NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Youth News Alerts : Download @AIHW Youth Justice Report “ Indigenous young people aged 10–17 were 16 times as likely to be under supervision as non-Indigenous young people in 2018–19 “

The rate of Indigenous young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day fell from 176 to 172 per 10,000. The rate of non-Indigenous young people fell from 12 to 11 per 10,000.

Although only about 6% of young people aged 10–17 in Australia are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, half (2,448) of the young people under supervision on an average day in 2018–19 were Indigenous.’

Indigenous young people aged 10–17 were 16 times as likely to be under supervision as non-Indigenous young people in 2018–19.”

From AIHW Youth Justice report : Download here or see summary Part 2 below

Youth Justice aihw-

“After the Northern Territory Royal Commission and all the evidence that diversion is much more effective, it’s hard to believe Indigenous kids make up 50% of those under youth justice supervision, but just 5.9% of the population of Australian children

What this tells us is that the need to raise the age of criminal responsibility is more urgent than ever. Until this happens, there must be a moratorium on arrests for children under the age of fourteen.”

Key findings of the latest report include that on average, Indigenous young people entered youth justice supervision at a younger age than non-Indigenous young people; 15.5% of kids in detention on an average day were 14 or under and that 24.7% of kids in detention overall were 14 or under.

It’s particularly alarming that of those in detention, 63% were unsentenced.

Amnesty International Australia Strategic Campaigns Advisor, Joel Clark : Download press release

Indigenous Kids In Prison Amnesty

 

Part 1 AIHW Press Release

The rate of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under youth justice supervision has fallen over the past five years, a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has shown.

The report, Youth justice in Australia 2018–19, presents information on young people aged between 10 and 17 years under youth justice supervision both in the community and in detention.

On an average day in 2018–19, there were 5,694 (1 in 490) young people under youth justice supervision due to their involvement, or alleged involvement, in crime. Throughout the year, a total of 10,820 young people were under supervision.

‘Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the level of Indigenous over-representation in youth justice supervision stabilised,’ said AIHW spokesperson Ms. Anna Ritson.

The report also shows that, on an average day in 2018–19, young males were about 4 times as likely to be under youth justice supervision as young females. Young females under supervision were more likely to be younger than males, with the most common age being 16 for young females and 17 for young males.

‘Being under youth justice supervision doesn’t always mean a young person is in detention. Around four in five young people (4,767) received community-based supervision such as home detention, bail, parole and probation,’ Ms. Ritson said.

‘The remaining 1 in 5 (956) were in detention, most of whom were remanded in custody awaiting the outcome of their charges.’

Part 2 Summary

This report looks at young people who were under youth justice supervision in Australia during 2018–19 because of their involvement or alleged involvement in crime. It explores the key aspects of supervision, both in the community and in detention, as well as recent trends.

About 1 in 490 young people aged 10–17 were under supervision on an average day

A total of 5,694 young people aged 10 and over were under youth justice supervision on an average day in 2018–19 and 10,820 young people were supervised at some time during the year.

Among those aged 10–17, this equates to a rate of 20 per 10,000, or 1 in every 489 young people on an average day.

Most young people were supervised in the community

More than 4 in 5 (84% or 4,767) young people under supervision on an average day were supervised in the community, and almost 1 in 5 (17% or 956) were in detention (some were supervised in both community and detention on the same day).

The majority of young people in detention were unsentenced

About 3 in 5 (63%) young people in detention on an average day were unsentenced—that is, awaiting the outcome of their legal matter or sentencing.

Young people spent an average of 6 months under supervision

Individual periods of supervision that were completed during 2018–19 lasted for a median of 132 days or about 4 months (this includes time under supervision before 1 July 2018 if the period started before that date).

When all the time spent under supervision during 2018–19 is considered (including multiple periods and periods that were not yet completed), young people who were supervised during the year spent an average of 192 days (about 6 months) under supervision.

Supervision rates varied among the states and territories

Rates of youth justice supervision varied among the states and territories, reflecting, in part, the fact that each state and territory has its own legislation, policies, and practices.

In 2018–19, the rate of young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day ranged from 11 per 10,000 in Victoria to 61 per 10,000 in the Northern Territory.

Rates of supervision have fallen slightly over the past 5 years

Over the 5 years from 2014–15 to 2018–19, the number of young people aged 10 and over who were under supervision on an average day saw a small decrease of 1%, while the rate of young people aged 10–17 dropped from 22 to 20 per 10,000.

The rate fell for community-based supervision (from 19 to 17 per 10,000), and fluctuated at 3–4 per 10,000 for detention.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rates have fallen

Although only about 6% of young people aged 10–17 in Australia are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, half (50%) of those under supervision on an average day in 2018–19 were Indigenous.

Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the rate of Indigenous young people aged 10–17 under supervision on an average day fell from 176 to 172 per 10,000. The rate of non-Indigenous young people under supervision also fell over the period, from 12 to 11 per 10,000.

Rates of Indigenous (33–35 per 10,000) and non-Indigenous (1–2 per 10,000) young people in detention fluctuated over the same period.

Young people in remote areas were more likely to be under supervision

Although most young people under supervision had come from cities and regional areas, those from geographically remote areas had the highest rates of supervision.

On an average day in 2018–19, young people aged 10–17 who were from Remote areas were 6 times as likely to be under supervision as those from Major cities, while those from Very remote areas were   9 times as likely. This reflects the higher proportions of Indigenous Australians living in these areas.

Young people from lower socioeconomic areas were more likely to be under supervision

More than 1 in 3 young people (35%) under supervision on an average day in 2018–19 were from the lowest socioeconomic areas, compared with 6% from the highest socioeconomic areas.

More than 1 in 3 young people were new to supervision

More than one-third (35%) of young people under youth justice supervision in 2018–19 were new to supervision in that year. The rest (65%) had been supervised in a previous year.

Young Indigenous Australians (71%) were more likely than young non-Indigenous young people (62%) to have been under supervision in a previous year.

Young Indigenous Australians were younger when they entered supervision than their non-Indigenous counterparts

On average, Indigenous young people entered youth justice supervision at a younger age than non-Indigenous young people.

About 2 in 5 (38%) Indigenous young people under supervision in 2018–19 were first supervised when aged 10–13, compared with about 1 in 7 (15%) non-Indigenous young people.

A higher proportion of young people experience community-based supervision in their supervision history than detention

More than 9 in 10 (92%) young people who were supervised during 2018–19 had been under community-based supervision at some time during their supervision history (either during 2018–19 or in a previous year). More than 6 in 10 (65%) had spent time in detention. For Indigenous young people these proportions were 94% and 70% respectively

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Women and Children Health #MothersDay #IndigenousMums Aboriginal mothers are living with the fear their children could be taken. @HealingOurWay @DjirraVIC @JustinCCYP

“The fear these mothers, sisters, grandmothers and aunties have is justified and stems from lived experience and real situations.

There are real accounts of children being removed and often never being able to reconnect again. There is an acceptance this is not right. We need to see Aboriginal children reunified with their families.

As a white family you won’t have this feeling, as you parent, that a department could come and be involved in raising or even removing your children.

Institutional racism was part of the reason why so many Aboriginal children were still removed from their parents in Australia.

The view and past policies of Aboriginal people in Australia has been through the lens of white Australia, who see Aboriginal people as dysfunctional.

