NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Wed International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference

image Adam Goodes opening session conference; text 'LOWITJA INSTITUTE'S 3rd International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference KICKS OFF IN CAIRNS'

The image in the feature tile is of Adam Goodes speaking at the Opening Plenary Session at the Lowitja Institute’s 3rd International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference on the tropical lands of the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji and Yirrganydjii peoples (Cairns). Image source: Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Melbourne Twitter post, 11.20 am Wednesday 14 June 2023.

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.

International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference

An important conference is taking place on the lands of the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji and Yirrganydji peoples, in Cairns. The Lowitja Institute’s 3rd International Health and Wellbeing Conference began earlier today, Wednesday 14 June, with around 1,200 attendees. During the three-day conference there will be more than 250 presentations.

The conference brings together people from across the country and around the world, to share knowledge for the health and wellbeing of First Nations peoples and communities. Community leaders and representatives, researchers, health professionals and practitioners, policy makers, government representatives, and international First Nations leaders are expected to attend.

Proud Narrunga Kaurna woman, Adjunct Professor and CEO of the Lowitja Institute, Janine Mohamed, said “we’ve been really overwhelmed by the interest in the conference – it’s been sold out for a month…It shows that there is such an appetite for sharing innovative ideas and transformational community-led research that is grounded in our ways of knowing, being and doing – knowledge that disrupts Western research narratives.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Sharing, learning, celebrating and more at the 3rd International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference in full click here. For more information about the conference, including the program click here to access the Lowitja Conference website. You can also listen to Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed speaking earlier this afternoon on NITV Radio about the conference here.

Lack of investment creates ‘sickcare’ system

Australia’s struggling healthcare system will remain a ‘sickcare’ system until governments see investing in health not as a cost, but as an investment that improves the wellbeing of Australians and pays economic dividends well into the future. In a report being launched today at the National Press Club by Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Professor Steve Robson, the AMA says Australia’s lack of investment in health, particularly in prevention and early intervention, is making health care more costly and challenging.

The Health is the best investment: Shifting from a sickcare system to a healthcare system report, available here, highlights the growing rate of chronic disease, with almost half the population having one or more chronic diseases and an ageing population that is putting the health care system under increasing pressure.

“Our current approach to investing in and managing health is focused very much on treating poor health outcomes not preventing them, which leads to a sickcare rather than healthcare system,” Professor Robson said.  “We need to reframe our thinking and focus more on how the money we invest in healthcare can improve health outcomes and support economic growth because the evidence is clear — keeping people healthy reduces the costs and burden on our healthcare system and drives economic growth and productivity. And while we are wealthy nation, our spend on health as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product is modest when compared to OECD countries like the UK. We have room for investment.”

To view the AMA’s media release Lack of investment and innovative thinking creates a ‘sickcare’ system in full click here.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson speaking at the National Press Club

AMA President Professor Steve Robson speaking at the National Press Club earlier this afternoon. Image source: AMA Media Twitter post 12:41 PM 14 June 2023.

Little progress in gynaecological cancer outcomes for mob

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s latest review of gynaecological cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, available here, shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are still disproportionately burdened by gynaecological cancers, impacted by increased exposure to risk factors as a direct result of colonisation. Senior author, Associate Professor Lisa Whop, says that “Providing effective cancer prevention by risk reduction and participation in cancer screening programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people requires improved access to both high quality primary health care services and tertiary specialist services. This will also enable earlier diagnosis, management, and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women at all stages.”

Culturally safe, accessible and patient centred care are seen as key components to decreasing the burden of gynaecological cancers on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their communities. Without equitable resourcing to implement effective prevention, management and care of gynaecological cancers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will continue to suffer. While national strategies and policies have highlighted the need to improve awareness of cancer prevention and early detection through the provision of culturally safe and high-quality care, little progress has been made and the disparities in gynaecological cancer outcomes persist.

Rigorous research is the urgent need to focus on implementation, monitoring and evaluation of strategies which hold the health system accountable to providing culturally safe care free of racism that is patient centred. With the Australian cancer plan, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer plan and the National Strategy to Eliminate Cervical Cancer under development, their implementation is critical as is their subsequent monitoring, and evaluation to ensure tangible outcomes in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with gynaecological cancer.

VIC mental health system: racism, violence, sexual assault

Indigenous people in Victoria are subject to violent acts of seclusion and restraint in the mental health system at greater rates than non-Aboriginal people, a damning report has found. The special report found mental health patients who had their human rights violated under Victoria’s flawed health system are owed public apologies and compensation from the state government.

A number of mental health patients were allegedly subjected to traumatic incidents while undergoing mandatory treatment including seclusion and restraint, and coercive treatment such as the use of induced comas. The report, released yesterday, was commissioned by the state’s health department, and called for a truth-telling process to hear and document cases it says are unresolved. “On average, those within Victoria’s mental health system may lose 30 years of life due to the medications they are forced to take,” the report said. Incidents of racism, sexual assault and violence were also reported. Families, carers and supporters have also been mistreated and neglected by the system, with a lack of information about treatment, care and support options.

While systemic flaws were highlighted during a 2021 mental health royal commission, the report found truth-telling and acknowledging harms were not the focus. Human rights consultant Simon Katterl, who led the project, said the purpose of the report was to force the government to acknowledge harm, “Let there be no doubt that there are gross human rights violations being committed within the mental health system on a daily basis and we really need to, as a matter of urgency, start acting on this.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Calls for justice after report finds racism, violence and sexual assault in Victoria’s mental health system in full click here.

side view of man's nose, mouth, cheek, rest of face obscured by black hoodie

Some people who received mental health treatment were subjected to compulsory treatment that sometimes included the use of induced comas. Photo: Chris Gillette, ABC News.

GRAMS launches Stopping Family Violence program

Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Centre (GRAMS) has launched a new program to assist men in Carnarvon improve their relationships and reduce family and domestic violence in the community. The Department of Communities-funded We Can Together program is focused on empowering Carnarvon men to challenge and transform their behaviours.

Through a partnership between GRAMS and Stopping Family Violence (SFV), the program aims to address family and domestic violence and create a positive pathway for change. The well-rounded, culturally sensitive and tailored program will be led by GRAMS men’s intervention co-ordinator David Batty with support from SFV project manager Kyalie Moore.

“Family violence has a profound impact on children, shaping their lives in ways we cannot underestimate. Through training, education, and unwavering support, we can empower our community to grow and heal,” Mr Batty said. “It’s crucial to address the barriers that men face in seeking support, challenging the misconception that seeking help is a sign of weakness.” Ms Moore said by working together, the organisations could pave the way for change and create availability for services. “Addressing family domestic violence within Aboriginal communities requires a collaborative approach, with a strong focus on investing in and supporting our ACCHOs,” she said.

To view Midwest Times article Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service launches Stopping Family Violence program in Carnarvon in full here. You can also view the GRAMS media release GRAMS and Stopping Family Violence partner for “We Can Together” project here.

L-R: David Batty, Kyalie Moore and Damian Green

L-R: David Batty, Kyalie Moore and Damian Green. Image source: GRAMS website.

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 – Men’s Health Week 12–18 June 2023

International Men’s Health Week (IMHW) is celebrated around the world in the middle of June every year. It’s a reminder to support and promote the health and wellbeing of men across the globe. The week focuses on physical health, mental health, emotional wellbeing, and community connection – and it’s a good prompt to consider men’s use of alcohol and other drugs.

When it comes to alcohol and other drug use, research has shown that compared to women, men:

  • are more likely to engage in illicit drug use
  • begin using alcohol and other drugs at an earlier age
  • have higher rates of substance dependence1, 2
  • often drink more than the recommended guidelines in one sitting3
  • have higher rates of unintentional drug-induced overdoses.4

Higher rates of alcohol and other drug use mean that men often experience more associated harms. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation webpage Men’s Health Week – time for healthy habits here provides information about how to build healthier habits, the signs to check if you need support, how to talk to a mate about their alcohol and other drug use, and find out where to get support. You can also watch the Queensland Reds rugby union players(L-R) Zane Nonggorr, Jock Campbell and Harry Wilson dispel some men’s health myths in the video below.

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