NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health #F1000DA17 : International @First1000DaysOz Movement gets Aboriginal Make-Over

“We work to support parents in taking responsibility for our children, providing them with the best start in life and ensuring that the protective factors inherent in our culture and our strong family structures are evident in our work with families.

The work of First Thousand Days Australia is aimed at reducing chronic stressors for mums and dads, so that the focus is on healthy pregnancies and giving our parents the opportunity to provide their children the best start in life.

We welcome the support of Congress and note that both the recent Redfern and Uluru statements from the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership highlighted early childhood development and health as a major priority for Indigenous communities “

Professor Kerry Arabena, Chair of Indigenous Health (Pictured above ) at the University of Melbourne, who heads up the Australian initiative says her group is unique in that it’s an Indigenous designed and managed intervention.

“Some of our people are kept apart from us –by politics and power— and forced to live away from the people who care most about them,” she told the audience of child care workers, educationalists, health workers and researchers. “They are in prisons and in out-of-home care.

“As long as they exist separated from us, from their families, from our communities and from our society, we remain a people who are unable to exercise the right of self-determination.

Dr Huggins, Co-Chair of the National Congress of First Peoples, said that the lack of success in improving the outcomes for Indigenous infants and children was a source of deep anxiety for all Indigenous families see Part 2 Below

Read over 270 NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health Articles published over the pat 5 Years

International First Thousand Days Movement got an  ” Aboriginal Make-Over ” when national summit began in Brisbane this week

Brisbane  hosted one of Australia’s most significant gatherings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and maternal health experts and community leaders when the First Thousand Days Australia national summit convened this week .

The first 1,000 days of life – the time spanning roughly between conception and one’s second birthday – is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established.

In Australia this international movement has been broadened out, by a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health researchers and practitioners, from the original nutrition-focused international initiative to include child protection, early life literacy, the role and contribution of men and the range of other issues which impact on Indigenous parents and infants in Australia.

Professor Arabena said the Queensland Government had supported the initiative with a $1.5m grant to establish two trial sites in the state and other funds have been made available for ongoing research and evaluation.

“There is a sense of desperation in many of our communities and organisations that current efforts to give our kids the best possible opportunities in life are not having the impact we’d like; our children are being put into out-of-home-care at unprecedented rates and the COAG targets to close the gap on child mortality, school attendance and literacy and numeracy haven’t been met this year.

“It’s clear that we need new initiatives that give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities more control over developing strategies and First Thousand days Australia is aiming to do just that,” said Professor Arabena.

The First Thousand Days Australia National Summit will run from tomorrow until Friday 20 October

View the Summit program including abstracts and presenters’ bios here.

 Part 2 Australian Government has historic opportunity to build safety and health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children  

Aboriginal leader, Dr Jackie Huggins, has told a child and maternal health summit In Brisbane that Australia’s elevation to the UN Human Rights Committee should cause the Australian Government to ensure its domestic actions matches its international rhetoric on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

Speaking at the First Thousand Days Summit in Brisbane today Dr Huggins, Co-Chair of the National Congress of First Peoples, said that the lack of success in improving the outcomes for Indigenous infants and children was a source of deep anxiety for all Indigenous families.

“Some of our people are kept apart from us –by politics and power— and forced to live away from the people who care most about them,” she told the audience of child care workers, educationalists, health workers and researchers. “They are in prisons and in out-of-home care.

“As long as they exist separated from us, from their families, from our communities and from our society, we remain a people who are unable to exercise the right of self-determination.

The first 1,000 days of life – the time spanning roughly between conception and one’s second birthday – is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established.

In Australia this international movement has been broadened out, by a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health researchers and practitioners, from the original nutrition-focused international initiative to include child protection, early life literacy, the role and contribution of men and the range of other issues which impact on Indigenous parents and infants in Australia.

Dr Huggins said the Turnbull Government had an historical opportunity to engage with the Indigenous community on child health and safety through the Aboriginal-led First Thousand Days Australia initiative.

“Indigenous people are the experts when it comes to taking responsibility for, and looking after our children,” Dr Huggins said. “We have the right to develop and provide services which address inter-generational trauma. We have the right to teach our children in their languages and ensure they have a culturally appropriate education and have the right to deliver pre-natal services according to the needs of our communities.”

First Thousand Days Australia CEO, Professor Kerry Arabena, welcomed the support of Congress and said that both the recent Redfern and Uluru statements from the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership highlighted early childhood development and health as a major priority for Indigenous communities.

“We all need to start focusing on the strengths and resilience of our families and work with them to build on these strengths rather than the continued emphasis on the perceived weaknesses,” said Professor Arabena.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health : @DoctorBoffa Meningococcal epidemic targeting Indigenous youth in NT ‘must be taken seriously’

” We need all young people to take this very seriously, visit their local health services and be immunised immediately to stop the spread.

This is a really serious disease, it’s a major outbreak. It’s the biggest Australia has ever seen and its confined to Indigenous children under the age of 10…We need all young people to take this very seriously, visit their local health services and be immunised immediately to stop the spread,”

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Alice Springs, NT Chief Medical Officer Public Health,  Dr John Boffa has urged everyone in the community to take this epidemic very seriously.

He says Aboriginal community controlled health services and NT government clinics were doing well to stop the spread of the virus but warns parents and Indigenous youth that the correct early prevention steps must be taken

 Dr Boffa says the results of this epidemic “highlights the extreme inequality between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the NT.” He says the NT is desperate for more hands-on help to look after people impacted by the disease.

“We urgently need extra help! We need more nurses throughout the territory. If there are any nurses who want work as locums they should contact the central Australia Aboriginal congress in Alice Springs or send me an email, we want your help!”

Pictures Above Nick Hose : Meningococcal outbreak worries families in Central Australia:

Photo 1 : Vanessa Smith is making sure her three grandchildren are vaccinated against meningococcal

Photo 2 Geraldine Ashby is a remote nurse in Santa Teresa, and a parent

The meningococcal disease outbreak continues to hit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people living in Central Australia, the Barkly, Katherine and Katherine West regions.

Originally Published here with the assistance of NACCHO

This year alone has seen 25 confirmed cases of the W strain, a rapid jump from only three cases last year. All cases have affected only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To make matters worse, 19 of those cases have been recorded as children younger than the age of 10.

WHAT IS MENINGOCOCCAL?

A rare, life-threatening illness caused by bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain and occasionally infect other sites, such as large joints.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Fever, neck stiffness, headache, difficulty looking at bright lights, vomiting, diarrhoea, sore muscles or joints, drowsiness or a rash. Babies may refuse food and drink and have a high pitched cry.

HOW IS IT TREATED?

* With antibiotics, but the infection can progress very quickly, so seeking medical attention urgently is vital to survival.

This week, a mass vaccination program is being rolled out in the affected regions. Coordinated by the NT Centers for Disease Control (CDC), government and non-government health services, including Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations will be able to offer NT Health funded vaccines.

A free vaccine will be offered to all Indigenous people aged between 12 months and 19 years, living in remote communities. Aboriginal people aged between 12 months and 19 years living in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine will also have access to the vaccine.

People are also able to pay for the vaccine at their local doctor. There are two vaccines available – one costs $49 while the other is $118 and authorities have advised that ‘the cheaper one is just as effective’.

Photo: Six-year-old Rexena awaits her vaccination against the disease. (ABC News: Nick Hose)

After working in the public health communal disease sector for nearly 30 years, Mr Boffa, speaking on behalf of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, has urged for action to be taken as soon as possible in the NT, such as changes to the national child immunisation schedule.