So the policies developed are saying we need to protect Aboriginal people from themselves.

Institutional racism has to be addressed to change a racist process of class and value … or lack of value.”

The Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, Justin Mohamed ( and former NACCHO Chair ) , said the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care was an Australia-wide situation.

Originally published HERE

Link to community healing 

Key points:

  • Indigenous children are 10 times more likely to be removed from their families than other children
  • Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People says institutional racism is part of the problem
  • A support service for Aboriginal families says women have a justified fear of the system

The Victorian Government announced a $10 million redress scheme for Stolen Generations survivors recently.

But many in the Australian Indigenous community say children are still being taken.

“I’d just given birth, my daughter was two hours old and we were in hospital when I received a call,” Gunditjmara and Yuin Nation mother Yaraan Bundle said.

“It’s extremely traumatic, at such a sacred time where you should be protected and nurtured, to experience the department coming and trying to remove your family.”

The department referred to is the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It acknowledges that Aboriginal children are over-represented in out-of-home care.

National research shows Indigenous children are 10 times more likely to be removed from their families than other Australian children, and they make up 36 per cent of children living away from their parents in Australia.

Ms Bundle’s daughter remains with her, but so does the fear, anger, and frustration.

“I feel an intense fire deep within me, like a lioness protecting her babies. I always thought hospitals were the safest place for us to give birth, but now I understand they are not.”

Many women, same concerns

Indigenous mother Carla (not her real name) is eight months pregnant.

“Absolutely they’ll try and take my baby from me,” she said.

Carla has had children removed from her care with her children separated in different out-of-home care situations.

“I’ve got my own housing, I’ve done parenting courses, I’ve done everything they’ve said, as well as try and cope without my children, which is a struggle every day,” she said.

“This has put a big hole in my life. You can never heal that pain, and this has been happening to our people for generations.”

A Facebook post by an anonymous source complaining about a baby being taken from hospital.(Facebook)

Aunty Hazel volunteers her time supporting mothers as part of the organisation she began in 2014, called Grandmothers Against Removal.

Aunty Hazel said she remembered hiding as a child when the department came to take children from the mission she lived on.

Fighting for her family’s reunification is what inspired her to help other mothers.

“When you reflect back on these conversations you’re having with women, you’ll realise the essence of what they’re saying is like you’re talking to one person, not many,” Aunty Hazel said.

“By the time the children can get back they don’t know where they came from. It can be an 18-year sentence.”

‘Institutional racism’ part of the problem: commissioner

The Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, Justin Mohamed, said the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care was an Australia-wide situation.

“Institutional racism has to be addressed to change a racist process of class and value … or lack of value.”

DHHS said, in a statement, self-determination for Aboriginal families was part of the solution.

“We’re working hard to address the unacceptable over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care and improving outcomes for Aboriginal children involved with child protection,” the statement said.

Antoinette Braybrook (far right) as a child with her brothers Shaun and Ryan in 1974.(Supplied: Antoinette Braybrook)

Connection to culture key to strengthening families

Antoinette Braybrook is the CEO of Djirra, a legal, cultural and support service for Aboriginal families.

She said she remembered DHHS coming to her door if she and her siblings missed any school, even though she had a happy and safe childhood.

“With my work with Djirra we see this happening all of the time with Aboriginal women, a justified fear of the system,” she said.

“It’s an approach that’s not about supporting. It’s about punishing.”

Waka Waka woman Naomi Murphy was taken from her parents when she was a child.

Ms Murphy’s mother is part of Australia’s Stolen Generations.

“My sister and I were taken two states away. My first suicide attempt was when I was 11 because I missed my parents like crazy,” she said.

“DHHS never stepped in because we were with white men. When I finally got home to my parents I was broken.”

Ms Murphy is now a mother herself, and said she has lived with threats her children could be taken.

“Healing started when I connected to my culture. It gives you purpose and identity,” she said.

“I had to learn how to be a mum because my mum was Stolen Generations and she didn’t know how to be a mum.”

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #CoronaVirus News Alert No 19 #KeepOurMobSafe : Intro @JuliaGillard 10 Help/ supports from @beyondblue Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak plus managing your mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine

1.Try to maintain perspective

2.Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage

3.Access good quality information

4.Try to maintain a practical and calm approach

5.Try not to make assumptions

6.Managing your mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine

7.Children and young people

8.Support for those experiencing financial hardship

9.Health care workers

10.Seek support

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 18 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

“These are uncertain times. There are many unknowns.

As humans, we’re hardwired to crave stability. If you’re feeling worried and unsettled that is perfectly understandable.

I felt that myself during my recent period of self-isolation in London. At an event for young people called WE Day, I spent quite a bit of time with Sophie Trudeau, the First Lady of Canada.

When she became unwell and tested positive for COVID-19, I was concerned about potentially becoming sick a long way from home.

What I found reassuring was that the public health advice that was so clear.  The recommendation to me was to self-isolate for 14 days from the time of contact.

Fortunately, I stayed fit and well in that period and all my London friends and colleagues, as well as visiting Aussie mates, made sure I had food and stayed connected with video conferences, calls and silly messages.

On my return to Australia I will self-isolate for another 14 days, and I know family and friends will help me through.

For me, this experience has reinforced how a significant part of the solution to this pandemic rests with us.

The daily decisions we make now are critical and every single one of us has a part to play.

Our individual acts can have a powerful collective impact, helping protect those most at risk in our community.

Simple things really matter – good hand hygiene, avoiding mass gatherings, keeping a 1.5 metre distance between ourselves and others, and staying home if we’re unwell or if we’ve been in contact with someone who is.

Beyond Blue recognises and understands the feelings of anxiety, distress and concern many people may be experiencing in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and offers the following wellbeing advice.”

Julia Gillard Chair BeyondBlue : Read full Press Release Here

1.Try to maintain perspective

While it is reasonable for people to be concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus, try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts around the world are working hard to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.

2.Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage

Being exposed to large volumes of negative information can heighten feelings of anxiety. While it’s important to stay informed, you may find it useful to limit your media intake if it is upsetting you or your family.

3.Access good quality information

It’s important to get accurate information from credible sources such as those listed below. This will also help you maintain perspective and feel more in control.

4.Try to maintain a practical and calm approach

Widespread panic can complicate efforts to manage the outbreak effectively. Do your best to stay calm and follow official advice, particularly around observing good hygiene habits.

The Australian Psychological Society has advice about maintaining positive mental health during the outbreak.

5.Try not to make assumptions

To contribute to a sense of community wellbeing, try to remember that the coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of their nationality or ethnicity and remember that those with the disease have not done anything wrong.

6.Managing your mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine

There are a number of ways to support your mental health during periods of self-isolation or quarantine.

  • Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus.
  • Remember that your effort is helping others in the community avoid contracting the virus.
  • Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone.
  • Connect with others via the Beyond Blue forums thread: Coping during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
  • Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods.
  • Try to maintain physical activity.
  • Establish routines as best possible and try to view this period as a new experience that can bring health benefits.
  • For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated work space.
  • Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.

7.Children and young people

Families and caregivers of children and young people should discuss news of the virus with those in their care in an open and honest way. Try to relate the facts without causing alarm, and in a way that is appropriate for their age and temperament. It is important to listen to any questions they may have, to let them know that they are safe and that it’s normal to feel concerned.

