Despite this, in most cases, Arctic regions have fared better in the COVID-19 pandemic than have temperate areas south of the Artic in the same countries.

The authors of the Nature Medicine paper collected Indigenous community testimonies that show strict preventive measures that combined public health and Indigenous knowledge approaches were able to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in these regions and provide physical, emotional, and mental support.

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

Image in feature tile: Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receiving his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation (TAC) GP Heather MacKenzie. Photograph: TAC. Image source: The Guardian.

AMS health worker taking temperature of older woman

Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photo: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

CAAC makes progress with town, bush jabs

More than a quarter of Aboriginal clients over 16 living in the areas of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) have received COVID-19 vaccination coverage, either one or both doses.

CAAC operates in or near Alice Springs as well as in five remote communities: Amoonguna, Ntaria and Wallace Rockhole (where Territory Health vaccinates), Santa Teresa, Utju (Areyonga) and Mutitjulu.

“In our remote communities 25% of resident clients are fully vaccinated and a further 11% have had their first doses,” says spokesperson as concern is growing over Aboriginal attitudes towards jabs. “In Alice Springs 17% of resident clients are fully vaccinated and a further 9% have had their first dose.”

Other “really good news” is that in Aboriginal people over the age of 60 across all [five] clinics, more than 60% have had a least one dose with nearly 50% fully vaccinated.

To read the full article in the Alice Springs News click here. and listen to a CAAC video about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine below.

New antenatal program launched

The Royal Women’s Hospital is launching a new group antenatal program designed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, thanks to funding from Liptember – a national campaign dedicated to women’s mental health.

The Women’s psychiatrists, specialist midwives and Aboriginal Hospital Liaison team have collaborated to design a trauma-informed mental health program, online and in-person, that promotes and enhances the maternal bond. Boon Wurrung Elder, Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir, gave her permission to name the program: Yana-bul Ngargee-Dha. This means ‘you are dancing’ in the Boon Wurrung language of the Kulin Nations.

To view the Royal Women’s Hospital’s media release click here.

health care worker with arm around Aboriginal mum holding baby

Image source: Royal Women’s Hospital.

Thirrili suicide postvention service

Empowering choice and control, Aboriginal community-controlled suicide postvention service, Thirrili, is supporting Indigenous families and communities through grief and loss. Meaning power and strength in Bunuba language, Thirrili was established in 2017 by Adele Cox — a proud Bunuba and Gija woman.

In July 2020, Jacqueline McGowan-Jones stepped into the role of CEO. With cultural links to the Central Desert in the NT, Ms McGowan-Jones has an extensive career in government and has spent the last 25 years working with and for Indigenous people.

At 84% Indigenous employment, Thirrili places Indigenous health in Indigenous hands. The service operates from a strength-based approach and is the national provider of Indigenous specific postvention support and assistance.

“There are many Indigenous services funded to provide support for prevention,” Ms McGowan-Jones said. “But we are an Indigenous service, who provide services and support to families that have had a loss to suicide, or other fatal traumatic incidents.”

With staff across the country, Thirrili provides postvention services through a “fly-in, fly-out styled model. The thing that is really important for our service is that we must be asked or invited. We don’t just rock up and say ‘we’re here to help’,” Ms McGowan-Jones said.

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

Women urged to consider health

In a media release, the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt MP, has said that as we mark Women’s Health Week (6-10 September 2021), he continues to urge all Australian women to attend medical appointments and health checks, especially during lockdown.

While COVID-19 remains a massive public health concern, women of all ages continue to battle personal health and medical issues. While many Australian women are increasingly using services such as telehealth, some medical issues still require a visit to their GP or specialist.

Obtaining essential health care is one of the allowable reasons for leaving home during a lockdown. While some services have seen temporary interruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, our health system remains in a strong position to support Australian women with health challenges.

Postponing screening, other diagnostic tests, or advice from a doctor, could allow a condition to worsen and make it more difficult to treat. The Australian healthcare system is there to support you through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

To read the media release in full click here.

Ending gendered violence in Australia

The National Summit on Women’s Safety has asked all Australians to confront the unacceptable scourge of family, domestic and sexual violence and provided meaningful and constructive actions for change. Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne and Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston thanked all the panellists, speakers and delegates as well as all Australians who joined the national conversation.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills, Our Watch chief executive Patty Kinnersly and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance chief executive Sandra Creamer handed down a comprehensive Statement on behalf of all delegates which outlines key priorities to underpin the next National Plan to end violence against women and children.

To view the press release in full click here.

tile with text 'gender-based violence' various vector images of women & violence

Image source: WETECH website.

ACC services key to reducing OOHC

For National Child Protection Week, SNAICC calls on governments and organisations to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services and communities as key to reduce the number of our children in out-of-home care (OOHC). In 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children made up 41% of children in OOHC in Australia despite being only 5.9% of Australia’s child population.

“The statistics are alarming – our children are 11 times more likely to be living away from their parents than non-Indigenous children,” Catherine Liddle said, CEO for the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. If this continues at the current trajectory, the number of our children in OOHC will double by 2030.”

To view SNAICC’s media release in full click here.

tile text 'keeping out children with family & culture' vector image of Aboriginal family

Image source: SNAICC website.

Adoption implications for First Nations kids

Currently, Aboriginal children are significantly over-represented in the out-of-home-care (OOHC) system. Drawing on Aboriginal trauma scholarship and decolonising methodologies, an recently published paper Trauma then and now: Implications of adoption reform for First Nations children situates the contemporary state removal of Aboriginal children against the backdrop of historical policies that actively sought to disrupt Aboriginal kinship and communities.

The paper draws on submissions to the 2018 Australian Senate Parliamentary Inquiry into Adoption Reform from Aboriginal community controlled organizations and highlights four common themes evident throughout these submissions: (i) the role of intergenerational trauma in high rates of Aboriginal child removal; (ii) the place of children within Aboriginal culture, kinship and identity; (iii) the centrality of the principles of self-determination and autonomy for Aboriginal communities and (iv) Aboriginal community controlled alternatives to child removal.

Acknowledging the failure of both federal and state reforms to address the issues raised in these submissions, the paper reflects on the marginalization of Aboriginal voices and solutions within contemporary efforts to address the multiple crises of the child protection system and the implications for the future of Aboriginal children.

To access the article click here.

Image source: Wandiyali website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

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 and go live on the NACCHO website.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard