NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Aboriginal-run renal facility celebrates 20 years

The image in the feature tile is of Angus Seela who travelled to Perth for life-saving treatment before dialysis was available in the Kimberley. Photo: Tallulah Bieundurry, ABC Kimberley. Image is from an ABC News article Australia’s first Indigenous-run renal facility celebrates 20th anniversary in Broome published today.

Indigenous-run renal facility celebrates 20 years

Australia’s first Indigenous-run facility dedicated to kidney health has hit a key milestone in WA’s far north. The 10-bed Kimberley Renal Services (KRS) unit was established in Broome in 2002, after Aboriginal medical leader Dr Arnold “Puggy” Hunter advocated for Indigenous people to receive treatment on country. Since then, the service has grown to include Kununurra, Fitzroy Crossing and Derby.

Kimberley woman Agnes Seela is the longest-running dialysis patient in Broome. She remembers a time when the life-saving treatment was thousands of kilometres away. “I was in Perth for a long time and it was really hard,” she said. “I didn’t get to come home for my dad’s funeral.” Ms Seela and her husband underwent dialysis together until he received a kidney transplant. She said treatment in the Kimberley had lifted her spirits. “I was really happy to start dialysis in Broome,” she said. “It makes it really easy to travel between Halls Creek, Ringer Soak and Broome.”

Rates of kidney disease in the Kimberley are among the highest in Australia, with the disease particularly prevalent in Aboriginal people. A leading cause for the disease is diabetes, with most people living with it experiencing some level of kidney decline. KRS Medical Director Lorraine Anderson said kidney issues were on the rise in the region.

To view the ABC News article Australia’s first Indigenous-run renal facility celebrates 20th anniversary in Broome in full click here.

Ms Anderson says the 10-bed Broome facility has saved lives. Photo: Tallulah Bieundurry, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

KAMS shares James Memorial Award

Researchers from the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) and the Rural Clinical School of WA University of WA are thrilled to win the annual prestigious Ray James Memorial Award. This award is presented for the best article published in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia over the last year. The article was chosen by the Journal’s Research, Evaluation and Evidence Translation Committee and is presented for excellence and innovation in health promotion research.

The research explores 10 Aboriginal Australian men’s experiences during their partner’s antenatal period. The study found the participants valued supporting their partners through pregnancy, making positive changes to their own lifestyles, and having access to information on pregnancy. Participants described experiencing multiple stressors during the antenatal period that impacted on their social and emotional wellbeing. This study demonstrated that these Aboriginal men valued engagement with antenatal care services and highlighted strategies to improve Aboriginal paternal involvement with antenatal care services.

Erica Spry, Bardi and Kija woman and researcher discussed how the project grew from an existing project that was exploring maternal and child health in the Kimberley: “I was having a conversation with an Elder, talking about our other research and recruiting participants and this Elder said to me “it takes two to make a baby, you should be talking to the men too’. She was right, so little had been done exploring the role of our Aboriginal dad’s.”

To view The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) media release click here.

Emma Carlin (Research Fellow, RCSWA/ Senior Research Officer KAMS); Erica Spry (Research Fellow, RCSWA/ Research Officer KAMS); Zac Cox (Manager Social and Emotional Wellbeing, KAMS). Image source: CBPATSISP.

Why Keating’s Redfern Speech still matters

30 years after former Labor PM Paul Keating addressed a mostly Indigenous crowd in Sydney’s Redfern, his acknowledgement of genocide, Stolen Generations and ongoing oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples remains as relevant as ever. Delivered in Blak heartland in honour of the 1993 International Year Of Indigenous People, the speech saw Keating directly address the Indigenous community and take moral responsibility for the atrocities of colonisation for the first time.

The most resonant words were starkly honest. “It begins, I think, with that act of recognition. Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers,” Keating told the crowd, stunned to appreciative silence.

In a poll of the ‘Most Unforgettable Speech of all Time’, Keating’s address ranked third. It trailed only Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ and the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ from the Bible. The vote illustrated the impact of Keating’s words not only at the time, but in the decades since. Delivered only 6 months after the historic Mabo decision by the High Court, which recognised Native Title and expunged the fallacy of terra nullius from the history books, the Redfern Speech came at a pivotal moment in the fight for First Nations sovereignty.

To read the NITV article Why Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech still matters in full click here.

Criminal age can save lives, inquiry told

A silly mistake at age 10 can have devastating and often permanent consequences for Aboriginal kids but raising the criminal age of responsibility could help save lives, experts say. When Bangerang and Wiradjuri elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson was in year 6, her 10-year-old brother was taken into police custody on suspicion of minor theft.

He would later spend the next two decades in custody before his premature death at 36, a tragic story Ms Atkinson says is all too common in her community. “That’s the story of a child being removed at 10 years of age and then what their life trajectory is. This is what we want to stop,” Ms Atkinson told the Yoorrook Justice Commission as part of an inquiry into Victoria’s criminal justice and child protection systems on Tuesday.

She said raising the age of criminal responsibility in Victoria from 10 to 14 could also stop Aboriginal deaths in custody and lead to better overall community outcomes.

To read the Muswellbrook Chronicle article Criminal age can save lives, inquiry told in full click here.

More needs to be done to ensure Indigenous children aren’t locked up, Aunty Geraldine Atkinson says. Photo: Morgan Hancock/AAP. Image source: Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Taking the stress out of heatwaves

A pioneering new Heat Stress Scale and accompanying app will be trialed in Western Sydney this summer, designed to reduce the risk of serious health problems brought on by heatwaves. Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the app is being developed by researchers at the University of Sydney through the $52m Disaster Risk Reduction Fund.

“Heatwaves are responsible for more deaths in NSW than any other severe weather event, with the impact greatest on children, the elderly, Indigenous communities and people with pre-existing health conditions,” Ms Cooke said. “The Heat Stress Scale is similar in concept to the UV index and gives users personalised, real-time information on their risk of heat-related health problems based on temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed. This innovation will put a person’s individual risk of health problems in hot conditions in the palm of their hands, and could revolutionise the way we handle the heat.”

Professor Ollie Jay, who is leading the world-first project, said the Heat Stress Scale and app are being developed by a team of multidisciplinary researchers from the University of Sydney’s Heat and Health Research Incubator in collaboration with the Sydney Environment Institute. “This summer Western Sydney residents included in the trial will be able to create a personalised health profile in the app, providing information like age, medical conditions and regular medication,” Professor Jay said.

To view the NSW Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience’s media release Taking the stress out of heatwaves in full click here.

Indigenous leadership key to halt Nature’s destruction

At the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) being held in Montreal, Canada from 7–19 December almost 200 countries are reckoning with the world’s extraordinary loss of the variety of life. Climate change, mining, urban development and more are threatening Earth’s biodiversity to an extent never before witnessed in human history.

The conference will see countries negotiate a global 2030 plan, called the Global Biodiversity Framework, to set worldwide targets for a range of issues, from establishing national parks to habitat destruction. But so far, the draft text is lacking a fundamental element: adequate inclusion of language and perspectives from Indigenous peoples and local communities. Without Indigenous and local community leadership, any biodiversity targets will remain out of reach.

Despite comprising less than 5% of the global population, Indigenous peoples protect an estimated 80% of global biodiversity. Yet, the capacity of Indigenous peoples and local communities to continue to exercise this stewardship is being actively eroded across the world. Issues of power and inclusion in the current draft framework must therefore be resolved.

To view The National Tribune article Indigenous Leadership Key to Halting Nature’s Destruction in full click here and for more information about COP15 you can access the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) webpage  on the UN Environment Programme website here.

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