NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Dr Naomi Mayers receives 2023 NAIDOC award

Aunty Dr Naomi Mayers OAM; text 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leader, Dr Naomi Mayers receives 2023 National NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award'

The image in the feature tile is of Dr Naomi Myers OAM from a National Indigenous Times article Dr Naomi Mayers honoured as 2023 NAIDOC award finalists announced published on 6 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.

Dr Naomi Mayers receives 2023 NAIDOC award

This year’s National NAIDOC Week Award Winners were announced at the 2023 National NAIDOC Awards ceremony, held in Meanjin (Brisbane) on Saturday. The 10 award recipients were selected from almost 200 nominations from across the nation. This year’s award recipients included Aunty Dr Naomi Mayers OAM, who was acknowledged with a Lifetime Achievement Award after dedicating her life to the advancement of Indigenous health.

Aunty Dr Naomi Mayers OAM, is a proud Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri woman, born in 1941 on Erambie Mission, just outside of Cowra in country NSW. Aunty Dr Naomi has developed and led some of the most enduring and fundamentally profound reforms in Aboriginal and Torres Strait health, both in terms of community-controlled services and the broader Australian health system.

Aunty Dr Naomi was one of the founders and a pioneering force in establishing the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern (AMS) in 1971. The AMS Redfern was the first Aboriginal medical service and has since become a service model for community controlled health services that underpins the principles of self-determination. The service provides culturally appropriate healthcare to Indigenous people and has been instrumental in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal communities throughout Australia.

Aunty Dr Naomi dedicated 45 years to the Redfern AMS and service to the community. She started out as an Administrator, and in 2012 went on to become the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) before her retirement in 2017. Throughout her career at the AMS, Aunty Dr Naomi guided the transformation of the AMS from a small shop-front into a national network of services.

Aunty Dr Naomi is a founding member of the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW, the National Aboriginal and Islander Health Organisation (NAIHO) (now NACCHO), was founding president of the Federation for Aboriginal Women and a member of the first ATSIC Regional Council for Metropolitan Sydney.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Blak excellence celebrated as Meanjin hosts 2023 National NAIDOC Awards in full click here. You can also read more about Dr Naomi Meyers on the NAIDOC Week website here.

Dr Naomi Mayers as a young ATSI health advocate

Aunty Dr Naomi Mayers OAM at the beginning of her career. Image source: National Museum Australia.

52 mob who are changing the world

National NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia in the first week of July to celebrate and recognise: “the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” In 1956 major Aboriginal organisations, and state and federal governments, all supported the formation of the “National Aborigines Day Observance Committee” (NADOC) and the second Sunday in July became a day of remembrance for Aboriginal people and their heritage. In 1991 with a growing awareness of the distinct cultural histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, NADOC was expanded to NAIDOC to recognise Torres Strait Islander people and culture.

Cosmos, a quarterly science magazine, was supported by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA)  and Australia’s five Learned Academies to create a list of 52 leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are changing the world. It is neither exhaustive, nor are they listed in any particular order.

Ryan Winn, CEO of ACOLA said: “I am sure readers will recognise many names on the list, but there is a larger number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers we should all know about. These amazing researchers range from early and mid-career through to later career researchers, and cover a broad range of research disciplines. We thank them all, as well as the many other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers, scientists and knowledge holders, for their valuable and continuing contributions to advancing knowledge in Australia. Their work builds upon the tens of thousands of years of knowledge created by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on their lands.”

To read the Cosmos article 52 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people changing the world in full click here.

tile text 'for our Elders 50+ Indigenous people changing the world'

Image credit: Marc Blazewicz. Image source: Cosmos.

Uncle Clarke Scott on work with Cancer Council

Uncle Clarke Scott, a Wiradjuri man with close connections to community across the Central West and Riverina regions of NS, has spoken about his experiences working with Cancer Council NSW in creating and developing culturally safe and responsible services and information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Uncle Clarke Scott is a member of Cancer Council NSW’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee and has a wealth of experience working in Aboriginal community health.

