NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First Nations self-governance aids mental health

feature tile text 'ATSI self-governance linked to improved mental health and suicide prevention outcomes'

The artwork The journey towards healing by Linda Huddleston (Nungingi) in the feature tile is from the cover of the AIHW paper Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention.

First Nations self-governance aids mental health

The Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published an 80 page paper Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention. The paper provides a synthesis of the information about Indigenous self-governance in relation to mental health and suicide prevention and explores the ways in which Indigenous organisations embody and enable processes, structures, institutions, and control associated with self-governance and how these contribute to Indigenous wellbeing and suicide prevention.

To view the paper in full click here.

Artwork: Camilla Perkins for Mosaic.

NACCHO CEO to deliver keynote address

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM will be delivering a keynote address at leading law firm, King & Wood Mallesons’ refreshed strategy for Community Impact event this Friday 8 April at 12.30pm AEDT.

Standing Strong & Tall Together is King & Wood Mallesons’ new five-year strategy focused on transformational partnerships and systems change to create sustained generational change.

The event will be live-streamed via a free webinar that you can register for here.

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM.

First Indigenous sleep coaches in Australia

Two First Nations people from Mount Isa have completed their certification to become Australia’s first Indigenous sleep coaches. Karen Chong and Jamie Dunne are working as project officers for Lets Yarn About Sleep program to promote sleep health in First Nations communities. The Lets Yarn About Sleep program was rolled out in Mount Isa in 2020 led by Dr Yagoot Fatima (Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland) and is funded by a Medical Research Future Fund-Indigenous Health Grant.

Dr Yaqoot said sleep and health are closely linked and problems with the quality, timing and amount of sleep affects physical and mental health. “There is strong evidence confirming the protective role of sleep in reducing the risk and severity of poor health outcomes,” Dr Yaqoot said. “Yet, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents, who experience a disproportionately high rate of health issues, the potential of sleep in improving health and wellbeing outcomes remains untapped”.

To view the Mount Isa has Australia’s first two Indigenous sleep coaches article in the North West Star in full click here.

Dr Dwayne Mann (Postdoctoral Research Fellow), Roslyn Von Senden (Cultural Mentor), Karen Chong (Sleep Coach) and Jamie Dunne (Sleep Coach)

Dr Dwayne Mann (Postdoctoral Research Fellow), Roslyn Von Senden (Cultural Mentor), Karen Chong (Sleep Coach) and Jamie Dunne (Sleep Coach). Image source: The North West Star.

First Nations students role models for mob

Birri Gubba woman Melissa Ann Fisher knew as a teenager she wanted to be a nurse, but it was not that simple. Her activist mother wanted Ms Fisher to attend university rather than learn a trade, which is what nursing was considered in those days, and refused to sign the application papers — a decision she later regretted. After a career doing other jobs and raising five kids, Ms Fisher decided it was her turn. “I just had this stock moment when I was actually quite pregnant with my last child, and said, ‘I’m gonna study nursing’,” she said. “I don’t care about my age … I’m doing it.” That was in 2015.

Some eight years later, Ms Fisher has just graduated from Charles Darwin University (CDU). Another seminal moment occurred when Ms Fisher, a diabetic, was sitting in a clinic as a patient. “I sat there in a couple of different appointments and thought, ‘I could do this so much better’,” she said. “I want to make a difference in Indigenous health in diabetes.” Ms Fisher is now studying for a masters and wants to become a nurse practitioner, which meant she expected to be studying for another six years.

CDU Deputy Vice-Chancellor of First Nations Leadership Professor Reuben Bolt said it was important to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of students. “Our First Nations students are role models for their communities and other students wanting to enter higher education, and are an important part of the university’s identity,” he said.

To view the Melissa among First Nations graduates changing their own lives to make a difference for others article in full click here.

CDU nursing grad Melissa Ann Fisher sitting on tree trunk by stream in tropics

Charles Darwin University nursing graduate Melissa Ann Fisher. Photo: Conor Byrne, ABC Radio Darwin. Image source: ABC News website.

Continuing on the theme of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tertiary students, an article in the Shepparton News looks at 12 First Nations students who graduated last week from rural health courses under the Department of Rural Health at the University of Melbourne. Taking in graduates from 2020 and 2021, the event saw seven students graduate from a specialist Certificate in Empowering Health in Aboriginal Communities, one of which also completed a Graduate Certificate in Aboriginal Health in Rural Communities, one graduate from a Master of Public Health and four from the PhD program.

Professor Marcia Langton associate provost is one of the driving forces behind the creation of the courses. “It’s a dream come true for them and it’s a dream come true for me too,” she said. “It’s primarily a credit to the students themselves, some of them have really forged a pathway to create an indigenous health workforce that’s highly qualified and as good as any health workforce in the country.”

University of Melbourne Department of Rural Health director Lisa Bourke said the aim of the courses was for students to be able to study, live work and study on Country without having to go to the city.

To view the Shepparton welcomes graduates of rural health course article in full click here.

