NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Nurse shortage highlighted on International Nurses Day

feature tile image male & female ATSI health workers & patient; text 'Many communities in need of skilled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare workers'

The image in the feature tile is the article $1.1 million grant to research shortage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives published on the a Charles Sturt University News webpage on 16 November 2022.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is 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.

Nurse shortage highlighted on International Nurses Day

Jane Jones has spent over two decades of her career working in healthcare. A finalist for Elder of the Year, she’s got two decades working with ACCHO, Derbarl Yerrigan, in Boorloo (Perth) under her belt. Inspired by her mum, her daughter Tamara Jones followed in her footsteps and became a midwife. On International Nurses Day, the duo acknowledges the need for more skilled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare workers in many communities.

According to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, only 1.4% of registered nurses and midwives in Australia identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. However, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives has increased in the last 10 years with 3,216 First Nations nurses registered in 2019 compared to 1,721 in 2010.

As a Whadjuk, Ballardong and Willman midwife, Tamara knows her patients having culturally appropriate care, is one of the most important parts of her job. Working as a midwife at Wirraka Maya Health Service, a NACCHO member, she runs into points of cultural difference all the time. “The biggest problem with not having an understanding of our culture is that you don’t know how people are living,” Tamara said. “For instance in hospitals they’re just seeing them for 15 minutes, they’re just doing the investigations they need to do and they’re not doing that yarning. In the long run, women are going through sorry business, there are family or domestic violence situations or for some reason they’ve stopped going to see their health provider because they don’t think they’re being heard.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Aboriginal mother-daughter duo shine light on nurse shortage on International Nurses Day in full click here.

Nurse Jane Jones and her daughter, midwife Tamara Jones

Nurse Jane Jones and her daughter, midwife Tamara Jones. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

ACCHO makes social impact architecture award shortlist

The shortlist for the inaugural ArchitectureAU Award for Social Impact has been revealed. The award recognizes projects that promote the common good. It has been conceived to reward practice that preferences empathy over aesthetics, extending the spatial possibilities of architecture to advance the discipline and to empower its users. Projects may relate to social cohesion, racial justice, inclusive housing, accessibility, equity, social sustainability or other areas where design can make a difference to society. This accolade is the only national recognition of this type of work within Australia.

“In recent years, there has been a shift in architectural approach – with emphasis placed on the relationship of a building to its community or users, rather than simply on the built form itself. This increasing focus on social values is something we’d like to celebrate, promote and encourage – prompting us to the launch of the ArchitectureAU Award for Social Impact,” said jury chair and editorial director of Architecture Media, Katelin Butler. “The inaugural shortlist demonstrates the multitude of ways that our built environment can have an impact – from taking research into practice and deep community engagement to providing economy opportunities and fostering social cohesion.”

From 139 entries, 39 including Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services have been shortlisted by the jury,  The winner of the prize will be announced on 27 June, 2023 on and in the July/August issue of Architecture Australia magazine.

To view the ArchitectureAU article The inaugural ArchitectureAU Award for Social Impact shortlist revealed in full click here.

collage 4 images Winnunga new health clinic exterior, reception, architect plan

WNAHCS new, purpose-built facility. Images: top two – Canberra City News; bottom two Judd Studio.

Mums hiding pregnancies for fear of losing babies

About 20% of Aboriginal children reported to authorities over concerns for their safety before birth were removed from their mothers within the first three months of life in Victoria in 2021. For Aboriginal children the rate was 21.5% compared to 13.5% for non-Aboriginal children. The stark figures were revealed as Department of Families, Fairness and Housing associate secretary Argiri Alisandratos gave evidence at the Yoorrook Justice Commission  yesterday. He was asked why pregnant women were not allowed to know details about reports against them before giving birth.

Senior counsel Fiona McLeod pointed to previous evidence that often the very first person those mothers saw after delivery was a child protection officer. “I’d be extremely concerned if the very first person in a birthing suite is a child protection practitioner, that clearly is far from ideal,” Mr Alisandratos replied.

Commissioner Sue-Anne Hunter said she was among many Aboriginal mothers who were worried about unborn notifications. “The reality of our mothers when they’re pregnant (is) thinking these children are going to be removed before they’re even born,” Ms Hunter said. “If I’m emotional about this (it’s) because it’s the truth, you go to hospital and you’re so worried about a notification happening. You become pregnant, you don’t want to tell anybody.” Mr Alisandratos revealed 40% of all child protection reports about Aboriginal children met the threshold to be investigated, compared to 29% for the total population.

To view the National Indigenous Times article High rate of Aboriginal babies taken from mothers in full click here.

