NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: On Children’s Day, hear voices of the future

The image in the feature tile is of Brooklyn Goodwin, kutalayna Collective and Pacey Riley, kanamaluka Collective. Both photos were taken by Kata Glover, Digital Communications Officer, Connected Beginnings, lutruwita.

On Children’s Day, hear voices of the future

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) is celebrated across Australia each year on 4 August. Historically this was the date used to celebrate the birthdays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were taken from their families at a young age, without knowing their birthday –  they became known as being part of the Stolen Generations.

Now, Children’s Day is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to celebrate the strength and culture of our children. The theme for this year’s Children’s Day is ‘My Dreaming, My Future’ – which askes our kids to reflect on what the Dreaming means to them, their lives, their identity, and the aspirations for the future.

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak body in Australia representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, actively supports and promotes Children’s Day.

TAC program supports strong beginnings

On National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, NACCHO would like to highlight the innovative work done towards improving the lives of our kids and building better outcomes for them by our affiliate, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), an ACCHO for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

The Connected Beginnings program aims to improve health, educational, developmental, and social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-5 years to ensure every child is ready for the transition to school.

The program is delivered under an innovative Collective Impact framework that aims to elevate the Aboriginal community’s voice, support integrated service provision, advocate for culturally safe and appropriate services and facilitate positive actions to improve community outcomes.

TAC Chief Operations Officer and Program Director, Raylene Foster says, “A program like Connected Beginnings is vital to improving the whole ecosystem of service delivery for Aboriginal children.  This place-based program is essential for the successful delivery and utilisation of mainstream programs and child health, social, educational and development needs for Aboriginal children, to be delivered through an Aboriginal lens”.

The success of the Connected Beginnings program at kutalayna (Brighton), has led to the program’s expansion to two new sites in pataway (Burnie) and kanamaluka (George Town and Northern Suburbs Launceston). The expansion is a testament to the great work being carried out at TAC and to their ongoing commitment towards improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Connected Beginnings in pataway will be officially launched in tandem with the celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.

The program is jointly funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care and the Department of Education. TAC is the recipient of both streams of Connected Beginnings funding from the Departments and delivers the program across lutruwita, Tasmania.

  • read the kutalyana Collective media release here
  • read a related National Indigenous Times article here
  • listen to an ABC News radio (Northern Tasmania) interview with Chloe Woolnough from TAC and Project Manager of Connected Beginnings, lutruwita, here.

Background Information

The Connected Beginnings program forms part of the first Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan. It aims are to contribute to achieving Outcome 4, that children thrive in their early years, under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Connected Beginnings currently fund 14 ACCHOs and Aboriginal Medical Services across Australia. In 2021, the Australian Government provided additional funding to expand the Connected Beginnings Program to a minimum of 50 sites by 2025 and are working in partnership with NACCHO on the delivery of the health component of the Connected Beginnings program.

The program demonstrates how change can be made within the new Closing the Gap partnership arrangements and how transformation can happen if everyone has a shared vision, trust, and commitment. The success of Connected Beginnings in lutruwita is being celebrated across the country, highlighting how, through Aboriginal community control, meaningful and lasting systems changes are best achieved.

You can find more information about Connected Beginnings on the Australian Government Department of Education and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations joint website page here.

katalayna Collective logo, Francis Ketley, katalayna Collective, Leveigh Bernes, kanamaluka Collective, Isabella Romanelli, pataway Collective. Photos: Kate Glover.

COVID vax for kids with comorbidities

The Australian Government has accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommendations for COVID vaccination use in children 6 months to <5 years of age with significant comorbidities and these children will be eligible for a vaccine from Monday 5 September 2022.

The ATAGI have released a statement ATAGI recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine use in children aged 6 months to <5 years which is available on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website here.

Of particular note:

  • there are eligibility conditions for the vaccine and most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children WILL NOT be eligible for the vaccine. Only children with immunosuppression, significant comorbidities or a disability that requires significant assistance with daily activities will be eligible
  • the Department of Health and Aged Care is engaging ACCHOs around vaccination for this age group, with webinars with ACCHOs organised for next week to discuss how to support access for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait children, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Occupational therapist at Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS). Image source: WACHS website.

Call for First Nations first responders

When Lismore was hit with its biggest flood in recorded history, national Indigenous newspaper the Koori Mail responded quickly to the needs of the community. The newspaper’s general manager Naomi Moran said she was able to salvage laptops and hard drives, but the building and most of its contents were destroyed. In the wake of the mud and wreckage, Ms Moran said they were forced to face the reality that for the first time in the organisation’s 30-year history, they would not be able to print the next edition, and possibly several after that. “We lost our building, we lost our first floor, we lost everything that the Koori Mail was for the past 30 years,” she said.