If the media or the news is getting too much for them, encourage them to limit their exposure. This video has some useful tips for talking to young people about scary stuff in the news.

Beyond Blue’s Be You initiative has also developed the following resources to help educators support children and young people’s mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

8.Support for those experiencing financial hardship

As the ongoing spread of the coronavirus continues to affect the global economy, many people in Australia are losing jobs, livelihoods and financial stability. For information and services provided by the Australian government, please visit Services Australia.

If you are experiencing financial hardship, National Debt Helpline offers free financial counselling.

9.Health care workers

Health care workers may feel extra stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is a normal response in these unprecedented circumstances. Such feelings are not a sign of weakness and it’s important to acknowledge this. There are practical ways to manage your mental health during this time, including:

  • getting enough rest during work hours and between shifts
  • eating healthy foods and engaging in physical activity
  • keeping in contact with colleagues, family and friends by phone or online
  • being aware of where you can access mental health support at work
  • if you’re a manager, trying to create mentally healthy work structures.

It’s important the general public recognises the pressure that health systems and workers themselves are under and takes steps to support them where possible. Following government advice about ways individuals can help slow the spread of the virus will support the health care workers who are saving lives and keeping people safe.

10.Seek support

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed by news of the outbreak. We encourage people who have experienced mental health issues in the past to:

  • activate your support network
  • acknowledge feelings of distress
  • seek professional support early if you’re having difficulties.

For those already managing mental health issues, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms.

Social contact and maintaining routines can be supportive for our mental health and wellbeing. In circumstances where this is not possible, staying connected with friends and family online or by phone may assist. Beyond Blue also has a dedicated page on its forums about coping during the coronavirus outbreak.

Acknowledge feelings of distress and seek further professional support if required.

Beyond Blue has fact sheets about anxiety and offers other practical advice and resources at beyondblue.org.au.

The Beyond Blue Support Service offers short term counselling and referrals by phone and webchat on 1300 22 4636.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Resources Alert : Download @HealthInfoNet Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019 : Continuing to show important positive developments for our mob

In the Overview we strive to provide an accurate and informative summary of the current health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In doing so, we want to acknowledge the importance of adopting a strengths-based approach, and to recognise the increasingly important area of data sovereignty.

To this end, we have reduced our reliance on comparative data in favour of exploring the broad context of the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people and how this may impact their health journey “

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew

The Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status (Overview) aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the most recent indicators of the health and current health status of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Download HERE 

Overview+of+Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+health+status+2019

The annual Overview contains updated information across many health conditions.

It shows there has been a range of positive signs including a decrease in death rates, infant mortality rates and a decline in death rates from avoidable causes as well as a reduction in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke.

It has also been found that fewer mothers are smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy meaning that babies have a better start to life.

The initial sections of the Overview provide information about:

  • the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • social determinants including education, employment and income
  • the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population
  • measures of population health status including births, mortality and hospitalisation.

The remaining sections are about selected health conditions and risk and protective factors that contribute to the overall health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

These sections include an introduction and evidence of the extent of the condition or risk/protective factor. Information is provided for state and territories and for demographics such as sex and age when it is available and appropriate.

The Overview is a resource relevant for the health workforce, students and others requiring access to up-to-date information about the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This year, the focus will be mainly on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data and presentation is within the framework of the strength based approach and data sovereignty (where information is available).

As a data driven organisation, the HealthInfoNet has a publicly declared commitment to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to advance our understanding of data sovereignty and governance consistent with the principles and aspirations of the Maiam nayri Wingara Data Sovereignty Collective (https://www.maiamnayriwingara.org).

As we have done in previous years, we continue our strong commitment to developing strengths based approaches to assessing and reporting the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

It is difficult to make comparisons between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non- Indigenous Australian populations without consideration of the cultural and social contexts within which people live their lives.

As in past versions, we still provide information on the cultural context and social determinants for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

However, for the selected health topics and risk/protective factors we have removed many of the comparisons between the two populations and focused on the analysis of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data only.

In an attempt to respond to the challenge issued by Professor Craig Ritchie at the 2019 AIATSIS conference to say more about the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ not just the ‘what’ where comparisons are made and if there is evidence available, we have provided a brief explanation for the differences observed.

Accompanying the Overview is a set of PowerPoint slides designed to help lecturers and others provide up-to-date information.

  • In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
  • In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
  • In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities.
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Download the PowerPoint HERE

Overview+of+Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+health+status+2019_+key+facts

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the #LearnOurTruth campaign and survey : First Nations’ history must not be silenced if we are to #closethegap @WVAnews @inmyblooditruns

“We’re concerned that the full impact of colonisation is not covered in many classrooms around the country, and we need to dig deeper to find the answers.

We are calling on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to share their experience of learning history through the Learn Our Truth survey that will be the foundation of a campaign to change this and bring communities together.

We want schools to become more culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and that begins with a greater shared understanding of our nation’s history. Teachers need more support.

We want to raise awareness of the lack of First Nations perspectives and content in the national curriculum and understand if successive national, state and territory reviews have made a difference to students.

A key objective of the Learn Our Truth coalition is to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have more say in their education, but if we are to have a community-led approach to education overall, then that starts with building shared understanding of the history of First Nations communities. “

World Vision NSW Young Mob Project Manager Sophia Romano.

A coalition of organisations has launched a new campaign to #LearnOurTruth and together build stronger communities grounded in a clearer understanding of our shared past.

The #LearnOurTruth campaign and survey was created by the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition (NIYEC) in collaboration with In My Blood It Runs documentary, BE. Collective Culture, and Young Mob – a part of the Australia First Nations Program at World Vision.

Read our NACCHO In my blood it runs article HERE

It was designed to ensure the cultural safety, and emotional and mental wellbeing of First Nations respondents.

World Vision works in partnership with urban and remote Aboriginal communities across NSW, Victoria, Kimberley, Pilbara and Central Australia regions to support place-based, community-led early childhood initiatives, and is concerned that Aboriginal communities don’t have control over the education of their own children.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 2.5 times more likely to be developmentally vulnerable at the age of five when they start school which creates barriers to quality early learning opportunities,” WVA Australia First Nations Program advocate and advisor Paul Newman said.

Article 14 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says:

Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning”.

Mr Newman said that it was imperative to have community-led early learning opportunities from an early age that integrate both-ways learning, meaning education and play are conducted in both the traditional language and English and also include the involvement of Elders guiding learning about culture and country.

“Quality community-led education is imperative, in the early years before starting school, but also as children reach primary and secondary school age,” Mr Newman concluded.

For more information on the #LearnOurTruth campaign visit https://learnourtruth.com/.

  • Sophia Romano is the Project Manager for Young Mob in NSW and is a proud Meriam woman from Murray Island in the Torres
  • Paul Newman is World Vision’s Australia First Nations Program Business Development Advisor and advocate and a proud Wiradjuri Gadigal

For more information on the impact documentary In My Blood It Runs, visit

www.inmyblooditruns.com

World Vision Australia is an Impact Partner for the documentary and a key objective of the film is to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have more say in their education. World Vision Australia is committed to working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families, communities and organisations to support them in achieving their aspirations for the improved wellbeing of their children and young people.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert  : How you can watch and support new documentary @InMyBloodItRuns in Australian cinemas Feb 20. Follow ten-year-old Dujuan as he discovers the resilience and resistance of many generations

” Werte. That means “hello” in my first language, Arrernte.

