NACCHO Aboriginal Youth Health : Youth programs deliver a social return of more than $4.50 to every dollar of investment

 

” The report found the programs resulted in improved health outcomes and self-esteem, greater engagement with education and training, and increased school attendance and literacy.

They also saw a decrease in anti-social and criminal behaviour, reduced drug and alcohol abuse, and fewer children sentenced to youth detention. Relationships between children and their families, the community and authorities also improved.

Well-funded and consistent youth programs deliver a social return of more than $4.50 to every dollar of investment, a report on Northern Territory services has found.”

Nous Group consulting firm, examined three youth programs in Utopia, Hermannsburg, and Yuendumu, which each had “different levels of program size, resourcing and sophistication of activities

Report by Helen Davidson The Guardian

Photo above : Children play in Utopia, where the youth programs were forecast to return $3.48 for every dollar spent. Photograph: Getty Images

Download the report HERE

The study, on the impact of youth programs in remote central Australia, found that, with enough support and effort, youth programs provided significant support to children, their families and communities, as well as the broader health, education and justice systems.

They also actively reduced rates of crime and drug and alcohol abuse among young people.

The report, presented in Canberra on Tuesday, comes amid ongoing issues with youth crime and substance abuse in the Northern Territory, and skyrocketing rates of incarceration – particularly among Indigenous youth – across the country.

The royal commission into the protection and detention of children in the NT has spent recent weeks hearing of the importance of early intervention in stopping the cycle of criminal behaviour and incarceration.

It found all three were forecast to create a positive return over the next three years, ranging from $3.48 in Utopia to $4.56 in Yuendumu.

The study said a successful youth program was “reliant on stable and skilled youth workers, regular and consistent activities and community involvement in the design and delivery of the program”.

“Creating conditions that can deliver these prerequisites in the remote environment takes resourcing, time and skilled support,” it said. “However, if time, resourcing and support is insufficient, there is a high risk that youth programs will be unable to produce the value identified in this study.”

The Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation (Wydac) – formerly known as the Mt Theo program – was found to have the biggest return.

Based on Nous’s social return on investment formula, it had a projected a social return worth $14.14m for a two-year investment of $3.01m in 2017/18 and 2019/20.

Wydac, in the community of Yuendumu, 300km north-west of Alice Springs, employs seven staff and has up to 120 young Indigenous trainees, a number of whom go on to become youth workers themselves, Wydac said.

The Hermannsburg youth program, which has run since the mid-1990s but saw increased funding from 2007/08, also saw positive outcomes and a projected return of $8.05m of social value on a funding investment of $1.95m.

In Utopia, a region home to fewer than 300 people about 250km north-east of Alice Springs, a youth program, which centred on a drop-in centre and with emphasis on sport and recreational activities, has operated consistently since

The anticipated investment of $1.02m in the Utopia program was forecast to generate about $3.56m of social value.

The findings were guided and verified by a stakeholder group that included the youth programs, regional shire councils and territory and federal government departments.

The report was commissioned by the Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (Caylus), which was set up by the federal government in 2002 to address an epidemic of petrol sniffing in remote central Australian communities. It now coordinates and supports youth programs and responds to sniffing and other substance abuse outbreaks across the region.

The organisation has consistently maintained that substance abuse issues must addressed on both the supply and demand sides, and youth programs effectively addressed demand.

“Stakeholders in remote communities across our region consistently state that youth programs are essential to give kids good things to do, keeping them busy and away from trouble,” it said in the report.

Blair McFarland, co-manager of operations at Caylus, said it had been difficult to get successive federal and governments on board with the idea that consistency in delivery is key. “No one seems to have understood the value of those youth programs – partly because [people in cities] don’t understand the context of where they’re happening,” he said.

“Communities of 300 people with no coffee shops, movie theatres, and local parks which are dusty things which you could fry eggs on in summer.”

In these places, where extreme poverty, high unemployment, and low engagement with Centrelink support are also factors, there is “literally nothing else” for young people to occupy themselves with without a youth program.

“In that context the youth programs were a little island of hope, it demonstrated to the little kids that somebody cared about them,” he said.

McFarland said there had been vast improvements over the past 15 years but there were still big gaps in resourcing – and the situation was far better in central Australia than in the Top End.

“We’re hoping governments think about that and focus on every kid having the opportunity to attend a youth program.”

The Nous Group principal, Robert Griew, said his company partnered with Caylus as part of its work supporting community organisations.

“The big takeout message [from the report] is the longer those programs are sustained and supported you get an increasing return,” he said. “This is just really fabulous news and an opportunity for the community and government to invest in working on the ground and largely employing Indigenous staff.”

.@KenWyattMP Aboriginal Mother and Child Health #Familymatters #IHMayDay17 $40 million #BetterStarttoLife #DanilaDilba #NunkuwarrinYunti @IUIH_

” The ANFPP not only focuses on the mother and child but also assists their partners to develop a vision for their family’s future and encouragement to fulfil that vision.

The Australian Government has committed $40 million under the Better Start to Life approach to progressively expand the ANFPP from three sites to 13, by 30 June 2018.

These expansion sites were identified through a review of the child and maternal health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by geographic area, population health data including birth rates and existing services in the area.

The program will be implemented by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (Brisbane South, Queensland), Danila Dilba Health Service, (Darwin, Northern Territory) and Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc. (Adelaide, South Australia). ”

The Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, announced today three new sites for the Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program (ANFPP) that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are pregnant, or women pregnant with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child.

Download the Ministers press Release Ken Wyatt Press Release

“The ANFPP is a nurse-led home visiting program, that supports women from around 16 weeks gestation to two years of age,” Minister Wyatt said.

“I am very pleased to announce the growth of the Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program to three new sites in Brisbane South, Darwin and Adelaide.

“The Australian Government has committed $40 million under the Better Start to Life approach to progressively expand the ANFPP from three sites to 13, by 30 June 2018.

“Based on the findings, consultations occurred with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Partnership Forums in each jurisdiction to seek further advice on the proposed locations and identify organisations with the capacity to implement and sustain the high fidelity of the program.”

Minister Wyatt said there is strong evidence that long-term gains in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will come from investing in the early years of life and in supporting children and their families at this point in the life cycle.

“The program has demonstrated positive outcomes for women, children and families by providing comprehensive support for antenatal and postnatal care and child health and development. As at 31 March 2017, 1,269 mothers have been enrolled in the program, with 18,579 visits having taken place since the commencement of the program in 2009.

“The ANFPP not only focuses on the mother and child but also assists their partners to develop a vision for their family’s future and encouragement to fulfil that vision.”

The program will be implemented by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (Brisbane South, Queensland), Danila Dilba Health Service, (Darwin, Northern Territory) and Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc. (Adelaide, South Australia).