Far from calling it a day, the organisation pivoted and became a flood hub responding to the community’s needs for food, supplies, clothing and support. “We came up with a strategy and some ideas around how we, as an Aboriginal organisation – an independent organisation and business in this region – could utilise all of our resources, our contacts in our networks, to support the local community,” she said. In the days, weeks and months that followed, the Koori Mail team helped coordinate food, clothes, counselling and essential items for thousands of flood-affected residents relying on financial support from donations.

To view the ABC News article Success of Koori Mail flood response in Lismore prompts calls for First Nations first responders in full click here.

The Koori Mail’s Naomi Moran says the organisation used all its resources to support the community. Photo: Matt Coble, ABC News.

Pathway to improve services for mob

A new strategy that aims to increase opportunities for ACCOs to deliver culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal children, families and communities has been launched in Fremantle. The 10-year strategy was developed by representatives from 11 ACCOs across the State, Department of Communities and the Department of Finance. It aligns to several Priority Reform Areas and Socio-Economic targets identified within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and aims to empower Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from the foundations provided by ACCOs.

ACCOs hold an important role in delivering culturally secure services to Aboriginal people across WA. They provide a vast range of critical services and support including health, healing, safe homes, housing, education and training, child protection, disability support, justice, and maintaining strong connections to land and culture. As stated by Community Services Minister Simone McGurk: “Aboriginal people across WA have repeatedly told us that to truly change outcomes, Aboriginal communities must lead the way, and that is achieved through community-based and family-led solutions. We are committed to partner with and support ACCOs so that Aboriginal services can serve the unique needs of Aboriginal families alongside Communities ACCOs usually achieve better results, employ a majority of Aboriginal workforce and are the preferred providers by Aboriginal people over mainstream services.”

To read The Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) Strategy 2022 to 2032: Empowering Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from secure and sustained foundations provided by ACCOs visit here.

Research shows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled art centres play a significant role in supporting the health and wellbeing of older people and people living with dementia. Image source: Dementia Australia.

New health service for Mapoon

The community of Mapoon is preparing to celebrate the opening of a new purpose-built Primary Health Care (PHC) Centre on 23 August 2022. The Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre will be opened by Apunipima Chairperson and Mapoon Mayor, Aileen Addo, who will cut the ribbon on the new facility in front of elders, community members, the local Health Action Team and local and regional dignitaries who are all invited to come and enjoy the festivities.

“This is fantastic news. We’ve growing in size as a community and there was an increasing need for a PHC Centre to work alongside Queensland Health to match that population growth,” Mrs Addo said. The new facility was made possible thanks to local Traditional Owner group, the Rugapayn Corporation. “We’re extremely grateful to the Rugapayn Corporation for granting us the land to build a much-needed Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon,” she said.

“What we are seeing with the new PHC Centre in Mapoon is exactly what ‘community control’ is all about. The Centre has been designed by community, it will be staffed and run by community and it will ultimately belong to the community,” said Apunipima CEO Debra Malthouse. Currently Apunipima delivers its health services from the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service premises in Mapoon. This arrangement has limited Apunipima’s capacity to increase primary health care services in the community. Community control was always the goal for the community and having a stand-alone centre will give Apunipima the opportunity to respond to community health needs in a way that community want.

To view the Apunipma Cape York Health Council media release Date announced for opening of new Health Care Clinic in Mapoon click here.

Health Worker Daphne De Jersey and Mapoon PHC Manager Debra Jia are excited about the PHC opening and what that means for their growing community. Photos supplied by: Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

Awabakal welcomes babies to Country

“It is important that our babies grow up knowing their identity and connection to country.” That’s the sentiment of Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon after the organisation welcomed the next generation of First Nations children into the community at Newcastle City Hall earlier this week. Following a COVID-enforced hiatus, more than 200 families across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Raymond Terrace and Maitland are expected to take part in Baby Welcoming Ceremonies this week, which coincide with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August.

“We have hosted this event since 2015,” Mrs Gordon said. “So, we’re glad to be back after a couple of years due to COVID-19. Our Baby Welcoming Ceremonies relate to the tradition of introducing newborns to the community where the Elders welcome them to the land. This sense of identity and belonging was denied for many of our people for so long. So, our ceremonies are a reminder to our community that you and your babies belong here – and they are loved. We all want to help them grow to be proud, safe and beautiful First Nations people.”

To read the Newcastle Weekly article Awabakal community welcomes babies to Country in full click here.

Awabakal Ltd hosted one its Baby Welcoming Ceremonies at Newcastle City Hall this week. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

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