NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Better online experiences for young mob

Aboriginal mum & 2 daughters looking at iPhone; text 'ATSI youth MORE LIKELY to be exposed to harmful online content'

The image in the feature tile is of Wyonna Palmer (Telegraph Station, Alice Springs) looking at her phone as her 6-year-old daughter, Lakayla, and her sister, Anna Maria, look on.  Photo: Matt Rogers/The World. Image source: Petchary’s Blog, 28 December 2020.

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.

Better online experiences for young mob

Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said the Albanese Government is supporting better online experiences for First Nations people as new research shows that more young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are turning to technology for cultural expression and engagement. Findings released earlier this week by the eSafety Commissioner reveal First Nations youth are collectively using the internet in greater than average numbers to explore the world, make new friends, connect with people from different backgrounds, and discuss social or political issues.

eSafety’s research, Cool, Beautiful, Strange and Scary: the online experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their parents and care givers, available here, shows that First Nations youth are almost twice as likely as young Australians overall to post original video or music online, and more than twice as likely to post their own story or blog.

The Hon Linda Burney MP – Minister for Indigenous Australians said “Technology can be a great tool to build connection, support identity and boost civic engagement. “But today’s research from the eSafety Commissioner is a reminder it also carries risks, with young Indigenous Australians more likely to be exposed to harmful content or hate speech attacks. “As with so many other areas where disadvantage undermines health and wellbeing, more work is needed to ensure equal protections and access to the good things the internet can provide. This is especially so as we begin the referendum process to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to the Australian Constitution.”

To view the joint media release (The Hon Michelle Rowland MP – Minister for Communications, The Hon Linda Burney MP – Minister for Indigenous Australians and Julie Inman Grant – eSafety Commissioner) Culture, connection and creativity: better online experiences for First Nations people in full click here.

cover of report Cool, beautiful, strange & scary: the online experiences of ATSI children, their parents & caregivers - Aussie Kids Online, March 2023, Aust Govt eSafety Commissioner

Senate backs inquiry into ADHD care

Senator Jordon Steele-John, Australian Greens spokesperson on Disability Services, Health and Mental Health, says the Australian Senate has formally backed a proposal from Australian Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John to hold a Senate inquiry into attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) assessment and support services in Australia.

Senator Jordon Steele-John proposed the inquiry in the hope of addressing common barriers to adequate ADHD assessment and care, as well as establishing possible policy interventions to improve accessibility and outcomes in this space. Around a million Australians are directly impacted by ADHD, a widely misunderstood neurodevelopmental disability that can cause significant impairment and dysfunction in people’s lives.

To view Senator Jordon Steele-John’s media release Senate Backs Greens Proposal for Senate Inquiry into ADHD Care in full click here.

youth ATSI girl & boy both with their hands behind their heads

Image from the Sparkles playgroup – Fact Sheet webpage. Intereach website.

Culturally safe resources for kids with disability

There’s a movement afoot to provide more culturally safe resources to Aboriginal children with disability. Called the I Am, Movement it came from one mother’s quest to better support her son in his diagnosis and focuses on grassroots conversations and Indigenous experiences to create a more supportive and appropriate environment for these children.

Founder Tanika Davis found there was a lack of culturally appropriate information when her son Slade began his autism diagnosis journey. “We had a lot of information about what autism was, but essentially not much [was] culturally safe or appropriate,” she explained.

But because of her background in Indigenous health promotion, she knew what she was looking for and what others would need. “And one of the first things that we ever did as a family after his diagnosis was basically [say] how can we support our son better and maintain his culture throughout this journey?” Davis knew there was a gap that needed to be filled, and in 2019 she started the I Am, Movement.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article Moving towards cultural safety for Aboriginal children with disability in full click here.

Tanika Davis speaking with microphone to audience with HEYWIRE Trail Blazer banner in the background; The I Am, Movement flashcards for letters & numbers

Ms Davis’s background in Aboriginal health promotion helped her develop The I Am, Movement. Photo: Mark Graham, ABC Heywire. Examples of The I Am, Movement flashcards.

Eye health data shows decrease in trachoma

Annual eye health data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people shows a decrease in active trachoma in children and an increase in the number of Indigenous Australians having eye checks. The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released its sixth annual report to update the eye health measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The report said the overall prevalence of active trachoma among children aged 5–9 in at-risk communities fell from 15% in 2009 to 3.3% in 2021.

Trachoma is a highly infectious disease of the eye and repeated infections can result in scarring, in-turned eyelashes (trichiasis), and blindness. In 2021, the overall treatment coverage of active trachoma cases in at-risk communities was 71%—that is, 1,666 community members identified as having trachoma received treatment. This included children with active trachoma, along with their household contacts and other community members.

Between 2010–11 and 2020–21, the proportion of Indigenous Australians who had an eye health check as part of a health assessment increased from 11% to 29%, based on age-standardised rates.

To view the mivision article Indigenous Eye Health Data in full click here.

NT Health nurse Imogen McLean flips the eyelids of kids to see if there are any traces of trachoma

NT Health nurse Imogen McLean flips the eyelids of kids to see if there are any traces of trachoma. Photo: Stephanie Boltje, ABC News.

Sistergirl helps others find their voice

Ever since she was a kid, Jo’s known she was “different from the others”. You can’t tie a neat bow around the nuances of her life — it’s just “me being me”, she explains. “I just love being myself, you know?” Jo is a sistergirl — a term used by some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to describe gender-diverse people that have a female spirit. At its most simple “it’s another way of saying a trans woman”, she says. While she found strength in the support of those around her, her journey “wasn’t always easy”.

Through her own experiences, Jo is now determined to become an “outspoken advocate for Indigenous queers” in her community. “Because I see none of them that have voices,” she says. “I want to be there and talk up for them and help them build their confidence and courage so they can be able to talk.”

Dr Farrell, a queer-identified Wodi Wodi descendant from Jerrinja Aboriginal community on the South Coast of NSW, says that means LGBTQIA+ Indigenous people continue to be discriminated against “in places that stand to close the gap for Indigenous people”, and their needs aren’t taken into account when formulating health and other policies. It renders trans communities, queer communities broadly, as invisible in those services and in resources.”

To view the ABC News article Jo always knew she was a sistergirl. She wants to help others find their voice in full click here.

Sistagirl Jo looking at mirror surrounded by light bulbs

Jo wants to be an advocate for the Indigenous LGBTQIA+ community. Image source: ABC News.

Tahnee helps mob achieve better health

TAFE Queensland’s Toowoomba Indigenous Student of the Year, Tahnee Hooper, has been recognised for her outstanding achievements during her studies and in her role within a Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, as she guides clients towards a healthier tomorrow.

The Diploma of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health (HLT50113) graduate received the special award in front of her family and friends, and more than 600 students celebrating the completion of their studies, at a recent TAFE Queensland Darling Downs and South West Graduation Ceremony for the graduating class of 2022.

Putting into practice the advanced community health skills and knowledge she gained during her course, complemented by her existing experience in the health sector, Tahnee is leading the delivery of holistic, whole-of-life care programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Toowoomba and the wider Darling Downs region. “I want to make a difference in people’s lives and to help our mob and communities achieve better health outcomes,” Tahnee explained.

To view the TAFE Queensland article Tahnee is empowering people to achieve better health outcomes in full click here.

Tahnee Hooper in graduate robes holding wooden goanna plaque for winning TAFE QLD Toowoomba Indigenous Student of the Year award; text 'Congradulations - tafe - make great'

Tahnee Hooper. Image source: TAFE Queensland website.

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