NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NAAJA responds to 4 Corners Locking Up Kids episode

The image in the feature tile is from an article Locking up kids damages their mental health and leads to more disadvantage. Is this what we want? published on the UNSW Sydney Newsroom webpage on 21 June 2019.

NAAJA responds to 4 Corners Locking Up Kids episode

As one of the leading legal services representing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) community in the NT, the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) has been witnessing the steady decline of the youth justice system failing our kids and families. NAAJA supports Acting Children’s Commissioner Nicole Hucks concerns raised on Monday night’s 4 Corner’s and calls on the NT Government to do more to protect the safety of our vulnerable young people.

NAAJA CEO, Priscilla Atkins “welcomes the steps Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Chansey Paech has taken towards tackling some of our concerns by introducing raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 and other important legislative reform but there is still more we can be doing.” Five years since the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT we still have children as young as 10 detained in a condemned facility.

To view the NAAJA media release Youth Detention in Australia is an abuse of human rights in full click here.

The Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of WA are deeply concerned by the revelations in last night’s Four Corners report of the excessive use of force and restraints directed at children at Banksia Hill Detention Centre. “These events further demonstrate the urgent need for all governments to take meaningful and urgent actions to ensure youth detention facilities are managed in accordance with Australia’s international obligations,” Law Council of Australia President, Mr Tass Liveris said. “It also highlights once more the need to address the alarming overrepresentation of First Nations children in the youth justice system. Recent figures suggest that First Nations children make-up around half of young people in detention and just 6% of the population.”

You can read the Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of WA’s joint media release Excessive use of force on children unconscionable in full here.

You can watch the ABC Four Corners episode Locking Up Kids: Australia’s failure to protect children in detention in full by clicking this link.

Aspiring health workers’ Kimberley immersion

Liesl Dowling, an experienced nurse and midwife is a clinical facilitator at the Majarlin Kimberley Centre for Remote Health, one of 16 Commonwealth-funded university departments nationwide that gives aspiring health workers a taste of working in a rural or remote location.

Ms Dowling said on-the-ground experience was crucial for the students’ development. “When you come into a remote region and can actually see that there is poverty, it becomes a part of your lived experience and it becomes a concern to you,” she said. “It’s okay to read about the barriers to uptake in health care and the gap in outcomes between Aboriginal and mainstream Australians, but it’s all really words on paper until you really see it.”

Research published earlier this year found doctors who spent extended time in a rural placement were more likely to work there into the future. The Kimberley especially has long cried out for more permanent health workers and has suffered crippling staff shortages in recent years, especially for nurses. In its most recent annual report, the WA Country Health Service said an increasing reliance on expensive, transient locum and agency staff was partly to blame for higher health care costs.

Ms Dowling said the “immersion” of young health workers in a remote setting would help address the issue. “Transience is problematic. It poses barriers and some risks in delivering health care, because you don’t have that knowledge at the ground level,” she said.

To view the ABC News article Aspiring health workers get taste of outback in ‘eye-opening’ Kimberley immersion in full click here.

Sahar Abbasi said she enjoyed visiting Kalumburu to provide renal disease education. Photo: Liesl Dowling. Image source: ABC News.

PIP Indigenous Health Incentive guidelines updated

The Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) guidelines have been updated.

Important changes, including those below, will become effective on 1 January 2023.

  • People with mental health conditions are eligible for registration payments and completing GP Mental Health Treatment Plans and reviews will trigger Tier 1 outcome payments.
  • Children under 15 with chronic disease can be registered and are eligible for outcome payments.

Registering patients from November will mean they are eligible for these new payments in 2023.

You can access the PIP IHI guidelines here.

Water undrinkable in 500 remote communities

Tap water in more than 500 remote Indigenous communities isn’t regularly tested and often isn’t safe to drink, according to a water industry report released last week. In some communities, drinking water contained unacceptable levels of uranium, arsenic, fluoride and nitrate.

