NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Calls for AHWs in prisons “day and night”

feature tile: ATSI man's hands through blue prison bars; text 'Calls for Aboriginal Health Workers to be based in the prison system “day and night”

The image in the feature tile is from an article Calls for ‘Urgent Reform’ to Address Skyrocketing Indigenous Incarceration Rate published by Pro Bono Australia on 11 July 2017.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a 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.

Calls for AHWs in prisons “day and night”

The mother-in-law of Wayne Ugle, the young Noongar father who died in custody on 6 November, has called for Aboriginal Health Workers to be based in the prison system “day and night”. Margaret Kelly said the family received formal confirmation that Mr Ugle had dies in custody eight hours after he passed away, having heard earlier only through a relative in prison.

Mr Ugle’s family said earlier this week that Mr Ugle had asked for heart medication before his death in custody, but his requests were ignored. Ms Kelly said she had urged investigating officers to get Aboriginal Health Workers in to work in lock-ups. “We spoke with the Coroner Detectives and we put it to them they need to get Derbarl Yerrigan (Health Service) in the prison system, even for the overnight prisoners in the Watch Houses, they need to get Aboriginal Health Workers in there night and day.

Ms Kelly said the detectives had provided a pamphlet to her with a counseling service number, and that the Department of Child Protection had offered to assist her daughter Natasha, who, with Mr Ugle, had been caring for six foster children (four of whom are still minors) in addition to their three children.

You can view the National Indigenous Times article Family calls for Aboriginal health workers in prison system “day and night” after death in custody in full here.

Margaret Kelly (right) with her daughter Natasha Ugle (centre) with two of Ms Ugle's children

Margaret Kelly (right) with her daughter Natasha Ugle (centre) with two of Ms Ugle’s children. Photo: Rhiannon Clarke. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Work with researchers to prevent cervical cancer

NACCHO members are invited to consider working with researchers to help prevent and eliminate cervical cancer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Screen Your Way is one of a number of research projects designed to work in concert in achieving elimination of cervical cancer by reducing incidence and lives lost from this almost entirely preventable cancer. The research, which aims to increase participation in cervical screening among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and people with a cervix using self-collection cervical screening, will be led by Associate Professor Lisa Whop (Wagadagam), who is based at the National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing Research.

Screen Your Way aims to support services to increase screening in a sustainable, community-led way, through working with your service and community to design and put in place strategies to increase self-collection and cervical screening in line with your community priorities. This research will be conducted by, with, and for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander communities.

To find out more, submit an expression of interest or get in touch, you can visit the National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing Research website here. You can also contact the research team directly by email here for more information .

Senator the Hon Penny Wong and the Hon Ged Kearney MP’s joint media release Making History by Eliminating Cervical Cancer in Australia and Our Region issued today (Friday 17 November 2023) can also be read in full here.

poster aqua & purple snake with text 'Eliminate Cervical Cancer' by ATSI artists Simone Arnol and Bernard Lee Singleton, Yalma

Artwork by Simone Arnol and Bernard Lee Singleton, Yalma. Image source: Cervical Cancer Elimination website.

HIV Awareness Week community grants now open

The NACCHO BBVSTI and ESR Programs have secured funding from the Commonwealth to fund ACCHOs who are raising awareness for HIV in Community. Funding of up to $1000 (excl. GST) is available to support your ACCHO to participate in for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week 2023!

To apply: please complete this form, including a description of HIV awareness activities to be undertaken, if successful in receiving funding.

Funding can be used for:
– Internal ACCHO wide training and presentations (tea break, or lunch sessions)
– Health promotion stalls in the clinic waiting room or at another event
– Community engagement activities
– Incentives to encourage screening during HIV awareness week
– Art and/or design competitions promoting awareness, screening, treatment etc.

Reporting requirements for the funding will be involve completion of an online form (similar to this one) with a few paragraphs and lots of photos!! If you have any photos in the lead up to your event, please send to the NACCHO BBVSTI team using this email, so NACCHO can promote your event!

NACCHO would like to acknowledge Prof. James Ward, University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and SAHMRI, creators of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week. HIV Awareness week will continue to build on the successes of the previous programs for years to come. For more information on the original program and the history, please visit the ATSIHIV website here.

tile text 'HIV AWARENESS WEEK COMMUNITY GRANTS NOW OPEN! etc. Aboriginal art & vector blue condom face, red ribbon & red cape

Mt Druitt Elder who touched lives, honoured

When the students from Chifley College in Mount Druitt speak about Aunty Gloria Matthews, their faces light up. One of the students whose life was touched by Aunty Gloria is Shaylah Hampton Dixon, a young Kamilaroi and Wiradjuri student at the college. He says that she meant everything to him. “She was the first Aboriginal Education Officer here and helped us with our education,” he said. “She gave me freedom.”

