NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Rate of youth homelessness for mob at a high

feature tile image of hand holding cardboard house 2D with Aboriginal flag painted on it; text '30% of unaccompanied children and young people presenting to homelessness services are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander'

The image in the feature tile is from an article ‘If I won the lotto, I’d give them half of it’: Aboriginal homeless services helping mob published on the Health and Wellbeing webpage of the SBS NITV website on 28 November 2017. Photo: Shutterstock.

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.

Rate of youth homelessness for mob at a high

Recent data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows 30% of unaccompanied homeless children and young people presenting to homelessness services are Indigenous. The AIHW also reports the rate of homelessness has declined over time but is 10 times higher for First Nations people than non-Indigenous Australians.

April 19 was Youth Homelessness Matters Day. Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Forum (AHHF) and Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) used the occasion to draw attention to the number of First Nations people homeless on their own land. AHHF chair and AHV executive officer Darren Smith said one explanation for the number of homeless First Nations youth is the housing system is not built to support Aboriginal people.

“Recent homelessness census data showed us the scale of what we are seeing on the ground – vulnerable young people at the mercy of a discriminatory housing system that is not built for them, or their families,” Mr Smith said. “Of the 24,930 First Nations people experiencing homelessness across the country, 5,895 of them were aged under 12 years, while 3,222 were aged from 12 to 18 years.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Rate of First Nations youth homelessness at a high on Youth Homelessness Matters Day in full click here.

What health professionals believe causes inequity

A research article Beliefs around the causes of inequities and intergroup attitudes among health professional students before and after a course related to Indigenous Peoples and colonialism was published last week by BMC Medical Education.

Addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action on including anti-racism and cultural competency education is acknowledged within many health professional programs. However, little is known about the effects of a course related to Indigenous Peoples and colonialism on learners’ beliefs about the causes of inequities and intergroup attitudes.

The findings with respect to blaming attitudes and lower support for government social action and policies suggested that educational interventions can have unexpected negative effects. As such, implementation of content to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action should be accompanied by rigorous research and evaluation that explore how attitudes are transformed across the health professional education journey to monitor intended and unintended effects.

To view the article in full click here.

ATSI female educator speaking to a class

Image source: Speaking in Colour website, Training and workshops webpage.

Influenza campaign – Passed around – 30 seconds

The Australian Government, has authorised an Influenza campaign video called Passed around – 30 seconds targeted at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The video uses the analogy of the flu being a football that gets passed around really easily. It explains that flu can make some of mob very sick, and be really dangerous for everyone in that person’s community. The video goes on to explain that mob (aged six months and over) can get protected with a free flu vaccination, and that people should talk to a health worker about getting vaccinated.

The below video is from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged care webpage Influenza campaign – Passed around – 30 seconds, available here. You can find out more information about the Influenza vaccination on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged webpage Fighting Flu Starts With You webpage here.

Mob suffer from ongoing ‘institutional racism’

Hannah McGlade, an Aboriginal Australian human rights lawyer has been attending the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN Headquarters. Ms McGlade said there is still a lot of racism in the media and in society. We face serious human rights issues, including the removal of children from their mothers, the high incarceration rates of Aboriginal people, particularly children and young people, in conditions that are very inhumane. Australia now is not the country I grew up in, when openly racist, derogatory language was used. But there’s more coded racism now. For example, the terribly sad issue of Aboriginal child sexual abuse is used as an excuse for removing children from their families.

There’s a lot of resistance to our rights being recognized, even the right to have our own national Indigenous body, which should not be argued about in this day and age. In some ways our rights situation is getting worse, according to the Government’s own data. We’re seeing more incarceration of Aboriginal people; more Aboriginal children being removed from their mothers and families, increasingly to non-Indigenous families where they lose their cultural identity; and we’re seeing more Aboriginal suicides as well.

These are the shocking, ongoing impacts of colonisation and we know that systemic and institutional racism and discrimination is a key driver of these issues.

To view the United Nations article First Person: Aboriginal Australians suffer from ‘violent history’ and ongoing ‘institutional racism’ published on the UN News webpage in full click here.

Hannah McGlade, Aboriginal Australian human rights lawyer

Hannah McGlade, Aboriginal Australian human rights lawyer. Photo: Conor Lennon. Image source: UN News.

Looking for fresh leadership in health

The impending retirement of Professor Brendan Murphy as Secretary of the Department of Health and Aged Care is an opportunity to reflect on the types of people, policies and structures that might help address the wide-ranging challenges we face.

Jennifer Doggett, Croakey editor, health policy consultant and Fellow at the Centre for Policy Development said she thinks the Secretary needs a range of skills – internally they need to be able to manage a large department with staff spread across the country in multiple offices, plus deal with the fallout of COVID including stress, burnout and trauma. Externally, they need to be able to engage with stakeholders and work collaboratively with the Minister and broader government.

Ms Doggett said whileno single individual is going to have all the skills and qualifications needed she I would make a case for the following:

1) public health expertise – given the impacts of COVID and climate change and the need to increase our focus on preventive health, I think it is important to have someone with experience in public health.

2) health economics – this underpins the work of the health portfolio but expertise in the department is limited. An understanding of health economics is particularly important in the context of Medicare reform and a secretary with expertise in this area could compensate for the lack of knowledge within the department more generally.

3) connections with under-served communities – a key priority in the health portfolio should be to address Australia’s poor record of health equity. Lived experience or a personal or professional connection with groups currently under-served by the health and aged care system (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people with disability, people with mental illness, rural and regional communities, low SES communities etc) would help inform the department’s advice to government on this important issue.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Looking for fresh leadership in health and aged care in full click here.

Professor Brendan Murphy portrait shot with Aboriginal dot paintings on wall in background

Professor Brendan Murphy. Photo: Elesa Kurtz. Image source: The Canberra Times.

Funding for The Glen for Women

The Glen for Women rehabilitation centre at Wyong Creek has received $27,500 funding from the Federal Government in line with its pre-election commitment. The Glen for Women is the first Aboriginal Community Controlled women’s rehabilitation centre in NSW and the funding will go to the Ngaimpe Aboriginal Corporation to equip a new gym to help the health and wellbeing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said investing in projects led by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations like The Glen for Women was critical to accelerating efforts to close the gap in health and wellbeing outcomes for First Nations people. “The funding will help The Glen for Women to continue its important work,” she said. “The Strengthening First Nations Health package was a significant part of the 2022-23 October Budget and I’m pleased to see locally-driven initiatives coming to fruition.”

Federal Member for Dobell and Assistant Minister for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention, Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride, said this funding would support The Glen for Women to continues its great work and help women at the centre in their recovery. “It also demonstrates our (the Government’s) strong commitment to support Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations,” she said.

To view the Coast Community News article Funding for The Glen for Women in full click here.

aerial photo of weatherboard house surrounded by green fields

The Glen for Women at Wyong Creek. Image source: Coast Community News.

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