Uncle Clarke has a strong understanding of what is needed to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across NSW, “I think it’s mainly about the word being out among the community. So, with the Advisory Committee having the connection to community to be able to pass on the information from Cancer Council with their pamphlets and all that type of thing,” he says.

In communities, Uncle Clarke explains how the employment of specific Aboriginal staff is vital for culturally safe advice and support, “I think it’s so good that we’re able to help the Aboriginal community with understanding cancer. It’s really important that Aboriginal health workers can provide that cultural advice to the non-Aboriginal staff and cultural support to our community members.”

To view the Cancer Council NSW article NAIDOC Week 2023: For Our Elders in full click here.

17% of WA kids live with food insecurity

Demand for food relief across WA has substantially increased over the past four years and children in regional areas are among those most in need, a report has found. The Hungry For Change report, tabled in parliament last month, found that 17% 0f children and young people in the state live with food insecurity. The full extent of the problem may not be known because families and children hide the fact they have insufficient food, according to the report.

It detailed a recent cost-of-living study, which found over half of the participating households in the Kimberley region did not have enough money to purchase 12 days’ worth of food. These same families could not afford 24/7 electricity, which impacted directly on their ability to store, cook and prepare meals.

Foodbank WA chief executive Kate O’Hara said the government’s willingness to closely investigate the issue was a positive sign. “It’s a sensational approach, just seeing the government get informed about the truth in community to give them the clarity and vision on what could be achieved,” she said.  The “tyranny of distance” was something Ms O’Hara said many from outside of the region struggle to comprehend. “The distance factor means that cold chain, which is vital for quality food to get into the remote areas of state … the cold chain infrastructure is predominantly around the major retail food outlets,” she said.

To view the ABC News article Food insecurity report highlights plight of children in Kimberley and Pilbara in full click here.

2 young ATSI girls in Broome with containers of food from Feed the Little Children charity

Every weekend Feed the Little Children delivers about 700 hot dinners to children in Broome. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

Senate calls for public dentistry

An interim report into the state of Australia’s dental health has been tabled in the Senate, renewing calls for the inclusion of dental care in Medicare. The Select Committee into the Provision and Access to Dental Services interim report has shown widespread support from experts and the community for broadening Medicare to include more dental and oral health care subsidies.

Oral and dental health in Australia have improved over the past 25–30 years, especially with the addition of fluroide to drinking water. However, the Australian Government dental health statistics indicate there are still significant problems. Poor oral health costs Australia’s health care system significantly.

There are an estimated 750,000 GP consultations each year for dental problems, which costs taxpayers up to $30mp er year. Dental and oral health problems also affect the hospital system, with Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) estimating that, in 2020–21, there were about 83,000 hospitalisations for preventable dental conditions. Dental disease and oral health problems disproportionately affect those on low incomes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, people in rural and remote areas, prisoners, disabled people, and those with specialised health care needs.

To view the InSight article Medicare with teeth: Senate call for public dentistry in full click here.

youth in dental chair, dentist & dental assistant

Image source: Goolburri Dental Service. Goolburri Aboriginal Health Advancement Co, Ltd. website.

Cancelled flights affect Cape York health services

Remote Far North Queensland Indigenous communities fear losing health and other essential services if airlines continue to cancel flights. According to the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council, SkyTrans has cancelled 18 flights since the start of this year. Robbie Sands is the mayor of the western Cape York community and chair of the Torres Cape Indigenous Council Alliance (TCICA), which represents 15 remote local government authorities.

He says flight cancellations happen far too often and are causing significant disruption to the delivery of essential services in some of Queensland’s most disadvantaged communities. “Things like weekly medications sent up from Cairns, they can be delayed or don’t come in, which impacts on our peoples’ health,” Cr Sands said.

“We get a lot of allied health services come into our communities, and [cancellations] cause major disruptions if they can’t come in and see and treat our people.”

To view the ABC News article Flight cancellations to remote Cape York communities affecting health, essential services in full click here.

aerial view of Bamaga, North Qld

Bamaga has experienced frequent flight cancellations. Photo: Brendan Mounter, ABC Far North. Image source: ABC News.

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