NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Balgo patients to receive dialysis on Country

The image in the feature tile is of dialysis patients in a Purple House centre in Newman.

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.

Balgo patients to receive dialysis on Country

Balgo WA is one of Australia’s most isolated communities. Locals needing life-saving dialysis treatment must leave their Country for towns more than 10 hours away to receive care. Purple House has plans to open a local service including a four-chair nurse-assisted hemodialysis unit operating six days a week by 2024. CEO of Purple House, Sarah Brown AM says keeping people on Country is essential, “It’s about ensuring that senior community members are home on Country for important cultural business to teach the younger generations and keep culture strong.”

Balgo man Eric Moora currently lives in Perth, where his partner receives treatment for type 2 diabetes. Without access to care on Country, Eric has flown three hours from Perth to Kununurra and then driven eight hours to get to Balgo to take part in cultural practices, “We have to go right back to the bush, back to my Country, you know, to eat,” he said. Eric also has diabetes but doesn’t need dialysis; he sees bush tucker as a way to stay healthy and avoid highly processed food contributing to his condition.

“My people eat wrong thing, you know, sugar. We need to stop the Coke, making people sick from the Coke, diabetes, all that,” Eric said.With Elders receiving life-saving treatment away from Country, Eric fears younger generations will go without the cultural knowledge that was passed onto him from Elders, “Today has changed now because we got no old people.I want my people to come back home,” he said. The dialysis unit will be one of six in remote communities, in a

To read the full ABC article Diabetes patients in remote Balgo will soon be able to receive dialysis on country here.

Eric Moora. Photo: Elsa Silbertstein. Image source: ABC News.

2023 NAIDOC Elder Awards finalists

The National NAIDOC Awards are an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who go above and beyond to contribute and fight for the preservation of their culture and community. In line with the 2023 NAIDOC Week theme ‘For Our Elders,’ the Elder Award celebrates an Elder whose dedication to people, culture and future generations has been lifelong and has left an indelible impact in their communities.

Proud Ngambri (Kamberri) Wallabalooa (Ngunnawal) and Wiradyuri Elder, Aunty Dr Matilda House-Williams is a Female Elder Award nominee for her deep roots in advocacy and activism. Aunty Matilda has been involved in Indigenous Affairs since 1963, and has played key roles in establishing Winnunga, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the Aboriginal Legal Service, and alongise her brothers, founding the Ngambri Land Council.

The awards ceremony will kick off on Saturday 1  July and will be broadcast on NITV from 7.30pm AEST. To read the NITV article, including more about the finalists click here.

Aunty Dr Matilda House-Williams. Photo: Blacklock Media. Source: NITV.

Changing conversations about lung cancer

Researchers at the University of Sydney say it is time to remove the stigma around lung cancer and to disrupt assumptions about it being solely attributable to someone’s decision to smoke. A range of other factors are at play, with lung cancer disproportionately affecting people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, those in regional and rural areas, and those with lower socioeconomic backgrounds. While public health campaigns have successfully raised awareness about the dangers of smoking, they have been accompanied by growing stigma around lung cancer. For example, a study by the Global Lung Cancer Coalition found that 28% of Australians admit they have less sympathy for lung cancer sufferers than those with other forms of cancer.

Patients undergoing lung cancer treatment have spoken out about the stigma they face alongside managing their illness and treatment. One patient said, “It’s the first time I’ve really been aware of the sort of shame attached to an illness.” Patient support groups, professional associations and peak bodies are all in agreement that we need to rethink and modernise our understanding and approach to lung cancer, smoking and stigma.

To read the full Croakey Health Media article Identifying some opportunities to change conversations about lung cancer click here

Image: CDC Unsplash. Source: Croakey Health Media.

New research on bush tucker nutrition

Rich in essential nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, and minerals, yams are gaining attention in the food industry. In a research project with the University of Queensland, PhD candidate Fawale Samson Olumide is studying Australian yams, which were a vital food for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in rainforests along the east coast. The project aims to bridge the gap between Indigenous knowledge and Western science and report on the nutritional and health benefits of the bush tucker staple.

The Yidinji community in Far North Queensland is collaborating on the project, alongside community Elder Professor Henrietta Marrie from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation. Professor Marrie said, “There is so much work we need to do to record Indigenous knowledge about the food and its use, to pass on to our younger generations.”

To read the full article click here.

Source: Food Processing.

Unpaid work during NAIDOC WEEK

With NAIDOC Week just around the corner, there is a surge in expectations for extra labour from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in workplaces. This includes the planning and organising of cultural events and experiences, which is rarely reflected in their job description. The Make us Count report found these expectations are not limited to events like NAIDOC Week. Reflecting on the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in workplaces within the Victoria public sector, female participants reported uncompensated labour is a burden.

One participant said, “The value of [Aboriginal cultural knowledge] is only when I organise NAIDOC or Reconciliation Week celebrations. The worst part is that it is up to me to drive recognition of these important events and for the rest of the year, culture and I are forgotten.”

The Healing Foundation describes ‘cultural load’ as an accumulative trauma and stress experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are navigating systemic adversity in their lives while they are also trying to succeed in their careers. The report found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women feel overworked and undervalued in the workplace, and face discrimination and a systemic barrier to career progression. One participant said, “Unless you’re always performing at 150% or more, people don’t see you.”

Findings from the report demonstrate an urgent need for workplaces to take action to address racism and misogyny. This includes unpaid labour, short-term contracts, and workplace harassment and violence.

“I just want to be able to be in a job where I can actually do the job and then still have the capacity to give back to the community,” said a participant.

To read the full The Conversation article During NAIDOC Week, many Indigenous women are assigned unpaid work. New research shows how prevalent this is in the workplace click here. Read the Make Us Count report here.

Source: Analysis & Policy Observatory.

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