NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s #FirstNationsEarlyYears #EarlyChildhood Health : NACCHO joins SNAICC #ECA and 30 other Organisations calling to make early learning a priority for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children #RefreshtheCTGrefresh

We’ve known for several years that 15,000 additional early learning places are needed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s enrolment to be level with the general population.”

Geraldine Atkinson, SNAICC Deputy Chairperson

This is a problem we can solve – it requires the political will to make sure that every single First Nations child has access to, and participates in, quality early learning for at least three days per week in the two years before school.”

Samantha Page, ECA CEO

Download Position Paper 

SNAICC-ECA-Early-Years-Position-Paper-

Download Discussion Paper 

SNAICC-ECA-Discussion-Paper-

Read over 350 Aboriginal Children’s Health articles published by NACCHO in the past 7 years

More than thirty leading child welfare, education and research organisations have endorsed a new call by Early Childhood Australia (ECA) and SNAICC – National Voice for our Children to ensure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children receive quality early learning and family support.

Published today, the joint position paper, Working Together to Ensure Equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in the Early Years, highlights the key issues that impede First Nations children from accessing early childhood education and care (ECEC), while further providing recommendations for improving outcomes.

The data we have tells us that our children are half as likely to attend a Child Care Benefit approved early childhood service than non-indigenous children.

Everyone who cares about child welfare in Australia is concerned that too many children are starting school with developmental vulnerability, and that two out of five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are vulnerable when they start school; that’s twice the rate of vulnerability overall.

The most important thing for our children to thrive is that we need ongoing support for culturally appropriate, community-controlled services, and help to improve the quality of those services and professional development for their staff.

“We can see from the great results in high-quality Aboriginal Child and Family Centres, that families feel welcome, the children love to come, and they make a good transition to school.”

– Geraldine Atkinson, SNAICC Deputy Chairperson

Children and families are already benefitting from evidence-based, targeted family support services, like Families as First Teachers, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), Parents as Teachers (PAT) and Best Start (in WA).

“We want to see all First Nations families get this vital support in the early years because supporting parents in the home environment is as important as access to early learning services to improve outcomes for children.”

– Samantha Page, ECA CEO

The joint position paper by ECA and SNAICC urges the Commonwealth Government to work alongside state and territory governments to take these actions:

  1. Establish new early childhood development targets to close the gap in the AEDC domains by 2030, and an accompanying strategy—through the Closing the Gap refresh
  2. Commit to permanently fund universal access to high-quality early education for three- and four-year-olds, including additional funding to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children get access to a minimum of three days per week of high-quality preschool, with bachelor-qualified teachers
  3. Invest in quality Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled integrated early years services, through a specific early education program, with clear targets to increase coverage in areas of high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and high levels of disadvantage.

Further recommendations include:

  • COAG to fund a targeted program to support evidence-informed, culturally safe, integrated early childhood and family-focused programs, across the nurturing care spectrum, in early education and care services that work with high numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

The paper and its recommendations are endorsed by peak bodies, children‘s education and care service organisations and major children’s organisations who all that support the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children including: Save the Children, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO); UNICEF, Brotherhood of St Laurence; Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS); Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP); Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) and many more.

See the full list of endorsing organisations in the position paper.

The broad range of support for these recommendations shows the high level of agreement and concern that action needs to be taken to make sure that Australia improves our support for First Nations children to give them the best start in life.

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #JunkFood : Increasing how much exercise we get and switching to a healthy diet can also play an important role in treating – and even preventing – depression

” The review found that across 41 studies, people who stuck to a healthy diet had a 24-35% lower risk of depressive symptoms than those who ate more unhealthy foods.

These findings suggest improving your diet could be a cost-effective complementary treatment for depression and could reduce your risk of developing a mental illness.

From the Conversation / Megan Lee

 ” NACCHO Campaign 2013 : Our ‘Aboriginal communities should take health advice from the fast food industry’ a campaign that eventually went global, reaching more than  20 million Twitter followers.”

See over 60 NACCHO Healthy Foods Articles HERE

See over 200 NACCHO Mental Health articles HERE 

Worldwide, more than 300 million people live with depression. Without effective treatment, the condition can make it difficult to work and maintain relationships with family and friends.

Depression can cause sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, and a lack of interest in activities that are usually pleasurable. At its most extreme, it can lead to suicide.

Depression has long been treated with medication and talking therapies – and they’re not going anywhere just yet. But we’re beginning to understand that increasing how much exercise we get and switching to a healthy diet can also play an important role in treating – and even preventing – depression.

So what should you eat more of, and avoid, for the sake of your mood?

Ditch junk food

Research suggests that while healthy diets can reduce the risk or severity of depression, unhealthy diets may increase the risk.

