NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ‘We have the platform and we have the commitment’ NACCHO’s message on World Mental Health Day

feature tile text 'World Mental Health Day - Sunday 10 October 2021' & image of arms around heart, Aboriginal dot art faded in background, bold for heart shape

‘We have the platform and we have the commitment’ NACCHO’s message on World Mental Health Day

On World Mental Health Day, the NACCHO emphasises that the commitment in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap needs continued funding to support critical reform and close the mental health gap. The funding will help shape mental health policy and program delivery for the coming decades.

In Australia, the suicides rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continue to rise and the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the urgent need to develop and invest in culturally appropriate Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB), suicide prevention, aftercare, postvention and mental health services.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills states, “Our communities are disproportionately represented in mental health statistics and are more than twice as likely to die by suicide compared to other Australians.

“The concept of social and emotional wellbeing is essential. It is central to our ways of being. It recognises our connection to Country, community, and culture. To family and kinship. To spirituality and our ancestors. It recognises that a person’s wellbeing is influenced and impacted by past events, traumas, and government policies. It is a term that encompasses both mental health and mental illness.

“Reforms need to be made in alignment with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The National Agreement commits our Country to a new direction and is a pledge from all governments to fundamentally change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.”

“We have the platform, we have the commitment, and we have the evidence to support Aboriginal Community Controlled Services provide the best quality of care for our communities,” said Ms Mills.

To view NACCHO’s media statement in full click here.tile text 'World Mental Health 10 October 2021 we have the platform and we have the commitment' & graphic of arms around a heart, NACCHO Aboriginal dot painting in background

Derbarl Yerrigan employee marks 30 years

The Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service has recognised 30 years of outstanding service and commitment of its longest serving employee, Uncle Arnold Yarran. It all started on Friday afternoon in September 1991; when Uncle Arnold attended the (then) Perth Aboriginal Medical Service to see a Doctor and needed a transport home. With the service down two drivers, the Doctor asked if he would like to drive.

Uncle Arnold agreed to help the service out and transported patients home that afternoon. As he returned the keys, he was asked if he could help out for a few weeks. Thirty years on he still holds one of the most important positions in our health service, transporting our patients and enabling patients’ access to health care.

Over three decades, he has gained trust from community members, patients and is highly respected by the Derbarl team. His cultural and community knowledge brings strength and integrity to the service. He has served his people with a caring and compassionate heart and also fierce and resilient. Uncle Arnold is a member of the Aboriginal Advisory group and provides the cultural lens to Derbarl’s service delivery.

To Derbarl Yerrigan’s media release in full click here.

Arnold Yarren.

NACCHO Medical Advisor on narrowing health gap

NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino spoke on ABC News yesterday about a new report suggesting health outcomes for Indigenous Australians may be improving. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found there has been a 27% decline in premature deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to two years ago. You can watch the interview in full below.

Pandemic needs trauma-informed response

Fear is one of the central response during the pandemic. Every day brings a new level of stress: concerns about getting sick, the stigma of testing positive, financial difficulties due to not being able to work, separation from loved ones in lockdown (or being locked in an unsafe household). The list goes on.

It can be particularly hard for people already experiencing complex post-traumatic stress disorder or trauma associated with earlier exposure to severe, repeated and inescapable threats or abuse, often from those meant to protect them.

As the pandemic hit last year, a study called Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future was being undertaken with the aim of improving support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents experiencing complex trauma.

To view the article in full click here.

hand being held in palms of another

Image source: NC State University website.

Jalbi Jiya home ownership program

Two Aboriginal families will enter home ownership for the first time through the McGowan Government’s $9.7 million Jalbi Jiya housing program. Jalbi Jiya means ‘your home’ in the language of the Yawuru people, the traditional owners of Broome.

The program was co-designed and is run in partnership with Nyamba Buru Yawuru (NBY), the operational company of the Yawuru people. Funded through the Department of Communities North West Aboriginal Housing Fund, the Jalbi Jiya program was established in 2020 and offers culturally safe support services, alongside 25 affordable rental homes.

To view the media release in full click here.

street of houses overlaid with white Jalbi Jiya logo

Image source: Yawuru website.

