NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: International Women’s Day 2023

feature tile photo of woman with loud speaker, text: Reflections on IWD 2023 & opportunities for ATSI women

The image in the feature tile is from the International Women’s Development Agency website, available here.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

International Women’s Day 2023

International Women’s Day (IWD) is held on 8 March each year, with events and activities taking place across the globe. It celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. IWD is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions women make to our communities and marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality to create a world where women and girls everywhere have equal rights and opportunities.

The IWD 2023 theme is Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender-equal future. The theme emphasises the importance of bold, transformative ideas, inclusive technologies, and accessible education in combating discrimination and marginalisation of women around the world. The message being that innovation can accelerate our progress towards a gender equal future.

In an interview on NITV Radio earlier today Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine reflected on IWD 2023 and the opportunities for First Nations women. With more than 20 years’ experience leading community engagement, public advocacy, communications and social marketing campaigns; Karen has shaped the national journey towards a just, equitable and reconciled Australia. You can listen to her interview in full here. You can also find out more about IWD on the International Women’s Development Agency’s website here.

NITV Radio logo, portrait of Karen Mundine, Reconciliation Australia CEO & 08:47 minute icon

Karen Mundine, Reconciliation Australia CEO. Image source: NIT 1 March 2023.

NACCHO delegation to Timor-Leste

A NACCHO delegation, accompanied by a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade representative, are in Timor-Leste this week (Sunday 5  – Friday 10 March 2023) to:

  • gain an understanding of the country, cultural, political and health service delivery context of a potential First Nations partnership
  • gain an understanding of a Timorese perspective of how primary health care is delivered, with a focus on workforce training and community ownership of primary health care programs
  • initiate relationships with key Ministry of Health officials that could form the basis of future potential First Nations partnership work

and along with DFAT:

  • identify key issues which may be addressed in partnership
  • identify issues to inform the further refinement of the concept note and key stages and timeframes for the potential First Nations partnership

The delegation is comprised of:

  • Donnella Mills, NACCHO Chair (Cairns)
  • Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks (Canberra)
  • Rob McPhee, CEO of the Danila Dilba Health Service (Darwin)
  • Jenny Bedford, Executive Manager, Kimberley Aboriginal Health Services (Broome)
  • Alice Kemble (Dili)
  • Sara Moriarty, First Nations Taskforce (Canberra), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

During the visit the delegation will meet with:

  • Partnerships for Human Development (overview of the structure of the Timorese health system)
  • East Timor Development Agency (NFP provided training and guidance to strengthen the capacity of Timorese people to plan an integral, role in the development of their Nation)
  • Ministry of Health (introduction to community health services in Timor Leste, including model of care, workforce training and service delivery)
  • National Health Institute (responsible for planning and delivery of health workforce and clinical training)
  • Maluk Timor (an Australian and Timorese NGO seeking to advance primary healthcare in Timor-Leste)
  • Agora Food Studio (a social enterprise mentoring Timorese innovators and storytellers and elevating local food)
  • Comoro Community Health Clinic in Dili (urban health centre)
  • Gleno, Ermera district (remote health post)
  • Nabilan (program to end violence against women and improve wellbeing for women and children affected by violence)
  • ProEma (NFP promoting capacity-building for vulnerable girls and young women living in underdeveloped communities in Timor-Leste)
Left-Right: Rob McPhee, CEO Danila Dilba Health Service, Dr Odete Maria Freitas Belo, Minister for Health, Timor-Leste, Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Jenny Bedford, Executive Manager, Kimberley Aboriginal Health Services and Donnella Mills, NACCHO Chair

Left-Right: Rob McPhee, CEO Danila Dilba Health Service, Dr Odete Maria Freitas Belo, Minister for Health, Timor-Leste, Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Jenny Bedford, Executive Manager, Kimberley Aboriginal Health Services and Donnella Mills, NACCHO Chair.

ACCHO worker makes inspirational women list

Goondir Health Services’ Medicare co-ordinator Ethel Hayden has been named as one of the 50 most inspirational women in the Western Downs region in celebration of International Women’s Day 2023. Ethel Hayden hopes to leave behind a legacy of helping others and having made a difference in her community. The Dalby woman has achieved so much in her life, which included beginning life-changing programs for young people.

Ms Hayden was responsible for rolling out some of the onsite health services for Goondir Health in 2014 when they moved into their Jimbour St location. She also developed a Youth Project with programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Western Downs region such as the Big Buddy Program, which aimed to empower Indigenous youth to achieve their full potential through mentorship and education.

She said she was most passionate about making a difference, and knows she has the experience to do so. A major achievement under Ms Hayden’s belt was being involved in the ‘Closing the Gap’ event that’s held each year, with the upcoming event being in Dalby next week.