Of course, we all indulge from time to time but unhealthy diets are those that contain lots of foods that are high in energy (kilojoules) and low on nutrition. This means too much of the foods we should limit:

  • processed and takeaway foods
  • processed meats
  • fried food
  • butter
  • salt
  • potatoes
  • refined grains, such as those in white bread, pasta, cakes and pastries
  • sugary drinks and snacks.

The average Australian consumes 19 serves of junk food a week, and far fewer serves of fibre-rich fresh food and wholegrains than recommended. This leaves us overfed, undernourished and mentally worse off.

Here’s what to eat instead

Mix it up. Anna Pelzer

Having a healthy diet means consuming a wide variety of nutritious foods every day, including:

  • fruit (two serves per day)
  • vegetables (five serves)
  • wholegrains
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • oily fish
  • dairy products
  • small quantities of meat
  • small quantities of olive oil
  • water.

This way of eating is common in Mediterranean countries, where people have been identified as having lower rates of cognitive decline, depression and dementia.

In Japan, a diet low in processed foods and high in fresh fruit, vegetables, green tea and soy products is recognised for its protective role in mental health.

How does healthy food help?

A healthy diet is naturally high in five food types that boost our mental health in different ways:

Complex carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables and wholegrains help fuel our brain cells. Complex carbohydrates release glucose slowly into our system, unlike simple carbohydrates (found in sugary snacks and drinks), which create energy highs and lows throughout the day. These peaks and troughs decrease feelings of happiness and negatively affect our psychological well-being.

Antioxidants in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables scavenge free radicals, eliminate oxidative stress and decrease inflammation in the brain. This in turn increases the feelgood chemicals in the brain that elevate our mood.

Omega 3 found in oily fish and B vitamins found in some vegetables increase the production of the brain’s happiness chemicals and have been known to protect against both dementia and depression.

Salmon is an excellent source of omega 3. Caroline Attwood

Pro and prebiotics found in yoghurt, cheese and fermented products boost the millions of bacteria living in our gut. These bacteria produce chemical messengers from the gut to the brain that influence our emotions and reactions to stressful situations.

Research suggests pro- and prebiotics could work on the same neurological pathways that antidepressants do, thereby decreasing depressed and anxious states and elevating happy emotions.

What happens when you switch to a healthy diet?

An Australian research team recently undertook the first randomised control trial studying 56 individuals with depression.

Over a 12-week period, 31 participants were given nutritional consulting sessions and asked to change from their unhealthy diets to a healthy diet. The other 25 attended social support sessions and continued their usual eating patterns.

The participants continued their existing antidepressant and talking therapies during the trial.

At the end of the trial, the depressive symptoms of the group that maintained a healthier diet significantly improved. Some 32% of participants had scores so low they no longer met the criteria for depression, compared with 8% of the control group.

The trial was replicated by another research team, which found similar results, and supported by a recent review of all studies on dietary patterns and depression. The review found that across 41 studies, people who stuck to a healthy diet had a 24-35% lower risk of depressive symptoms than those who ate more unhealthy foods.

These findings suggest improving your diet could be a cost-effective complementary treatment for depression and could reduce your risk of developing a mental illness.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health : Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are almost twice as likely to be hospitalised for unintentional injuries such as falls, burns and poisoning than non-Aboriginal children, a new study has shown.

“Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations have an important role in helping reduce the risk of Aboriginal child injury because they engage with Aboriginal people within local community contexts and deliver holistic programs that address underlying health and social issues.

There also needs to be much stronger leadership and coordination of child injury prevention from government and other agencies.”

Co-author Professor Kathleen Clapham, Murrawarri, Professor (Indigenous Health), Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI), University of Wollongong, pointed out that at the present time very few culturally acceptable injury prevention programs have been developed or evaluated.

Download Report 

Full Study Childhood Injury (1)

Read over 350 Aboriginal Children’s Health articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are almost twice as likely to be hospitalised for unintentional injuries such as falls, burns and poisoning than non-Aboriginal children, a new study has shown.

The analysis also revealed that there had been no overall improvement in injury rates since 2003 and that the gap between Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal children remained significant.

Researchers from The George Institute for Global Health, UNSW and the University of Wollongong said the findings highlighted the need for Aboriginal-led intervention programs.

The study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health analysed the records of almost one million children born in NSW hospitals between 2003-2007 and 2008-2012, of which around three per cent identified as Aboriginal.

View Research Paper HERE

Lead researcher Dr Holger Möller said:

“If you are an Aboriginal child you are much more likely to suffer an unintentional injury such as a burn, and this is despite nationwide safety campaigns and legislation. Children should not be turning up at our hospitals with preventable injuries and we need to recognise this inequality and put in place strategies that will start reducing this startling difference.”

Key Findings

  • Researchers found Aboriginal children were around 2.5 times more likely to have been treated for transport-related injuries and burns and have a three times greater risk of poisonings than non-Aboriginal children. However, rates for these three types of injury did drop for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.
  • The records of 915,525 children born in NSW hospitals 2003-2007 and 2008-2012 were analysed, of which 31,290 were Aboriginal.
  • Aboriginal children had 1.7 times higher rates of unintentional injuries.
  • Falls were the leading cause of injury in Aboriginal children – making up one third of all injuries.
  • Rates of burns, poisonings and transport injuries did fall for Aboriginal children from 2003 to 2012 – by 30%, 23% and 30% respectively.
  • The rates of Aboriginal children being struck (for example by a falling object) rose by 29%.

Professor Rebecca Ivers, Head, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Sydney, added:

“There were some positives in our findings, but the fact is the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children remains the same. This demonstrates we need programs which are designed with, and led by, Aboriginal people and supported by governments.

“We need to create a society where all children have a safe environment to thrive in, so we need strategies that will address the wider social determinants of health and ensure Aboriginal families can access services and programs that could really make a difference.”

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #ACCHO Deadly Children Good News stories : #QLD @Wuchopperen @ATSICHSBris @DeadlyChoices #VIC @VAHS1972 #NSW Redfern AMS ACCHO #SA @AHCSA_ #WA @TheAHCWA #NT

1.1 National : In 2018–19, NACCHO and the RACGP are working on further initiatives and we want your input!

1.2 National The Fourth Action Plan of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (2009-2020 ) launched

2. 1 QLD : ATSICHS ACCHO Brisbane launches Deadly Kindy Program 2019

2.2 QLD : Wuchopperen ACCHO Health Service Parenting Programs Make A Difference to Cairns Families

3. NSW : Redfern ACCHO Aboriginal Medical Service : School’s back this week! – Is your mob up to date with immunisations?

4. SA : AHCSA : Health survey for 16-29 year olds to give young people a voice

5. NT : Will $7.9 million be enough to address chronic hearing problems in Territory children?

6.1 WA : AHCWA and students from Curtin University came out to Midvale to conduct Ear Health Checks for all the children

6.2 WA : Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) : Children in your car ? Fines of up to $1,000 if you are smoking

7. VIC : VAHS JUNIOR 12-15 years Pre-Season for Life is coming in 2019!

 

How to submit in 2019 a NACCHO Affiliate  or Members Good News Story ?

Email to Colin Cowell NACCHO Media 

Mobile 0401 331 251 

Wednesday by 4.30 pm for publication Thursday /Friday

1.1 National : In 2018–19, NACCHO and the RACGP are working on further initiatives and we want your input!

Survey until 15 Feb 2019 : To participate in a short survey, please CLICK HERE

Please tell us your ideas for

-improving quality of 715 health checks

-clinical software -implementation of the National Guide

-culturally responsive healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

More info 

1.2 National The Fourth Action Plan of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (2009-2020 launched

This is the first Action Plan under the Framework that has a standalone focus on improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are either at risk of entering, or in contact with child protection systems.

This is in recognition of the fact that the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care is ten times that of non-Indigenous children,”

Assistant Minister for Children and Families, Michelle Landry 

Today (30 Jan ) at the launch of the 4th Action Plan under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, SNAICC Director Natalie Lewis presented our new resource, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle: A guide to support implementation.

” The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP) aims to keep children connected to their families, communities, cultures and country while ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participate in decisions about their children’s care and protection.

SNAICC – National Voice for our Children has developed a Guide to Support Implementation of the ATSICPP. Based on the new resource, SNAICC has held workshops with state and territory government child protection practitioners and policy makers, to support better implementation of the Child Placement Principle.”

Download the Fourth Action Plan HERE 

dss-fourth-action-plan-v6-web-final

The Fourth Action Plan of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (2009-2020) has been launched by the Government today following endorsement by state and territory Community Services Ministers across Australia.

The National Framework was established by the Australian Government in partnership with states and territories and the non-government sector, as a long-term national approach to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children.

Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, says that the launch of the Fourth Action Plan is the next critical step in improving the way we, as a nation, care for and protect Australia’s children.

“The guiding philosophy of the National Framework is that protecting children is everyone’s business,” Minister Fletcher said.

“The endorsement of this Action Plan demonstrates that all levels of government across Australia are committed to working together to improve the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children and young people.”

“Through this final Action Plan under the National Framework, we will build on and embed the important reform work under the National Framework to date, and continue to work towards providing a safe, nurturing environment for all children and young people.”

1.3 National : Healthy lunches for our kids going back to school

Healthy Lunchbox Week is a Nutrition Australia initiative that aims to inspire parents and carers across Australia to create healthy lunchboxes their children will enjoy.

Did you know children consume around 30% of their daily food intake at school? Most of this comes from the contents of their lunchbox. What children eat during their day at school plays a crucial role in their learning and development.

Healthy Lunchbox Week helps families prepare healthy lunchboxes by:

  • inspiring healthy lunchbox ideas and recipes
  • ensuring a healthy lunchbox balance across core food groups
  • awareness of lunchbox food hygiene and safety

We know each state starts their school year at a different time.

