NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: What will the Voice mean for our children?

The image in the feature tile is by SNAICC for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.

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.

What will the Voice mean for our children?

SNAICC CEO, Catherine Liddle has put into perspective what the Voice will mean for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and closing the gap. She said findings from the Productivity Commission’s latest two reports on closing the gap highlight how far we still have to go, with education impacting all aspects of life. She said when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have access to high-quality early learning, they are set up for lifelong success; they benefit from significantly improved health outcomes and are less likely to come in contact with child protection and youth justice systems.

Ms Liddle said an advisory body, with informed perspectives from communities, would help ensure that barriers preventing improvement in educational and life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were removed.

“It would help shed light on the underinvestment in children’s early years. A Voice would help secure the future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

“We need to hear and heed their voices.”

Read the full article here.

Image source: SNAICC.

Doctors say the Top End is on the frontline of the climate crisis

Earlier this week, more than one hundred parents and doctors from the NT travelled to the Capital to demand the federal government stop fracking in the Beetaloo Basin and withdraw its $1.5 billion subsidy for the Middle Arm project on Darwin Harbour. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people also protested against the Santos’ Barossa gas project off the coast off the coast of the Tiwi Islands.

One protester said, “First Nations communities and campaigners in the Northern Territory are fighting on all fronts.”

NT pediatrician Dr Louise Woodward said the delegation of parents, health professionals, and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) were raising the alarm about the impacts of gas developments on the climate.

“Northern Australia is on the frontline of the climate crisis, it’s getting hotter in the Top End, we have more heat stress days every year and many of our families do not have appropriate housing or money to pay for power to escape the heat.

“Our hospitals and clinics do not have the resources to manage the needs of our communities as it is – what is going to happen as the climate crisis progresses?” she said.

Read the full ABC News article here.

Image source: ABC News.

ACCHO’s helping improve children hearing health

The Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) aims to improve the ear and hearing health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. In 2022-23, the program provided over 14,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with free clinical assessments of their ear and hearing health, finding around 49% had undiagnosed ear disease, and 26% had undiagnosed hearing loss. In an evaluation of the program by Winangali, parents and health workers said it has been successful in identifying problems early and improving understanding of ear health.

Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten said, “these results would not be possible without the strong support of local community-controlled health services.”

Health Minister, Mark Butler said the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being identified with ear disease, preventable ear disease and hearing loss is not reducing.

“This is why the Government is partnering with the First Nations community-controlled sector, Hearing Australia and hearing health program funding and transition service delivery to the community-controlled sector, in line experts to streamline with Priority Reform Two under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

“This work will be guided by a national strategy to reduce preventable ear disease and hearing loss among First Nations children currently being developed by NACCHO.”

Read more here.

Image source: Unsplash.

Birthing on Country activity for National Science Week

South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation (Waminda) will hold an activity focused on Birthing on Country at the University of Wollongong’s Shoalhaven campus Saturday 12 August. It will include midwives and interactive mannequins to measure foetal heart rates. Participants will also have their health monitored with interactive medicine displays including blood pressure measurement and ultrasound viewing of muscles.

Waminda says Birthing on Country “is a continuation of thousands of years of knowledge and practice, which provides holistic maternal, child and family health care that embeds cultural integrity and safety during pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatal care.

“Birthing on Country is about our women from community lead by our Elders and Aunties, to take back control for our Minga’s (mums) to birth healthy beautiful Gudjaga’s in a safe space that is centred around culture and then throughout the continuation of Minga’s and Gudjaga’s life cycle.”

The science showcase is part of National Science Week and will include other activities including robotics and astronomy.

Read the full Milton Ulladulla Times article here.  

Image source: South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.

Garma Festival an opportunity to talk about health on East Arnhem Land

With the Garma Festival finished for another year, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation chief executive and proud Kamilaroi man, Steve Rossingh wants to remind people of what remains once visitors return home, and the festivities are over. He said coronary heart disease, type two diabetes, renal failure, and suicide continue to end lives, and East Arnhem Land presents the highest rates of preventable deaths out of the whole nation.

“The health of Yolŋu people across all of East Arnhem Land is probably the worst of all Australians. Some of the health statistics are what you would see in what are considered to be third world countries,” he said.

As well as acknowledging social determinants of health including environment, overcrowding, education, and the long-lasting impacts of racism, Mr Rossingh said properly coordinated and resourced community-controlled health organisations are the best was for address the crisis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“One thing that governments can do is really support the community-controlled sector, not just in terms of providing funding, but adapting their service responses in a way that Aboriginal community-controlled services are respected, and that our methodologies are able to be applied.

“…We know if we apply them, the outcomes are going to be better.”

Read the full National Indigenous Times article here.

Garma Festival. Photo by: Peter Eve.

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