Yoorrook Justice Commission - Commissioner Sue-Anne Hunter

Commissioner Sue-Anne Hunter says Aboriginal mothers are hiding pregnancies for fear of losing their babies. Photo: James Ross, AAP. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Historical trauma, old men and suicide

In a recent article, Bob Morgan, a highly respected and acknowledged Aboriginal educator/researcher who has worked extensively throughout Australia and internationally in the field of Aboriginal knowledge and learning for over 40 years, says

I’ve always been concerned about the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal men in particular, and men generally, and to develop a better understanding of what men were experiencing in an ever-changing world.  I designed and hosted a number of men’s gatherings, where I sat in talking and sharing circles with other men, including Dr Mark Winatong, and non-Aboriginal friends and colleagues, to hear the stories of men’s journeys as they talked openly about the low and high points of their life. The men who attended these gatherings were sons, brothers, uncles, husbands, grandfathers and partners, and all of us were flawed in some way, filled with grief and regrets, but determined to be, and do better, as men. 

The men ranged in age from late teens to older men in the 70s or 80s, some of whom were Elders with years of accumulated life experiences and wisdom.  The diversity between and within the men served to enrich us, and we worked hard to ensure that difference didn’t divide us. One issue that kept emerging during these gathering was historical trauma, and how it affected the mental health of Indigenous men, including associated illnesses such as suicide or suicide ideation. Data from the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) illustrate a situation involving suicide and older male Australians that should be of urgent concern to all Australians. The ABS stats show that for men over 85, the rate of suicide is more than three times the national average. Not enough work is being done to better understand why old men are suiciding at such a rate. 

To view the Echo article Historical trauma, old men and suicide in full click here.

Youth justice needs Indigenous-led solutions

All security footage from within WA youth detention facilities Banksia Hill and Unit 18 should be surrendered to an independent body for review, justice advocates said yesterday. At a press conference held in response to the major disturbance at Banksia Hill this week, Megan Krakouer of the National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project said “80 to 85% of the abuses (occurring in the youth detention system) are not known (by the public)”.

“If the WA government has nothing to hide whatsoever, they will hand (the footage) over,” she said. Ms Krakouer called for an independent inquiry into the youth detention and justice systems. Ms Krakouer and her National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project colleague Gerry Georgatos have collected testimony from 100s of current and former Banksia Hill detainees for a class action. Stewart Levitt of Levitt Robinson law firm said the statements of claim for the class action would be filed next week.

Dana Levitt from Levitt Robinson law firm said staff in Banksia Hill, particularly in the intensive support unit, were not properly equipped to deliver the environment needed by young detainees. “The intensive support unit is more like an intensive suicide unit… we have kids in there self-harming and attempting suicide at rates that are beyond belief,” she said. “Instead of attracting people who want to help kids, (the Department) is attracting people who want to hurt kids… There is an abject lack of respect for these children.” Mr Georgatos called for a strong focus on support, nurture and psychological care for young detainees to address their trauma and other conditions so they can escape the cycle of re-offending and incarceration. Professor of public health, Ted Wilkes, said the mental health crisis in the youth justice system needs an Indigenous-led solution.”It is a public health emergency for our children. Us Aboriginal leaders seem to get neglected in terms of our knowledge.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Justice advocates urge WA government to hand over security video from youth prisons in full click here.

people at Banksia Hill juvenile detention holding placards 'Shame on you McGowan' ' Rehabilitate not incarcerate'

Protesters at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre. Image source: ABC News.

New Indigenous aged care home – Whynnum

The former Wynnum Hospital site has been handed over to the Winnam Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Corporation, as the site will be used for a new indigenous health and aged care facility. The hospital will be demolished and a new health hub and 30-bed residential aged care facility, including palliative care beds, will be built.

“The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended the aged care system improve their specific provisions for the diverse needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – and we are doing just that,” said Aged Care Minister Anika Wells.

“This development is one of four First Nations aged care services across Australia receiving a collective $115m in funding through the Aged Care Capital Assistance Program (ACCAP) to construct new culturally safe, purpose-built facilities. The handover of the site has been a number of years in the making and it’s great to see it finally come to fruition,” said Winnam Chair Aunty Becky. “The planned redevelopment of the site into a wellbeing precinct hub will be a huge asset to the community.”

To view The Weekly Source article Former QLD regional hospital handed over to local community group for new Indigenous aged care home in full click here.

3 ATSI dancers smoking ceremony for handing over of site for new ATSI aged care home

Former QLD regional hospital handed over to local community group for new Indigenous aged care home. Image source: Yvette D’Ath, Facebook – The Weekly Source.

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.

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia – 17 May

Wednesday 17 May 2023 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. It is an important day to remember why we fight for safe, affirming and culturally appropriate care for all LGBTIQ+ communities.

You can find out how your workplace or organisation can show your support for fighting LGBTQ+ discrimination here. You can also access LGBTIQ+ Health Australia’s website here. LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, (formerly the National LGBTI Health Alliance), is the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people and other sexuality, gender and bodily diverse (LGBTIQ+) people and communities.

globe wrapped with rainbow ribbon; text 'international day against homophobia, transphobia & biphobia - 17 May

Image sources: The World Bank and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *