NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First national crisis support line for mob

First national crisis support line for mob

13YARN is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander crisis support line funded by the Australian Government with the support of Lifeline and developed in collaboration with Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia. It is run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 13YARN has been co-designed using Lifeline expertise with several Aboriginal mental health professionals including NACCHO, Black Dog Institute Aboriginal Lived Experience team and the Centre of Best Practice along with input from Torres Strait Islander, remote, regional, and urban peoples with lived experience.

This initiative works to explore options for ongoing support and community members will always be reassured they will be connected to another Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person who will understand where they are coming from and value knowing HOW to listen, without judgement or shame.

If you, or someone you know, are feeling worried or no good, we encourage you to connect with 13YARN on 13 92 76 (24 hours/7 days) and talk with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter. This is your story; your journey and we will take the time to listen. No shame, no judgement, safe place to yarn. We’re here for you.

For more information visit the 13YARN website here. You can also listen to 13YARN National Program Manager Aunty Marjorie Anderson talking about 13YARN on the ABC Radio program Sunday Extra with Julian Morrow here and read Minister Greg Hunt and Minister David Coleman’s joint media release about 13YARN here.

First image: Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Twitter post 30 March 2022. Second image: 13YAR National Program Manager Aunty Marjorie Anderson, Nikita Ridgeway and Jia Natty. SBS NITV.

2022 Budget ‘an opportunity lost’

NACCHO is calling for a substantial review of funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. The call comes following the handing down of the Federal Budget last week which the NACCHO has described as business as usual. NACCHO says they are tiring of singular announcements and that while there have been some welcome announcements, the core funding for First Nations health services remains the same. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says single announcements interrupts the quality of care.

CEO Pat Turner says this budget is an opportunity lost. She says as long as this $4.4 billion funding gap remains and as long as there are funding gaps elsewhere – in particular, in housing – we cannot expect the unconscionable health gap to close.

You can listen to NACCHO’ Chair Donnella Mills speaking on the National Indigenous Radio Service with journalist Adam Evans here.


Hope for community rocked by youth suicide

When Aunty Joyce Cooper leads a child through their first smoking ceremony, she knows something is changing. Her body painted in the red and brown ochre of Yorta Yorta country, she guides them through the smoke, letting it wash over them. In First Nations culture, it is believed smoke has healing properties, and can ward off bad spirits. It can also be a form of communication, a cry for help in crisis.

And while she may not hear it audibly, Aunty Joyce knows many of these young people are crying out. Hers is a community rocked by a deep grief, an overwhelming sense of loss – of culture, of community. And now, of its young people. “Sometimes I worry who’s going to be next,” she said. “It’s a ripple effect. Because no-one is listening to our young people. No-one is listening to their stories.”

When it comes to Indigenous youth suicide, Greater Shepparton is an area of high concern. In the past year alone, several young people have taken their own lives and there are concerns if nothing changes, a suicide cluster could form. In January this year, national Indigenous postvention group Thirrili was called in to provide urgent crisis support to the grieving community.

Talking to families, Thirrili CEO Annette Vickery said several devastating themes emerged – systemic racism and bullying, and a widespread loss of culture. “Bullying is a significant issue in Shepparton, including at school and on social media,” Ms Vickery said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Aunty Joyce leads young women in a smoking ceremony. Photo: Rod Briggs. Image source: ABC News website.

Half of Australia’s youth detainees First Nations

Almost half of all young people in detention in Australia are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, even though the overall number of children going to jail has fallen in the past five years, research shows. Young Indigenous people are only 5.8% of all young people aged 10–17 in Australia but make up 49% of all young people in detention, according to the latest data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Indigenous children were younger when they entered the criminal justice system than their non‑Indigenous counterparts, and more likely to be from remote and lower socio-economic areas. Young people from very remote areas were six times as likely to be in detention as those from major cities. Young people spent an average of six months in detention. The majority of all young people in detention were unsentenced or awaiting trial, the AIHW found. More than a third (37%) of Indigenous young people were first in contact with the criminal justice system when aged 10 to 13, compared with just 14% of non‑Indigenous youth.

Cheryl Axleby, the co-chair of Change the Record, an Indigenous-led coalition of welfare and legal groups, said she was appalled by the latest report. “This paints a really clear picture of exactly how our criminal legal system is working – it’s targeting poor kids and black kids,” Axleby said. “On top of that, First Nations kids are more likely to be targeted and dragged into the criminal legal system when they are extremely young. It is outrageous that Aboriginal children in primary school are being arrested by police.”

