NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Much written about us, not with us

The image in the feature tile is from an ABC News article WA’s banned drinkers register to be overhauled as figures reveal less than 200 people on list published on Thursday 29 September 2022. Photo: Xavier Martin, ABC News.

Much written about us, not with us

A study examining the portrayal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian Government policies regarding alcohol and other drug (AOD) use used critical discourse analysis, informed by an Indigenous Research Paradigm, to analyse texts and contexts of six key Australian Government AOD drug policies; two Aboriginal AOD data documents, two reporting documents and two AOD strategy documents.

The social practice analysis found issues of power imbalance relating to the socio-political situation the documents were created in. Textual analysis identified: culture being performative or functional in documents; cultural unsafety in construction of targets and outcomes, and; the decentring of Aboriginal peoples in the framing of the documents. The discourse analysis identified that the documents often wrote about Aboriginal peoples rather than writing documents with or by Aboriginal peoples. This typically: absented complexities of consultation occurring within a complex power imbalanced cultural interface; did not support an Aboriginal paradigm; centred Gubba people in power and; promoted a paternalistic view of ‘helping’ Aboriginal people.

The researchers concluded there is an urgent need to move from policy relating to Aboriginal affairs that relies on a deficit discourse, to more effective AOD policy that improves power balance in policy development, is written with or by Aboriginal people, is inclusive of Aboriginal epistemologies and ontologies, and represents a paradigm-shift to a strength-based approach.

To view an abstract of the article Much being Written about Us, not much being Written with Us: Examining how alcohol and other drug use by Indigenous Australians is portrayed in Australian Government policies and strategies: A discourse analysis published in The International Journal of Drug policy in full click here. Below is a video of from the Danila Dilba Biluru Butji Binnilutlum Health Service AOD team, who would be well placed to inform government policy.

AMA shines light on hidden waiting list

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says Australia’s “hidden waiting list” is a scandal that adds months and sometimes years to the time patients wait for essential surgery. AMA President Professor Steve Robson today launched a new report Shining a light on the hidden waiting list, which highlights the unreported time it takes patients to see a specialist in public hospitals.

“These hidden figures are a scandal that affect hundreds and thousands of patients and impact a health system already in logjam, including general practice that has to deal with the pressure of looking after many of these patients in the meantime,” Professor Robson said. “There are no reliable data on the time it takes a patient to see a specialist in a public hospital outpatient clinic after seeing their GP, but we know it can be years,” he said.

“Patients, many of them in pain, aren’t just waiting years for surgery, sometimes they are waiting years just to see a specialist who can get them on the official surgery waiting list. During this wait, they often develop other health issues, such as mental health issues and diabetes, which further affects their quality of life and ends up costing the system more.

To view the AMA’s media release Hidden waiting list scandal leaves patients in agony and adds to health system chaos in full click here. You can watch a short ABC News video ‘Hidden waiting list’: Elective surgery wait times significantly longer than reported by clicking this link.

Cost of living crisis hits remote mob hardest

As our cost of living continues to sky rocket, it’s painfully clear that remote and Indigenous communities are suffering because of it. Recent statistics show that most Closing the Gap 2022 targets for Indigenous Australians cannot be achieved without better nutrition and health.

Our Closing the Gap targets this year clearly state that without good health, people can’t lead long and healthy lives, children can’t be born strong and healthy or thrive in their early years, students can’t achieve their full potential and youth can’t be engaged in employment or education.

At least 20% of the health disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is caused by poor nutrition. As cost-of-living pressures intensify for all Australians, the already-prohibitive cost and accessibility of healthy fresh food in regional and remote communities only worsens. Hungry and desperate people are being forced to eat cheaper processed foods because that is all they can afford — and we all pay a terrible price for the result.

To view the North West Telegraph article Caroline de Mori: Cost of living crisis hits Indigenous communities hardest click here.

Wirrimanu resident Ronald Mosquito says the community has few other options but to pay the high prices. Source: Image source: SBS News.

Tennant Creek Indi Kindi initiative

For many families in remote and regional communities access to early childhood education and care (ECEC) can be difficult, and employment options are few. This is not the case for those with access to Indi Kindi.