The ANFPP is currently delivered in five sites: Wellington, New South Wales; Cairns and North Brisbane, Queensland; and Alice Springs and a hub and spoke model operating out of Darwin to support the Top End communities of – Wadeye, Maningrida, Gunbalunya and Wurrumiyanga, Northern Territory.

“The Australian Government is committed to reducing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality, and I am very pleased to support this important initiative,” Minister Wyatt said.

Aboriginal Women’s Health : Download Report : Over imprisonment of Aboriginal women is a growing national crisis

“For too long our women have been ignored by policymakers. It is time for governments at all levels to put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s experiences and voices front and centre, and listen to what we have to say about the solutions.

The report highlights the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women having access to specialist, holistic and culturally safe services and supports that address the underlying causes of imprisonment,

Experiences of family violence contribute directly and indirectly to women’s offending, If we are to see women’s offending rates drop, governments must invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations that work with our women to stop violence.”

Antoinette Braybrook, Co Chair of the Change the Record Coalition and Convener of the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum.

New report launched to address skyrocketing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s imprisonment rates

Download the report here : Aboriginal Woman OverRepresented_online

The over imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is a growing national crisis that is being overlooked by all levels of government in Australia, the Human Rights Law Centre and Change the Record said in a new report launched today.

The imprisonment rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women has skyrocketed nearly 250 per cent since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women make up around 34 per cent of the female prison population but only 2 per cent of the adult female population.

The report, Overrepresented and overlooked: the crisis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s growing over imprisonment, calls for system wide change and outlines 18 recommendations to redress racialised and gendered justice system outcomes.

Adrianne Walters, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre said,

“The tragic and preventable death of Ms Dhu is a devastating example of what happens when the justice system fails Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Ms Dhu was locked up under draconian laws that see Aboriginal women in WA disproportionately locked up for fines they cannot pay. She was treated inhumanely by police and died in their care. At a time when she most needed help, the justice system punished her.”

Annette Vickery, Deputy CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, said, “The vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in custody are mothers. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are often in custody for short periods, even a short time can cause devastating and long term upheaval – children taken into child protection, stable housing lost, employment denied.

“Governments should be doing everything they can to help women avoid prison to prevent the devastating rippling effects of women’s imprisonment on children and families,” added Ms Vickery.

The report calls for governments to move away from ‘tough on crime’ approaches in reality and rhetoric, and to focus on evidence based solutions that tackle drivers of offending and prevent women coming into contact with the justice system in the first place.

Ms Walters said, “Overzealous policing and excessive police powers, driven by tough on crime politics, see too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and men fined and locked up for minor offending. Only last month, the WA Coroner recommended the removal of police arrest and detention powers for public drinking after another Aboriginal woman died in police custody.”

“Governments can act now to remove laws that disproportionately and unfairly criminalise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, like fine default imprisonment laws in WA and paperless arrest laws in the NT,” added Ms Walters

Ms Walters said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are also being denied bail and options to transition away from courts and prisons to more rehabilitative alternatives. Too often this is because of a lack of housing and programs designed for their social and cultural needs, particularly in regional and remote locations.’

“Rather than enacting harsher laws and barriers to women accessing rehabilitative alternatives, governments must invest in programs that are designed for and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and that tackle the root causes of offending,” said Ms Walters.

Response from contributor to the report, Vickie Roach Vickie Roach, a former prisoner turned writer and advocate said “punitive approaches don’t work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. They punish our women, their families and communities, for actions that are often the consequence of forced child removal and assimilation policies.”

“Governments should be getting rid of laws that unfairly criminalise our women. They should be trying to close prisons and focusing on alternatives that are healing. You need to respect women’s dignity, but in my experience, so often the criminal justice system just takes it away,” added Ms Roach.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Women’s Health #Midwives @CATSINaM : Indigenous #midwives walk #Redfern 5 May to #closethegap

 

” Indigenous midwives will gather and march in Redfern to highlight the need to close the gap in healthcare in Indigenous communities.

Indigenous Midwifery facts:

  • There are only 230 Indigenous midwives nationally; a further 618 are needed
  • Indigenous mothers are three times as likely to die as their non-Indigenous counterparts
  • Indigenous babies up until the age of one are twice as likely to die as non-indigenous children

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwives led by Leona McGrath, Indigenous Health advisor, NSW Government and Dr Donna Hartz from the National Centre for Cultural Competence at the University of Sydney will walk through Redfern on 5 May to celebrate International Day for the Midwife and highlight a number of key issues in the sector.

Email Contact Dr Hartz

 ” Aboriginal women in Australia have significantly worse pregnancies than non-indigenous women.

In fact, they fare worse on just about every health measure.

And yet all the evidence tells us there will be no significant improvement in the shocking rates of poor indigenous health until we significantly improve the health of indigenous women.

This article serves as a clarion call from the President of RANZCOG, Professor Stephen Robson. We can only hope policy makers heed this call, as the health of the nation’s indigenous communities depend on it. See full article below

 ” Picture above 2016 Midwives across Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD)  banded together with the Australian College of Midwives to raise funds for the Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund, which will sponsor Indigenous student midwives and their midwifery studies.

WSLHD midwives, supported by WSLHD Aboriginal Liaison Officer Narelle Holden and Professor of Midwifery at Western Sydney University Hannah Dahlen, representing the Australian College of Midwives, proudly presented a cheque to Leona McGrath, the co-chair of the Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund “

Dr Hartz says there is a greater need for Indigenous midwives due to the significantly higher mortality rate for Indigenous mothers and babies.

“We have really embarrassingly poor outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies here in Australia in 2017,” says Dr Hartz.

“We have women dying at three times the rate of non-Indigenous women. We have Indigenous babies dying at twice the rate and we have babies being born prematurely or at a low birth weight at nearly twice the rate of non-Indigenous babies.

“The current rates of preterm and low birth weight babies means that many babies are predisposed to chronic diseases later in life. When we have Indigenous women caring for Indigenous women in childbirth, the outcomes improve for both mother and baby.”

Currently 50 per cent of Indigenous women live where there are no local birth services. Dr Hartz says the training of Aboriginal midwives is crucial to providing culturally sensitive care to Indigenous mothers.

“We’ve had closing of maternity services from rural, regional and remote areas which has meant that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have to travel hundreds and hundreds of kilometres to receive care.

“In terms of spirituality, tradition and culture, the women are Birthing off Country – Birth on Country is of great spiritual significance to have connection to Country. What we’re hoping through programs of training midwives is to bolster maternity services back in the communities so women can have care and give birth closer to their homes,” she says.

Only one per cent of Australian midwives are of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background whereas six per cent of all Australian births are Indigenous. A further 618 Indigenous midwives are required for parity.