“This epidemic means plans need to be sped up so we’ll have populational protection through routine immunisation of children.”

Dr Boffa says Aboriginal community controlled health services and NT government clinics were doing well to stop the spread of the virus.

“The positive thing is the health system has diagnosed people early, gotten them to hospital and out of the 25 cases in the NT so far, We’ve been able to pick them up quickly and get them effectively treated.”

Dr Boffa warns parents and Indigenous youth that the correct early prevention steps must be taken.

“The disease presents differently and is hard to clearly identify – which is why any sick child with a fever needs to be assessed and get to their local clinic to be checked,” he said.

“If you have a late diagnosis, late being you only miss it by 24 hours, it can kill you.”

 

Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but very serious disease. It is treatable with antibiotics but the infection can progress very quickly. It’s important for people to be aware of the symptoms and to seek medical advice early for either themselves or their children if they have any concerns.

 

 

Aboriginal Maternity Health Program : #CATSINaM17 @IUIH_ Million-dollar boost for groundbreaking #Indigenous maternity program

“It is informed by Indigenous knowledge and community control with a redesigned health service to provide 24/7 continuity of midwifery care and birthing in an Indigenous birth centre,

“With Indigenous leadership and a team with expertise in Indigenous health and research we can translate what we know works in other settings, and other countries, into practice here in Australia.”

Institute for Urban Indigenous Health CEO Adrian Carson said a key component of the project was the Indigenous control and governance of services.

A maternity program designed to achieve better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their babies has received a $1.1 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The project, led by The University of Queensland’s Professor Sue Kildea and researchers from the University of Sydney and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, will implement Birthing on Country on a number of sites with a view to an Australia-wide roll out.

The NHMRC grant will help determine the sustainability of a Birthing on Country service model in each community, along with the impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, their communities and health services.

“The Birthing On Country program has a strong emphasis on culturally and clinically safe care, strengthened support for families, growing a culturally capable workforce and the Indigenous maternal and infant workforce,” Professor Kildea said.

“This program focuses on the year before and the year after birth, as the most important time in life.

“It also allows us to review the effect on three of the most costly health outcomes across the lifespan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: preterm birth, low birth weight and hospital admissions in the first year of life.”

Professor Kildea said the project team was calling on all Australian governments and health organisations to work with them to implement Birthing On Country programs.

“After two decades of research, including consultation with Indigenous elders and communities, we can now enact State and Federal health policy and put into practice national and international evidence of the safety, benefits and cost-effectiveness of culturally safe care,” she said.

“With Indigenous leadership and a team with a wealth of cross-disciplinary expertise in Indigenous and health services, we can translate what we know works in other settings and other countries into practice here in Australia.”

The project, entitled ‘Building on Our Strengths (BOOSt): Developing and Evaluating Birthing On Country Primary Maternity Units’, also includes the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane, the Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation, the Australian College of Midwives, the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives, and the Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund.

The NHMRC grant builds on previous funding from the Ian Potter Foundation in Melbourne, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, ATSICHS Brisbane, the Mater Health Service, Queensland Health and an earlier NHMRC grant.

 

Aboriginal Health and Children in detention #NTCOSS2017 Speech @NTRoyalComm Mick Gooda reports ” What children have told us “

 

” There is a strong perception that that the system of detention in the Northern Territory is failing. It is failing our young people, it is failing those who work in the system and it is also failing the people of the Northern Territory who are entitled to live in safer communities.

We have heard that where detention systems are effective they are smaller centres with a therapeutic focus.

An approach that is appropriately child centred for children and young people, who at this critical time of their development, including their brain development, are not mini adults and should not be treated as such.

If a child must be removed then they must be provided with the care, support and stability that any child is undeniably entitled. “

Speech to the NT Council of Social Service 26 September 2017 Commissioner Mick Gooda see in full Part 2 Below

Read over 48 NACCHO articles NT Royal Commission #Dondale

 ” Yesterday we published a booklet which gives voice to the children who have experienced the child protection system – they have told us their stories either in evidence or by way of recorded story.

When we asked one boy  about what he had experienced and we asked him if there was any place out there that would be suitable for you to be placed into care?

He simply told us I only want to be with my Mother “

Download ” What children told us -Child protection  It’s time our children’s voices were properly heard.”

voices-what-children-have-told-us

Part 1 SNAICC calls for a response to the voices of children in the Northern Territory

SNAICC welcomes the recent report from the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory for its ability to promote the voices of children and young people affected by a child protection system that is in crisis, which, vitally, provides an insight into the real impact of ongoing failures of government to appropriately respond to children in need.

The report, Voices: What children have told us – Child Protection, captures what is often lost in discussions about the best interests of our children – the voices of our children.

What these powerful stories demonstrate is a pattern of denial of basic rights, ongoing policy and practice failures from successive NT governments, and – bluntly – an uncaring approach to caring for our most vulnerable children.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up 89.1 per cent of all children in out-of-home care in the Northern Territory. This is completely unacceptable.

The experiences courageously shared by children and young people interviewed by the Royal Commission further evidence the extensive reform that is required in the NT child protection system, echoing recommendations from SNAICC’s submission to the Royal Commission submitted in February 2017.

This is the time for genuine partnership between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the Federal and Northern Territory Governments.

We are hopeful that the voices captured in this report go someway to inspire an authentic response to the calls of children to create a new system that enables them to thrive, replacing the current system that perpetuates harm.

Part 2 Speech to the NT Council of Social Service 26 September 2017 Commissioner Mick Gooda

Thanks for that nice introduction Wendy and really thanks for making time for us to come along today and talk to NTCOSS about the Royal Commission.

We are now entering the phase leading into the handover of the report when a lot of work is coming together and gelling towards a set of recommendations that we hope will change the whole nature of how we treat children in the Northern Territory and hopefully like Wendy said show the way for the rest of Australia.

I acknowledge the Larrakia people the traditional owners of this place we now call Darwin, both personally as a Gangulu fella from Central Queensland and on behalf of the Royal Commission for making us welcome to base our work on your country.

I wasn’t here for the Welcome to Country but I saw the young ladies outside and isn’t it great to see the young people do a Welcome to Country.

It is a handing over of that particular ceremony, and I was reminded of a tweet the other day about the only thing we do in Australia that represents any cultural aspect of Australian culture is the Welcome to Country.

And I thought about that and again it shows that if we pay respects to Aboriginal people we pay respects to everyone in Australia.

I’d like to think of Australian culture as being a bit more than football, meat pies and Holden cars.

Like I said we are about eight weeks away from our reporting date of the 17th November and it is time for us to bring people together to talk about how we have done our work as a Royal Commission.

The first thing we found is that our Royal Commission isn’t remarkable.

There have been more than 50 inquiries, reports and reviews on issues of child protection and detention that go to the things we’re looking at.

Commissioner White and I understand that people are cynical and fatigued.

They told us that in pretty clear and unambiguous terms.

Once again another Inquiry had arrived to look at issues of long standing when the overwhelming experience of other inquiries had only seen the situation worsen.

Yet this community has continued to provide us with information, to attend community consultations, community forums and meetings.

During our time we have witnessed a tremendous desire of people not only to ensure that there is reform, but also as communities to accept responsibility for ensuring the safety of our children.

Commissioner White and I were taken aback when we had a meeting with the full Councils of the Northern Land Council and the Central Land Council where half of our time was taken up by communities getting up and saying we’ve got to stop blaming government, we’ve got to start taking responsibility for what we have contributed to as parents.