Healthy Lunchbox Week dates are based on the week before the first state goes back to school.

Check out our #HealthyLunchboxWeek website for recipes, inspiration and more!

https://www.healthylunchboxweek.org/

2. 1 QLD : ATSICHS Brisbane launches Deadly Kindy Program 2019

 

What is a Deadly Kindy?

A Deadly Kindy is a kindergarten program for children aged 3 to 5 years old. We understand the importance of your child’s kindergarten year in preparing them for their transition to school.

Our children: are connected and culturally safe: immersed in programs that value and build on languages and practices brought from their families.

  • Connections: to culture and community are key drivers for program design: supported and influenced by community and elders.
  • Needs are identified early: receiving health checks upon enrolment (or before) enrolment, and work with speech and occupational therapists weekly, affording early assessment and intervention.
  • Our educators: are continually upskilled: working alongside therapists.
  • Innovative programs: leveraging ATSICHS Brisbane’s comprehensive educational, health and human allied services and resources, to wrap around our children and families.
  • Families are crucial to a child’s development: our specialist teams and programs target and strengthen the capacity of families.

What will my child learn?

At kindy your child will learn through play. They will explore, create, investigate, experiment, imagine, extend their knowledge and develop relationships with others. They will be given opportunities to gain confidence in social settings, to develop relationships and become resilient negotiators. Going to kindy will help your child learn early literacy and numeracy concepts and develop communication skills to help their reading and writing.

The Deadly Kindy difference

Our Deadly Kindys have a focus on supporting and strengthening children’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity through programs that are inclusive of the children’s culture, language and learning styles. As a parent or carer of a young child, you are the main influence on your child’s development. Deadly Kindy exists to help you with this important role.

Our program is based on the Queensland Kindergarten Curriculum Guidelines (QKCG). Deadly Kindy values the importance of play-based programs and is child centered, driven by observations of the children and also input from families and the community.

Children’s healthy development is vital for their learning and wellbeing and lays the foundation for a happy and healthy life. Families have access to a range of ATSICHS Brisbane services and programs including:

  • Health promotion materials and activities on dental health, healthy eating and physical activity and health, child development and parenting information.
  • Child and family health services, such as maternal health nurses and child health checks.
  • Primary health care services such as speech pathology, occupational therapy and nutrition groups, young mothers’ groups, fatherhood programs and Aboriginal health programs.
  • Child and adolescent mental health services including therapy for children and parents.
  • Allied health: services such as occupational therapists, speech pathologists and other allied health staff provide an allied health program to build the skills and knowledge of staff and parents to support children’s development. Activities include:
    • developmental screening
    • staff development sessions
    • parent consultations
    • parent and child group programs
    • short-term intervention for children.

Find out more or book a  place

For more info or to book your place call 3239 5381.

KINDY IS A DEADLY CHOICE!

For more info or to book your place call 07 3239 5381.

Get a free pre-Kindy health check and enrol today!

You can bring your child in for a free, pre-Kindy health check. Enrol them in Kindy and get a FREE Deadly Choices shirt!

BOOK YOUR PRE-KINDY HEALTH CHECK

Talk to our receptionists at one of our clinics to find out more today.

Logan Clinic

41 Station Road, Logan Central QLD 4114, phone: 3240 8940

Loganlea Clinic

Unit 4, 653 Kingston Road, Loganlea QLD 4131, phone: 3239 5355

Browns Plains

Village Square | 20-24 Commerce Dr, Browns Plains QLD 4118, phone:  3239 5300

Remember we now also open Saturdays from 8.30am – 4.30pm

For all other clinics.

2.2 QLD : Wuchopperen ACCHO Health Service Parenting Programs Make A Difference to Cairns Families


Wuchopperen Health Service Limited (Wuchopperen) has been providing a variety of parenting programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the Cairns region to develop parenting skills and reduce the prevalence of mental health, emotional and behavioural problems in children.

In 2018, Wuchopperen saw 29 families graduate from our key parenting programs including Circle of Security, Parenting Under Pressure, and Triple P. Each program focuses on a different element of parenting and the many challenges of raising children at various ages.

Lorna Baker, Manager of Wuchopperen’s Children and Family Centre says the parenting programs not only develop the confidence of parents, but also of the children.

“We see huge changes in the families who participate in our parenting programs. The children are a lot more confident, and a number of our parents ask our educators for additional activities to do with their children at home.

The programs are all about creating positive relationships between parents and children and giving parents the tools to do this. The programs also provide parents with a support group of other people who might be going through similar issues,” says Lorna.

Following the huge success of the programs focused on families run by Wuchopperen in 2018, 2019 is set to be a great year for Wuchopperen and our clients.

“Throughout 2018 we had to establish an additional playgroup to accommodate the number of families coming through Wuchopperen. It is really great to see the progress of all the families and how our team is able to cater to the individual needs of everyone who walks through our doors,” says Lorna.