“On International Day of the Midwife for the first time in Australia we’re going to have the biggest gathering of Aboriginal midwives in one event. I think it will speak loudly to how we feel about healing our communities and training more midwives.”

Organisers of the march invite interested parties to “Walk with Midwives” in aid of an Australian College of Midwives campaign that aims to raise funds for the Rhodanthe Lipsete Trust. The Trust aims to increase the number of Indigenous midwives.

The University of Sydney campaign is supported by the National Centre for Cultural Competence, the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses & Midwives and the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

Indigenous women and the hidden health-gap

 ‘ At an international scientific meeting in Brisbane, just over two years ago, I attended a session devoted to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The statistics presented and the picture painted for the assembled group was disheartening. The gap between the health of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians seemed too great to bridge.”

Stephen Robson BMedSc MBBS MM MPH MD FRANZCOG FRCOG
President, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Discouraged, I asked one of the senior presenters where we could even start to help, to put things right. “That’s easy,” he replied, “You start by making women healthy. The rest will follow.” At the time, I was Vice-President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG). This advice was something I could work with. Two years later, I am President of RANZCOG. Improving the health of Indigenous women is the biggest challenge that I, and my College, face.

“That’s easy,” he replied, “You start by making women healthy.

Women, and mothers in particular, hold a special place in Indigenous communities. Women manage not only their own health, but the health of their children; the health of their partners; and often the health of other relatives. Women who are healthy and health-literate are the single most important influence on the health of their communities.

Health begins in the womb. A healthy environment for a baby during pregnancy is perhaps the strongest influence on life-long health for all of us. This is especially true for Indigenous Australians. Babies of Aboriginal women tend to be smaller, and this reflects many influences: socioeconomic disadvantage; the mother’s nutrition; illnesses during pregnancy. Importantly, it can reflect alcohol consumption and use of tobacco.

Indigenous women have less opportunity to become healthy and prepare for pregnancy. When pregnant, they see their midwives and doctors later in pregnancy, and less often than non-indigenous women. They have lesser access to the standards of antenatal care that other women take for granted during pregnancy. They suffer racism, marginalisation, and exposure to violence.

The babies of Aboriginal women are more likely to be born prematurely, and more likely to die in pregnancy or soon after birth. As infants, their mortality rates exceed those of non-Indigenous infants. They are more likely to suffer childhood diseases.

The babies of Aboriginal women are more likely to be born prematurely, and more likely to die in pregnancy or soon after birth.

As adults, Indigenous Australians are more likely to be hospitalised. The reasons for this include injuries, infections, and kidney disease in particular. Cancers – lung cancer and cancer of the cervix – are much more likely to strike Aboriginal women. Women are more likely to die from cancer, and cervical cancer in particular has a death rate more than four times higher. Indigenous women are less likely to participate in screening programs that can prevent cervical cancer.

So many of these problems are completely preventable, and arise from what we call ‘social determinants of health.’ Social conditions and economic opportunity influence health at all levels, from the individual up to the entire community. Education, income and employment, adequate housing, access to health and other services, social supports – all of these play a role in shaping health.

Many Australian doctors struggle to understand how Indigenous people view medical treatment. For many Aboriginal people, health is viewed as the social, emotional, and cultural wellbeing of the whole community. It is subsumed into a connection to the land, the community, social relationships, and the environment.

Trust is a major factor influencing the way Indigenous people access, and interact with, the health system. Many will have had bad experiences with our hospitals and health-care workers, however well-meaning many doctors and nurses are. It is common to have Aboriginal people discharge themselves from hospital against the advice of their carers.

Pregnancy is a time when it is possible to turn this around. It is a time when it should be possible to build good, trusting relationships with women and their families. By making the effort to tailor maternity care to the needs of Indigenous women, it should be possible to engage in a positive way. To promote health screening, and help build enduring relationships with carers.

Pregnancy is a time when it is possible to turn this around. It is a time when it should be possible to build good, trusting relationships with women and their families.

Recently, the Presidents of a number of medical Colleges met with the Indigenous Health Minister, the Honourable Ken Wyatt. Over the course of the morning, it became clear that there is a new determination to put things right. To identify and work hard to remove the roadblocks to health for Indigenous Australians.

As the saying goes, every great journey begins with a single step. Making sure that Indigenous women prepare for pregnancy, have healthy pregnancies and births, and that their children are healthy, are all key to long-term improvements in community health. I am hoping that we can all take these steps together.

Learn more about Indigenous women’s health at:

http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/population-groups/women/reviews/our-review#infant-mortality

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #flutracker : ‎@Flutrack You can help protect our mob from the #flu

 

” How much flu we see each year depends on which types of the flu virus are circulating and how susceptible the population is. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher risk of getting the flu than non-Indigenous Australians.

This may be due to the high proportion of Indigenous Australians with chronic illness, or those living in remote communities may not have seen previous types of the flu that may have offered some protection.

Free vaccine is available for Indigenous Australians who are less than five years of age or over 15 years of age.

In 2016, only 300 Indigenous Australians participated in Flutracking. This meant that it was not possible to see how much flu there was and how well the flu vaccine was working in protecting Indigenous Australians.

From Flu Tracking Via Indigenous X

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert : Flu vaccines and other immunisation programs : What you need to know

What the Video Here

Influenza, or the “flu” is a big problem around the world. In Australia, most disease occurs during late winter, but in the tropics, it can occur at any time.

The flu is spread from person to person through the air when a sick person coughs or sneezes and it can cause symptoms such as fever, coughing, soreness in the body or sometimes very serious disease that can lead to death. You are more likely to have serious disease if you are less than five-years of age, elderly or have a chronic illness such as diabetes, renal failure, heart or lung disease or if you are pregnant or smoke.

Aboriginal girls playing on a swing

FluTracking needs your help to protect our mob from the flu.

 

The best way to protect yourself from the flu is by vaccination. Free vaccine is available for Indigenous Australians who are less than five years of age or over 15 years of age.

It is also recommended but not yet funded for Indigenous Australians aged 5 to 15 years of age. You need to be vaccinated every year to be protected as the types of the flu virus that is included in the vaccine changes each year and protection provided by the vaccine does not last a long time.

One way to check how much flu there is in the community and to see how well the vaccine is working is to conduct surveillance of flu symptoms. Flutracking is a community based surveillance system, based out of Newcastle.

It asks people to participate by signing up, and responding to a weekly email by answering two simple questions; whether or not they had symptoms of the flu in the previous week, and whether they had received the flu vaccine. If participants have had flu symptoms, then a few additional questions will follow about whether they have seen their doctor and if they were tested for the flu.

