NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: At least 218 health and medical organisations say Yes to the Voice

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO staff members on Ngunnawal Country.

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.

At least 218 health and medical organisations say Yes to the Voice

At least 218 health and medical organisations are supporting a Yes vote in the referendum to establish a constitutionally enshrined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to parliament and the executive. The wide-ranging health issues at stake in the Voice referendum were canvassed during a #CroakeyLIVE webinar this week, as Australians were urged to vote for “love and hope,” rather than “fear and rage.” Panelists at the #VoiceforHealth event, who included Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler, talked about the “enormously unifying, uplifting moment” in the nation’s life that a Yes vote could deliver.

“There’s a lot of racial gaslighting going on which, for me, really highlights the absolute need for historic truth telling,” Lowitja Institute CEO Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, a Nurrunga Kaurna women told the event.

Ms Mohamed said a Yes vote would make a significant difference, because “our spirits would be lifted pretty high, we would feel very supported and valued by the Australian public.”

For the Lowitja Institute a Voice would work towards a community-led research agenda that directed funding where it was needed.

“In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, so much of the issue is not actually about how much money is spent, because there is actually a lot of money in the system. It’s where it actually gets to,” Ms Mohamed said.

She said a Voice would more efficiently target funds to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and communities to lead research on issues they identified as priorities. That would result in better quality research and knowledge translation, as well as a stream of secondary effects, including investment in local communities, increased research workforce capability, better health literacy, greater awareness about invaluable cultural knowledges and health system savings.

See Croakey Health Media’s list of health and medical organisations supporting the Yes vote here and read the full Craokey Health Media article here.

You can also information on the Voice and wellbeing resources here.

Many voices for health, at the #CroakeyLIVE webinar on 9 October. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Dialysis clinic says Voice can save lives

Rachel Napaltjarri, an Aboriginal woman suffering from end-stage kidney failure, is one of dozens of Indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people who are treated each day for kidney failure at remote dialysis clinics run by The Purple House, an Aboriginal community-led health service. The Purple House CEO, Sarah Brown said it is an example of how community involvement can improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“We don’t have flashier machines or more experienced nurses.

“The only difference is that people are running this place together, and they get to control what happens to them and they can help other communities out,” she said.

Purple House is evidence of how including the community can improve outcomes, Ms Brown said. This is why she hopes the country will vote Yes on October 14.

“Having policy where Aboriginal people have actually been able to advise and have some input on whether the idea is going to work or not is such a simple no-brainer but could have such a big impact,” she said.

Read the full article here.

Image source: Reuters.

Community-led school breakfast program demonstrates how the Voice could make a practical difference

When programs are designed and delivered by the communities involved, measures of wellbeing improve, according to the experiences of community members from the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in Western Australia and researchers. Rosalind Beadle, Olive Nyalypingka Lawson, and Bill Genat write: Leading up to the referendum, those in the Yes camp are referring to how the Voice will help empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with benefits for their health and wellbeing. But what does this mean in practice?

In the community of Warburton (Ngaanyatjarra Lands, Western Australia), between 2008 and 2015 a group of grandmothers responded to low school attendance by providing school breakfast for the children. While school breakfast programs aren’t unusual in this context, they are typically instigated and delivered by outsiders, such as teachers, youth workers, and through food donation programs. However, this program was initiated, designed, delivered, and governed by local Ngaanyatjarra women.

Local initiation meant that the community were responding to an issue that was of immediate concern to them, not one that had been identified by outsiders. The grandmothers who designed the program did so in a way that was grounded in their tacit knowledge of family relationships and community life. Their deep understanding of context ensured the program reflected the needs pf the school children and the broader community. The program’s success led to the women initiating a broad suite of additional activities that addressed other issues of wellbeing: meals for the elderly, a teenage girls’ support program, developing relevant literacy resources for school children, and catering for school and community events.

Read the full article here.

The Warburton Breakfast Minyma. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Why the Voice would be better for mums and bubs

There remain stubbornly disproportionate statistics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies compared to non-Indigenous mothers and babies. Mother and former nurse of 20 years, Laura Soderlind writes: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents want the same thing as any Australian parents want – happy, healthy children who can grow to reach their full potential. But the long-term consequences of low birth wright on people, their families and the health system are significant. We know that low birth weight babies are more likely to die in infancy, develop chronic diseases and are especially at risk of developmental difficulties.

The Closing the Gap target 2 aims to increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies with a healthy birthweight to 91% by 2031. As Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ms Soderlind said she’ll be voting Yes on October 14 as she has seen the health system from all angles.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face starkly different outcomes when it comes to health across the board.

“If we keep doing the same thing, we can expect the same results. It’s time to change how we tackle these problems, so we get better results.

“Communities have solutions to these problems. Governments, like doctors and nurses, always do better when we listen to them,” she said.

Read more here.

Image source: Women’s Agenda.

Voice could advise on how to address natural disasters

Disaster events like bushfires are predicted to increase both in frequency and severity as the climate changes. The Voice to Parliament has the potential to be an effective way to this riskier future, write Professor Claire Hooker and Associate Professor Michelle Dickson. The Voice will enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to better undertake urgent tasks of planning and disaster preparation. First Nations people around the world have experience in successfully adapting to changing climates, reaching back tens of thousands of years.

Some Australians are already turning to Aboriginal and Tores Strait Islander knowledge of Country to prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the impacts of natural hazards. First Nations strategies – from “cool burn” bushfire hazard reduction such as the world leading Fire to Flourish program, to waterway management – can prevent disasters, or reduce their scale.

The Voice has the potential to provide the means for the Australian Government to learn from this expertise. This could enable all Australians to see and benefit from the extraordinary strengths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities.

Read more here.

Image source: Unsplash.

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 – Mental Health Week

Saturday 7 October to Sunday October 15 marks Mental Health Week for QLD, WA, and the NT.

Early this week, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation posted to socials that Milingimbi staff held a Mental Health Beach Cook Up to celebrate.

Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council looked to celebrate their deadly mental health/alcohol and other drug workers.

Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia writes: This year’s theme is Mind, Body, and Environment. How the mind, body and environment intersect is essential to overall wellbeing. Physical health – both inside of us and in the world around us – has a major impact on our mental health. The nutrition we consume, movement of our bodies, the health of the planet and the quality of housing and neighbourhoods all have a part to play in building healthy communities and people. We encourage you all to participate in local events, conversations, and activities to raise the awareness of positive mental health and wellbeing.

For mental health resources go here. 

If you are feeling stressed, not sleeping well or have increased anxiety and depression, you can seek help from:

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