The team at Wuchopperen’s Children and Family Centre consists of Early Childhood Educators, Family Support Workers and Child Health Workers who can provide a holistic service to all our families.

3. NSW : Redfern ACCHO Aboriginal Medical Service : School’s back this week! – Is your mob up to date with immunisations?

4. SA : AHCSA : Health survey for 16-29 year olds to give young people a voice

Great work happening down at Survivalay in Semaphore by the AHCSA team.

Health survey for 16-29 year olds to give young people a voice

5. NT : Will $7.9 million be enough to address chronic hearing problems in Territory children?

AS the hot sun beats down on the red dirt of Bathurst Island, three-year-old Joel Heenan sits inside a renovated shipping container outside the community’s health clinic.

To see all images view WEB

From the NT News

The steel rectangle been transformed into an audiology booth, allowing young Tiwi Islanders to get their ears tested by specialists.

Clutched in Joel’s tiny hands is a picture book with bright illustrations of dogs, babies and sheep. He slowly flips through the pages from the warm comfort of his uncle’s lap.

From behind a closed door a button is pressed and a warbling high-pitched sound fills the room.

Joel doesn’t hear it. He’s distracted, fiddly. The sound continues to ring. He still isn’t sure.

Finally, he looks up — and is treated with the sight of a bouncing toy as a reward. A cheeky grin from Joel but the test is no laughing matter.

The fact is at only three-years-old, little Joel already has moderate hearing loss.

JOEL’S mum, Rowena Tipiloura has four kids. Two of them have problems with their ears.

Joel has a hole in his right eardrum, something which may soon need an operation. Joel’s big sister had an operation to patch up a burst eardrum when she was only six.

“After the patch, it’s been much better,” Rowena says of her older child.

“Joel is not too bad, he talks a lot at home. Knows his fruit, animals, loves his uncles.

“They got a little problem.”

Rowena’s not worried about her youngest child’s hearing, believing it is good enough to get by.

It’s not neglect, not disinterest, not out of a lack of compassion for Joel.

Rowena clearly loves her son — it’s obvious in the tender way she holds him, the way she strokes his short, fluffy hair and the way she lights up when she talks about his love of family. Rowena wants the best for Joel.

But his ears just aren’t her biggest concern. Not when it’s so normal for people to be hard of hearing in her community. Not where there are so many other significant health concerns to worry about.

JOEL is one of 425 Australian kids under the age of three taking part in an ear health study with the Menzies School of Health Research.

The program has been running for nearly seven years and, so far, the findings paint a disturbing picture about the ear health of kids living in remote Territory communities.

One toddler in the study has had an active infection and burst eardrum for six months. He’s only 18-months-old.

And in another case, an ear infection was recently detected in a four-week old baby.

Aboriginal kids have the highest rates of otitis media, a middle ear infection which can cause hearing loss, in the world.

According to federal health figures, only five per cent of one-year-old indigenous kids living in remote communities have bilateral normal hearing. This means 95 per cent of one-year-old indigenous kids living in remote communities can’t hear normally out of one or both of their ears.

Last year, thousands of hearing specialists services were provided to Aboriginal children and other young people in the NT.

But still, nine in 10 Aboriginal kids under the age of three in remote Territory communities have ear disease. Most of them will develop hearing loss which will affect their early brain development and set them on a path of disadvantage.

Early diagnosis and treatment in the first 1000 days of a child’s life can treat the disease but that rarely happens.

Disturbingly, just 13 per cent of the 2000 cases Menzies researchers recently examined and prescribed antibiotics for were followed up using best practice.

Which means just 13 per cent of the kids in desperate need of treatment are getting what they need.

In 2019 the $7.9 million Hearing for Learning program will be rolled out across remote communities in the NT.

The five-year initiative aims to address chronic hearing problems in Territory kids and is jointly funded by the NT Government, Federal Government and the Balnaves Foundation.

It’s expected to reach 5000 Territory children, with a focus on kids under three.

Infections are hard to pick up in babies because they rarely show signs of being in pain, which is why frequent checks are vital.

Led by Australia’s first indigenous surgeon — ear, nose and throat specialist Dr Kelvin Kong and Menzies School of Health Research professor Amanda Leach — the program will train and employ community members to help diagnose and treat ear disease and hearing problems in local children.

But how can this program work when so many before it have failed?

Prof Leach is realistic about the challenges facing service delivery in remote areas and is concerned at how many people fail to follow up with treatment.

“The guidelines say the children (prescribed antibiotics) should be seen within a week to make sure the ears aren’t getting worse, but that isn’t happening,” she says.

Prof Leach says ear disease is so common in remote Territory communities, it’s “normal” for young kids to struggle to hear.

Sadly, this “normalising” of the condition means parents don’t worry when their children show signs of hearing loss or “pus” ears.