Currently, over 30,000 Australians participate in Flutracking, making it the biggest community surveillance system in the world. However, not all communities within Australia are well represented, which makes it difficult to assess how much flu there is in certain populations and how well the flu vaccine is protecting people.

In 2016, only 300 Indigenous Australians participated in Flutracking. This meant that it was not possible to see how much flu there was and how well the flu vaccine was working in protecting Indigenous Australians.

If more Indigenous Australians join, we will be able to understand how serious the flu is each year and how quickly it will spread.

We will need many Indigenous Australians to join in order to know how well the flu vaccine is working.

We invite all Australians and particularly Indigenous Australians to join Flutracking.

Why should I join and what’s in it for me? You can contribute to one of the largest community-based surveillance systems in the world, and you can help protect our mob from the flu and contribute to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal communities.

Some Flutracking participants enjoy being part of the community of Flutrackers and being involved only takes 10 seconds each week.

With links available to a map of flu activity, you can see how much flu there is in your area, and have the option to hear messages about protecting yourself and your family and community against the flu

. You can change your mind and stop participating at any time. For more information about how we use data, please click here.

This article was sponsored by HNE Health

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #WorldImmunisationWeek : @healthgovau Vaccination for our Mob

 ” Health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians continue to be a priority for Australian governments.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are significantly more affected by: low birth weight, chronic diseases and trauma resulting in early deaths and poor social and emotional health.

Historically, immunisation has been and remains, a simple, timely, effective and affordable way to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples health, delivering positive outcomes for Australians of all ages.

Reports that focus on vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) and vaccination coverage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are published regularly by the National Centre for Immunisation Research (NCIRS).

They are modelled on the national surveillance reports and provide a comparison of VPDs and vaccination coverage between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. The latest (third) report, which covered the period 2006–2010, was published as a supplement issue of Communicable Diseases Intelligence in December 2013.

These reports have also been modified for use by Aboriginal Health Workers and other staff without clinical experience working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health “

From the Department of Health Website : This week is #WorldImmunisationWeek. Check here on Twitter @healthgovau each morning next week for 5 facts on vaccines

Pictured above the Chair of NACCHO Matthew Cooke having his annual flu shot

Download vaccination-for-our-mob-2006-2010

A number of immunisation programs are available for people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent. These programs provide protection against some of the most harmful infectious diseases that cause severe illness and deaths in our communities.

Immunisations are provided for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the following age groups:

  • Children aged 0-five
  • Children aged 10-15
  • People aged 15+
  • People aged 50+

Free vaccinations under the National Immunisation Program can be accessed through community controlled Aboriginal Medical Services:

Find locations of most of our 302 ACCHO clinics on our Free NACCHO APP

local health services or general practitioners.

Children aged 0-five

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-five should receive the routine vaccines given to other children. You can see a list of these vaccines in the Children 0-five page.

In addition, children aged 0-five of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent can receive the following additional vaccines funded under the National Immunisation Program:

Pneumococcal disease

An additional booster dose of pneumococcal vaccine is required between the ages of 12 and 18 months. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia continue to be at risk of pneumococcal disease for a longer period than other children.

This program does not apply to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania or the Australian Capital Territory, where the rate of pneumococcal disease is similar to that of non-Indigenous children.

Hepatitis A

This vaccination is given because hepatitis A is more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia than it is among other children. Two doses of vaccine are given six months apart starting over the age of 12 months.

The age at which hepatitis A and pneumococcal vaccines are given varies among the four states and territories.

Influenza (flu)

From 2015, the flu vaccine will be provided free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged six months to five years is available under the National Immunisation Program. The flu shot will protect your children against the latest seasonal flu virus.

Some children over the age of five years with other medical conditions should also have the flu shot to reduce their risk of developing severe influenza.

Children aged 10 – 15

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 10-15 should receive the following routine vaccines given to other children aged 10-15:

  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (whooping cough) (dTpa)

People aged 15+

Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal vaccines are free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from 50 years of age, as well as those aged 15 to 49 years who are at high risk of invasive pneumococcal disease.

Influenza (Flu)

Due to disease burden influenza vaccines are free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months to five years old and 15 years old or over. The flu shot will protect you against the latest seasonal flu virus.

More information:

Vaccination for the mob Data analysis

Source reference

NCIRS have been leaders in the use of surveillance data to evaluate and track trends in morbidity due to vaccine preventable diseases in Aboriginal people.

Since 2004, NCIRS has produced regular reports on vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) and vaccination coverage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These reports bring together relevant routinely collected data on notifications, hospitalisations and deaths, and childhood and adult vaccination coverage.

Production of these reports has required the development and/or application of new methods to determine the quality and completeness of Aboriginal data. Establishing minimum criteria of data quality has led to the availability of improved data from more Australian states and territories. This has allowed wider use of data and subsequent publication through these reports. While the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has developed methods for assessing data quality for hospitalisations in Aboriginal people, NCIRS is the only organisation to systematically apply similar standards to VPD hospitalisations and vaccination coverage.

Reports are modelled on the national surveillance reports (also produced by NCIRS) and provide a comparison of VPDs and vaccination coverage in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians and a focus on the quality of Aboriginal health data. The latest (third) report, which covered the period 2006–2010, was published as a supplement issue of Communicable Diseases Intelligence in December 2013.

The reports have also been modified for use by Aboriginal health workers and other staff without clinical experience working in Aboriginal health (published as Vaccination for our Mob).

NACCHO Aboriginal Youth and Mental Health : Download Report from @MissionAust and @blackdoginst

 ” It is critical that responses to support a young person’s mental health be culturally sensitive and gender sensitive and that they address the structural issues that contribute to higher levels of psychological distress for young females and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

For example, we know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be adversely affected by racism, disconnection from culture, and the long history of dispossession. All of these factors contribute to poor mental health, substance misuse and higher suicide rates.

As a matter of priority, suicide prevention programs that are tailored to the needs of the whole community and focussed on prevention should be available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. All programs should be offered in close proximity to community and should be age appropriate as well as culturally sensitive.”

Download a copy of the Five-Year Youth Mental Health Report

 youth-mental-health-report

NACCHO Background References (1-4)

Ref 1:  Read / research the 250 NACCHO Articles

about Aboriginal Mental Health published in past 5 years

about suicide prevention in the past 5 years

Ref 2 :Download the Draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan at the link below:

 “The release of the Draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan is another important opportunity to support reform, and it’s now up to the mental health sector including consumers and carers, to help develop a plan that will benefit all.”

A successful plan should help overcome the lack of coordination and the fragmentation between layers of government that have held back our efforts to date.”

NACCHO and Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan have welcomed the release of the Draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan and is encouraging all ACCHO stakeholders to engage with the plan during the upcoming consultation period.

