NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Celebrating NAIDOC Week 2023: For Our Elders

The image in the feature tile is of Aunty Jane Jones, winner of Perth’s NAIDOC Person of the Year Award.

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.

Celebrating NAIDOC Week 2023: For Our Elders

NAIDOC Week 2023 celebrates the theme For Our Elders, paying tribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and their invaluable knowledge, wisdom, and shared history. Nurse Practice Manager Aunty Jane Jones, the winner of the Perth NAIDOC Elder of the Year Award, embodies this theme through her 50-year nursing career and more than two decades of dedication at Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service in Boorloo (Perth). Aunty Jane’s commitment to providing exceptional research-based healthcare and creating a welcoming space for yarning reflects her passion and dedication to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

“The biggest difference with our service is having health workers sit with patients. We provide a ‘meeting place’ for people, it’s a great space for yarning. People can come and have a chat. We do a lot of yarning. It’s how we get information and answers. It’s a great tool,” said Aunty Jane.

NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate eldership and the positive contribution Elders have on younger generations. Aunty Jane’s daughter, Tamara Jones has followed in her mother’s footsteps, with nine years’ experience as a midwife, providing culturally appropriate care at Wirraka Maya Health Service.

To learn more about Aunty Jane Jones read the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Journal article Celebrating NAIDOC Week 2023: For Our Elders here. For more information on NAIDOC Week go here.

Aunty Jane Jones and her daughter Tamara Jones. Image Source: Australian Nursing & Midwifery Journal.

VACCHO calls for lower pension age

VACCHO is urging the federal government to reduce the pension age from 67 years to 50 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. VACCHO is calling for this change to address the significant gap in life expectancy and the disadvantages experienced by Aboriginal people.

Paying tribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders for their vital contributions to Community as cultural knowledge holders, The Victorian Aboriginal peak health body said, “As keepers of culture and the heart of communities, Elders impart and sustain a rich cultural heritage from generation to generation, including translating culture into contemporary ways.

VACCHO CEO, Jill Gallagher AO said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders are the heart and soul of Community and the future of Communities depends on them, “It is upsetting that many Elders are being let down, in the process the critical role Elders play in sustaining the world’s oldest living tradition has been diminished in some parts of Australia.

“This year’s NAIDOC Week theme gives us a chance to reflect on what we as a society can do to give back to the people who have given so much to society – lowering the pension age would make a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of many, many incredible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders,” she said.

To read the full article click here.

VACCHO HQ. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

ACCHO Governance Workshops

NACCHO is rolling out an 18-month program of governance training Australia-wide. NACCHO’s Director of the Governance Sector Program, Yawuru man Timothy Brown, said it was great to connect with ACCHOs working in the community, gain a greater understanding of the challenges and issues they face at a local level, as well as learn about governance issues that affect their community and services.

“We received great feedback from participants, and while we are continuing to roll out the workshops to the rest of the states over the next 12-18 months, I hope to get back to Queensland soon and maybe conduct some workshops in Western Queensland,” Tim said.

Two governance workshops took place in late May 2023 in Gimuy/Cairns and Thul Garrie Waja/Gurrumbilbarra/Townsville over four days and were delivered by a team of NACCHO representatives including, NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills, acting CEO Dr Dawn Casey, and Berkeley Cox and Shannon O’Brien from King & Wood Mallesons legal firm. The attendees were guided through diverse topics including director responsibilities, separation of powers, relationships, legal duties associated with positions, and succession planning.

Sector Leader is a new initiative by QAIHC. Read the full article here.

Image source: Sector Leader

New committee to improve health outcomes

The Lowitja Institute has teamed up with The University of Newcastle and is set to receive just under $3 million in federal funding to establish a new committee to help improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Medical Research Fund (MRFF) grant is part of the Federal Government’s National Critical Research Infrastructure initiative, which will provide $650 million over 10 years.

National infrastructure will be established to oversee Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. University of Newcastle Assistant Dean Indigenous Strategy and Leadership, Associate Professor, Michelle Kennedy said, “All research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be deemed safe and respectful by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Deputy CEO of the Lowitja Institute, Paul Stewart said the committee will work to ensure research as a community-first approach, “The Lowitja Institute has been working for many years to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at the centre when it comes to national health research processes – so that research is led by, for and with our peoples.”

Read the full story here.

Assoc Professor Michelle Kennedy (pictured left) will lead a team to develop the national committee. Image source: The University of Newcastle.

New resource kit for healing

Marlpa Jungu Jintangka (MJJ), the local Warlpiri Early Childhood Reference Group for the Yuendumu community in Central Australia, have created a resource kit designed to support families and young people to better heal from and understand trauma. MMJ member and Assistant Principal Yuendumu School Yamurna Oldfield said, “We started this work so we can watch over children and better understand how they grow. We want to take care of children and understand how their brains develop.”

MJJ identified that early childhood trauma affects people’s lives, their ability to learn, have strong relationships and be happy. The aim of the resource kit is to teach communities about trauma, and healing form trauma. Resources include a Warlpiri meditation, a ‘Strong Brain Game’ board to explain neurodevelopment, trauma and healing; feelings cards in the Warlpiri and English; a story book about brain development and a Walpiri meditation on USB, as well as written and video training materials.

The resource kit has been developed for relevant services and local workers to use with families to talk about trauma and healing and will be distributed to Warlpiri communities and organisations.

“We want parents, and the whole community, to understand about trauma, and how to bring up our kids with strong spirit. We need to look after our young people,” MMJ member and Aboriginal Engagement Officer with Yurrampi Child and Family Centre Belinda Wayne said.

Read the full article here.

Yuendumu Central Australia. Image source: ABC News.

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