And that tells me that there is a great appetite within the Aboriginal community for change and to take responsibility.

As we head to that 17th November deadline we are focused on presenting a pathway for children, families and communities across the Northern Territory.

A plan – with a big caveat – if implemented, that will deliver the necessary widespread reform and change for which Territorians have waited for so long.

Since the Commission was established we have:

  • held three months of public hearings in Darwin and Alice Springs covering both youth detention and child protection
  • heard from over 210 witnesses
  • received more than 480 witness statements and more than 430 personal stories
  • received over 250 submissions
  • taken site visits to detention centres
  • visited and engaged with communities including via our community engagement team
  • held open and private forums and meetings including with victims of crime, youth justice officers, police officers, foster carers, care and protection workers, organisations and peak bodies.
  • heard hundreds of stories from children, families and communities who have had firsthand experience of child protection and detention in the Northern Territory.

Commissioner White and I thank everyone who has provided information to us because without this we would not have been able to fully investigate and ultimately to formulate our recommendations.

We have to make particular mention of those children and young people who have had experiences of the youth detention and child protection systems who have courageously shared their experiences with us.

Their evidence, and that of their families, frontline workers and worker and others involved in the system, has at times been very confronting.

I think this Commission has changed all of us.

I was talking to Tony McEvoy our first Aboriginal QC the other day and he told me of a recent experience where just the issue of child protection in another jurisdiction just made him tear up at the memories of what we went through up here, people like us, imagine the young people inside that system.

So we’re committed to ensuring that their voices are heard throughout our report.

Earlier this year we published a booklet which set out what we were told by communities when we met with them last year.

Yesterday we published a booklet which gives voice to the children who have experienced the child protection system – they have told us their stories either in evidence or by way of recorded story.

This booklet is available on the ( NACCHO )  website.

Please feel free to distribute it far and wide.

It’s time our children’s voices were properly heard.

It comes as no surprise that one of the first things we say is that the detention and child protection systems appear to be broken

    • Chief Minister Gunner has publicly acknowledged that the systems are broken
    • Those in the frontline – current and former youth justice, case workers, foster carers, lawyers, judiciary, representatives and agencies and government past and present – as well as the children, families and communities impacted, have told us detention and child protection in the NT is failing.
    • In our Interim Report in March we said –

“There is a strong perception that that the system of detention in the Northern Territory is failing. It is failing our young people, it is failing those who work in the system and it is also failing the people of the Northern Territory who are entitled to live in safer communities”

All the evidence we have received indicates that locking children up in Don Dale like conditions does not lead to good outcomes.

It doesn’t rehabilitate young people, it doesn’t reduce recidivism and it does not make our community safer.

What we have seen is that if you pursue a punitive based approach, these goals of rehabilitation, of reducing recidivism and safer communities, are likely to be unattainable.

What we have also found is that we cannot fix the problems within detention centres if we don’t fix the pathways into those places.

What we have heard is that many young people can be diverted from this ‘inevitable path’ through changes to legal processes, early intervention and more young people going into diversion programs when they first encounter the youth justice system.

Not surprisingly the first contact a young person has with the justice system is generally with the police and is one of the first opportunities to set them on the right path.

We have heard that if their initial contact with police is handled appropriately, the young person can be guided towards rehabilitation rather than towards a detention centre.

That doesn’t mean a go easy approach – what it does mean though is recognising that the chance is there at an early stage to change the course of a young person’s life for good.

For the small number of children who will need to be kept in secure detention, we have heard about very different models to those which currently operate in the NT.

Experts here in Australia and overseas have told the Commission that purely punitive approaches are no longer effective nor successful in managing young offenders.

Further, we have heard that where detention systems are effective they are smaller centres with a therapeutic focus.

An approach that is appropriately child centred for children and young people, who at this critical time of their development, including their brain development, are not mini adults and should not be treated as such.

Commissioner White and I have said before that we will not be recommending to the Northern Territory Government that they build another big detention centre.

For the small number of children who require secure detention a different approach is needed – with education and training at its core, that provides well-resourced health and wellbeing programs for the children, so that when they do re-enter the community they are more likely not to reoffend.

Just as a new approach is needed for youth justice and detention what we have heard during the Commission about the child protection system in the Northern Territory also signals the need for a paradigm change.

The Commission has heard much evidence from those with experience of the child protection or welfare system – both personally and professionally.

From the children and families we have heard about the impacts of separation from culture, family and kin, resulting from the placement of children into care.

DF – one of our Vulnerable Witnesses – as a matter of fact the last witness to this Royal Commission – told us in out last public hearing he and his siblings were placed into care when he was the age of 10.

At the time he was removed he understood he would be placed into respite care for just two weeks – he was told it would be just enough time for his Mum to get a house and make some arrangements.

He described the heartbreak at the prospect of being separated from his Mum for two weeks. He didn’t know at the time but it would be much longer.

DF told us that some months after going into respite he found a ‘care order’ in his foster carer’s house. He said he took it into his room and read it.

It was the first time that he understood that he wouldn’t be going back to his mum any time soon. The order placed him into protection until the age of 18.

He told us that no one had bothered to speak to him, not his carer, not his case worker, not anyone. He found out about this life changing decision accidentally.

Not surprisingly, he absconded from care many times, he was reported to police just a many times.

So the system that was set up to protect him actually facilitated his entry into the youth justice system.

When we spoke to him about what he had experienced and we asked him if there was any place out there that would be suitable for you to be placed into care?

He simply told us I only want to be with my Mother.

Challenges in communication, with multiple placements, changes in foster and respite care arrangements, separation from families, interruption to education and a lack of continuity of case management are just some of the issues we have heard.

We have heard also of experiences which suggest that the placement into care has delivered poorer outcomes than if a child had remained within their community and within their family.

We also heard of cases where we were told that a child, in the care of the CEO, was in need of care.

If a child must be removed then they must be provided with the care, support and stability that any child is undeniably entitled.

We know that those who enter the child protection system have a higher chance of ending in the detention system – we call them the ‘Cross Over’ kids.

This speaks to the need for early intervention and to seek to close off that seemingly inevitable pathway.

Our goal should be to help prevent children entering protection by having greater capacity to identify the triggers that indicate a family is in need, that needs support early and well before the statutory system intervenes.

It is the early actions which will have the greatest impact for them and their communities.

For example, it has been found that pathways into juvenile justice can often stem from childhood trauma that remains unaddressed.

There are huge demands on child protection systems across Australia and too often children end up languishing in such systems and any assistance is provided too late.

And successive inquiries have repeatedly found that child protection systems are based on out of date assumptions yet we have failed to see reform efforts that are based on an understanding of the scale of child abuse and neglect.

We have had experts analyse the Niland Report Inquiry and they tell us the kids that were screened out for intervention in that State mostly me the benchmark for intervention.

We are also told that it is easy to translate those figures to the Northern Territory.

From our perspective that means that there is this great wave of children out there and families out there in dire need of support.

And the statutory child protection system, no matter how good you make it, won’t be able to cope.

The emphasis on early intervention and early support will be the cornerstone of our recommendations.

The goal for us all must be a system that is child focused, community involved, evidence based, locally tailored and providing support for children and families as early possible.

It is fitting I close with what a couple of stories from children and I’ll go to the second one first.

And they are positive stories and I think we have to be positive.

Commissioner White and I decided early in this Commission that if we can’t think positively about the future of children we should resign and let someone else do this job.

Because we have got to remain positive because if we don’t remain positive then I think it is all lost.