Download the Draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan at the link below:

PDF Copy fifth-national-mental-health-plan

You can download a copy of the draft plan;or see extracts below

Fifth National Mental Health Plan – PDF 646 KB
Fifth National Mental Health Plan – Word 537 KB

Ref 3: NACCHO Chairperson, Matthew Cooke see previous press Release

“Clearly Australia’s mental health system is failing Aboriginal people, with Aboriginal communities devastated by high rates of suicide and poorer mental health outcomes. 

Poor mental health in Aboriginal communities often stems from historic dispossession, racism and a poor sense of connection to self and community. It is compounded by people’s lack of access to meaningful and ongoing education and employment. Drug and alcohol related conditions are also commonly identified in persons with poor mental health.

While there was no quick fix for the crisis, an integrated strategy led by Aboriginal community controlled health services is a good starting point.

The National Mental Health Commission Review recommended the establishment of mental health and social and emotional wellbeing teams in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, linked to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist mental health services.

None of these can be fixed overnight but we can’t ignore the problems. We are on the brink of losing another generation of Aboriginal people to suicide, poor health and substance abuse.”

What we do know is the solution must be driven by Aboriginal leaders and communities – a model that is reaping great rewards in the Aboriginal Community Controlled health sector.

It must be a community based approach, backed up by governments of all levels.”

NACCHO Chairperson, Matthew Cooke

Ref 4 : Extra info provided by Tom Calma

Prof Pat Dudgeon and Tom Calma chair the ATSI Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group to the Commonwealth and Pat Chairs NATSIMHL, the group who created the Gayaa Dhuwi.

Bottom line is that the community should feel confident that all the major initiatives in mental health and suicide prevention are being lead by our people and more can be found at http://natsilmh.org.au

and http://www.psychology.org.au/reconciliation/whats_new/

and http://www.atsispep.sis.uwa.edu.au

Action urgently needed to stem rising youth mental illness

Last week Mission Australia released its joint Five-Year Youth Mental Health Report with Black Dog Institute, sharing the insights gathered about the mental health of Australia’s young people during the years 2012 to 2016.

Learning what young people think is so important to the work we do at Mission Australia. By checking in with them we discover their thoughts about their lives and their futures, and what concerns them most.

The Five Year Mental Health Youth Report presents the findings of the past five years on the rates of psychological distress experienced by young Australians, aged 15-19.

  • Almost one in four young people met the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness – a significant increase over the past five years (rising from 18.7% in 2012 to 22.8% in 2016).
  • Across the five years, females were twice as likely as males to meet the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness. The increase has been much more marked among females (from 22.5% in 2012 to 28.6% in 2016, compared to a rise from 12.7% to 14.1% for males).
  • Young people with a probable serious mental illness reported they would go to friends, parents and the internet as their top three sources of help. This is compared to friends, parents and relatives/family friends for those without a probable serious mental illness.
  • In 2016, over three in ten (31.6%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents met the criteria for probable serious mental illness, compared to 22.2% for non-Indigenous youth.

In light of these findings, Catherine Yeomans, Mission Australia’s CEO said: “Adolescence comes with its own set of challenges for young people. But we are talking about an alarming number of young people facing serious mental illness; often in silence and without accessing the help they need.

The effects of mental illness at such a young age can be debilitating and incredibly harmful to an individual’s quality of life, academic achievement, and social participation both in the short term and long term.

Ms Yeomans said she was concerned that the mental health of the younger generation may continue to deteriorate without extra support and resources, including investment in more universal, evidence-based mental health programs in schools and greater community acceptance.

Given these concerning findings, I urge governments to consider how they can make a major investment in supporting youth mental health to reduce these alarming figures, Ms Yeomans said.

“We need to ensure young people have the resources they need to manage mental health difficulties, whether it is for themselves or for their peers. Parents, schools and community all play a vital role and we must fully equip them with the knowledge and skills to provide effective support to young people.”

The top issues of concern for those with a probable serious mental illness were: coping with stress; school and study problems; and depression. There was also a notably high level of concern about other issues including family conflict, suicide and bullying/emotional abuse.

The report’s finding that young people with mental illness are turning to the internet as a source of help with important issues also points to prevailing stigma, according to Black Dog Institute Director, Professor Helen Christensen.

“This report shows that young people who need help are seeking it reluctantly, with a fear of being judged continuing to inhibit help-seeking,” said Professor Christensen.

“Yet evidence-based prevention and early intervention programs are vital in reducing the risk of an adolescent developing a serious and debilitating mental illness in their lifetime. We need to take urgent action to turn this rising tide of mental illness.

“We know that young people are turning to the internet for answers and our research at Black Dog Institute clearly indicates that self-guided, online psychological therapy can be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

“While technology can be a lifeline, e-mental health interventions must be evidence-based and tailored to support young people’s individual needs. More investment is needed to drive a proactive and united approach to delivering new mental health programs which resonate with young people, and to better integrate these initiatives across schools and the health system to help young people on a path to a mentally healthier future.”

Armed with this information we are able to advocate on their behalf for the support services they need, and for the broader policy changes.

Download the NACCHO Mental Health Help APP to find your nearest ACCHO

 The Five-Year Youth Mental Health Report shows some alarming results with almost one in four young people meeting the criteria for a probable serious mental illness (PSMI). That figure has gone up from 18.7 per cent in 2012 to 22.8 per cent in 2016.

Girls were twice as likely as boys to meet the criteria for having a PSMI, and this figure rose from 22.5% in 2012 to 28.6% in 2016, compared to a rise from 12.7% to 14.1% for boys.

An even higher number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents met the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness (PSMI ) at 31%.

These results make it clear that mental illness is one of the most pressing issues in our communities, especially for young people, and one that has to be tackled by the governments, health services, schools and families.

Three quarters of all lifetime mental health disorders emerge by the age of 24, but access to mental health services for this age group is among the poorest, with the biggest barriers being community awareness, access and acceptability of services.

What we need is greater investment in mental health services that are tailored to the concerns and help seeking strategies of young people and are part of a holistic wrap around approach to their diverse needs.

For young women, we know that a large proportion (64%) were extremely or very concerned about body image compared to a far smaller number of males (34.8%).

Such a finding suggests that social pressures such as discrimination based on ideals of appearance may need to be addressed to tackle this gender disparity in the levels of probable serious mental illness among girls.

And although girls are more likely to be affected negatively by body image issues, they are more likely to seek help when they need it than boys.

Clearly then, and for a variety of reasons, an awareness of gendered differences is a crucial component in the management of mental health issues.

