NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Ask your mob, in your way, R U OK?

The image in the feature tile is of Steven Oliver, An R U OK? Ambassador, Aboriginal poet, comedian and performer whose life has been affected by suicide. Image source: R U OK? Day Facebook page, 29 June 2016.

Ask your mob, in your way, R U OK?

If someone you know – a family member, someone from your community, a friend, neighbour, team mate or workmate –  is doing it tough, they won’t always tell you. Sometimes it’s up to us to trust our gut instinct and ask someone who may be struggling with life “are you OK?”, in our own way. By taking the time to ask and listen, we can help those we care about feel more supported and connected, which can help stop little things becoming bigger things.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples share a special connection to this country and to each other, through our cultures, communities and shared experiences. Regardless of where we live, or who our mob is, we all go through tough times, times when we don’t feel great about our lives or ourselves. That’s why it’s important to always be looking out for each other. Because we’re Stronger Together.

Earlier this year 13YARN (13 92 76), a Lifeline supported service was launched. It is the first national crisis phone support line for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Designed, led and delivered by mob, 13YARN provides a confidential 24/7 one-on-one yarning opportunity with a Lifeline-trained Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter.

You could also connect with a trusted health professional, like your doctor or your local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Medical Service.

For more information about R U OK? Day and to access resources specifically for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities click here.

Working Group on Voice to Parliament

The government is primed to announce a working group on the referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The group will be tasked with answering some of the big questions on the process in the lead-up to the referendum. The referendum’s timing, question and information on the Voice to Parliament will all fall under the remit of the group, made up of more than 20 Indigenous leaders from across the country.

Notable names include Pat Anderson, Marcia Langton, Tom Calma, Pat Turner, Ken Wyatt and June Oscar. It will be co-chaired by Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney and Special Envoy for Reconciliation and Implementation of the Uluru Statement Patrick Dodson. Ms Burney will officially announce the working group as part of her address today at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s State of the Nation forum. “These are the next steps, the plan on the road to the referendum,” Ms Burney said. “There is much to work to do, many more steps to be taken on the road to the referendum. Let’s be clear, government cannot lead this referendum. This will come from the grassroots.”

To view the ABC News story Working group to answer big questions leading up to Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum in full click here.

The government’s Voice working group will help shape the looming referendum. Photo: Tim Leslie, ABC News.

JobKeeper rate a health hazard

Touted as a “much-needed boost” by the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, the JobSeeker payment is set to rise $1.80 per day on 20 September. The daily rate will go from $46 to $47.80 – $17,378 per year – still well below the Melbourne Institute’s poverty line of approximately $28,000 per year. “It does not deliver a real increase – an increase above inflation – and that is what people on JobSeeker and other payments need to keep a roof over their head and put food on the table,” Australian Council of Social Service CEO Edwina MacDonald said in a statement.

Karl Briscoe, the CEO of the National Association for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners (NAATSIHWP), said the low JobSeeker rates affect food security and housing among Indigenous communities. “Access to adequate nutrition, fresh fruit and veg, is probably one of the biggest issues that people are faced with,” he said.  ” When people cannot access vitamins and minerals due to poverty, they can be more susceptible to a range of diseases, including skin infections and diabetes, according to Briscoe.”

Overcrowding is another major issue, he said. In Aboriginal communities, it can contribute to the spread of scabies, a skin infection which is linked to chronic kidney disease. Too many people living in the same house can also increase the spread of Strep A infections, which can cause rheumatic fever and RHD, an autoimmune condition where the heart valve tissue becomes swollen and scarred.

While increasing the JobSeeker rate is a clear necessity, what is really needed to improve conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is capital investment, such as infrastructure projects that bring jobs, according to Briscoe. “Poverty is an outcome of colonisation for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We don’t have a long line of inheritance that’s been passed down generation to generation,” Briscoe said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Stories from the frontlines: why the low JobSeeker rate is a health hazard in full click here.

Verdict on government’s first 100 days

The Albanese government has now passed its first 100 days in office and major announcements are coming in thick and fast. Key ministers and central figures within the for-purpose sector have reflected on the federal government’s progress so far and what should be the next steps from here.

The federal government came to power promising a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney said the government had “hit the ground running. A constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament is about improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.  It’s about making sure First Nations people have a say on the issues and policies that affect them,” she said. “It’s about drawing a line on the poor outcomes from the long legacy of failed programs and broken policies and about recognising the glaring omission of First Peoples in Australia’s birth certificate.”

CEO of SNAICC Catherine Liddle said many of the government’s broad commitments, including more affordable childcare, would benefit First Nations people. However, she said such mainstream reforms “must take into account the particular needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. SNAICC has already met with senior government ministers and we look forward to strengthening those relationships and working with the new government to progress much needed policy reform to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have their needs and voices heard,” she said.

“Federal Labor has committed to the implementation of the National Agreement with the Coalition of Peaks. There’s no doubt that we lost some ground in the run up to and during the federal election. But I think that implementation of the National Agreement is being brought back to where it needs to be” Liddle said. “SNAICC looks forward to working with the government on reforms to early education, family services, and out of home care, with access to childcare identified as being particularly important as a lack of access can create barriers that prevent First Nations people from engaging in work and study.”

To view the Pro Bono Australia article Sector delivers verdict on government’s first 100 days in full click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

System rigged against people with additions

Amid concerns that Australian health systems are failing people with addictions to alcohol, other drugs and gambling, experts will call next week for a national roadmap to ensure better and more equitable treatment pathways. A two-day national conference in Canberra will put the spotlight on a lack of national policy leadership in addressing the fragmented, inadequate services available for people living with addictions, which one expert says means it’s a “complete lottery” as to what care people and families might find. The Rethink Addiction Convention titled ‘It’s time to change the conversation’, will bring together people with lived and living experience, clinicians, services providers, law and justice practitioners and policymakers and seek to address the stigma that affects access to treatment and care.

Jasmin Wilson, a Wellbeing Officer from from Aboriginal Drug & Alcohol Council SA will be speaking at the inaugural Rethink Addiction Convention. She says “Addiction doesn’t discriminate, so why do we? To Close the Gap we need to address addiction in First Nations Communities.”

Ending that harmful stigmatisation is the work at the heart of the Rethink Addiction campaign, headed by psychiatrist Professor Dan Lubman, who is Executive Clinical Director of the Turning Point and Professor of Addiction Studies and Services at Monash University  and Director of the Monash Addiction Research Centre. He cites the damning statistics: around one in four Australians will develop an alcohol, drug or gambling disorder during their lifetime, and around one in 20 will develop addiction, the most severe form of the disorder. One Australian dies almost every hour from alcohol, other drug or gambling harm.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How the system is rigged against people with addictions in full click here.

Jasmin Wilson, a former ice addict will speak at the convention. Image source: The Advertiser.

Calls for youth justice system reforms

Amnesty International Australia issued a statement yesterday calling on all State and Territory governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility and close detention centres. “State and Territory governments have it in their power now to do more than make empty statements about the importance of child safety,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner Maggie Munn, said. “Until they take the most obvious and proven step to truly care for some of the most vulnerable children in our country, then these words ring very hollow indeed.”

Calls for reform of the youth justice system have been echoed by many including, Change the Record, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) and the Public Health Association of Australia. The deep-rooted culture of abuse of children in youth detention was again in the spotlight last week during an Inquiry into Government Responses into Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings in Tasmania. The Inquiry and others before have highlighted the abuse of children in detention centres as a “black mark against this country as a whole”, according to barrister Greg Barns, the National Criminal Justice Spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

Barns said “If there was ever a time for major reform and a cultural shift on the part of legislators and society generally when it comes to dealing with children and young people who come into contact with the police, then now is it. Doing nothing is not an option.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Calls for reform, not platitudes, on youth justice system in full click here.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

QAS drives cultural safety in the community

The Queensland Ambulance Service has appointed a team of leaders to build on the organisation’s cultural capability and advance health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The organisation’s recently established Cultural Safety Unit has appointed three new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Support Officers (CSSOs) and two new Senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Advisors.

Health and Ambulance Services Minister Yvette D’Ath said it was vital for the Queensland Ambulance Service to embrace diversity in its ranks. “The QAS is really leading the way when it comes to Indigenous relations within the service and community,” she said. “We’ve seen first-hand, with initiatives like the QAS Indigenous Paramedic Program, what a difference it makes to health outcomes when First Nations people are on the front line in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities”.

QAS Deputy Commissioner Operations North, Rural and Remote Kari Arbouin said three officers have been appointed to the inaugural CSSO positions and will be operating within their own areas, including North Queensland, Central Queensland and South Queensland. “Our CSSOs will also be out and about playing their part in improving health equity and foster better engagement across all Queensland communities.” “As QAS continues to develop a more culturally responsive and inclusive workplace, our new team will be working to support our workforce to become more culturally aware and safe.”

To view the Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, the Hon. Yvette D’Ath’s media release QAS drives greater cultural safety in the community in full click here.

Image source: Australian Paramedical College website.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.