In all the negative stories we got told about child protection one young woman described her case worker taker her out to lunch and talking with her for about an hour.

This was apparently such an unusual occurrence for this young woman that it stuck in her mind for years.

Commissioner White and I made a habit of ensuring that we ask every vulnerable witness who came before us, particularly in the youth detention system, were there any good guards?

Were there any good youth workers?

Because we had heard plenty abut the negative youth workers.

And every one of those children said of course there were good youth justice workers and they were in the majority.

And then we asked a follow up question – what made a good youth justice worker?

And every one said the same thing.

They spoke to us, they treated us like humans.

And what does that tell us about the needs and wants of young people?

They just want people to talk to them and treat them like humans.

I have to end by acknowledging the work of the hundreds of people and organisations – many represented here today – who have contributed to the work we are undertaking.

Like I said we received more than 320 submissions from individuals, community organisations, peak bodies, academics, government, non-government and other organisations.

In the face of the challenges that children and young people confront in the NT, this is so encouraging and shows Commissioner White and I that there are so many people willing to work towards change and improvements in the system.

And indeed put the kids of the Northern Territory in the centre of all of our considerations.

Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @sistaquit Smoking : Smoking rates among pregnant Indigenous women tackled in major research project

 ” In 2014 it was reported 45 per cent of surveyed Indigenous mothers smoked during pregnancy, compared to 13 per cent of non-Indigenous pregnant women.

Those figures have spurred University of Newcastle associate professor Gillian Gould to study what can be done to help reduce rates of Indigenous women smoking while pregnant.

It’s not only that they may be born with low birth rate, or have risks of premature birth, but it can set them up for things like obesity, diabetes, a higher risk of heart disease, and lots of respiratory illnesses.”

Smoking rates among pregnant Indigenous women tackled in major research project 

See full ABC report here or Part 2 below

Part 1 Project update 26 September

Currently we have received EOIs from about 20 ACCHS in 5 states that we are targeting for the SISTAQUIT study. These states are NSW, QLD, SA, WA and NT.

These sites will now undergo a two-way discussion for mutual interest, and to find out what protocols we need to go through to get their communities signed up.

We are aiming for 30 services to be signed up to SISTAQUIT by end of the year.

We will have a trade table at the NACCHO AGM, so interested CEOs and managers of ACCHS can get more information,  meet with Joley Manton face-to-face, and sign up their interest or consent.

Our pilot study “ICAN QUIT in Pregnancy” has been successful wrapped up, and we are applying our learnings to go forward to this larger SISTAQUIT trial.

We would like to thank pilot ACCHS services in NSW, SA and QLD for their tremendous support in making this happen.

What does the SISTAQUIT™ in Pregnancy study aim to do?

Our study aims to improve the provision of timely, evidence-based smoking cessation support to pregnant women attending Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS), by training health providers such as GPs, Aboriginal Health Workers and midwives in culturally appropriate smoking cessation care.

The SISTAQUIT intervention (culturally appropriate smoking cessation training for health providers) has been developed over a decade. We most recently explored the feasibility and acceptability of the SISTAQUIT intervention through the ICAN QUIT in Pregnancy pilot study with six Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services.

We aim to increase the proportion of health providers offering assistance in quitting to pregnant smokers and to improve the quit rates of pregnant smokers, measured by carbon monoxide testing during pregnancy and after birth. We also aim to improve birth weights and respiratory outcomes of the babies in the first six months of life.

We are currently seeking EOIs from AMS interested in participating in the trial. Funding is available to cover AMS trial participation costs, and pregnant mothers will be offered a voucher for their time for each study visit.

Contact Details

School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle:

Assoc. Prof. Gillian Gould: gillian.gould@newcastle.edu.au

Ms Joley Manton: sistaquit@newcastle.edu.au;  Phone: (02) 4033 5720

Website: www.newcastle.edu.au/SISTAQUIT

Part 2

 

SISTAQUIT project aiming to help 450 Indigenous women quit smoking.

 “We want to show that SISTAQUIT works, and that women are able to quit with our approach.

We wanted to be able to reach out eventually to any service in Australia through the internet, so we decided to do that through interactive webinars.

We know now that quite a few chronic diseases are set up by babies being exposed to smoking when they’re in the womb,”

Associate Professor Gould said

It is hoped a large-scale research project will help provide clearer solutions for tackling smoking rates among pregnant Indigenous women across the country.

In 2014 it was reported 45 per cent of surveyed Indigenous mothers smoked during pregnancy, compared to 13 per cent of non-Indigenous pregnant women.

Those figures have spurred University of Newcastle associate professor Gillian Gould to study what can be done to help reduce rates of Indigenous women smoking while pregnant.

It’s not only that they may be born with low birth rate, or have risks of premature birth, but it can set them up for things like obesity, diabetes, a higher risk of heart disease, and lots of respiratory illnesses.

“From that point of view, it is important.

“We know that one of the problems is that women are not given enough help to quit smoking.”

Associate Professor Gould has been working on the multi-phase research project for a number of years.

In the first phase of the study, the research team worked with Indigenous communities in the NSW Hunter Valley to develop a suite of resources to train health providers in supporting women while they quit smoking.

Many of those resources have been digitally focused.

Phase two involved a pilot project using those resources, and was implemented in NSW, South Australia and Queensland.

“We had trained all of the health providers at those services,” Associate Professor Gould said

Project aiming to give health workers effective tools

With the pilot study finished, the research is now expanding into 30 Aboriginal medical centres around the country, with the SISTAQUIT project aiming to help 450 Indigenous women quit smoking.

“We will link up with the services, and we’re conducting three one-hour webinars, which will be live and interactive,” Associate Professor Gould said.

“We [also] have this booklet that women receive, and within that booklet are embedded different videos.

“The women can use an app on their phone, and when they scan the little screenshot of the video that’s in the booklet, they can hear [information] from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals which is going to help them quit smoking.

“We’re mainly aiming it at the health professionals — GPs, midwives, Aboriginal health workers — to give them training, and then they have these resources that are going to, in consultation with women, help them quit.

“By doing it this way and being able to do it in enough women, we will get the answer — ‘is this approach the best approach?’ — and therefore, can the Government then scale-up our approach to make those webinars and resources available across the whole of Australia?”

Cultural sensitivities are observed in the training materials, and Associate Professor Gould said that helped build trust.

“We’re talking to women, giving them accurate, factual messages, but in a way that’s delivered by people they would trust,” she said.

“We’ve developed the whole approach with Aboriginal medical services, and we’ve had Aboriginal investigators on our team guiding us and working very closely with us

“By doing it this way and being able to do it in enough women, we will get the answer — ‘is this approach the best approach?’ — and therefore, can the Government then scale-up our approach to make those webinars and resources available across the whole of Australia?”

Cultural sensitivities are observed in the training materials, and Associate Professor Gould said that helped build trust.

“We’re talking to women, giving them accurate, factual messages, but in a way that’s delivered by people they would trust,” she said.

“We’ve developed the whole approach with Aboriginal medical services, and we’ve had Aboriginal investigators on our team guiding us and working very closely with us

Hopes smoking rates will drop

The study is set to last until 2021, and Associate Professor Gould was optimistic the approach would help reduce rates of smoking.

“This is the real world; it’s a real-world study, so this is what life is like,” she said.

“In our pilot study so far, we’ve had four women quit out of 22, which means we’ve already got a quit rate of almost 25 per cent. The usual quit rate is about 3 per cent. So, we think we’re doing pretty good.

“We’re aiming in the bigger trial to improve the quit rate from the baseline of 3 per cent up to 11 per cent, but already in our pilot we’ve exceeded our aim.

