NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ‘Sorry’ is not enough – we need action

Flag image in feature tile is from AbSec NSW Tweet 26 May 2021 published in The Conversation article National Sorry Day is a day to commemorate those taken. But ‘sorry’ is not enough – we need action published today 26 May 2022.

‘Sorry’ is not enough – we need action

On the 25th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report, chair of The Healing Foundation Board Professor Steve Larkin calls for aged care that is trauma-informed and enables healing for the Stolen Generations survivors. The Bringing Them Home report was result of a national inquiry that investigated the forced removal of First Nations children from their families and the first publicly documented account of the experiences of Stolen Generations survivors and the devastating effects of forced removals. In doing so, the report marked a pivotal moment in the healing journey of Stolen Generations survivors and their families.

25 years on, the report continues to guide the work of countless survivors, families, advocates, and organisations. However, implementation of many of the report’s numerous recommendations remain outstanding. Bringing Them Home was followed by other pivotal inquires calling for action in key areas for Stolen Generations survivors, including The Healing Foundation’s own Bringing Them Home: 20 years on and Make Healing Happen reports. Commemorative events, like National Sorry Day, are important reminders not only of what has been achieved to date, but also of what remains to be down. Without meaningful action, the commemoration of National Sorry Day falls short of its potential to be a catalyst for change.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Without action, Sorry Day falls short of its potential as a catalyst for change in full click here. You can access further information about National Sorry Day on the National Today website here and also read a SNAICC’s media release Hope for Our Children this National Sorry Day here.

Image source: Knox City Council, Wantirna, Melbourne (VIC) website.

Aunty Lindy Lawler on her path to healing

Some of Aunty Lindy Lawler’s earliest memories are scarred with fear and pain, including having her little four-year-old hand held over a gas flame as a regular punishment from her government-appointed carer. The 63-year-old Aboriginal elder, Yuin woman and survivor of the Stolen Generations suffered horrendous abuse for years after being removed from her family.

Aunty Lindy and her identical twin sister were born in David Berry Memorial Hospital at Berry on the NSW South Coast in December 1958. In May 1959, their parents were told to take the twins back to the hospital for a check-up and when they returned the girls were gone. “We had no idea we were removed from that place — we were five months old when this happened,” Aunty Lindy said. Over the next few years, the twins were taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney, the Ashfield Infants’ Home, and a convalescent home before being sent to a home in Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches in 1963.

Aunty Lindy attended the apology to the Stolen Generations, delivered by former PM Kevin Rudd, on 13 February 2008. She said it meant a great deal, but her twin had died the year before and never had the chance to hear the words. “But I will never forget it, and how many people went to it, and believed us and that was a really big healing,” she said. It has taken her years to speak about her pain and she said she received help on the journey from the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service. She’s now driven to help people understand what happened to those who were stolen.

To view the ABC News article Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Lindy Lawler speaks on her path to healing for National Sorry Day in full click here.

Aunty Lindy Lawler says official records held by the government of her removal fail to include any documentation of the abuse. Photo: Sarah Moss, ABC Illawarra.

First Nations nurse under-supply urgent

From a modest shopfront in Redfern half a century ago, there are now 144 ACCHOs in Australia and the sector is the third largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aunty Pat Turner, A Gudanji-Arrente woman and NACCHO CEO said Indigenous peoples overwhelmingly preferred to access ACCHOs over mainstream health services because “their cultural safety is guaranteed”. “Our ACCHOs are more than just another health service. They put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands,” she told the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Back to the Fire conference last year. “As the health system becomes more complex, the role of our services becomes even more critical. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is increasing rapidly and funding levels have not kept pace with demand.”

These funding shortfalls are widespread across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce, according to CATSINaM CEO Professor Roianne West. A report for CATSINaM by Dr Katrina Alford in 2015 predicted a national shortage of 100,000 nurses by 2020 and estimated that an additional 2,172 Indigenous nurses and midwives were required each year to reach population parity. “The Task is huge and required urgent action. The under-supply of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce has been a persistent and long-term problem in Australia,” Professor West said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Celebrating the many achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations click here.

CATSINaM member Kamilaroi-Wiradjuri nurse and artist Kisani Upward painted this portrait of CATSINaM founder Dr Sally Goold – the first Aboriginal nurse at the first ACCHO in Redfern – for the 2022 Archibald Prize. Photo: Kisani Upward. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Fighting inequitable healthcare access

In her address at the 2022 David Cooper Lecture, former PM Julia Gillard spoke of the need for the global community to enact policy that helps our most vulnerable, to ensure we emerge from the pandemic as a healthier and fairer society. The event, a conversation between Ms Gillard and ABC Science and Health reporter Tegan Taylor, was broadcast to an online audience and was co-presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas, Kirby Institute and UNSW Medicine & Health.