In remote communities, Prof Leach says indigenous families face so many immediate health concerns — like rheumatic heart disease, hunger, housing instability — that issues with hearing quickly falls down the priorities list.

Sisters Mary Pilakui, 3, and sister Latoya Pilakui, 8, wait for Mary’s hearing test. They live in a house with 10 kids and eight adults. Housing security is a real concern in their community.

“Ear disease to a large extent is poorly understood and underestimated as a health issue in remote communities, they are dealing with a lot of other things,” Prof Leach says.

“The resources to deal with this issue are totally inadequate.

“It’s just overwhelmed with other issues in the clinic, and I think the families are probably very busy with things as well.”

Many people living remote don’t have reliable cars to travel to a health clinic, and as it’s not a service which can be delivered in homes, explains Prof Leach.

Even if they get to the clinic, ear specialists only visit remote communities every few months so the responsibility for checking ears falls to clinic staff.

And staff are often overwhelmed with other checks or not properly trained to use specialist equipment.

Even if they do remember, ear tests aren’t always pleasant — and a wiggly, irritated, and crying child rarely provides clear ear test results.

But Prof Leach is optimistic this new program can succeed where others have failed.

She says chronic ear conditions in remote communities won’t be cured by flying in more specialists but by upskilling community members who have strong connections with local families.

“The question is — how can we bolster resources within the community so there’s an expert within the community every day — so there is someone there to look at these kid’s ears, do those follow ups, support the family and support the fly in-fly out services that are still needed,” she says.

After a six-month training program, trained locals will act like the “glue” between primary healthcare providers, fly-in, fly-out specialists, families and the kids.

These workers might not have a medical degree but they have an established relationship with families and can note down red flags for follow-ups.

“If we do this well, it should work, and it should be a good model for communities to take more — more control of the country child healthcare — it’ll better inform the community, the family, the children, themselves,” she says.

MENZIES research nurse Beth Arrowsmith has been studying the ears of remote Territory kids for about five years.

Menzies research nurse Beth Arrowsmith checks the ears of Mary Pilakui, 3. She’s been studying the ears of remote NT kids as part of the program for about five years.

In all that time, she’s seen no “real improvements” in the rates of ear infections.

Ms Arrowsmith says until remote indigenous Australians are no longer living in poverty, ear infections will continue to plague them.

“We put it down to the social determinants of health, it’s overcrowding, its poor hygiene, its nutrition, the availability of services, specialists — all of those things combined,” she says.

“You’re talking about ear disease, it’s not a new thing. Any headway is very slow to make.

“It will be a very long time — the housing is inefficient, there is overcrowding. We spoke to a mum the other day who had 18 people in their house. 10 kids and eight adults.

“How can you possibly keep clean in that environment?”

Audiologist Janine Pisula says ear disease in indigenous communities isn’t a new issue, but it is a serious one.

“We’ve got to remember that the community brings up a child,” she says.

“And the community is so used to people with ear disease that they automatically do things to accommodate them.”

Ms Pisula wants the focus put back on ears — as hearing loss can impact a child’s potential.

“Kids with better hearing speak better, more clearly — they find it easier to learn, to understand the world around them,” she says.

“Hearing loss can impact someone for their whole life.”

Young kids with hearing loss are more likely to fall behind in school, become disconnected from their peers, and struggle to build relationships as they grow older.

And older people with hearing problems are more likely to feel depressed and develop dementia.

MURRUPURTIYANUWU Catholic School on Bathurst Island welcomes kids from preschool to year 13.

For nearly all of the students enrolled at the community school, English is not their first language — with the majority of indigenous kids speaking Tiwi at home with their families.

Deputy principal Stacey Marsh says hearing problems are a “huge” issue at the small school, but the kids themselves aren’t keen to wear aids that make them stand out.

“We don’t know if it’s the language barrier or the ears,” she says.

“When children can’t hear you, they can’t learn. It’s very hard to get the message across.”

Teacher Caroline Bourke has been at the Bathurst Island school for about three years and is worried about the long-term opportunities for kids on the island.

Of the indigenous population behind bars in the NT, 90 per cent have hearing loss.

It’s a troubling statistic which shows a clear downward spiral.

“(Poor) hearing is an enormous problem, it impacts big time on what they’re able to take home from lessons,” Ms Bourke says. “It’d have to be the biggest problem we face.”

She estimates 60 per cent of the kids at the school have trouble hearing, but says any new program set up to tackle the issue will have to go to the families — instead of expecting families to travel into the clinic.

One solution she sees is hearing tests and treatment options rolled out at school, which should improve the treatment rates of young kids.

IN the metal audiology booth, little James Orsto, 3, rolls a blue plastic truck along the table in front of him.

His mum, Gregorianna Orsto, watches her boy’s slow calculated movements from a chair just an arm’s length away.

James Orsto, 2.5, has his hearing tested in Bathurst Island.