“You never know if this is going to work or not, and that’s why [we’re] doing the study

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Obesity : Download #TippingtheScales Report Leading health orgs set out 8 urgent actions for Federal Government

“Sixty-three per cent of Australian adults and 27 per cent of our children are overweight or obese.

This is not surprising when you look at our environment – our kids are bombarded with advertising for junk food, high-sugar drinks are cheaper than water, and sugar and saturated fat are hiding in so-called ‘healthy’ foods. Making a healthy choice has never been more difficult.

The annual cost of overweight and obesity in Australia in 2011-12 was estimated to be $8.6 billion in direct and indirect costs such as GP services, hospital care, absenteeism and government subsidies.1 “

 OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin 

Download the report HERE  tipping-the-scales

Read over 30 + NACCHO Obesity articles published last 5 years

Read over 30+ NACCHO Nutrition and Healthy foods published last 5 years

Thirty-four leading community, public health, medical and academic groups have today united for the first time to call for urgent Federal Government action to address Australia’s serious obesity problem.

In the ground-breaking new action plan, Tipping the Scales, the agencies identify eight clear, practical, evidence-based actions the Australian Federal Government must take to reduce the enormous strain excess weight and poor diets are having on the nation’s physical and economic health.

Led by the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) and Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE), Tipping the Scales draws on national and international recommendations to highlight where action is required. Areas include:

  1. Time-based restrictions on TV junk food advertising to kids
  2. Set clear food reformulation targets
  3. Make the Health Star Rating mandatory by July 2019
  4. Develop a national active transport strategy
  5. Fund weight-related public education campaigns
  6. Introduce a 20% health levy on sugary drinks
  7. Establish a national obesity taskforce
  8. Develop and monitor national diet, physical activity and weight guidelines.

OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin said the eight definitive policy actions in Tipping the Scales addressed the elements of Australia’s environment which set individuals and families up for unhealthy lifestyles, rather than just focusing on treating the poor health outcomes associated with obesity.

Watch video HERE : How does junk food marketing influence kids

“Sixty-three per cent of Australian adults and 27 per cent of our children are overweight or obese. This is not surprising when you look at our environment – our kids are bombarded with advertising for junk food, high-sugar drinks are cheaper than water, and sugar and saturated fat are hiding in so-called ‘healthy’ foods. Making a healthy choice has never been more difficult,” Ms Martin said.

“The annual cost of overweight and obesity in Australia in 2011-12 was estimated to be $8.6 billion in direct and indirect costs such as GP services, hospital care, absenteeism and government subsidies.1 But Australia still has no strategy to tackle our obesity problem. It just doesn’t make sense.

“Without action, the costs of obesity and poor diet to society will only continue to spiral upwards. The policies we have set out to tackle obesity therefore aim to not only reduce morbidity and mortality, but also improve wellbeing, bring vital benefits to the economy and set Australians up for a healthier future.”

Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health at Deakin University, Anna Peeters, said the 34 groups behind the report were refusing to let governments simply sit back and watch as growing numbers of Australians developed life-threatening weight and diet-related health problems.

“For too long we have been sitting and waiting for obesity to somehow fix itself. In the obesogenic environment in which we live, this is not going to happen. In fact, if current trends continue, there will be approximately 1.75 million deaths in people over the age of 20 years caused by diseases linked to overweight and obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer heart disease, between 2011-20501,” Professor Peeters said.

“Obesity poses such an immense threat to Australia’s physical and economic health that it needs its own, standalone prevention strategy if progress is to be made. There are policies which have been proven to work in other parts of the world and have the potential to work here, but they need to be implemented as part of a comprehensive approach by governments. And they need to be implemented now.

“More than thirty leading organisations have agreed on eight priorities needed to tackle obesity in Australia. We would like to work with the Federal Government to tackle this urgent issue and integrate these actions as part of a long-term coordinated approach.”

In addition to the costs to society, the burden of obesity is felt acutely by individuals and their families.

As a Professor of Women’s Health at Monash University and a physician, Professor Helena Teede sees mothers struggle daily with trying to achieve and sustain healthy lifestyles for themselves and their families, while having to deal with the adverse impact of unhealthy weight, especially during pregnancy.

“As a mother’s weight before pregnancy increases, so does the substantive health risk to both the mother and baby. Excess weight gain during pregnancy further adds to these risks and is a key driver of infertility, long-term obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while for the child, their risk of becoming overweight or obese and developing chronic diseases in later life greatly increases,” Professor Teede said.

“The women I see are generally desperate for help to improve their lifestyle and that of their families. They want to set themselves and their families up for healthy, long lives.

“Currently, there is a lot of blame placed on individuals with unhealthy diets and lifestyles seen as being due to individual and family discipline. Women from all backgrounds and walks of life struggle with little or no support to achieve this. It is vital that we as a community progress beyond placing all responsibility on the individual and work towards creating a policy context and a society that supports healthy choices and tips the scales towards obesity prevention to give Australian families a healthy start to life.”

The calls to action outlined in Tipping the Scales are endorsed by the following organisations: Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (which includes the Heart Foundation, Cancer Council Australia, Kidney Health Australia, Diabetes Australia and the Stroke Foundation), Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC), Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS), Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine, Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute, CHOICE, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE), Institute For Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Monash Centre for Health, Research and Implementation (MCHRI), LiveLighter, Menzies School of Health Research, The University of Melbourne’s Melbourne School of Population & Global Health, Melbourne Children’s (which includes The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne), the National Rural Health Alliance Inc, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Obesity Surgery Society of Australia & New Zealand, Parents’ Voice, Public Health Association of Australia and Sugar By Half.

Download the Tipping the Scales action plan and snapshot at opc.org.au/tippingthescales


1. Obesity Australia. Obesity: Its impact on Australia and a case for action. No time to Weight 2. Sydney, 2015.

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health : Download #SNAICC2017 Conference Communique Calls to Action

 
 ” The 7th SNAICC National Conference brought together over 1100 delegates from across the country who shared and reaffirmed their commitment to improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Delegates called for urgent action to ensure our children grow up safe, healthy and strong in their families and communities.

Download a PDF Copy SNAICC Communique 2017

In the 20th anniversary year of the Bringing them Home report, Professor Mick Dodson opened the conference calling on conference delegates to look back and reflect on the tragic history and deeply heartbreaking stories of the Stolen Generations.

He reminded us of the important calls from that inquiry to make reparations – and that making reparations means that we must all do everything in our power to make sure the hurt of the past is healed and the removal of children does not continue.

While 20 years ago the Bringing them Home Report called for National Standards Legislation and extensive reforms to secure the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, conference delegates reflected that its comprehensive vision for reform is still sadly so far from being realised. As Professor Dodson told the conference, “the gravity of the findings demanded action and action hasn’t been taken.”

A plenary panel of prominent Aboriginal Elders and activists called on delegates to draw on the strength and resilience of members of the Stolen Generations to chart the path ahead. Commissioner Helen Milroy reminded us that life is relationships and that abuse in institutions has fragmented those relationships. We need to heal past and present trauma to ensure the safe cultural embrace of all of our children.

All keynote speakers called for increased focus and investment in early intervention to address the drivers of child removal, including through justice reinvestment approaches and a well resourced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled early years education and care sector. They also reiterated calls heard across the conference and many of its concurrent sessions, that genuinely enabling self-determination is core to improving outcomes for our children.
A deep sense of frustration was expressed by conference delegates that we continue to see outcomes for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children decline. Our children remain almost 10 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than other Australian children and their number in care is set to triple by 2035 if we fail to act. Adjunct Professor Muriel Bamblett told the conference that the best interests of our children for their wellbeing and safety are to be with their families and communities, and to determine their own futures.