To view The Courier Mail article Celebrating 50 of the most inspirational women in the Western Downs region for International Women’s Day in full click here. You can also access the Goondir Health Services’ website here to learn more about their clinics in Chincilla, Dalby, Oakey and St George, Queensland.

Ethel Hayden, Goondir Health Services, Dalby QLD

Ethel Hayden. Image source: The Courier Mail.

Prison healthcare should match community standards

On this International Women’s Day, let’s not forget women in prison. There are 3,088 women imprisoned in Australia on any given day, representing 7.5% of the prison population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are over-represented in these numbers.

Annually Australia spends over $4b on prisons. Despite this, reproductive health care equivalent to that in the community is often not available where women are being detained. Reproductive health care must be delivered in appropriate ways to those who require it. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people require culturally safe health care, free from racism. There must also be inclusive care for non-binary and transgender people.

Failing to provide access to sanitary pads and tampons is a form of degrading treatment, according to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It can leave women and people who menstruate vulnerable to exploitation. For example, limited access to sanitary pads can lead to them being traded for favours.

In Australia, there have been instances of an Aboriginal woman giving birth alone in a locked prison cell while staff observed through the hatch. Another example featured attempts to remove a baby from their Aboriginal mother against medical advice due to insufficient capacity at the prison. And an Aboriginal woman was denied the right to bond with her newborn and breastfeed them.

To view The Conversation article Health care offered to women in prison should match community standards – and their rights in full click here.

torsos of ATSI women in prison, green clothes

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women make up a third of all female prisoners in Australia. Image source: ABC News.

NACCHO provides quality use of medicines program for mob

NACCHO will now provide the NPS MedicineWise online learning modules and resources, which are available on the NACCHO website. Programs include:

  • Good Medicines Better Health – eLearning modules and consumer resources developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners and their communities to improve quality use of medicines and medical tests. The online learning modules are available now.
  • Medicines Lists and Templates – Principles for producing best possible medicines lists for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services – Tools and resources to support the safe and effective provision of medicines in remote communities.

You can view the eLearning modules and resources here and here.

NACCHO looks forward to being able to provide sustained support in quality use of medicines programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on ongoing funding from the Department of Health and Aged Care. We acknowledge some of these programs were developed by NPS MedicineWise prior to their closure and thank NPS staff for their work.

If you have any queries regarding these resources, you can contact the NACCHO Medicines team by email by clicking here.

ATSI woman & young girl & boy smiling; text: NACCHO logo, Good Medicine Better Health; Medicines Lists and Templates; Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services

Data shows gap closing too slowly

The gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians isn’t closing fast enough, Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney admits. Productivity Commission data shows a number of key Closing the Gap targets are not on track and some are going backwards. Closing the Gap is a strategy that aims to achieve equality for Indigenous people by improving health, social, education and economic outcomes. “I know many people are frustrated by the lack of progress,” Ms Burney said.

Last month, in partnership with the Coalition of Peaks – which represents more than 80 Indigenous organisations – the federal government announced its implementation plan for Closing the Gap, which included more than $400m in extra funding. There are 19 socio-economic targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Productivity Commission has released data on nine of those targets, which shows two are on track to meet their goals, but seven are not.

Ms Burney said the data showed “encouraging” increases in employment and land rights, but in other areas figures were going backwards. “It is particularly disappointing to see the target for healthy birth weights for babies has gone from being on track to not on track,” she said. “More of the same isn’t good enough. We need to do things differently by working in partnership with communities to get better results.”

To view The Canberra Times article Data shows Indigenous gap closing too slowly: Minister in full click here.

Minister Linda Burney carrying folders in Parliament

Minister Linda Burney says there is a lot of frustration surrounding the lack of progress. Photo: Mick Tsikas/AAP. Image source: The Canberra Times.

Ambassador for First Nations People appointed

The federal government has appointed Mr Justin Mohamed as Australia’s inaugural Ambassador for First Nations People. Mr Mohamed will lead the Office of First Nations Engagement in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Special Envoy Senator Pat Dodson announced the appointment in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The government said the Office of First Nations Engagement and the foreign affairs and trade department will work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people “to progress Indigenous rights globally, and help grow First Nations trade and investment”. The joint statement said that “elevating the perspectives of First Nations people – this land’s first diplomats – enables deeper engagement with many of our closest partners including the Pacific family”. The new position marks the first time Australia will have dedicated Indigenous representation in international engagement.

Mr Mohamed said he felt honoured to be appointed is” looking forward to sitting down and listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country, as we develop foreign policies that have First Nations People’s knowledges, voice and connection to country front and centre,” he said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Australian government appoints the first official Ambassador for First Nations People in full click here.

Incoming Ambassador Justin Mohamed and Minister Linda Burney

Incoming Ambassador Justin Mohamed and Minister Linda Burney. Photo source: National Indigenous Times.

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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