My name is Dujuan, I am 12 years old. I am from Arrernte and Garrwa Country. I came here to speak with you because our government is not listening. Adults never listen to kids – especially kids like me. But we have important things to say.

I grew up at Sandy Bore outstation and at Hidden Valley Town Camp in Alice Springs. Now I live in Borroloola.

Something special about me is that I am an Angangkere, which means I am a traditional healer. It is my job to look after my family with my healing powers.

I am the star in a new documentary, In My Blood It Runs. “

Dujuan Hoosan : From speech given to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva on 11 September : See Part 1 below : 

Meet ten-year-old Dujuan, a child-healer, a good hunter and speaks three languages, as he discovers the resilience and resistance of many generations of his people and faces the history that runs straight into him.

Check out the In My Blood It Runs Website 

How you can share promote In My Blood it Runs  : See Part 3 below

From director Maya Newell (Gayby Baby), in collaboration with Arrernte and Garrwa families onscreen, you won’t want to miss this essential story about the strength and resilience of First Nations communities.

Where can you see the film national from February 20

” We begin to realize that Dujuan’s world does not exist in a vacuum, but is a microcosm of a much larger political and historical battle being waged in Australia. This event offers a stark insight into a potential future for Dujuan. How will his family and community rise above?

In My Blood It Runs looks beyond the ‘problem’ to see the people. Instead of seeing this Aboriginal boy as a ‘criminal’, we see a child who has experienced systematic abuse; instead of ‘bad parents’, we see a family who has been systematically stripped of all agency yet undeniably love their kids; instead of a ‘failure’ at school, we see a child whose talents have been completely overlooked.

And crucially, this child observes the inequality of the world he is presented with.”

Read full synopsis Part 2 below

Our children have to leave their identity at the school gate”

Felicity Hayes, Senior Traditional Owner of Mparntwe, Alice Springs and Executive Producer

Part 1 : Edited speech given to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva on 11 September

It was filmed when I was 10 years old. It shows what it feels like to be an Aboriginal kid in Australia and how we are treated every day.

Many things happen to me in this film.

In school, they told me Captain Cook was a hero and discovered Australia. It made me confused. It’s not true because before cars, buildings and houses there were just Aboriginal people.

I want Australia to tell the truth that Aboriginal people were the first people who had the land.

My school report cards said that I was a failure.

Every mark was in the worst box.

I thought “is there something wrong with me?”.

I felt like a problem.

The film shows me working to learn Arrernte and about being an Angangkere.

I say, “If you go out bush each week you learn how to control your anger and control your life.”

I feel strong when I am learning my culture from my Elders and my land.

I think schools should be run by Aboriginal people.

Let our families choose what is best for us.

Let us speak our languages in school.

I think this would have helped me from getting in trouble.

The film shows Aboriginal kids tortured in juvenile detention. I know lots of kids that have been locked up. Police is cruel to kids like me. They treat us like they treat their enemies. I am cheeky, but no kid should be in jail.

I want adults to stop being cruel to 10-year-old kids in jail.

Welfare also needs to be changed. My great-grandmother was taken from her family in the stolen generation. My other great-grandmother was hidden away. That story runs through my blood pipes all the way up to my brain.

But I was lucky because of my family. They know I am smart. They love me.

They found a way to keep me safe. I am alright now, but lots of kids aren’t so lucky.

I think they should stop taking Aboriginal kids away from their parents – that’s wrong.

What I want is a normal life of just being me. I want to be allowed to be an Aboriginal person, living on my land with my family and having a good life.

My film is for all Aboriginal kids. It is about our dreams, our hopes and our rights.

I hope you think of me when you are telling the Australian government how to treat us better.

Thank you for listening to my story.

Baddiwa – that’s goodbye in my other language, Garrwa.

Dujuan Hoosan is 12 years old. This is an edited speech given to the Human Rights Council at the United Nationsin Geneva on 11 September

Part 2 Synopsis

Ten-year-old Dujuan is a child-healer, a good hunter and speaks three languages. As he shares his wisdom of history and the complex world around him we see his spark and intelligence. Yet Dujuan is ‘failing’ in school and facing increasing scrutiny from welfare and the police.

As he travels perilously close to incarceration, his family fight to give him a strong Arrernte education alongside his western education lest he becomes another statistic. We walk with him as he grapples with these pressures, shares his truths and somewhere in-between finds space to dream, imagine and hope for his future self.

Director Maya Newell’s first feature Gayby Baby (Hot Docs, Good Pitch Aus, London BFI), sparked a national debate in Australia when it was banned in schools. Told through the lens of four children in same-sex families during the fight for Marriage Equality, the film offered the voice of those being ignored. Made in collaboration with Dujuan and his family My Blood It Runs tackles another heated topic, First Nations education and juvenile justice and places the missing voice of children front and centre.

Filmed candidly and intimately, we experience this world on the fringes of Alice Springs through Dujuan’s eyes. Dujuan’s family light candles when the power card runs out, often rely on extended family to drop around food and live alongside the ingrained effects of colonization and dispossession.

Every day in the classroom, Dujuan’s strength as a child-healer and Arrernte language speaker goes unnoticed. While he likes school, his report card shows a stream of ‘E’s, which make him feel stupid. Education is universally understood as a ticket to success, but school becomes a site of displacement and Dujuan starts running away from the classroom.

In stark contrast to his school behaviour, on his ancestral homeland surrounded by is family, Dujuan is focused, engaged and learning.

We begin to see Country as a classroom and a place where the resilience can grow and revolution is alive.

But the pressures on Dujuan in Alice Springs are ever encroaching – educational failure, domestic violence, child removal and police. In May 2016, images of children being tortured at the Northern Territory’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre are leaked and spike global uproar. In fact, 100% of children detained in the Northern Territory are Indigenous.

We begin to realize that Dujuan’s world does not exist in a vacuum, but is a microcosm of a much larger political and historical battle being waged in Australia. This event offers a stark insight into a potential future for Dujuan. How will his family and community rise above?

In My Blood It Runs looks beyond the ‘problem’ to see the people. Instead of seeing this Aboriginal boy as a ‘criminal’, we see a child who has experienced systematic abuse; instead of ‘bad parents’, we see a family who has been systematically stripped of all agency yet undeniably love their kids; instead of a ‘failure’ at school, we see a child whose talents have been completely overlooked. And crucially, this child observes the inequality of the world he is presented with.

In the end, when Dujuan cannot run nor fight alone, he faces the history that runs straight into him and realises that not only has he inherited the trauma and dispossession of his land, but also the strength, resilience and resistance of many generations of his people which holds the key to his future.

Part 3 How you can share promote In My Blood it Runs

Here are links to some assets below and sample copy that you can use – but please tweak as you see fit for your audience.

SAMPLE SOCIAL COPY

In My Blood It Runs hits Australian cinemas Feb 20!

Meet ten-year-old Dujuan, a child-healer, a good hunter and speaks three languages, as he discovers the resilience and resistance of many generations of his people and faces the history that runs straight into him. From director Maya Newell (Gayby Baby), in collaboration with Arrernte and Garrwa families onscreen, you won’t want to miss this essential story about the strength and resilience of First Nations communities.

In My Blood It Runs: a personal and moving film that should inspire us all.

Book your tickets now >>https://bit.ly/39TpM2j

Please don’t forget to follow/tag  on socials @inmyblooditruns

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SugarTax #5Myths @ausoftheyear Dr James Muecke pushing for Scott Morrison’s government to enact a tax on sugary drinks : Money $ raised could be used to fund health promotion

” This year’s Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke, is an eye specialist with a clear vision.

He wants to change the way the world looks at sugar and the debilitating consequences of diabetes, which include blindness.

Muecke is pushing for Scott Morrison’s government to enact a tax on sugary drinks to help make that a reality.

Such a tax would increase the price of soft drinks, juices and other sugary drinks by around 20%. The money raised could be used to fund health promotion programs around the country.

The evidence backing his calls is strong. ” 

From the Conversation

” A study of intake of six remote Aboriginal communities, based on store turnover, found that intake of energy, fat and sugar was excessive, with fatty meats making the largest contribution to fat intake.

Compared with national data, intake of sweet and carbonated beverages and sugar was much higher in these communities, with the proportion of energy derived from refined sugars approximately four times the recommended intake.

Recent evidence from Mexico indicates that implementing health-related taxes on sugary drinks and on ‘junk’ food can decrease purchase of these foods and drinks.

A recent Australian study predicted that increasing the price of sugary drinks by 20% could reduce consumption by 12.6%.

Revenue raised by such a measure could be directed to an evaluation of effectiveness and in the longer term be used to subsidise and market healthy food choices as well as promotion of physical activity.

It is imperative that all of these interventions to promote healthy eating should have community-ownership and not undermine the cultural importance of family social events, the role of Elders, or traditional preferences for some food.

Food supply in Indigenous communities needs to ensure healthy, good quality foods are available at affordable prices.” 

Extract from NACCHO Network Submission to the Select Committee’s Obesity Epidemic in Australia Inquiry. 

Download the full 15 Page submission HERE

Obesity Epidemic in Australia – Network Submission – 6.7.18

Also Read over 40 Aboriginal Health and Sugar Tax articles published by NACCHO 


Taxes on sugary drinks work

Several governments around the world have adopted taxes on sugary drinks in recent years. The evidence is clear: they work.

Last year, a summary of 17 studies found health taxes on sugary drinks implemented in Berkeley and other places in the United States, Mexico, Chile, France and Spain reduced both purchases and consumption of sugary drinks.

Reliable evidence from around the world tells us a 10% tax reduces sugary drink intakes by around 10%.

The United Kingdom soft drink tax has also been making headlines recently. Since its introduction, the amount of sugar in drinks has decreased by almost 30%, and six out of ten leading drink companies have dropped the sugar content of more than 50% of their drinks.


Read more: Sugary drinks tax is working – now it’s time to target cakes, biscuits and snacks


In Australia, modelling studies have shown a 20% health tax on sugary drinks is likely to save almost A$2 billion in healthcare costs over the lifetime of the population by preventing diet-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and several cancers.

This is over and above the cost benefits of preventing dental health issues linked to consumption of sugary drinks.

Most of the health benefits (nearly 50%) would occur among those living in the lowest socioeconomic circumstances.

A 20% health tax on sugary drinks would also raise over A$600 million to invest back into the health of Australians.

After sugar taxes are introduced, people tend to switch from sugar drinks to other product lines, such as bottled water and artificially sweetened drinks. l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock

 

So what’s the problem?

The soft drink industry uses every trick in the book to try to convince politicians a tax on sugary drinks is bad policy.

Here are our responses to some common arguments against these taxes:

Myth 1: Sugary drink taxes unfairly disadvantage the poor

It’s true people on lower incomes would feel the pinch from higher prices on sugary drinks. A 20% tax on sugary drinks in Australia would cost people from low socioeconomic households about A$35 extra per year. But this is just A$4 higher than the cost to the wealthiest households.

Importantly, poorer households are likely to get the biggest health benefits and long-term health care savings.

What’s more, the money raised from the tax could be targeted towards reducing health inequalities.


Read more: Australian sugary drinks tax could prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes and save 1,600 lives


Myth 2: Sugary drink taxes would result in job losses

Multiple studies have shown no job losses resulted from taxes on sugar drinks in Mexico and the United States.

This is in contrast to some industry-sponsored studies that try to make the case otherwise.

In Australia, job losses from such a tax are likely to be minimal. The total demand for drinks by Australian manufacturers is unlikely to change substantially because consumers would likely switch from sugary drinks to other product lines, such as bottled water and artificially sweetened drinks.

A tax on sugary drinks is unlikely to cost jobs. Successo images/Shutterstock

 

Despite industry protestations, an Australian tax would have minimal impact on sugar farmers. This is because 80% of our locally grown sugar is exported. Only a small amount of Australian sugar goes to sugary drinks, and the expected 1% drop in demand would be traded elsewhere.

Myth 3: People don’t support health taxes on sugary drinks

There is widespread support for a tax on sugary drinks from major health and consumer groups in Australia.

In addition, a national survey conducted in 2017 showed 77% of Australians supported a tax on sugary drinks, if the proceeds were used to fund obesity prevention.

Myth 4: People will just swap to other unhealthy products, so a tax is useless

Taxes, or levies, can be designed to avoid substitution to unhealthy products by covering a broad range of sugary drink options, including soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks.

There is also evidence that shows people switch to water in response to sugary drinks taxes.


Read more: Sweet power: the politics of sugar, sugary drinks and poor nutrition in Australia


Myth 5: There’s no evidence sugary drink taxes reduce obesity or diabetes

Because of the multiple drivers of obesity, it’s difficult to isolate the impact of a single measure. Indeed, we need a comprehensive policy approach to address the problem. That’s why Dr Muecke is calling for a tax on sugary drinks alongside improved food labelling and marketing regulations.

Towards better food policies

The Morrison government has previously and repeatedly rejected pushes for a tax on sugary drinks.

But Australian governments are currently developing a National Obesity Strategy, making it the ideal time to revisit this issue.

We need to stop letting myths get in the way of evidence-backed health policies.

Let’s listen to Dr Muecke – he who knows all too well the devastating effects of products packed full of sugar.

Aboriginal Heath News : NACCHO supports #OchreRibbonWeek #saveFVPLS: 12th – 19th February and call for action to end the violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – particularly our women and children.

 

” This week is Ochre Ribbon Week. It’s a week to raise awareness of the devastating impacts of family violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and call for action to end the violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – particularly our women and children.

Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is a national emergency. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised because of family violence and 10 times more likely to die from a violent assault than other women.

Every single Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man, woman and child deserves to live a life free of violence and fear, and thrive in culture and identity. ‘

The National Convenor of the Forum is Antoinette Braybrook (CEO, FVPLS Victoria), and the Deputy Convenor is Phynea Clarke (CEO, CAAFLU).

 

Prevention is the key to ensuring safety for our children and mothers, keeping families connected and strong in culture. The holistic, wrap-around response that FVPLSs provide is essential to ending family violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children.

The goal of the Forum is to work in collaboration across Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLSs) and increase access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim/survivors of family violence. The Forum provides advice and input to Government and ensures a unified FVPLS response to addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family violence.

The Forum has worked with members to develop tools for capacity building, good governance, professional development, training, data collection and evaluation.