From the other side of the screen, Janine Pisula presses a button and the same high-pitched warbling tune which alluded Joel echoes across the tiny room.

Instantly, James stops, and points at where he knows a toy is about to jump around.

Straight away, the tiny Tiwi Islander is greeted with the sight of a bouncing teddy.

He grins, and quickly returns to the toy truck in front of him.

Gregorianna smiles at her boy. James is her youngest son and his hearing is a priority.

“It’s very important,” says Gregorianna.

“(James) has no problems with his ears, he’s chatty at home.

“He’s really helpful at home, he can say ‘Mummy’, ‘Daddy’, ‘tea’ — he loves drinking tea.”

Gregorianna’s older boy, Angelo, had problems with “pus ears” when he young, so she knows the warning signs of ear disease.

Her partner’s ears sometimes cause him pain, and his hearing is far from perfect.

She doesn’t want little James to have the same challenge, so when specialists visit Bathurst Island in a few shorts months, Gregorianna will make sure her youngest son has his ears checked.

She’ll do everything she can to make sure James’s future sounds bright.

6.1 WA : AHCWA and students from Curtin University came out to Midvale to conduct Ear Health Checks for all the children

Students from AHCWA’s Ear Health Training course attended the My World Childcare Centre in Midvale to practice their ear health skills on the little koolangka’s

My World Childcare Centre responded

Thank you so much to the lovely ladies from the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) and students from Curtin University who came out to Midvale to conduct Ear Health Checks for all our children today. We appreciate your time,effort and knowledge in looking after the health of our families.

6.2 WA : Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) : Children in your car ? Fines of up to $1,000 if you are smoking

Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) runs the Puyu Paki program and which is the Western Desert (Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu and Kunawarritji) ACCHO

Have you thought about who else is breathing in the smoke you put in your car? Puyu Paki – Don’t Smoke, Give it Up!

7. VIC : VAHS JUNIOR 12-15 years Pre-Season for Life is coming in 2019!


Last summer we brought you “Pre-Season for Life”, this year we are bringing it back in a JUNIOR version for young people aged 12-15!

All abilities & fitness levels are welcome, whether you play sport or not, join us for an afternoon of fun activities to get your body moving.

Details above, or for more info call 03 9403 3346.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Racism in the #Media Debate : @ShannanJDodson Why is it more offensive to call someone #racist than to say something racist?

 ” On Monday Studio 10 co-host Kerri-Anne Kennerley berated January 26 protesters.

She questioned whether any one of them had “been out to the outback where children, babies, five-year-olds are being raped, their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped. They get no education.”

Fellow panellist Yumi Stynes responded by calling her out as sounding racist, which was met with a shocked “I’m offended” from Kennerley.

This situation was a common example of how deeply offended people become when they are called out for racist behaviour, which is touted as much more offensive than actually being racist.

Indigenous people have had to listen to centuries of non-Indigenous people denigrating and demonising us – that we are a problem to be fixed. The minute that is called out, there is discomfort that the status-quo is not being maintained. It is an immediate and lazy defence mechanism to be offended by being called a racist, rather than unpacking why what you’ve said is perceived as racist and challenging your own stereotypes.

There is no denying that there are social issues that plague Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (there have been continuous protests to draw attention to this) and it is important to open people’s eyes to the everyday lived reality. But these issues are never explained in context.

They are usually delivered with broad-sweeping statements which are ill-informed by decades of deeply-embedded prejudiced reporting. Most often by non-Indigenous people with little to no knowledge of the issues and with no understanding of the historical racism underpinning it.

There is no explanation of the root of these issues, which is intergenerational trauma caused by colonisation, dispossession, the Stolen Generations, entrenched racism, discriminatory policies and poverty.

January 26 symbolises when these social issues began for our communities.

We cannot deal with the current violence, injustice and pain without looking at ourselves in the mirror and into our history.

What the media says matters. When Indigenous people are persistently portrayed as child abusers and other stereotypical labels, it feeds racist attitudes infiltrating the wider population (which have been conditioned by the media) “

Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman and National NAIDOC Committee member. She is Media Diversity Australia’s Indigenous Affairs advisor where she co-authored a handbook for better reporting on Indigenous peoples and issues. See this article in full Part 2 Below 

Follow Shannan @ShannanJDodson

The Australian have an article out at the moment headlined ‘Indigenous leaders back Kerri-Anne Kennerley in racism row’.

The article interviews three members of the Liberal Party for their views on it, suffice it to say that they were all pretty cool with KAK’s comments.

Apparently the Australian are the deciders on who gets to be an ‘Indigenous Leader’, so even though IndigenousX is a site that privileges Indigenous voices, we thought we’d take a different tack on this one.

We thought we’d ask some White leaders about their thoughts on the situation.”