Yet, our children continue to be separated from their families and cultures at an alarming rate. In response, the conference delegates called for renewed efforts and a national commitment to finally see through the Bringing them Home reform agenda that remains relevant 20 years on.

International keynote speaker, Dr Sarah Kastelic, CEO of the Indian Child Welfare Association in the United States, shared recent gains through regulations under the Indian Child Welfare Act that give clear legal definition to requirements to support the safety and wellbeing of Native children.

These regulations define “active efforts” that must be taken and demonstrated to support a family to stay together or to reunify. Dr Kastelic spoke of the importance of the federal legislation in establishing the jurisdiction of tribal courts and the role of tribal authorities to participate in child welfare matters.

These reforms struck a chord with delegates who saw many parallels in the experiences of Indigenous children in the United States and shared their deep frustration at the persistent poor implementation and lack of accountability for applying the five holistic elements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle in Australia.

SNAICC Deputy Chairperson Geraldine Atkinson called on conference delegates and all Australian governments, organisations and individuals to stand alongside the many who have already committed to the Family Matters – Strong Communities, Strong Culture, Stronger Children campaign and to contribute to implement its comprehensive roadmap for reform to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of­home care.
Delegates at the conference made the following calls to action:
That all governments fully implement the recommendations of the Bringing Them Home Report in this, the 20th anniversary year of the tabling of the report. A national dialogue is needed on creating sustainable structures to monitor the implementation of recommendations from this and other systemic inquiries into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage, and must centrally include members of the Stolen Generations.
That all governments mark the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by committing to the principles of self-determination and demonstrating that commitment through the Redfern Statement Alliance process.
That through COAG all governments agree on a coordinated strategy, co­designed with the relevant national and jurisdictional peaks and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family welfare organisations, to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of­home care by 2040.
That the elimination of the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care be identified as a specific new national target through the refresh of the Closing the Gap Agenda.
That learning from the experience of the United States, all Australian governments come together to regulate national minimum standards for the care and protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through national legislation or consistent state and territory legislation, including:
• Requirements to demonstrate that “active efforts” to support families to stay together and to reunify have been taken in any proceedings seeking child protection orders or the termination of parental rights; and
• National standards for the implementation of each of the five holistic elements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle.
That all jurisdictions commit to an increased investment in targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled early intervention, family preservation and family reunification services. In particular, we note the importance of justice reinvestment and also the recent announcement of Community Services Ministers in their August 2017 Communiqué of new joint investment in intensive family support services and call for these and other prevention supports to be delivered through community-controlled organisations.
That the Federal Government recognises the unique role of, and provide sustainable funding for, a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled early years sector. This must include supporting and growing existing Aboriginal Children and Family Centres, Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services and other critical early years supports, as well as developing new community-controlled services to address the gap in service access for our children.
That a new target and accompanying strategy is identified to address the 15,000 place gap in early childhood education and care service participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through the Closing the Gap refresh.
That all jurisdictions recognise that the key to stability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is growing up in culture and community. Rather than pursuing legal permanent care orders, jurisdictions focus their efforts on improving compliance with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, supporting families and building connections for children to their kin and culture to ensure children’s emotional, physical and cultural safety and stability.
That all governments commit to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities in decisions about the care and protection of their children as early as possible by enabling family-led decision making processes
– led by independent community-controlled agencies – before decisions are made about child removal or placement.

That an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner for our children is established in every Australian jurisdiction with powers to undertake own motion inquiries and hold governments and service sectors accountable to their obligations to secure the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children

NACCHO Aboriginal Children #SNAICC2017 : Download : UN Report Recommends : Reducing rates of Indigenous child incarceration and removal

 ” The United Nations has criticised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government for the soaring rates at which Australia locks up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

In her new report, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said “the routine detention of young Indigenous children” was “the most distressing aspect of her visit” to Australia.

The report found that Australia locks up Indigenous children, as young as 10 years old, at 24 times the rate of non-Indigenous children.”

Download the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 

UN The Australia Report

 ” The lack of progress to improve education, health and employment standards for Indigenous people had fuelled “escalating” rates of incarceration and child removal.

The Special Rapporteur’s report said a plan of action to address high rates of Indigenous incarceration was a “national priority”.

The current claim by the Government that matters relating to incarceration remain the sole prerogative of states is untenable in the severe “

See ABC Report Part 3 Below  Australia’s progress on Closing the Gap ‘woefully inadequate’, UN says

 ” Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have achieved remarkable success in delivering culturally appropriate services for primary health care.

However, the Special Rapporteur was informed by multiple stakeholders during her visit about inequalities in the resources available for rural and remote service delivery and of cuts to community managed primary health care, which play an essential role, for example in the prevention of chronic diseases.”

See Part 2 Below Close the Gap and ACCHO Health Services

Update September 20

CTG Press Release : Australian governments urged to act on scathing UN report

The Close the Gap Campaign urges Australian governments to act on the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Special Rapporteur, Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said it is “woefully inadequate” that, after more than two decades of sustained economic growth, governments have failed to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The co-chairs of the Close the Gap Campaign, Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar and National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Co-Chair, Mr Rod Little, call on Federal, State and Territory governments to make Indigenous health reform a top priority at the next COAG meeting and in their 2018 Budgets

Download the CTG press Release HERE CTG Special Rep MR Final

Ms Tauli-Corpuz emphasised that PM Turnbull’s Government, not states and territories, is responsible under international law for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s “national detention crisis”.

She called for the Federal Government to adopt a National Action Plan to address the crisis.

Tammy Solonec, Indigenous Rights Manager at Amnesty International Australia, said today:

Download Report from Amnesty Amnesty Aboriginal Austrlia

“Locking up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in children’s prisons is a national shame. Children are being abused not only in Don Dale in the NT, but in Cleveland in Queensland, in Bimberi in the ACT, in Banksia Hill in WA. This problem is nationwide.”

“The good news is that we already know what will keep Indigenous kids out of children’s prisons and safe in their communities.”

“PM Turnbull must commit to a National Action Plan to fix the youth ‘injustice’ system. That plan must fund Indigenous-led community programs, which are the best at keeping Indigenous kids safe and thriving.”

 Other concerns and recommendations in the Special Rapporteur’s report include

  • The application of criminal responsibility as low as at the age of 10 years across the country is deeply troubling and below international standards. This situation is aggravated by the failure to apply diversion measures and community programmes and the placement of children in high-security facilities.
  • It is wholly inappropriate to detain children in punitive, rather than rehabilitative, conditions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are essentially being punished for being poor and, in most cases, prison will only perpetuate the cycle of violence, intergenerational trauma, poverty and crime.
  • Allegations of serious abuses, including violent strip-searches, teargassing, hooding and prolonged isolation committed against Aboriginal children in custody.
  • The focus urgently needs to move away from detention and punishment towards rehabilitation and reintegration. Locking up people costs tax payers vast amounts of money. For instance, the Special Rapporteur was told that detaining a child costs between $A170,000 and $A200,000 per year.
  • The Government must ensure that community-led early intervention programmes invest in families, rather than punish them, in order to prevent children from being in contact with the child protection system.