To view the Guardian’s article in full click here.

razor wire rolls at top of chain wire fence

Photo: Jonny Weeks, The Guardian.

Mornington Island deaths due to poor services

There are too many dead bodies on Mornington Island. At least 16 people have died within three months due to a “health pandemic” in the predominantly Indigenous Queensland Gulf community, leaders say. The spike in recent deaths has been attributed to poor healthcare; specifically, a lack of access to renal dialysis on the island, where many residents suffer from chronic kidney disease.

“Our morgue and emergency facilities are full. Sixteen deaths before April is ridiculous,” Mornington Shire Mayor Kyle Yanner said. In 2019, millions of dollars were allocated to install dialysis chairs in several vulnerable communities around NW Queensland, all of which were scheduled to be operating in mid-2021. 600kms south of Mornington Island, in Cloncurry, two chairs were installed, but are not yet working. Of the four chairs allocated to the remote Indigenous community of Doomadgee, two are working. Mornington Island was allocated six dialysis chairs. Only one chair is available.

Mornington Shire Councillor David Barnes said the situation was creating stress on patients and their families. “This means sick patients are having to travel to the mainland to receive treatment and, unfortunately, some are passing away off the island, leaving their grieving families to organise repatriation home for burial,” Mr Barnes said. He’s one of several community leaders calling on Queensland Health and the region’s North West Hospital Health Service (NWHHS) to make available the island’s five other renal chairs.

To view the ABC News story in full click here.

Kyle Yanner below has been calling for an audit of government health services. Photo: Leonie Mellor, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

Bigiwun Kid Project – prenatal alcohol exposure

The Lililwan Project was the first Australian population-based prevalence study of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) using active case ascertainment. Conducted in 2010–2011, the study included 95% of all eligible children aged 7–9 years living in the very remote Aboriginal communities of the Fitzroy Valley, WA. Women from Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre, a local Aboriginal-led organisation, are concerned that some participants from the study are struggling in adolescence so partnered with researchers from the University of Sydney to follow up the Lililwan cohort in 2020–2022 at age 17–19 years.

The overarching aim of the Bigiswun Kid Project is to identify adolescents’ needs and build knowledge to inform services to improve the health and well-being of adolescents in remote Aboriginal communities.

You can access further information about Bigiswun Kid Project in the BMJ Open BMJ Journals here. You can also listen to Emily Carter, CEO Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre and Sue Thomas, Strategic Priority Lead Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre speak with Patricia Karvelas on RN Drive about the project here.

Members of the Marulu team. Image source: Australian Government Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations.

Mob have increased risk of concussion

The diagnosis and management of concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), has seen increased attention in recent years as an area requiring greater identification and action. Despite typical lay associations as an injury sustained during contact sport, this activity only makes up about 20% of concussion diagnoses, with the majority of concussion cases resulting from falls, motor vehicle and bicycle crashes, assaults (including domestic violence), and other physical activities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.7 times more likely to sustain a TBI than the general population.

There is a lack of comprehensive epidemiological data relating to TBI in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Available data relating to concussion have historically been collected from hospitalisations. These data fail to capture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who fail to present to hospital after a potential concussion episode; those who present to ACCHOs, general practice, and nurse‐led primary health care centres; those who present to hospital but their symptoms and signs are overlooked, and those who present to hospital but fail to undergo assessment due to prolonged waiting times or as a result of a lack of cultural competence at first point of contact.

To read the Concussion in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: what is the true epidemiology? article in The Medical Journal of Australia in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

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.

International Conference on Human Retrovirology

The 2022 International Virtual Conference on Human Retrovirology: HTLV and Related Viruses will take place from Sunday 8 ­May – Wednesday 11 May 2022. The aim is to focus on Oceania and especially Australia for the first time in the history of this conference. In 2022 the aim is to emphasise the need to increase HTLV-1 public health and social science research output in the global response to HTLV-1. The HTLV 2022 conference is hosted virtually by Melbourne, Australia on behalf of IRVA, The International Retrovirology Association and will be in Australian Eastern Standard Time.

You can access further information about the conference , including registration details on the HTLV22 website here. The registration deadline for the conference is Sunday 24 April 2022.

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