Aunty Gloria, a Yorta Yorta Elder from Cummeragunja Mission, began as an Aboriginal Health Worker in 1973, working at the grassroots level in health and education. The mural celebrates the work that Aunty Gloria did for mob, as well as where she came from and her story. The mural features Cummeragunja Mission, where Aunty Gloria grew up, and the Murrumbidgee River, where she used to swim and fish.

Words like ‘activist’ adorn the mural, highlighting what Aunty Gloria meant to the community. Artist Alex Grils worked on the mural for three weeks alongside students from Chifley College. “I came into the project and spent three weeks learning about her achievements and the things she’s done for the people and community here,” Mr Grils said.

To read the NITV article This Elder touched the lives of school students in Mount Druitt. Now she’s being honoured with a mural in full click here.
mural of Aunty Gloria Matthews at Chifley College in Mount Druitt

The mural of Aunty Gloria Matthews at Chifley College in Mount Druitt. Photo: Tim Hagan/NITV.

First Nations runners complete New York Marathon

Ten First Nations people have embarked on the trip of a lifetime, travelling over 15,000 kms to successfully complete the 2023 New York Marathon. The participants formed the squad of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF), a health promotion charity that uses running to celebrate Indigenous resilience and achievement, and create inspirational Indigenous leaders.

Sissy Austin, Jamie Collins, Peter Farrell, Joel Etherington, Arthur Pitt, Jobastin Priest, Faith Stevens, Jack Stevens, Lauren Vanson and Jade Ware were the ten members who passed the final selection stage, which included the successful completion of a 30 km test run in Alice Springs. The majority of the squad were from non-running backgrounds and had to work hard throughout the year to prepare their bodies for the arduous 42km run. The marathon was the culmination of a six-month program, which also included a personal commitment to health and nutrition, engaging in a Cert II or IV in Indigenous Leadership and Health Promotion, and specialised training in running, coaching, media, First Aid and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Aid.

The IMF’s official website states that the completion of the education and leadership component will ‘give them the skills and confidence to be impactful role models within their communities’. Former marathon world champion and founder of the IMF Robert de Castella says the squad showed a tremendous commitment to the project. “The marathon is synonymous with struggle, endurance, and achievement, so to go from no running to running the biggest marathon in the world, in the biggest city in the world, in just six months, is almost beyond comprehensive,” de Castella said.

To read the National Indigenous Times article First Nations runners complete New York Marathon in full click here.

Gunai Kurnai, Yuin and Palawa man Joel Etherington wearing black polo with Indigenous Marathon Project 2023 Squad logo

Gunai Kurnai, Yuin and Palawa man Joel Etherington ran a time of 3:54:42 at this year’s New York Marathon. Image source: National Indigenous Times

Deadly Runners a way to improve mob’s health

Pro Bono Australia has run a story about change maker Georgia Weir, founder of Deadly Runners. Georgia’s vision is to grow the network of local Indigenous running clubs by upskilling and employing local community leaders. Georgia is an Aboriginal woman who experienced the transformative power of running first-hand. She had been struggling with addiction and mental health issues and says running saved her life. She wants to enable First Nations people across Australia to experience the power of running, as well as the social connections that come from being part of a local group that gathers around a positive activity.

Deadly Runners is a grassroots running club for First Nations people, working in collaboration with local community leaders and Aboriginal Health Organisations to improve physical and mental health outcomes and enable people to make life changes. Pro Bono Australia interviewed recently interviewed Georgia, asking the following questions:

  • Describe your career trajectory and how you got to your current position.
  • What does this role mean to you?
  • Take us through a typical day of work for you.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in your career, and how did you overcome it?
  • If you could go back in time, what piece of advice would you give yourself as you first embarked on
    your career?
  • How do you unwind after work?
  • What was the last thing you watched, read or listened to?

To view the Pro Bono Australia article Improving Aboriginal health through the power of running in full click here.

Georgia Weir wearing running tank top with words 'Deadly Runners'

Founder of Deadly Runners, Georgia Weir. Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

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