 

Part 2 Closing the Gap strategy

  1. The “Closing the Gap” strategy has been in existence for nearly a decade. However, in its 2017 report on health, education and unemployment targets,17 the Government recognizes that only one of the seven targets — to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment rates — is on track. The Government did not expect to meet targets to close or reduce the gap in the remaining six targets, including on life expectancy, infant mortality, education and employment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to die on average 10 years younger than other Australians, with no major improvements being recorded. In the Northern Territory, the life expectancy of Aboriginal people is the lowest in the nation and the gap between the non-indigenous population is 16 years for men and 14 years for women.
  2. It is woefully inadequate that, despite having enjoyed over two decades of economic growth, Australia has not been able to improve the social disadvantage of its indigenous population. The existing measures are clearly insufficient as evidenced by the lack of progress in achieving the “Close the Gap” targets.

Health services

  1. Social and cultural determinants explain almost one third of the health gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people. In 2015, nearly 45 per cent of indigenous peoples reported having a disability or long-term health condition. Understanding the impacts of intergenerational trauma and racism are essential factors in order to address the health situation of indigenous peoples effectively.
  2. The Government has taken steps to improve the health of indigenous peoples through the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023, and the Special Rapporteur notes as positive that the plan adopts a human rights-based approach informed by the Declaration.18
  3. In order for the Implementation Plan for the Health Plan to be successful, the Government must invest in partnerships that recognize the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The workforce of indigenous Australian medical professionals has expanded in the past decade and developed valuable expertise. However, parity is still lagging as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders still make up less than 1 per cent of the national health workforce. Support for training more indigenous health professionals is therefore required.
  4. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have achieved remarkable success in delivering culturally appropriate services for primary health care. However, the Special Rapporteur was informed by multiple stakeholders during her visit about inequalities in the resources available for rural and remote service delivery and of cuts to community managed primary health care, which play an essential role, for example in the prevention of chronic diseases.
  5. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders also told the Special Rapporteur about their feelings of powerlessness, loss of culture and lack of control over their lives. Suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are escalating at a shocking rate and are double that of non-Indigenous Australians. The current situation was described to the Special Rapporteur as a suicide epidemic. While visiting the Kimberley region in Western Australia, she learned about youth-developed and -driven projects to prevent suicide among Aboriginal adolescents. She strongly urges that such initiatives be supported and replicated. Adopting a holistic approach to social and emotional well-being that recognizes the need for cultural connection is essential to achieve sustainable improvement in health indicators.
  6. Aboriginal-led health research capacity has been established and should be drawn upon to inform policies. Strengthened financial and political support for Aboriginal- and Torres Strait Islander-led expertise, professional development and research is crucial in order to close the gap in relation to key health inequalities faced by indigenous peoples. In order for such measures to be sustainable, longer-term funding agreements are necessary.

Part 3 Australia’s progress on Closing the Gap ‘woefully inadequate’, UN says

The United Nations has described Australia’s lack of progress on Closing the Gap as “woefully inadequate”, saying the over-incarceration of Indigenous people is a major human rights concern

Key points:

  • The UN supported the call for a referendum to establish a First Nations advisory body in the constitution, the report said
  • It also recommended the Federal Government adopt new targets to reduce the rate of Indigenous incarceration
  • A plan of action to address high rates of incarceration was a “national priority”, it added

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz visited Australia earlier this year, and today released her report detailing her concerns on the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz said it was unacceptable that despite two decades of economic growth, Australia had not been able to improve the social disadvantage of its Indigenous population.

She said the United Nations supported the call for a referendum to establish a First Nations advisory body in the constitution and urged the Federal Government to establish a treaties and truth-telling commission.

“Such measures would carry momentous significance to resetting the relationship with the First Peoples of Australia,” Ms Tauli-Corpuz said.

The Special Rapporteur’s report also recommended the Federal Government adopt new targets to reduce violence against women and rates of incarceration and child removal.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz said the detention of young Indigenous children was “the most distressing aspect of her visit” to Australia.

“Detention of those children has become so prevalent in certain communities that some parents referred to it as an achievement that none of their children has been taken into custody so far,” she wrote.

“The extraordinarily high rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, including women and children, is a major human rights concern.

“There have been allegations of serious abuses, including violent strip-searches, teargassing, hooding and prolonged isolation committed against Aboriginal children in custody.”

She said the lack of progress to improve education, health and employment standards for Indigenous people had fuelled “escalating” rates of incarceration and child removal.

The Special Rapporteur’s report said a plan of action to address high rates of Indigenous incarceration was a “national priority”.

“The current claim by the Government that matters relating to incarceration remain the sole prerogative of states is untenable in the severe,” she said.

Ms Tauli-Corpuz praised the Children’s Koori Court in Victoria, which brings young offenders in front of a panel of elders and aims to reduce imprisonment and recidivism.

“Such culturally sensitive processes could significantly reduce recidivism rates if extended to other jurisdictions,” she said.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : #Indigenous groups say work for the dole scheme racially discriminatory and “unhealthy “

“ Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (APONT ), and our members have received widespread concerns about the debilitating impacts that CDP is having on its participants, their families and communities.

Financial penalties were being imposed at an astonishing scale – causing families, including children, to go hungry.

Such consistent and strong concerns expressed by those at the coalface must be taken seriously and acted upon,

Onerous and discriminatory obligations applied to remote CDP work for the dole participants mean they have to do significantly more work than those in non-remote, mainly non-Indigenous majority areas, up to 670 hours more per year.”

The chief executive of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, John Paterson, said the program was causing significant harm to communities. He said financial penalties were being imposed at an astonishing scale – causing families, including children, to go hungry (see Guardian article in full below Part 2 )

In press conference picture below

  • John Paterson, CEO, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (APO NT)
  • David Ross, Director, Central Land Council (APO NT)
  • Rod Little, Co-Chair, National Congress
  • David Thompson, CEO, Jobs Australia
  • Ged Kearney, President, Australian Council of Trade Union
  • Maria Harvey, CEO, Tiwi Islands Training & Employment Board
  • Dickie Bedford, CEO, Marra Worra Worra

 

Part 1 Fair work and strong communities

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT Proposal for a Remote Development and Employment Scheme

NACCHO is one of the many organisations that has endorsed this scheme

Download the brochure and full list of organisations endorsing

RDES-Summary_online

All Australians expect to be treated with respect and to receive a fair wage for work. But the Australian Government is denying these basic rights to people in remote communities through its remote work for the Dole program – the “Community Development Programme”.

Around 84 per cent of those subject to this program are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Most people in remote communities have to do more work than people in non-remote non Indigenous majority areas for the same basic social security payment.

In some cases, up to 760 hours more per year.

There is less flexibility and people are paid far below the national minimum wage.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also being penalised more because of the onerous compliance conditions.

In many cases, people are receiving a basic social security payment for work they should be employed to do.

The Government’s program is strangling genuine job opportunities in remote communities.

The Government’s remote Work for the Dole program is racially discriminatory and must be abandoned. Better outcomes will be achieved if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are given the opportunity to determine their own priorities and gain greater control over their own lives.

A Fair Wage for Work

There is an opportunity for the Australian government to meaningfully partner with remote communities, rather than impose a “one size fits all” model from Canberra.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities want to take up the reins and drive job creation and community development initiatives.

Remote communities need a program that sees people employed to work on projects the community needs.

And to do so with decent pay and conditions, and the right to earn more for extra effort. The current program keeps people in the welfare system and excessive penalties see people just disengage. It provides no reward for effort and does not address the need to support people into the workforce.

Remote communities need a program that encourages school leavers to move straight into employment or training.

Not one that leaves young people trapped in a welfare cycle or disengaged.