Professor Julian Wright, Andreia Marques, Dr Shanawa Andrews, Gwenda Freeman, Helen Everist, Dr Karen Ferguson, professors Marcia Langton, Lisa Bourke, Doug Boyle and John Prins; (front) Dr Raylene Nixon, Chanoa Cooper, Leah Lindrea-Morrison, Tracey Hearn and Dr Sharon Atkinson-Briggs

From back left: Professor Julian Wright, Andreia Marques, Dr Shanawa Andrews, Gwenda Freeman, Helen Everist, Dr Karen Ferguson, professors Marcia Langton, Lisa Bourke, Doug Boyle and John Prins; (front) Dr Raylene Nixon, Chanoa Cooper, Leah Lindrea-Morrison, Tracey Hearn and Dr Sharon Atkinson-Briggs. Image source: Shepparton News.

Mental health experts to guide research

The federal government has appointed mental health experts to the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission (MMMHRM), who will guide research into mental health, including looking at prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Almost one in four Australians experience some form of mental ill health in any given year, while almost one in two Australians will experience mental ill health in their lifetime. Mental illness significantly increases the risk of suicide, the leading cause of death of people aged 15–44.

Research is essential to improve our understanding of what causes and contributes to mental illness. It can also lead to better prevention, diagnosis and improved treatment options. The new expert panel will provide advice on priorities for future research investment through the Mission by reviewing the existing Roadmap and developing an Implementation Plan.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said we need ongoing research into mental health so we can reduce the impact on individuals, families and communities. “This research will ultimately improve the mental health and wellbeing of Australians, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, children and young people; and broaden our understanding of eating disorders and suicide prevention,” Minister Hunt said.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Image source: DoH website.

Anger over age of criminal responsibility

An Aboriginal-led coalition of legal and health experts has accused the Queensland government and opposition of “kicking the can down the road” while children are locked behind bars, after both refused to back calls to raise the age of criminal responsibility. In Queensland, as in all other Australian states and territories, children as young as 10 can be held in watchhouses and hauled before courts to face criminal charges.

Earlier this week, the Raise the Age coalition published an open letter to premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expressing deep concern that their expertise “appears to have been ignored” by a parliamentary committee that rejected calls to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 in the state. The letter was signed by more than 20 health, legal, youth and child developmental organisations whose experts made submissions to that inquiry.

“We unanimously advised the Committee to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years old,” the letter read. “This is consistent with the overwhelming medical evidence, unanimous support from more than 300 written submissions to the inquiry, and the views of the majority of witnesses who provided evidence at the inquiry’s public hearing.”

To read The Guardian Aboriginal-led coalition angered over Queensland’s failure to raise age of criminal responsibility article in full click here.

dark skinned hands gripping green jail bars

Photo: luoman, Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

$5m to support First Nations maternal health

Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Molly Wardaguga Research Centre has welcomed $5 million in this year’s budget for the Birthing On Country project to support First Nations mothers and their babies in remote communities for the next five years. Funding from the federal government allocated to the improving the Health and Wellbeing of Indigenous Mothers and Babies will raise the safety of birthing on country and integrating cultural sensitivities as women move into motherhood.

CDU Professor of Indigenous Health Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman, and Professor of Midwifery Sue Kildea, Co-Directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre said the project builds upon 25 years of health services research. “This gives us an opportunity to provide a strong research framework to enable First Nations communities to reclaim their birthing services to ensure the best start to life for mothers and babies,” Professor Kildea said. “We are very excited to be able to test the translation of research evidence that shows extraordinary benefits for First Nations mums, babies and communities into rural (Nowra, NSW), remote (Alice Springs, NT) and very remote (Galiwin’ku, NT) settings.”

To view the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre secures $5 million to support First Nations maternal health article in The National Tribune in full click here.

CDU Professors Yvette Roe & Sue Kildea

Charles Darwin University (CDU) Professors Yvette Roe (left) and Sue Kildea head the Birthing on Country program, which integrates culturally appropriate care with health outcomes to help First Nations women in birthing.

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.

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00PM (AEDT) Thursday 7 April 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Office, Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) this week will be DoH Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

COVID-19 Treatments Forum

A special COVID-19 treatments forum co-hosted by the Australian Government Department of Health and the National Health and Medical Research Council is being held from 5–7:00PM (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 7 April 2022. The forum will provide information and the opportunity to discuss approaches to COVID-19 treatment strategies by government officials, regulators, research scientists and clinicians.

The forum will feature:

  • scientific and clinical information about COVID-19 treatments;
  • details on the appropriate use of available COVID-19 treatments based on current evidence;
  • discussion on the continuing transition to community-based healthcare for people with COVID-19;
  • discussion on key COVID-19 treatment issues faced by primary care providers and their patients including access through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS);
  • discussion on how the Commonwealth and States and Territories are facilitating equitable access to treatments through the PBS and the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) to eligible patients.

For further information about the forum, including the agenda click here. The forum can be watched live via the livestream or at a later time at your leisure. You can access the webinar link here.

green gloved hand holding lab tray, vial in background

Image source: The Pharmaceutical Journal.

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