While these findings are dire, they aren’t news to us. There have been myriad reports over the years on the poor status of safe drinking water in Australia’s remote communities all pointing to inequity of essential services with implications for health. But little has been done to rectify this.

Safe drinking water is a basic human right, no matter where people live. First Nations communities have campaigned for decades for clean water on their Country. As Alyawarre Elders, Jackie Mahoney and Pam Corbett, from Alpurrurulam community in the NT explained during the report’s launch: “That’s why we’re fighting for this water. It’s not only for us, it’s for them too […] For our old people who fought before us and our kids’ future.”

Importantly, all remote essential service delivery and management actions, including water, need to be undertaken collaboratively. They should be led and authored by First Nations researchers, and draw from community strengths and knowledge wherever possible. This shifts water service efforts being for communities, to being with communities. Indeed, cultural sensitivity ad guidance is essential to ensure mutual respect and learning forms the basis of all supply delivery.

To view The Conversation article Countless reports show water is undrinkable in many Indigenous communities. Why has nothing changed? in full click here.

A related article Total restructure needed to tackle “immeasurable” water crisis in Indigenous communities published in the National Indigenous Times can be accessed here.

Beswick’s water is very high in calcium. Photo: Isaac Nowroozi, ABC News.

Mentoring workforce must be for right reasons

Candace Angelo’s thesis The lived experience of mentoring in the health and wellbeing workforce in NSW explores the experiences of mentoring in the working lives of a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing professionals. Ms Angelo’a work seeks to understand the barriers and enablers of developing a sustainable skilled health workforce, and examines what impact mentoring has on both mentors and mentees.

Ms Angelo has identified three main themes, the being that mentoring works when done for the right reasons and in the right way, with an authentic workplace commitment. It is important to select the ‘right’ people as mentors, with the ‘right reasons’, ‘right way’, and ‘right people’ defined as being culturally safe, appropriate and accessible. Achieving this status must start with recruitment policies, strategies and practices. Her findings indicate that these practises need a fundamental shift.

Angelo’s second emerging theme centres on what mentoring can achieve.  With increased cultural safety and job satisfaction, a retained workforce can use mentoring to ultimately improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Her final theme considers the challenges in mentoring. These include being able to centre Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander core values in mainstream health services. To do so requires changing the so-called ‘ideal worker theory’ and importantly, addressing endemic institutional racism.

To view the University of Sydney article Mentoring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce in full click here.

Candace Angelo. Image source: The University of Sydney News webpage.

Alarming NSW Central West health inequities

The Charles Sturt University Rural Health and Medical Research Institute (the Institute) has presented alarming statistics on health inequalities across five NSW Central West communities during a workshop yesterday. The workshop aimed to shine the light on health disparities between First Nations and non-First Nations people, along with the rate of disease and chronic health conditions experienced by people within the communities of Orange, Dubbo, Gilgandra, Coonamble, and Wellington.

Executive Director of the Institute Professor Allen Ross and his team visited these regions to consult with local people on the areas of greatest need when it comes to tackling chronic health conditions within First Nations communities. Professor Ross said the Institute’s approach was to remain open to the health needs of the community including their social determinants of health. The Institute is applying a fresh approach to examine and address the health gap between First Nations peoples and the greater Australian population. Partnering with the Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) at the onset will make this possible,” Professor Ross said. “Our researchers bring extensive experience from all over the world, yet we are working with the communities with no pre-determined agenda, and instead partnering with them via a grassroots approach to develop strategies that target their specific needs.”

To view the Charles Sturt University article Institute takes a grass roots approach to address the First Nations health gap in full click here.

Executive Director of the Charles Sturt University Rural Health and Medical Research Institute Professor Allen Ross, Mr Taylor Clark and Ms Anne-Marie Mepham from Orange Aboriginal Medical Services, and Ms Cherie Forgione from Gilgandra Local Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: Charles Sturt University Latest News webpage.

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