Carnival promotes healthy life choices

The importance of making healthy life choices, including getting vaccinated against COVID-19, will be widely promoted at the annual Bindal Sharks All Blacks Rugby League Carnival kicking off in Townsville today. This year, the three-day drug and alcohol-free event will feature a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic and health professionals will be on hand to educate people and address any concerns they may have about getting the vaccine.

The Morrison Government, through the National Indigenous Australians Agency, will be offering free entry for the three days to the first 1,000 spectators who can demonstrate they have had at least one COVID-19 vaccination prior to the day, Minister Wyatt said. And for anyone who chooses to get vaccinated on the day, Queensland Health will subside their entry for the remaining days.

To view the media release in full click here.

Torres Strait community driven research

The people of the Torres Strait have been the subjects of research for almost 50 years. It has been an especially fertile region for researchers focusing on Indigenous health, but this activity has been almost entirely driven by institutions and researchers from outside the Torres Strait. Local people are mostly at a loss to identify how this research has translated into better health outcomes for them. For many, research has become a dirty word; people have felt cheated.

Externally based research endeavours usually fail to appreciate the depth of local family and island connections, the unwritten cultural responsibilities, the transgenerational obligations, and the ever‐present grief of lost loved ones. In this context, future research questions must be created by local people themselves if they are to have meaning for them.

In the words of one community elder: “We have been researched to death. It is time we researched our way back to life”. There is a culture shift; it is now time for Torres Strait people to take control and breathe life back into their community health and wellbeing through community‐based research. This is a key part of the Torres Strait search for greater life meaning.

To access the full article click here.

small Torres Strait Islander girl ceremonial dance

Photo: Patricia Woods. Image source; Flickr.

Program to boost rural doctor numbers

A program that provides young doctors with the experience of training in a rural general practice or Aboriginal Medical Services and provides more medical care to regional, rural and remote communities is being extended by the Federal Coalition Government.

Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie said extending the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund (RJDTIF) for another year will mean 60 fulltime-equivalent rurally based interns and postgraduate doctors can undertake training in country practices. “This program allows early-career doctors to take the opportunity to train in the rural communities where clinical opportunities are abundant, while also enjoying the benefits of a regional or rural lifestyle,” Dr Gillespie said.

“There is strong evidence that undertaking medical training in a regional or rural setting increases retention rates. The program has already benefitted more than 50 towns and 80 sites across regional, rural, and remote locations, such Nhulunbuy in the NT, Goondiwindi in QLD and Bega in NSW with approximately 814 rotations since 2018.”

To view the article in full click here.

yellow road sign on regional road

Image source: AMA 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.

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

Tomorrow Saturday 9 October 2021 is World Hospice and Palliative Care Day.

There are currently two Indigenous National Palliative Care Projects that are working actively to raise awareness and importance of palliative care for our communities.

Gwandalan National Palliative Care Project

Education and training materials for the Gwandalan Project aim to support relationships between service providers, frontline staff and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities through cross-cultural education and the sharing of knowledge. This will be achieved through the provision of education and training to support increased capacity in those who care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during their returning to Sprit journey.

The Gwandalan Project does not address clinical palliative care content but rather, supports the provision of culturally safe and responsive palliative care by upskilling frontline staff to contextualise care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and deliver services in a way which supports a good ‘finishing up’.

Indigenous Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach (IPEPA)

IPEPA’s goal is to achieve the vision by preparing mainstream and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals to deliver high quality, holistic and culturally responsive palliative care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their loved ones.

IPEPA is a grassroots approach to breaking down the barriers to palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia.

Mental Health Month

October is Mental Health Month, the highlight of which is World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October, only two days away.

This year’s World Mental Health Day campaign encourages everyone to “Look after your mental health, Australia” as well as to look up, look forward, and look out for each other. The message is particularly prescient in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, says Mental Health Australia CEO, Dr Leanne Beagley.

To view Mental Health Australia’s media release click here.

Ungaroo walk-in vax clinics next week

Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation will be holding walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinics at Musswellbrook and Singleton next week. The walk-in clinics will be open as follows:

Muswellbrook9:30 AM – 4:00 PM Wednesday 13 October

Singleton10:00 AM – 3:00 PM Friday 15 October.

To view more details click on the flyer here.

tile Ungooroo walk-in clinics Muswellbrook & Singleton, group of 5 Aboriginal people, various ages