“It was a privilege having Julia Gillard as the guest speaker for this year’s David Cooper Lecture. She is a truly motivational speaker and her conversation on how infectious diseases disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged in society and what that means for how we respond was fascinating. Her observations on how COVID-19 has helped reduce the stigma attached to mental health were particularly pertinent,” Professor Anthony Kelleher, Director of the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, said.

You can watch a video of Julia Gillard presenting the David Cooper Lecture below and access the UNSW Sydney Newsroom article The importance of fighting inequality: Julia Gillard on lessons learnt from the pandemic in full here.

New advice on winter boosters

Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd has issued an important Bulletin including information about:

  • the expanded ATAGI recommendations on winter COVID-19 booster doses
  • maintaining cold chain requirements when transferring vaccines off site
  • vaccine ordering

Links are provided below for the key documents:

  • Primary Care Vaccine Roll-out Provider Bulletin 25 May 2022 here 
  • ATAGI Advice for Additional groups recommended for a winter booster dose as of 24 May 2022 here
  • Question and Answer regarding ATAGI revised winter dose advice here

Image source: Disability Support Guide.

Low booster uptake concerns experts

Pathologists are sounding the alarm over the low uptake of coronavirus vaccine boosters as the national immunisation group suggests a fourth dose for some Australians. The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia says third doses are particularly low in Queensland and NSW even as COVID-19 cases rise. “With winter commencing, it is important for everyone that they are fully up to date with all relevant vaccinations,” RCPA fellow Professor William Rawlinson said.

“The RCPA recently highlighted that it is very likely that we will experience far more influenza cases in Australia this winter. This, combined with the current, rising trend of COVID-19 cases is likely to put an extraordinary strain on the healthcare system.” WA has the highest uptake of third doses at about 80%, while Queensland is the lowest at 58%. Nationally, about two-thirds of eligible Australians have received a booster.

Yesterday, the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) on Immunisation expanded eligibility for a second booster to people with health conditions or a disability. Previously, the fourth dose has only been available to people 65 and over, those in aged or disability care, the severely immunocompromised or Indigenous people aged over 50. Acting Health Minister Katy Gallagher urged eligible Australians to get their fourth shot.

To view the Jimboomba Times article Experts concerned over low booster uptake click here.

Image source: Jimboomba Times.

Our Country Our Story mental health program

Most youth mental health service staff are “dedicated people with a strong sense of social justice. They want to meet the needs of young Aboriginal people,” says Professor Michael Wright, Curtin School of Allied Health. “But they also know they don’t know how to do this. For historical reasons, Aboriginal youth distrust mainstream organisations. For this reason, they often don’t seek help early for mental health issues.”

“Our Journey Our Story aims to build the capacity of mental health service staff. We want them to be flexible, confident, and competent in responding to the cultural needs of Aboriginal young people.’ A Nyoongar man, Michael worked with Aboriginal Elders to develop the Debakarn Koorliny Wangkiny (Steady Walking and Talking) co-design framework (DKW). DKW disrupts by questioning service providers’ ‘typical ways of working,’ Michael says. Participants are asked to commit to being motivated, present and teachable, respecting status, staying connected, and continually weaving. Aboriginal Elders and youth and mental health staff usually have a deep self-realisation that change is possible!” Michael said. “Our experience is that the changes they experience are profound.”

To view The National Tribune article Our Journey Our Story in full click here. You can view Professor Wright talking about the Our Journey, Our Story Project in the video below.

HIV is just a part of me – Michelle

As part of their HIV is: Just a part of me campaign Gilead Sciences and the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) have created a series of videos showcasing the lived experience, resilience, joy and hope of six exceptional people living with HIV. In the third video Michelle Tobin, an Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation who is also a descendant of the Stolen Generation, shares her story. At present, Michelle is one of two women across Australia who advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with HIV. She also represents the positive voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, especially for women, on a number of advisory committees.

To read more about ‘HIV Is Just A Part Of Me’ campaign and view all six videos you can access the NAPWHA website here.

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 Tobacco Day

Monday 31 May is the World Health Organization’s 35th World No Tobacco Day. This day raises awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and exposure. It highlights national and global efforts to fight the tobacco epidemic and protect future generations from its harmful effects.

World No Tobacco Day is an annual reminder of the dangers of tobacco use and its impact on the health of individuals and communities. It also sheds light on the tactics used by tobacco and related companies to attract younger generations of smokers, despite public health and regulatory efforts to lessen their influence. Growing evidence that smokers are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 disease if they become infected, has triggered millions of smokers world-wide to want to quit tobacco.

The theme of World No Tobacco Day 2022 is Protect the environment, highlighting that, throughout its lifecycle, tobacco pollutes the planet and damages the health of all people. Commit to Quit measures aim to create healthier environments that: For more information on World Tobacco Day 2022 you can access the WHO website here and the Australian Government Department of Health website here.

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