The Forum is supported by a Secretariat, and Forum members are represented by their CEO/Co-ordinator (or delegate) at meetings and activities.

Family Violence Prevention Legal Services

FVPLSs are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations – our communities know and trust our staff and services. We are unique, experienced and specialist service providers delivering culturally safe legal and non-legal services within which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is acknowledged and celebrated.

FVPLSs provide legal assistance, casework, counselling and court support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and children who are victim/survivors of family violence. Legal services are provided to victim/survivors in matters related to:

  • Family violence (i.e. VRO, AVO different terminology across jurisdictions);
  • Victims of crime compensation;
  • Family law; and
  • Child protection.

FVPLSs also provide an important community legal education and early intervention and prevention function. FVPLSs have adopted a holistic, wrap-around service delivery model that prioritise legal service delivery while recognising and addressing the multitude of interrelated issues that our clients face. Nationally 90% of our clients are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.

FVPLSs are expected to ensure that the services offered are culturally inclusive and accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and children in the specified service region, regardless of gender, sexual preference, family relationship, location, disability, literacy or language.

Objectives of the National FVPLS Forum

The objectives of the Forum are to:

  1. Support and enhance the capacity of FVPLSs to provide high quality services that deliver results for clients and communities;
  2. Coordinate and facilitate communication, information sharing and relationship building between FVPLS units;
  3. Develop policy positions that identify areas of FVPLS work in need of reform and make recommendations for change;
  4. Provide advice and input to Government on issues relevant to the FVPLS program and its operation;
  5. Engage with key stakeholders including through participation in activities and national meetings that will benefit and promote National Forum positions;
  6. Promote the existence of the National Convenor/Secretariat role and FVPLSs in the appropriate forums and media; and
  7. Facilitate a co-ordinated approach to building a secure and sustainable resource base that meets the needs of FVPLSs and their clients.

Further information on some of our members’ services is available here.

This Ochre Ribbon Week, show your support in the following ways:

  1. Add the Ochre Ribbon Week 2020 frame to your Facebook profile picture here: https://www.facebook.com/profilepicframes
  2. Follow the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum on Twitter and Facebook
  3. Donate to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander controlled FVPLSs across the country
  4. Spread the word! Forward this email to your contacts

To find out more about Ochre Ribbon Week, head to https://www.nationalfvpls.org/

NACCHO Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Children’s Health : Download @AusHumanRights Children’s Rights Report 2019 — In Their Own Right : Our kids continue to face significant disadvantage across a range of domains

“ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia continue to face significant disadvantage across a range of domains relevant to their rights and wellbeing, including in relation to health and education outcomes, discrimination, exposure to family violence, and overrepresentation in child protection and youth justice systems.

Most recommendations made throughout this report apply to all children living in Australia, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

However, given the significant disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, this chapter (12 ) contains recommendations which are specific to their circumstances.”

Extract from Australia’s first Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell who today launched her final report – one of the most comprehensive assessments of children’s rights ever produced in Australia.

See Pages 256 to 271 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children or read Health extract below

Download full report 300 + Pages 

childrensrightsreport_2019_ahrc

Read over 380 Aboriginal Children’s Health articles published by NACCHO over the past 8 years

AHRC Press Release 

The report makes clear that the mental health of Australian children is not being cared for sufficiently and that Governments must do more to ensure children’s wellbeing.

Commissioner Mitchell said: “Not only do children require better access to mental health services, but they also need earlier intervention and higher quality care.”

The report calls on the Federal Government to develop a National Plan for Child Wellbeing and to appoint a Cabinet level Minister with responsibility for children’s issues at the national level.

National data shows one in seven children aged four to 17 were diagnosed with mental health disorders in a 12-month period, and rates of suicide and self-harm are increasing.

Suicide was the leading cause of death for children aged five to 17 in 2017, and Indigenous children accounted for almost 20% of all child suicides. There were 35,997 hospital admissions for self-harm in the ten years to 2017.

Other urgent concerns highlighted in the report include that, from 2013 to 2017 there was a 27% increase in reported substantiations of child abuse and neglect. The number of children in out-of- home care has increased by 18% over the last five years. Also, approximately 17% of children under the age of 15 live in poverty.

Commissioner Mitchell said: “The increase in neglect and abuse of children is a particularly worrying trend, as is the increase in children living in out of home care. We must do better.”

The report shows children in vulnerable situations suffer most through a lack of government focus. This includes Indigenous children, children with a disability, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and LGBTI children.

Commissioner Mitchell said: “There is a gap between the rights we have promised vulnerable children and how those rights are implemented. It is vital that we address the gap in order to better protect children’s rights.”

Attorney General Christian Porter tabled the report in Parliament on Thursday, 6 February.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the oldest civilisation on earth, extending back over 65,000 years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are vastly diverse in culture, language and in spiritual beliefs.[i] At the time of colonisation, there were over 500 separate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations, over 250 languages spoken, and 800 dialectical varieties.[ii]

In its Concluding Observations (2019), the Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the Australian Government to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their communities are meaningfully involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of policies concerning them.[iii]

Health Inequality 

The disparity in health status between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their non-Indigenous counterparts remains a crucial human rights issue within Australia.[iv] This is despite the investment in Closing the Gapa national strategy to reduce health and related inequalities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which has been in place since 2008.

In its Concluding Observations (2019), the Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the Australian Government to promptly address the disparities in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.[v]

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported in 2018 that there are major gaps in data on important health issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.[vi] This includes culturally-appropriate data that measures wellbeing, treatment of mental health conditions, sexual health (including use of contraception and sexual health services), and use of primary health care services.[vii]

It pointed out that data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 10–14 years is limited, compared to those aged 15–19 and 20–24, as both the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Health Survey 2012–13 and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2014–15 were more focused on adults.[viii] 

In 2018–19, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) has, for the first time, included up to two child members of each selected household aged 0 to 17.[ix] The results from NATSIHS 2018–19 will be available in late 2019.[x] The inclusion of those aged 0 to 17 is a welcome addition.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) also welcomes Mayi Kuwayu: The National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing and hopes that it will collect data on children aged 0–17.[xi]

Child mortality

Since the Closing the Gap target baseline was set in 2008, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child mortality rates have declined by 10%.[xii]

However, the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and non-Indigenous children has not narrowed, because the non-Indigenous rate has declined at a faster rate.[xiii] It is for this reason that measuring the gap is not always helpful.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants are three times as likely as non-Indigenous infants to die between one and six months of age, and twice as likely to die for all other age categories except for one day to one week old, where the risks are equivalent.[xiv]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 2.1 times more likely to die before their fifth birthday compared to their non-Indigenous peers.[xv]

Ear disease

Ear disease is a significant health issue facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–14 are 2.9 times more likely to have long-term ear or hearing problems compared with non-Indigenous children.[xvi]

Limited access to primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can result in delayed diagnosis, treatment and management of health conditions.

Long-term ear or hearing problems are linked to delays in speech and language development.[xvii] These can have lasting impacts on educational and workforce outcomes.

The AIHW pointed out in its report on Australia’s Health 2018 that there is no national statistical profile of ear disease and associated hearing loss for Aboriginal and Torres Strait children based on diagnostic assessment. It argued that, without good-quality surveillance, it is difficult to understand the size and key determinants associated with the hearing problem.[xviii]

Obesity

The most recent data available from the AIHW shows that in 2012–13, 30% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 2–14 were overweight or obese, compared with 25% of their non-Indigenous counterparts.[xix]

One in five (20%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 2–14 were overweight and one in ten (10%) were obese. At age 15–17, 35% were overweight or obese. About one in five (21%) were overweight, while about one in seven (14%) were obese.[xx]

Of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys aged 2–14, 18% were overweight and 10% were obese. At age 15–17, 21% were overweight and 17% were obese. Among girls aged 2–14 and those aged 15–17, 21% were overweight and 11% were obese.[xxi]

Children with obesity are more likely to be obese as adults and have an ‘increased risk of developing both short and long-term health conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease’.[xxii]

Mental health

The likelihood of probable serious mental illness has been found to be consistently higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children compared to their non-Indigenous peers.[xxiii]

National Coronial Information System data show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–17 accounted for 19.2% of all child deaths due to suicide between 2007–15. [xxiv] Specifically, there were:

  • one to three deaths in the 4–9 year age range
  • one to three deaths in the 10–11 year age range
  • 12 deaths in the 12–13 year age range
  • 45 deaths in the 14–15 year age range
  • 62 deaths in the 16–17 year age range. [xxv]

The AIHW collects hospital data on intentional self-harm. Children who engage in intentional self-harm, with or without suicidal intent, often only experience hospitalisation because they cannot manage their injury without medical intervention. Approximately 8% of hospitalisations for intentional self-harm between 2007–08 and 2016–17 involved Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.[xxvi] Of the 2,928 hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, 17 (<1%) were for children aged 3–9, 859 (29%) were for children aged 3–14 and 2,052 (70%) were for children aged 15–17.[xxvii]

In its Concluding Observations (2019), the Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the Australian Government to prioritise mental health service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, including addressing the underlying causes of children’s suicide and poor mental health.[xxviii]

Sexual health

The fertility rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teenagers are approximately 5.8 times the rate for non-Indigenous teenagers (52 per 1,000 females compared to nine per 1,000 females).[xxix]

The Committee on the Rights of the Child in its Concluding Observations (2019) specifically called for the Australian Government to strengthen its measures to prevent teenage pregnancies among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls, including by providing culturally sensitive and confidential medical advice and services. [xxx]

The levels of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in children, especially those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, are particularly concerning. The rates of infection within these communities are recognised as being the highest of any identifiable population in Australia.[xxxi]

For example, 2016 data from the Northern Territory, shows there were 161 notified cases of chlamydia in Aboriginal children under 16 years compared to three cases in non-Indigenous children; 186 notified cases of gonorrhoea in Aboriginal children under 16 years compared to one case in a non-Indigenous child; 26 notified cases of syphilis in Aboriginal children under 16 years with no notified cases for non-Indigenous children; and 240 notified cases of trichomoniasis in Aboriginal children under 16 years with no notified cases for non-Indigenous children.[xxxii]

Aboriginal Medical Services play a crucial role in providing health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Research has suggested that ‘one of the most productive ways forward with regards to improving knowledge and increasing safe sex practice among young Aboriginal people is through community-controlled organisations’.[xxxiii]

[i] Reconciliation Australia, Share Our Pride, Our shared history (2019) <http://shareourpride.reconciliation.org.au/sections/our-shared-history/&gt;.

[ii] Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Indigenous Australian Languages, 2019 (14 March 2019) <https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/articles/indigenous-australian-languages&gt;.

[iii] United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations on the Combined Fifth and Sixth Periodic Reports of Australia, 82nd Sess, UN Doc CRC/C/AUS/CO/5-6 (30 September 2019) para 46(a).

[iv] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Trends in Indigenous Mortality and Life Expectancy 2001–2015 (Report, 1 December 2017) vii.

[v] United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations on the Combined Fifth and Sixth Periodic Reports of Australia, 82nd Sess, UN Doc CRC/C/AUS/CO/5-6 (30 September 2019) para 36(a).

[vi] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent and youth health and wellbeing 2018 (Report, 2018) xii.

[vii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent and youth health and wellbeing 2018 (Report, 2018) xii.

[viii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent and youth health and wellbeing 2018 (Report, 2018) 6.

[ix] Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (2018) <www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/Home/Survey+Participant+Information+-+National+Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+Health+Survey>.

[x] Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (2018) <www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/Home/Survey+Participant+Information+-+National+Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+Health+Survey>.

[xi] Mayi Kuwayu: The National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing (2019) <https://mkstudy.com.au/&gt;.

[xii] Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Closing the Gap Report: Prime Minister’s Report 2019 (Report, 2019) 10 <https://ctgreport.niaa.gov.au/&gt;.

[xiii] Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Closing the Gap Report: Prime Minister’s Report 2019 (2019) 10 <https://ctgreport.niaa.gov.au/&gt;.

[xiv] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s health 2018 (Report, 2018) 317 <www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/7c42913d-295f-4bc9-9c24-4e44eff4a04a/aihw-aus-221.pdf.aspx?inline=true>.

[xv] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s health 2018 (Report, 2018) 31 <www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/table-of-contents>.

[xvi] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s health 2018 (Report, 2018) 322 <www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/table-of-contents>.

[xvii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s health 2018 (Report, 2018) 321 <www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/table-of-contents>.

[xviii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s health 2018 (Report, 2018) 329 <www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/table-of-contents>.

[xix] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, A Picture of Overweight and Obesity in Australia 2017 (Report, 2017) 14 <https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/172fba28-785e-4a08-ab37-2da3bbae40b8/aihw-phe-216.pdf.aspx?inline=true&gt;.

[xx] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Overweight and obesity: an interactive insight: A web report (19 July 2019) <www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/behaviours-risk-factors/overweight-obesity/overview>.

[xxi] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Overweight and obesity: an interactive insight: A web report (19 July 2019) <www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/behaviours-risk-factors/overweight-obesity/overview>.

[xxii] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Children Who are Overweight or Obese (2009) 1 <www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/LookupAttach/4102.0Publication24.09.093/$File/41020_Childhoodobesity.pdf>.

[xxiii] Mission Australia, Youth Survey Report 2017 (2017) 4 <www.missionaustralia.com.au/publications/research/young-people>.

[xxiv] National Coronial Information System. Report prepared for the National Children’s Commissioner on Intentional Self-Harm Fatalities of Persons under 18 in Australia 2007–2015. Report prepared on 07/02/2018.

[xxv] National Coronial Information System. Report prepared for the National Children’s Commissioner on Intentional Self-Harm Fatalities of Persons under 18 in Australia 2007–2015. Report prepared on 07/02/2018.

[xxvi] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Data request Specification on self-harm prepared for the Australian Human Rights Commission 2007-2008 to 2016-17 (2018).

[xxvii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Data request Specification on self-harm prepared for the Australian Human Rights Commission 2007-2008 to 2016-17 (2018).

[xxviii] United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations on the Combined Fifth and Sixth Periodic Reports of Australia, 82nd Sess, UN Doc CRC/C/AUS/CO/5-6 (30 September 2019) para 38(a), (b).

[xxix] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Children’s Headline Indicators: Teenage Births (2018) <www.aihw.gov.au/reports/children-youth/childrens-headline-indicators/contents/indicator-14>.

[xxx] United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations on the Combined Fifth and Sixth Periodic Reports of Australia, 82nd Sess, UN Doc CRC/C/AUS/CO/5-6 (30 September 2019) para 39(a).

[xxxi] Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (Final Report, 2017) vol 3b, 82.

[xxxii] Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (Final Report, 2017) vol 3b, 82.

[xxxiii] The Kirby Institute, Sexual Health and Relationships in Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People: Results from the first national study assessing knowledge, risk practices and health service use in relation to sexually transmitted infections and blood borne viruses (Report, 2014) 54.

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health #BacktoSchool : What our kids eat can affect not only their physical health but also their mood, mental health and learning

“When kids eat a healthy diet with a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in that diet, they actually perform better in the classroom.​     

They’re going to have better stamina with their work, and at the end of the day it means we’ll get better learning results which will impact on them in the long term.”

Marlborough Primary School principal

We know that fuelling children with the appropriate foods helps support their growth and development.

But there is a growing body of research showing that what children eat can affect not only their physical health but also their mood, mental health and learning.

The research suggests that eating a healthy and nutritious diet can improve mental health¹, enhance cognitive skills like concentration and memory²‚³ and improve academic performance⁴.

In fact, young people that have the unhealthiest diets are nearly 80% more likely to have depression than those with the healthiest diets

Continued Part 1 Below

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer increased risk of chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Eating healthy food and being physically active lowers your risk of getting kidney disease and type 2 diabetes, and of dying young from heart disease and some cancers.

Being a healthy weight can also makes it easier for you to keep up with your family and look after the kids, nieces, nephews and grandkids. “

Continued Part 2 Below

Part 1

Children should be eating plenty of nutritious, minimally processed foods from the five food groups:

  1. fruit
  2. vegetables and legumes/beans
  3. grains (cereal foods)
  4. lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
  5. milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives.

Consuming too many nutritionally-poor foods and drinks that are high in added fats, sugars and salt, such as lollies, chips and fried foods has been connected to emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents⁵.

In fact, young people that have the unhealthiest diets are nearly 80% more likely to have depression than those with the healthiest diets¹.

Children learn from their parents and carers. If you want your children to eat well, set a good example. If you help them form healthy eating habits early, they’re more likely to stick with them for life.

So here are some good habits to start them on the right path.

Eat with your kids, as a family, without the distraction of the television. Children benefit from routines, so try to eat meals at regular times.

Make sure your kids eat breakfast too – it’s a good source of energy and nutrients to help them start the day. Good choices are high-fibre, low-sugar cereals or wholegrain toast. It’s also a good idea to prepare healthy snacks in advance for them to eat in between meals.

Encourage children to drink water or milk rather than soft drinks, cordial, sports drinks or fruit juice drinks – don’t keep these in the fridge or pantry.

Children over the age of two years can be given reduced fat milk, but children under the age of two years should be given full cream milk.

Why are schools an important place to make changes?

Schools can play a key role in influencing healthy eating habits, as students can consume on average 37% of their energy intake for the day during school hours alone!6

A New South Wales survey found that up to 72% of primary school students purchase foods and drinks from the canteen at least once a week7. Also, in Victoria, while around three-quarters (77%) of children meet the guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit, only one in 25 (4%) meet the guidelines for recommended daily serves of vegetables8; and discretionary foods account for nearly 40 per cent of energy intake for Victorian children9.

It’s never too late to encourage healthier eating habits – childhood and adolescence is a key time to build lifelong habits and learn how to enjoy healthy eating.

Get started today

You can start to improve students’ learning outcomes and mental wellbeing by promoting healthy eating throughout your school environment.

Some ideas to get you started:

This blog article was originally published on Healthy Eating Advisory Service . 

Part 2

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer increased risk of chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Eating healthy food and being physically active lowers your risk of getting kidney disease and type 2 diabetes, and of dying young from heart disease and some cancers.

Being a healthy weight can also makes it easier for you to keep up with your family and look after the kids, nieces, nephews and grandkids.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may find it useful to chose store foods that are most like traditional animal and plant bush foods – that is, low in saturated fat, added sugar and salt – and use traditional bush foods whenever possible.

The Healthy Weight Guide provides information about maintaining and achieving a healthy weight.

It tells you how to work out if you’re a healthy weight. It lets you know up-to-date information about what foods to eat and what foods to avoid and what and how much physical activity to do. It gives you tips on setting goalsmonitoring what you dogetting support and managing the challenges.

There are also tips on how to eat well if you live in rural and remote areas.

The national Live Longer! Local Community Campaigns Grants Program supports Indigenous communities to help their people to work towards and maintain healthy weights and lifestyles. For more information, see Live Longer!.

Part 3 Parents may not always realise that their children are not a healthy weight.

If you think your child is underweight, the following information will not apply to your situation and you should seek advice from a health professional for an assessment.

If you think your child is overweight you should see your health professional for an assessment. However, if you’re not sure whether your child is overweight, see if you recognise some of the signs below. If you are still not sure, see your health professional for advice.

Overweight children may experience some or all of the following:

  • Having to wear clothes that are too big for their age
  • Having rolls or skin folds around the waist
  • Snoring when they sleep
  • Saying they get teased about their weight
  • Difficulty participating in some physically active games and activities
  • Avoiding taking part in games at school
  • Avoiding going out with other children

Signs that a child is at risk of becoming overweight, if they are not already, include:

  • Eating lots of foods high in saturated fats such as pies, pasties, sausage rolls, hot chips, potato crisps and other snacks, and cakes, biscuits and high-sugar muesli bars
  • Eating take away or fast food meals more than once a week
  • Eating lots of foods high in added sugar such as cakes, biscuits, muffins, ice-cream and deserts
  • Drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks, sports drinks or cordials
  • Eating lots of snacks high in salt and fat such as hot chips, potato crisps and other similar snacks
  • Skipping meals, including breakfast, regularly
  • Watching TV and/or playing video games or on social networks for more than two hours each day
  • Not being physically active on a daily basis.

For more information:

References for Part 1

1 Jacka FN, et al. Associations between diet quality and depressed mood in adolescents: results from the Australian Healthy Neighbourhoods Study. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010 May;44(5):435-42. https://doi.org/10.3109/00048670903571598571598
2 Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: The effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(7), 568-578. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/
3 Bellisle, F. (2004). Effects of diet on behaviour and cognition in children. British Journal of Nutrition, 92(2), S227–S232
4 Burrows, T., Goldman, S., Pursey, K., Lim, R. (2017) Is there an association between dietary intake and academic achievement: a systematic review. J Hum Nutr Diet. 30, 117– 140 doi: 10.1111/jhn.12407. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/jhn.12407
5 Jacka FN, Kremer PJ, Berk M, de Silva-Sanigorski AM, Moodie M, Leslie ER, et al. (2011) A Prospective Study of Diet Quality and Mental Health in Adolescents. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24805. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0024805
6 Bell AC, Swinburn BA. What are the key food groups to target for preventing obesity and improving nutrition in schools? Eur J Clin Nutr2004;58:258–63
7 Hardy L, King L, Espinel P, et al. NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS) 2010: Full Report (pg 97). Sydney: NSW Ministry of Health, 2011
8 Department of Education and Training 2019, Child Health and Wellbeing Survey – Summary Findings 2017, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.
9 Department of Health and Human Services 2016, Victoria’s Health; the Chief Health Officer’s report 2014, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.