NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Imagining Australia without racism

Wayne Nannup - CEO Aboriginal Legal Service of WA

The image in the feature tile is of Wayne Nannup, CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA as it appeared in a National Indigenous Times article Imagine what our country would be like without racism published on Wednesday 31 May 2023. Photo: Giovanni Torre.

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.

Imagining Australia without racism

Wayne Nannup, CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA has written an opinion piece for the National Indigenous Times where he asks us to imagine a life without racism: “We could live at peace in a country that values its First Nations Peoples and recognises us within the Constitution. We could walk freely through shopping centres or ride on trains without the fear of being followed or harassed.”

Mr Nannup says “racism doesn’t discriminate between how little or well-known we are. The colour of our skin continues to be targeted by the ill-informed and bigoted members of society. Racism, or discrimination based on race or ethnicity shatters the world that so many of us live in. It generates depression, affects self-esteem and creates a sense of helplessness and loss and also contributes to increasing physical and mental health disparities amongst our people. The reality is that racism is more evident now than ever before.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Imagine what our country would be like without racism in full click here.

In a related story the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is currently working on a national anti-racism framework (NARF), which will be a national, central reference point for anti-racism action.

Following on from the release of the NARF Scoping Report 2022, the AHRC has launched a community guide to the scoping report findings to better support understanding of a NARF including how communities can be part of the ongoing process to develop it. The Community Guide (currently being translated into 7 languages alongside the development of an Easy Read Guide) summarises the initial findings outlined in the NARF Scoping Report 2022.

The AHRC have also prepared an amplification kit, available here, which includes a suite of digital and social media content for organisations to raise awareness of the newly published Community Guide available here.

cover of National Anti-Racism Framework Scoping Report 2022 Community Guide'

Health checks for mob fell during pandemic

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a report about Indigenous-specific health checks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report explores the impacts of COVID‑19 and associated restrictions on the number of Indigenous-specific MBS health check services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between January 2020 and December 2021. The analysis examines the impacts of COVID‑19 by year and month at the national, state/territory and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas levels.

Following a decade of annual growth, 2020 and 2021 were the first years without an increase in Indigenous-specific health check numbers. The number of health checks delivered during the first 2 years of the pandemic were somewhat lower than during the peak year of 2019 – despite the continuing growth of the Indigenous population.

New telehealth options for Indigenous-specific health checks were introduced at the start of the pandemic. These were used most commonly shortly after being introduced, but then the numbers of health checks delivered this way declined gradually. The impact of the pandemic on the use of Indigenous health checks varied across Australia. Tasmania, which was relatively unaffected by cases and restrictions, stood out as the state that appeared to be the least affected during 2020 and 2021.

To read the AIHW report Indigenous-‍specific health checks during the COVID-19 pandemic in full click here.

Stolen Generations survivors need Healing Card 

The Healing Foundation is urging the Federal Government to implement its recommendations for a universal Healing Card for Stolen Generations survivors, modelled on the existing “Gold Card” scheme for veterans.

Under proposals submitted by the Healing Foundation for Federal Budget considerations over the past two years, eligible Gold Card holders would have access to all primary healthcare needs to support them to stay out of hospital, all clinically necessary treatment, and supports and services that assist them to live at home including respite services for survivors and their carers. The Gold Card would also enable them to access healing programs that involve family and community.

By implementing the proposal, Federal Aged Care Minister Anika Wells and Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler could make a real difference to the lives of Stolen Generations survivors and their families, Fiona Cornforth, CEO for the Healing Foundation said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Timely call for health reform to support healing for the Stolen Generations in full click here.

Stolen Generations survivors Valerie Woods (L) & Brenda Greenfield-Woods

Stolen Generations survivors Valerie Woods (L) and Brenda Greenfield-Woods in Canberra, for the Healing Foundation’s 15th Anniversary of the National Apology Event. Photo: Luke Currie-Richardson. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

GPs encouraged to call out racism

While reconciliation touches on all aspects of Australian society, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Chair Dr Karen Nicholls says its role in improving Indigenous health outcomes cannot be overstated.

In particular, she said it is important for GP allies to recognise and acknowledge that racism is present within Australia’s healthcare system and has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing patients, as well as their families and communities. “Clearly, we want a health system that is far more culturally safe than what it is,” Dr Nicholls said. “Part of that means that when you see racism, call it out. Definitely, definitely call it out.”

She also says more needs to be done to protect people who speak up about racism, while continued effort is required to dismantle the structural features that allow it to thrive in Australian healthcare.

To view the RACGP newsGP article GPs encouraged to call out racism in healthcare in full click here.

black & white hands clasped

National Reconciliation Week 2023 is promoting allyship by encouraging all Australians to ‘be a voice for generations’. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Brewarrina’s water, land, future all connected

Water has always been the basis of life in the bush. Speak to any local and they will remember the spark of life that returned to the community when water breached the Brewarrina Weir after years and years of drought. To local Aboriginal communities, cultural water flows create the basis of life for plants, animals, bush medicine – and impact on the physical and mental health of Aboriginal communities right across the region.

Brewarrina Local Aboriginal Land Council is currently in the process of developing opportunities to bring water and life back to local lands and they have taken a group of experts to assess a block of land close to everyone’s heart, the lands associated with the local Aboriginal Mission. A big part of the discussions related to Cultural Flows, the understanding of local Indigenous needs, and how Aboriginal needs are included in future water usage.

According to the Echuca Declaration of 2010, “Cultural flows are water entitlements that are legally and beneficially owned by the Indigenous Nations of a sufficient and adequate quantity and quality to improve the spiritual, cultural, environmental, social, and economic conditions of those Nations. This is our inherent right.”

To view the Western Plains App article Leaders connecting land, water and Brewarrina’s future in full click here.

Brewarrina Fish Traps

Brewarrina Fish Traps. Photo: Urain Warraweena. Image source: Brewarrina Local Aboriginal Land Council Facebook site.

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.

Key Date – Reconciliation Week 27 May – 3 June

In the lead up to National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June 2023) Reconciliation Australia expressed their support for Stan Grant in the face of the racist attacks he has been subjected to, and urged Australians to engage in the national debate on these matters in an informed and respectful manner.

Reconciliation Australia said that while Stan’s experience demonstrated once again that Australia still has a long way to go towards building a reconciled and just society, it retained its hope and optimism in the good hearts of most Australians. 

Even while Stan Grant was being savaged online for speaking truthfully about the experiences of colonialism during the recent coronation, 84% of Australians believe it is important to know about the histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.  

You can read Reconciliation Australia’s media release Stan Grant and Racism in full here.

tile with text 'National Reconciliation Week'

Image source: Only Melbourne website.

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