NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Birthing on Country services empower women

Image in feature tile is of South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Corporation Waminda midwife Melanie Briggs sourced from the South Coast Register.

Birthing on Country services empower women

Many Australian women rely on and trust maternity services to see them through pregnancy, labour and the early stages of new parenting. But for First Nations women, these same services can be confronting and can result in poor outcomes. Many women must travel far from family and community to birth. And if they do, they often feel misunderstood and judged by mainstream health services.

There is another way. Birthing on Country means First Nations women give birth on their ancestral country. It acknowledges First Nation peoples’ continued ownership of land and unique birthing practices. Birthing on Country services centre First Nations values, and are designed to meet First Nations people’s social, emotional, cultural and health needs. The services are embedded within larger health service networks.

The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre team works in partnership with First Nations communities to deliver Birthing on Country maternity services that address health inequities. In one urban setting there was a profound reduction in preterm birth and increased antenatal attendance and breastfeeding. This was achieved through integrating within a wraparound system of care, designed as a one-stop-shop in an Aboriginal community controlled setting.

It also involved redesigning the service using a successful blueprint that prioritises investing in the workforce, strengthening families’ capabilities, and embedding First Nations governance and control in all aspects of maternity service planning and delivery. However, Birthing on Country services are yet to be trialled in regional and remote Australia. So there is much work to do to ensure all First Nations women can access these services.

To view The Conversation article in full click here. You can also view a trailer of a documentary (mentioned in the article) filmed in remote Arnhem Land, following two women who hope to reclaim 60,000 years of birthing culture from the stronghold of Western medicine, by working with community to pilot the training of djäkamirr- the caretakers of pregnancy and birth, below.

Cultural safety and humility program

The values and beliefs of those who provide healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a central area of study in Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) ground-breaking Murra Mullangari program. The first Indigenous-developed Cultural Safety program for nursing and midwifery to also include Cultural Humility has been a very long journey, according to CATSINaM CEO Professor Roianne West, who said Elders and ancestors had for five decades been calling for education that took into account colonial power structures.

“It’s the very first time a program like this has been done outside of the university sector and a program that really sets the standard for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and Cultural Safety education. It adds the additional dimension that’s unique to CATSINaM, and that the aspect of Cultural Humility,” Professor West said. Murra Mullangari means “the pathway to wellbeing” and is a term gifted to CATSINaM by Aunty Dr Matilda Williams-House, a Ngambri-Ngunnawal Elder and CATSINaM Matriarch.

Clinically safe practice in nursing and midwifery is not possible without cultural safe practice Professor West said during the webinar (see below) to launch Murra Mullangari: Introduction to Cultural Safety and Cultural Humility e-learning program. You can read the full Croakey Health Media article here.

iSISTAQUIT supports pregnant women

Indigenous people experience a disproportionate burden of disease due to high tobacco smoking rates, a legacy of colonisation and government sanctioned policies where rations of tobacco were widely distributed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In pregnancy, 44% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women smoke, compared to 12% of non-Indigenous mothers. Although Indigenous women are motivated to quit smoking to protect their unborn child, they typically receive inadequate health provider support to quit.

iSISTAQUIT provides wrap-around support for pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are wanting to quit smoking. It involves a model of care designed with culturally appropriate and national best practice training informed from previous studies. iSISTAQUIT provides free, online training for health providers in smoking cessation methods and educational resources for pregnant women. Having culturally thought out approaches with assisting women to quit smoking through a pathway of support, helps Indigenous women navigate health and wellbeing systems safely. Building on the research their team has been undertaking over the last seven years, the project is now leading a nationwide scale up of iSISTAQUIT. The ISISTAQUIT team is a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, researchers, communicators, community engagement specialists and students. Quitting smoking is a process that is hard to do alone. Getting support and help from different places can increase a person’s changes to become smoke-free.

To read the full Croakey Health Media article click here and access the iSISTAQUIT website here.

tile image of 2 Aboriginal mums & babies, text 'iSISTAQUIT'

Image source: iSISTAQUIT website.

First Nations Youth and Justice System

Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) have produced a Fact Sheet: First Nations Youth and the Justice System, an executive summary of the article ‘First Nations peoples and the law’ by Milroy and colleagues 2021. The headings in the fact sheet include: Historical and Contemporary Context; The Australian Context; and Ways Forward. The Fact Sheet highlights three quotes from the Milroy article:

  • “We suggest that young people ending up in the criminal justice system represents a failure of other systems to properly identify and provide support and effective interventions across development.”
  • “We are imprisoning traumatised, developmentally compromised, and disadvantaged young people, where imprisonment itself adds to the re-traumatisation and complexity of supporting rehabilitation and recovery.”
  • “Ideally, the way forward would include prevention, early intervention and comprehensive clinical and community intervention should a child or young person encounter the youth justice system.”

To download the Fact Sheet click here.

Non-GP Specialist Trainee Support Program

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has secured funding to implement a unique and comprehensive program. the Non-GP Specialist Trainee Support Program (AIDA STSP) to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander non-GP specialist trainees.

“The STSP will be the first Indigenous-led initiative established to provide peer and collegiate support to non-GP doctors in training, with the goal to increasing numbers into training programs and supporting them through the program so that we see high success rates of graduation.” – Ms Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO AIDA.

Interviews can be arranged upon request. Please contact the communications team via email on here or call Wendy Wakwella on 0426 169 109. To streamline the interview process, we ask that you please complete the interview request e-form available here, prior to contacting the communications team.

To read the AIDA’s media release in full click here.

Kiara Peacock is a trainee Aboriginal Health Worker in Darwin. Photo: Emilia Terzon, ABC News.

AMA wants tax on sugary soft drinks

The AMA says with polling consistently highlighting health is a top concern for voters, next week’s Federal Budget is the last chance for Government to demonstrate it is serious about addressing the health system’s significant strains and logjams. As part of Australia’s prevention agenda, the AMA is calling for tax on sugary soft drinks to help tackle obesity and other preventable chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

In comments made in 2018, on the priorities for inclusion in the 2018-2023 Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan AMSANT said a tax on sugar has been shown to be effective in reducing consumption and is projected to lead to the biggest health gains, particularly for people on the lowest incomes. Similarly NACCHO proposed in its 2021–22 Pre-Budget Submission that the Commonwealth introduce a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, with the revenue accrued redirected back into a subsidy on fresh fruit and vegetables back into communities where the impact is greatest.

You can view the AMA’s media release in full here.

Image source: The Guardian.

LGBTQA+ mental health and wellbeing project

Walkern Katatdjin is a national research project that aims to understand and promote the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Asexual + young people, and to work with services to develop appropriate interventions. There is very little locally-specific information and guidance available for services that work with young people on how best to support someone who is both Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and identifies as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Asexual (LGBTQA+). This means that young people (14-25 years) who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ may not receive the same level of social support and health care as other members of the community.

Young people who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ may be at increased risk of poor social emotional wellbeing and increased mental health difficulties, but there is very little research currently. This is an opportunity for researchers to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ young people to: understand their mental health needs and social emotional wellbeing, and work with local health services to develop interventions that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQA+ young people say will support them.

You can take part in the National Survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ young people’s mental health and social emotional wellbeing if you are: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; LGBTQA+ (you don’t have to be ‘out’); and 14 – 25 years old.

You can read the Participant Study Information Letter here and some of the important information here. You can access the Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge website here which includes a link to the survey.

cartoon image of Aboriginal woman midriff top, trans Aboriginal man & Aboriginal woman holding hands of each other, Aboriginal man with gay pride flag, text 'Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge' & chalk like lines red, yellow, white, green, dark blue/purple

Artwork by Shakyrrah Beck. Image source: Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge 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.

Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference

The Australasian Viral Hepatitis face-to-face Conference from Sunday 29 ­– Tuesday 31 May 2022 will be a forum with the aim of supporting the health workforce, government and community to work towards the elimination of hepatitis B and hepatitis C and support the communities living with these conditions in Australia, NZ and the Asia and Pacific regions.

To access further information about the conference, to register and submit a late submission click here.

Late Breaker Abstract Submission Deadline: Monday 27 March 2022

Early Bird Registration Deadline: Monday 27 March 2022

Accommodation Deadline: 10 April 2022

Standard Registration Deadline: 1 May 2022

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