Delivered by Moriaty Foundation and supported by UNICEF Australia, Indi Kindi is an early childhood initiative for children under five years of age in remote aboriginal communities that integrates education, health and wellbeing. Following ground-breaking success since 2012 in the remote communities of Borroloola and Robinson River in the NT, the initiative expanded to Tennant Creek and to nearby Mungkarta in 2021.

The Indi Kindi team in Tennant Creek is made up of six local Aboriginal women who are ‘vibrant, committed and well connected’ within the community. Having an entirely Aboriginal team helps create bonds and trust with the parent, meaning there is no cultural divide between educator and child and parent.

To view The Sector article For Warumungu / Wambaya woman Keara Indi Kindi has been transformative in full click here.

Image source: The Sector.

Funding available under ACPG program  

The NSW Government is calling on eligible Aboriginal community organisations and groups to apply for funding through the new solutions-focused $30 million Aboriginal Community and Place Grants program. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin said the program is about achieving tangible, community centered outcomes across NSW and drive practical support for Aboriginal communities.

“Eligible Aboriginal community organisations and groups can apply for grants of up to $250,000 for one-off projects that will effectively empower Aboriginal communities to drive social, tangible change,” Mr Franklin said. “This is an exciting and unique program that will invest critical funding into the hands of Aboriginal communities who best know how to deliver culturally appropriate and community centered opportunities and outcomes for their community.”

Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (CAPO) Co-Chair Cr Anne Dennis said the Community and Place Grants Program will drive local change and contribute towards the 17 socio-economic outcome targets under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The funding is about communities identifying their needs and accessing support in order to experience measurable change locally and sooner. It’s designed to help close the gap at a local level. If an Aboriginal Medical Service, for example, identifies child development issues in the community, the Community and Place Grants funding can help expand the care offered to Aboriginal children.

To view the NSW Government media release Calling Aboriginal communities and organisations to apply for funding in full click here.

ACCHO hosts mental health awareness event

Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative’s inaugural mental health awareness campaign and event HAND UP is a unique opportunity to highlight the need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to connect during profound times. Comedian Kevin Kropinyeriand will MC the main event today featuring the premiere its HAND UP music video, featuring local Indigenous rappers and artists.

Research in Australia shows that the ongoing impacts of colonisation have placed First Nations people at far greater risk of severe and extensive mental health problems. Goolum Goolum General Manager Johnny Gorton said cultural resilience and connection to family and community were crucial for counteracting these impacts and encouraging positive mental health. “Days like today are to bring our people together, hopefully share a laugh and reconnect,” he said.

To view The Wimmera Mail-Times article Goolum Goolum to host inaugural mental health awareness event in full click here.

Photo: Nick Ridley. Image source: The Wimmera Mail-Times.

$11.5m for Indigenous-led health research

Yesterday the Albanese Government announced it will invest $33.6 million in medical research grants for 41 projects to help reduce the number of Australians affected by heart disease and stroke. The grants are part of $156.7 million for 93 innovative medical research projects to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

The research projects are diverse, supporting research into areas such as:

  • Using stem cells to boost the body’s ability to heal
  • Genetic analysis to create personalised, more effective treatments
  • Partnering with communities to improve culturally sensitive care for First Australians and improve COVID vaccination rates
  • Improved management of sports concussion
  • Surviving heart attacks
  • Reducing strokes using the ‘Love Your Brain’ app
  • New treatments for life-threatening pneumonia and golden-staph infections.

The MRFF grants will be provided across eight areas, including Indigenous Health Research. This area will receive more than $11.5 million for 11 Indigenous-led projects. One of the projects will be conducted by The University of Queensland. They have received almost $400,000 in funding to look at Type 2 diabetes prevalence and management in patients attending an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service in SE Queensland over a twelve-year period: factors associated with good management and low risk of hospitalisation. Statistics show that by 55 years of age, at least one in three Indigenous Australians will have diabetes. Diabetes can cause serious heart and kidney problems for which people need to go to hospital, but there are ways to reduce the risk of having such problems. The research aims to learn if The Inala Indigenous Health Service can do better for people with diabetes.

To view The National Tribune article $156 million for innovative medical research in full click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne 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.

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