We need to ensure that all young people, whether they live in urban areas or regional, have the resources they need to manage mental health difficulties, whether it is for themselves or for their peers. Parents, schools and community all play a vital role and we must fully equip them with the evidence-based knowledge and skills to provide effective support to young people.

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : NT Government invests in safer and healthier families / communities: cuts grog to problem drinkers

Budget 2017 is delivering on the Territory Labor Government’s election commitments, investing $33 million in our communities and tackling the causes of domestic, family and sexual violence to ensure that Territorians feel safe

“The Northern Territory has the highest rates of domestic and family violence in Australia, and that comes at an enormous social and economic cost.

Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield (see article 1 below )

 ” The BDR supported police in stopping alcohol related crime and antisocial behaviour and its return will make a difference. Police previously described it as one of the best tools for combating antisocial behaviour.

“We know that 60% of domestic violence incidents are alcohol related – this is simply unacceptable and cutting grog to problem drinkers will help address this blight.”

Chief Minister Michael Gunner today said returning the Banned Drinker Register (BDR) on September 1 is the number one thing the Territory Labor Government can do to tackle antisocial behaviour and crime – including the devastating rates of domestic violence.         (see article 2 below )

 ” The Territory Labor Government says the new Banned Drinkers Register will help ease pressures on frontline health workers by reducing the supply of alcohol to those who cause so much harm.

We’ve listened to concerns from medical professionals and community that critical resources are being diverted to deal with alcohol related harm and violence.

While every Territorian is entitled to have a drink and enjoy that responsibly, we know too many people are drinking at dangerous levels, harming themselves, their families and their communities.”

The Minister for Health Natasha Fyles ( See Article 3 below )

Article 1

More than $33 million will be invested in frontline services, infrastructure and strategies to support the prevention of domestic and family violence that will help keep Territorians safe.

Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield said Budget 2017 acknowledges the cost and serious impact that domestic and family violence has on our society, and today’s announcement will improve services and facilities for Territorians.

“Budget 2017 is delivering on the Territory Labor Government’s election commitments, investing in our communities and tackling the causes of domestic, family and sexual violence to ensure that Territorians feel safe,” Ms Wakefield said.

“The Northern Territory has the highest rates of domestic and family violence in Australia, and that comes at an enormous social and economic cost.

“This budget will address both infrastructure and policy issues to ensure we have the necessary foundations to firstly reduce the rates of domestic and family violence, but also to provide victims essential support.”

This includes:

  • $6.2 million to continue current domestic violence services in the Territory, left unfunded by the CLP government
  • $3 million to refurbish Alice Springs Domestic Violence Court to improve the safety, experience and outcomes for people affected by domestic and family violence
  • $6 million for the replacement of the Alice Springs Women’s Shelter, so that women can establish independence and recover from trauma
  • $1 million to establish a remote women’s safe house in Galiwinku.

The Territory Labor Government is restoring trust in Government, creating jobs, investing in children and building safer, fairer and stronger communities – right across the Territory.

The Minister also reaffirmed additional investments being made right now into domestic and family violence programs that allow for community led solutions, including:

  • $700,000 over two years to expand the “NO MORE” violence prevention campaign
  • $350,000 to Charles Darwin University and Menzies School of Research to review key domestic and family violence reduction programs in the NT, particularly their impact and effectiveness in remote communities
  • $150,000 to NTCOSS to build the capacity of the domestic and family violence sector
  • $80,000 to improving services provided by the Gove Crisis Accommodation service
  • $30,000 to NPY Women’s Council towards a sexual violence research project.

Minister Wakefield said Budget 2017 is investing in the Territory’s future through jobs, children and community.

“We are going through a challenging economic period – everyone knows this and we have been very upfront about it,” Ms Wakefield said.

“This budget will create and support jobs, deliver on our election commitments and be a fair plan for our future

Article 2 : A BETTER BDR TACKLING SECONDARY SUPPLY AND CUTTING RED TAPE

Chief Minister Michael Gunner today said returning the Banned Drinker Register (BDR) on September 1 is the number one thing the Territory Labor Government can do to tackle antisocial behaviour and crime – including the devastating rates of domestic violence.

Mr Gunner today announced that the new BDR would address weaknesses in the old version by better addressing the problem of secondary supply and cutting red tape.

“We have listened to Police, the community and local businesses and taken action – we will introduce tougher punishment for secondary suppliers to banned drinkers,” Mr Gunner said.

“It will now be a criminal offence to intentionally supply alcohol to a person known to be on the BDR. Once charged with this offence police have the power to place the secondary supplier on the BDR. The offence can also carry significant fines.

“Another improvement cutting red tape is that once given a Banned Drinker Order, a person will go straight onto the BDR and will not require a tribunal hearing or appearance.

“Importantly, Banned Drinker Orders issued by Police will be automatically processed through the Integrated Justice Information System to immediately place problem drinkers on the BDR. This will happen within 48 hours which will help both Police and victims in urgent domestic and family violence situations.”

Mr Gunner said the Territory Labor Government introduced the BDR in July 2011 and the chaotic CLP Government scrapped it in 2012 for political reasons.

“Territorians hated that the chaotic CLP Government scrapped the BDR and they want it returned because it worked – we have listened and taken action,” he said.

“The BDR supported police in stopping alcohol related crime and antisocial behaviour and its return will make a difference. Police previously described it as one of the best tools for combating antisocial behaviour.

“We know that 60% of domestic violence incidents are alcohol related – this is simply unacceptable and cutting grog to problem drinkers will help address this blight.”

Mr Gunner said alcohol related crime and antisocial behaviour in our city centres is an issue facing many businesses and is hindering efforts to revitalise these areas.

“We want to make our city centres a vibrant place and the BDR will combat antisocial behaviour, in turn encouraging tourists and locals back into these areas,” he said.

“Undoing the CLP’s failed replacement scheme and bringing back the BDR is a significant piece of work and new legislation will be introduced into Parliament in May we are working as fast as we can because we know this will make a difference.”

Mr Gunner said Government is taking action on the causes of crime because every Territorian has the right for them and their homes and business to be safe.

He said measures including the recent $18.2 million overhaul of the broken youth justice system (which includes 52 Youth Diversion Workers, more funding for boot camps, supporting the enforcement of bail conditions and victims conferencing), greater powers for police (including electronic monitoring bracelets), more police officers and better training for staff in youth justice facilities showed his Government was taking crime very seriously.

Article 3 FRONTLINE HEALTH WORKERS TO BENEFIT FROM BDR (NT)

The Territory Labor Government says the new Banned Drinkers Register will help ease pressures on frontline health workers by reducing the supply of alcohol to those who cause so much harm.

The Minister for Health Natasha Fyles said Territorians have the right to access the high quality services our hospitals offer.