Tailored community-led approaches are needed that reflect the diverse cultural, economic and social aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the realities of the remote job market.

A Fair and Positive Scheme for waged work and strengthening communities

Five Aboriginal organisations in the Northern Territory, working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote service providers, have developed a new, fair and positive model for job creation and community building – the Remote Development and Employment Scheme.

The Scheme will see people placed into part time work with award wages and conditions.

People will be protected by the workplace rights so many Australians take for granted. It would reduce the role that the welfare system plays in people lives. It will see more time and money spent creating new opportunities for jobs, enterprise and community development and less on pointless administration.

The Scheme is a place-based and community-driven model.

It will establish long term collaboration across governments, employers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to increase opportunities in remote communities.

Critically, the Scheme provides incentives to encourage people into work, training and other activities, rather than punishing people already struggling to comply.

Keys features of the Remote Development and Employment Scheme :

  • Establish a wages fund to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other local organisations to create 10,500 part time jobs on award wages and conditions, working on services and projects important to their communities, with the ability to “top up” these wages from other funds when extra work is done.
  • Create 1,500 paid work experience and training places for young people, supported by locally driven youth development strategies.
  • Remove the discriminatory requirement for people in remote communities who remain on social security payments to work more hours than people in non- remote areas.
  • Create Remote Job Centres, with local governance bodies, focused on long term support to help people get into work, stay in work, and progress into better jobs based on their skills and aspirations.
  • Retain activity obligations for people who can work and receive social security but aren’t in a job. Obligations will be based on their capabilities and the needs and views of communities.
  • Support people with disabilities and family responsibilities to meet their gaols and contribute to their communities in a manner appropriate to their capabilities and aspirations.
  • Maintain and improve access to government services in remote communities, including Centrelink, and help people with disabilities access the right payment through the support of Remote Job Centres.
  • Ensure the Scheme is managed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through shared learning and evidence, by establishing an independent body with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led board.

Part 2 from The Guardian

Indigenous groups say work for the dole scheme racially discriminatory

An alliance of Indigenous groups has called the government’s remote work for the dole scheme a racially discriminatory, onerous and debilitating program that is causing children to go hungry.

The community development program was introduced in 2015, aiming to reduce welfare dependency in rural and remote areas.

The scheme relies heavily on private job service providers, and places more onerous requirements on jobseekers, who are required to work or engage in related activities for 25 hours a week across 46 weeks of the year.

Its 35,000 participants, who are 83% Indigenous, earn about $11 an hour, and those who fail to meet their obligations face financial penalties.

Witnesses told a Senate inquiry on Friday that a lack of job opportunities in remote communities made it unworkable and impractical.

Participants have been left to engage in “activity for activity’s sake” with little prospect for learning new skills or gaining a job.

If they fail to comply with rigid requirements, jobseekers face financial punishment. The government issued 35,122 financial penalties in the final quarter of last year, mostly through no show no pay penalties, usually of about $53.

An Australian National University study showed Indigenous people were 27 times more likely to be penalised by a loss of income than those on a similar program in a largely white area.

On Friday the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the Northern Territory (Apont), an alliance of five groups, gave evidence to a Senate inquiry into the program.

One of the members, the chief executive of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, John Paterson, said the program was causing significant harm to communities. He said financial penalties were being imposed at an astonishing scale – causing families, including children, to go hungry.

“Apont and our members have received widespread concerns about the debilitating impacts that CDP is having on its participants, their families and communities. Such consistent and strong concerns expressed by those at the coalface must be taken seriously and acted upon,” Paterson said.

“Onerous and discriminatory obligations applied to remote CDP work for the dole participants mean they have to do significantly more work than those in non-remote, mainly non-Indigenous majority areas, up to 670 hours more per year.”

Apont, which was created to end the top-down approach of Indigenous policy, has proposed a new model, which focuses on increasing jobs, boosting community development, and lessening the welfare system’s intrusion into people’s lives.

“The CDP is racially discriminatory, and Apont believes it must be abandoned. In seeking this we are not just coming here armed with criticisms, but with a solution, an alternative.”

Cassandra Goldie, the chief executive of the Australian council of social service (Acoss), said the significant resources being spent on the CDP – about $268m in 2015-16 – would be better directed to creating employment in rural communities.

“When the term ‘welfare dependency’ is used, it’s often understood that it’s the social security payment that’s the problem,” Goldie said.

“But … the very important task of generating local employment, real employment opportunities, that is where the significant capabilities of the commonwealth, institutionally, should be coming in behind the deep desire by Atsi [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander] leadership, and also Indigenous people locally, to drive this agenda,” she said.

That was a position backed by non-profit job service providers, represented by the chief executive of Jobs Australia, David Thompson. “There’s been nothing done, nothing of any significant note, to actually increase the stock of jobs in those communities,” he said.

The Department of Social Services was questioned about why it imposed stricter requirements on participants of the CDP.

Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy asked, “If there are less jobs in a remote and rural region and less opportunities, why would there be a higher expectation of the hours?”

The DSS’s Bronwyn Field said the government had heard significant concerns from community leaders about sit-down welfare. To resolve that, it had decided daily activities from participants would be required.

“The government, when they started consultation prior to introducing the CDP, spent a lot of time with communities. One of the clear pieces of feedback was the fact that many Indigenous community leaders were concerned about people … doing sit-down welfare,” Field said.

McCarthy responded, “So you’re saying that was a result of government consultations to have those hours – 25 in the community, and 15 in town?”

Aboriginal Health #ThePointNITV and Stolen Generation : Guilty of Being Aboriginal reveals the nation-wide practice of giving #StolenGeneration children criminal records.

NITV news has uncovered the story of how thousands of Stolen Generation children had their lives permanently affected after they were charged and given criminal records – purely for being an Indigenous child taken away from their family.

Featuring both on The Point tonight at 9pm, and in an investigative story online Guilty of Being Aboriginal, NITV unearths forgotten evidence of the widespread practice and reveals that these ‘offences’ still appear on full police records requested by individuals today.

Research by Woor-Dungin volunteer Elizabeth Proctor and Law Professor Bronwyn Naylor from RMIT University reveals that in Victoria, it was a systematic, standard practice up until 1989 for Aboriginal children to get a police record for being an Indigenous child in ‘need of protection’.

This means for decades, Aboriginal and Torres Strait children were given criminal records by the courts after being forcibly taken away from their families.

In particular, the story follows 63-year-old Larry Walsh and his journey of uncovering the truth behind his criminal record from 1956, when he was only two and a half years old. During the course of going through old court documents, Walsh discovered that he had been branded a criminal because he was a ‘stolen child’.

Walsh says that having a police record has affected his life: “They picked on me as a kid, the police, saying I had a criminal record. If they’d left me alone in peace, who knows what my life would have been.”

As well as leading to him being targeted and harassed by local police, Walsh says that this childhood record meant that Magistrates referred to his ‘criminal record from 1956’ on more than one occasion, for example when he went to court for driving without a licence.

“As far as I’m concerned it has been used against me, as part of painting a picture of me as a very bad person. I’ve been telling people about this for years but nobody believed me. How many other people in my age group, or as young as their 30s, have they done this to?”

The Victorian Children’s Court has published documents stating that there was a “failure of the previous system to distinguish between children [deemed to be] in need of protection and young people who were offending against the criminal law.”

There have been calls for the official removal of the charges from people’s records.

The story airs on The Point tonight, Thursday 24 August, on NITV at 9pm. Visit The Point online or get involved on Twitter and Facebook using #ThePointNITV

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