“We’ve listened to concerns from medical professionals and community that critical resources are being diverted to deal with alcohol related harm and violence,” Ms Fyles said.

“We’re empowering Territorians by creating more pathways to the BDR.

“The new BDR unveiled this week will have new provisions allowing medical officers, families and carers to refer problem drinkers to the BDR and to the rehabilitation they need.

“While every Territorian is entitled to have a drink and enjoy that responsibly, we know too many people are drinking at dangerous levels, harming themselves, their families and their communities.

“Our paramedics and hospital staff are dealing with the highest rates of alcohol related harm and injury at rates not seen in any other jurisdiction across the country

“The Territory continues to have the highest rates of alcohol related injury and disease in the nation – the number of deaths related to alcohol in the NT is three times the national average.

“Alcohol related harm costs the Territory more than $642 million a year and that is continuing to grow.

“The BDR was scrapped by the chaotic former CLP government in 2012 – delivering a sharp spike in alcohol related harm over the two most violent years on record.

“Department records show alcohol related Emergency Department presentations peaked at over 3000 across the Territory in 2013.

“We made an election promise to Territorians that we would bring back the BDR and we are delivering on that promise

“Seventy per cent of alcohol sold in the Territory is takeaway, so we know cutting supply to problem drinkers is a key way to curb alcohol fuelled violence and crime.

From September 1 the BDR will be reinstated, with Territorians and tourists having to show ID to purchase takeaway alcohol.

Those identified as being on the BDR won’t be able to buy takeaway alcohol.

More than a thousand people will be automatically included on the BDR from day one.

That figure is expected to grow to around 2500 by Christmas.

The legislation will be introduced to parliament next month.

 

 

Aboriginal Health #WCPH2017 #WorldActivityDay : Snapshot report physical activity programs for Aboriginal people in Australia

 

” This is important as sharing information about program practice is an important part of effective health promotion and can serve to guide future initiatives.

The Ottawa Charter outlines a settings based approach to effective health promotion. We found most programs were delivered in community, followed by school, settings. Both have proven efficacy in achieving health outcomes.

They are likely be particularly effective settings for reaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people given the importance of holistic health promotion and whole-of-community approaches

Capturing current practice can inform future efforts to increase the impact of physical activity programs to improve health and social indicators.

Targeted, culturally relevant programs are essential to reduce levels of disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Rona Macniven, Michelle Elwell, Kathy Ride, Adrian Bauman and Justin Richards Prevention Research Collaboration, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, & Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet

Picture above : Redfern All Blacks recently won the Women’s Division Ella Sevens Rugby Union tournament in Coffs Harbour beating the Highlanders 36-7

Download

 A snapshot of physical activity programs targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia

 

Picture above :The Knight Riders beat the Shindogs 28-21 in the Men’s Final Ella Sevens Rugby Union tournament in Coffs Harbour

Issue addressed

Participation in physical activity programs can be an effective strategy to reduce chronic disease risk factors and improve broader social outcomes. Health and social outcomes are worse among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders than non-Indigenous Australians, who represent an important group for culturally specific programs.

The extent of current practice in physical activity programs is largely unknown. This study identifies such programs targeting this population group and describes their characteristics.

Aboriginal Health

Almost a third of programs aimed to promote physical activity to achieve broader social benefits such as educational and employment outcomes and reduced rates of crime. Health and sport programs are worthy crime prevention approaches.

There are also recognised relationships between physical activity and fitness level and academic achievement as well as social and mental health benefits specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

However, a cautious approach to alluding to wider social benefits directly arising from individual programs should be taken in the absence of empirical evidence, as well as the direct effects of standalone programs on health.

Yet the documentation of existing program evaluation measures in this snapshot represents a vital first step in reviewing programs collectively and some have demonstrated encouraging evidence of positive educational and employment outcomes.

There is also some evidence of social benefits, such as community cohesion and cultural identity; derived from sport programs in this snapshot, which are important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Such programs might therefore contribute to corresponding ‘Closing the Gap’ policy indicators and should be resourced accordingly.

Methods

Bibliographic and Internet searches and snowball sampling identified eligible programs operating between 2012 and 2015 in Australia (phase 1). Program coordinators were contacted to verify sourced information (phase 2). Descriptive characteristics were documented for each program.

Results

A total of 110 programs were identified across urban, rural and remote locations within all states and territories. Only 11 programs were located through bibliographic sources; the remainder through Internet searches.

The programs aimed to influence physical activity for health or broader social outcomes. Sixty five took place in community settings and most involved multiple sectors such as sport, health and education.

Almost all were free for participants and involved Indigenous stakeholders. The majority received Government funding and had commenced within the last decade. More than 20 programs reached over 1000 people each; 14 reached 0–100 participants. Most included process or impact evaluation indicators, typically reflecting their aims.

Conclusion

This snapshot provides a comprehensive description of current physical activity program provision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. The majority of programs were only identified through the grey literature. Many programs collect evaluation data, yet this is underrepresented in academic literature.

 The Famous AFL “Fitzroy All Stars from Melbourne

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #NTRC Children : Download Interim Report from the Royal Commission Protection and Detention of Children

” It is a stark fact that the Northern Territory has the highest rate of children and young people in detention in this country and the highest rate of engagement with child protection services, by a considerable margin

Again, as noted by the Commission, we have had over 50 reports and inquiries into issues covered by the Inquiry, dating at least back to the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody and the Bringing Them Home inquiry. We absolutely support the Commission’s position that:

There is community concern that this Commission’s recommendations and report will, like those before it, be shelved without leading to action and change.

This must not happen.”

John Paterson CEO AMSANT and spokesperson for APO

Along with reforms to youth justice and our early childhood reforms, this Government has begun building more remote houses because we know a good home leads to a good education, good health and good community outcomes,

“We are also tackling the causes of crime and social dysfunction through a plan to combat alcohol abuse – bringing back the BDR – and investing in appropriate rehabilitation strategies

Chief Minister Michael Gunner welcomes the release of the Royal Commission’s interim report which highlights work already happening to address the cycle of crime through the Territory Labor Government’s youth justice system overhaul.

Mr Gunner said the root cause of many of the challenges highlighted in the Royal Commission’s Interim Report was disadvantage. See Full Press release below

Download or Read  NT Govt response NTRC Interim report

 ” The Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion needs to show leadership, and step away from his statement in the Senate this week that justice targets are only the state and territories’ responsibility.

It is now beyond argument. The Royal Commission interim report, the Productivity Commission report, and the work of Change the Record Coalition, all point to the need for national leadership and commitment.

The right of children and young people to receive justice and fair treatment is a national responsibility.

Minister Scullion and the Turnbull Government need to act and the Labor Opposition stands ready to work with them on this critical task.”

SENATOR PATRICK DODSON

Download or Read Labour Response NTRC Interin Report

Download or read the interim report

The RCNT-Interim-report

APONT welcomes the Interim Report from the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

The Interim Report, which has gathered evidence from a wide range of witnesses, clearly demonstrates our people face a system which, in the words of the Commission “reveals a youth detention system that is likely to leave many children and young people more damaged than when they entered.”

Critics of the Royal Commission have claimed that “we already know this” and that it has been a waste of time and money. This is not the case. The Commission has demonstrated a system which is broken, and in urgent need of radical reform. As the Commission has pointed out:

A total of 94 per cent of children and young people in detention and 89 per cent of children and young people in out-of-home care in the Northern Territory are Aboriginal. The extent of this over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people, compared with all other children and young people, including Torres Strait Islanders, compels specific consideration of their position.

While the Interim Report does not make specific recommendations, it is clear that it will seek a balance between those who are concerned about community safety and reform that will lead to better outcomes for our young people in avoiding the effects of intergenerational trauma and involvement with the legal system.

We welcome this approach. We need a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and restorative justice that will lead to safer communities for all of us.

Michael Gunner

Chief Minister of the Northern Territory

Interim Report Backs Territory Government Action

31 March 2017

Chief Minister Michael Gunner welcomes the release of the Royal Commission’s interim report which highlights work already happening to address the cycle of crime through the Territory Labor Government’s youth justice system overhaul.

Mr Gunner said the Interim Report did not put forward recommendations or findings, but identified themes directly relating to work already underway.

“My Government took immediate action upon coming to Government to overhaul the broken youth justice system and implement our child protection agenda,” Mr Gunner said.

“Our $18.2 million reform – the most comprehensive in our history directlyaligns with many of the challenges the Royal Commission has identified in its interim report.

“I have discussed the Report with the Prime Minister, and reiterated with him the challenges and issues identified in the interim report require an aligned effort between the Commonwealth and the NT Government.”

Changes already implemented by the Territory Labor Government include:

  • Passing legislation to ban spithoods and restraint chairs;
  • Funding 52 new youth diversion workers;
  • Providing $6 million to NGO’s to run diversion programs and boot camps;
  • Recruitment and training 25 new Youth Justice Officers in Darwin and Alice Springs.

“This is not a short term fix. We are rebuilding trust in Government by making a long term commitment that goes beyond election cycles, focussing on breaking the cycle of crime through early intervention and tough but fair rehabilitation and diversion programs,” Mr Gunner said.

Mr Gunner said the root cause of many of the challenges highlighted in the Royal Commission’s Interim Report was disadvantage.

He said the NT Government is addressing the cycle of disadvantage through its record $1.1 billion investment to build and improve remote houses right across the Territory.

Mr Gunner said he looked forward to receiving the final report in August.

NT youth detention system a failure, says royal commission

Commissioners Margaret White and Mick Gooda use interim report to criticise operation that focuses on punishment over rehabilitation

Juvenile detention is failing, the royal commission into the protection and detention of children in the Northern Territory has said in its interim report.

As reported in the Guardian

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Released on Friday afternoon, the report contained no specific findings or recommendations, claiming it was “too early” while hearings were ongoing, despite the significance of evidence so far.

“The commission is yet to hear evidence on many issues, including evidence from senior management and political leaders in charge of youth detention who provide a perspective that is necessary to inform the work of the commission,” it said.

However it said it could make some observations, including that the youth detention system “is likely to leave many children and young people more damaged than when they entered”.

“We have heard that the detention facilities are not fit for accommodating children and young people, and not fit for the purpose of rehabilitation. They are also unsuitable workplaces for youth justice officers and other staff,” it said.

They are harsh, bleak, and not in keeping with modern standards. They are punitive, not rehabilitative.”

The report said evidence so far pointed overwhelmingly to community safety and child wellbeing being best achieved by a “comprehensive, multifaceted approach” based on crime prevention, early intervention, diversionary measures, and community engagement.”

Children and young people who have committed serious crimes must accept responsibility for the harm done. However while in detention they must be given every chance to get their lives on track and not leave more likely to reoffend.

For the past eight months the inquiry into the protection and detention of children in the Northern Territory has been investigating the policies, conditions, and actions which contributed to a juvenile justice crisis.

“At every level we have seen that a detention system which focuses on punitive – not rehabilitative – measures fails our young people,” said Margaret White, one of the commissioners, on Friday ahead of the report’s release. “It fails those who work in those systems and it fails the people of the Northern Territory who are entitled to live in safer communities.

 “For a system to work children and young people in detention must be given every opportunity to get their lives on track and to re-enter the community less likely to reoffend.”

White said there was no quick fix and a considered approach was necessary if the commission was to effect long-term, sustainable change

Mick Gooda, the other commissioner said they had made no specific recommendations in the interim report because key witnesses – including the former minister John Elferink and former corrections commissioner Ken Middlebrook – were yet to be questioned. The commission had also focused mainly on issues in detention so far, and was yet to properly delve in the care and protection side of their terms of reference.

“We have cast the net far and wide to look at what is working and what could work in the circumstances of the Northern Territory,” he said, adding there was a particular focus on the overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in the system.

 “In the coming months we’ll shift our focus on to the care and protection system. This is a critical part of our work and evidence before the commission shows that children and young people in out-of-home care are more likely to enter the detention system. Those systems are inextricably linked.”

The commission was initially slated to be finished by now, but in December it was granted a four-month extension.

Over a series of public hearings and site visits it has covered a broad range of issues, including the more than 50 previous investigations and reviews relating to the system, the impact of health and race issues on detention rates, the disintegrating relationships between corrections and justice agencies, and, of course, the conditions inside detention centres.

Inadequate staff training and insufficient resources were a common theme in witness testimony.

Dozens of additional allegations by detainees were also aired in closed sessions and open court, including alleged and substantiated acts of violence and intimidation, and mistreatment.

The commission faced criticism by government lawyers and commentators over its policy to accept the statements of detainees but not allow cross-examination because they were vulnerable witnesses. Instead numerous responsive statements were provided by the accused, denying and in some cases refuting the claims. Some statements by former guards were similarly discredited under cross-examination.

The Human Rights Law Centre said the royal commission’s interim report would have lessons applicable for all Australian jurisdictions. “These types of problems are not limited to the NT,” said Shahleena Musk, a senior lawyer at the centre. “Right across Australia, politicians are trying to score points by looking tough and ignoring the evidence on what actually works.”

Musk cited the Victorian government’s decision to move youths to a maximum security adult prison as an example. “We know that overly punitive and tougher responses are harmful and don’t work. They don’t help kids get back on track, which is ultimately in the interest of community safety.”