Luke Pearson Founder #IndigenousX  : White leaders condemn Kerri-Anne Kennerley over racism row

The media should take time to reflect on their own views, biases and opinions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and use facts and editorial judgement to challenge, rather than reinforce stereotypes.

Negative reporting is commonplace for our communities.

recent study of more than 300 articles about Aboriginal health, published over a 12-month period showed that almost 75 percent of these articles were negative. ”

“On an individual level, exposure to racism is associated with psychological distress, depression, poor quality of life, and substance misuse, all of which contribute significantly to the overall ill-health experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Prolonged experience of stress can also have physical health effects, such as on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.”

Pat Anderson is chairwoman of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (and a former chair of NACCHO) see her opinion article below

Read article above HERE

The media pick sides in the Kerri-Anne Kennerley racism debate

EMILY WATKINS  Crikey Media reporter

Example of #SackKAK Social media

It didn’t take long for lines to be drawn and sides to be chosen in the latest drama out of Ten’s morning panel show Studio 10.

Panellist and Logie Hall of Famer Kerri-Anne Kennerley suggested those marching to change the date of Australia Day didn’t care about social problems and crime in Indigenous communities. Guest panellist Yumi Stynes — the only non-white person on the panel — said Kennerley sounded racist.

Well! KAK was very offended (as people increasingly are when they are called “racist”).

Producers followed up yesterday by having two Indigenous guests with opposing opinions on the show — Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Price and former Victorian MP Lidia Thorpe. Meanwhile, the commentariat has fully embraced this latest battle in the culture wars.

In KAK’s corner

Most traditional and conservative media are supporting Kennerley. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today has come out in full support of KAK — she’s on the front page, with Indigenous leader Warren Mundine saying it’s “stupid” to call her racist. Inside the paper, an opinion piece from Jacinta Price that supports Kennerley is given prominence over a counter-opinion from retired Indigenous figure skater and archaeologist Lowanna Gibson.

 

Its editorial says Stynes “played the racism card”, while on the opposite page the cartoon shows Stynes calling a barista racist for offering her a “short black” coffee.

The Teles broadsheet stablemate The Australian has also run an opinion piece from Jacinta Price, and quotes Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt as defending Kennerley. Andrew Bolt has used his Sky News program and his blog on the Herald Sun website to support Kennerley’s position.

Over at Sydney’s 2GB, Kennerley defended herself on Ben Fordham’s programbefore KIIS’ Kyle and Jackie O called Stynes and Kennerley to talk to about the spat.

Former Studio 10 executive producer Rob McKnight published a blog post on his industry website TV Blackbox on why he would never have let Stynes on the program:

The producers and executives at 10 might be patting themselves on the back over the amount of publicity this confrontation is generating, but not all publicity is good publicity. The headlines alone are causing one of their regular presenters serious brand damage … None of these paint KAK in a good light. In fact, they are very damaging, especially when they don’t represent the point she was trying to make. Essentially, she has been thrown under a bus by a co-host and that’s not cool.”

Daily Mail Australia, which loves any kind of morning TV drama, has been dining out on the brouhaha, rewriting and churning out its own versions of all the commentary and developments.

In Stynes’ corner

Another example of Social Media activism 

Unsurprisingly, online and youth-focussed outlets have leant towards Stynes’ view

Ten’s own news website Ten Daily is leading its website on Wednesday morning with an opinion piece from Yawuru woman Shannan Dodson asking why it’s more offensive to call someone racist than it is to say something racist. See Below

Junkee‘s coverage of the story relied more heavily on social media commentary than specific criticism of Kennerley’s comments, whilePedestrian took a swing at breakfast TV more generally and and flat-out called Kennerley’s comments “racist” without qualification (which other outlets were reluctant to do).

Meanwhile, Indigenous X founder Luke Pearson has published a piece satirising The Australian‘s coverage.

Part 2 Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman continued from opening 

Kennerley’s comments were a veiled concern for Indigenous people to mask her discomfort with Australians protesting against a day that solidifies and elevates her status as the dominant culture.

Her response to the backlash today was to reiterate her offense at being labelled racist rather than reflecting on her own position of privilege and why her approach and words were in fact what was offensive.

She says “if you look at ‘racist’ in the dictionary it’s thinking that another racial group is superior or another group is inferior.” The idea that people believe racism is confined to calling someone a racist term fails to acknowledge that racism is systemic and institutional.

It is not a coincidence that the most recent examples of media personalities being called out for being racist have been white women (although white men often make an appearance as well) — think Sonia Kruger, Samantha Armytage, Prue MacSween.

It is because they are comfortably sitting within the hegemonic culture; that experiences all the perks of it, commonly known as white privilege. Or as sociologist Dr Robin DiAngelo puts it “the defensiveness and discomfort that white people display when their racial worldviews are challenged.”

White privilege means turning on the television and seeing people of your race widely represented. It is having your worldview from a position of power and privilege reiterated and presented above all else, without being questioned or given from a different perspective.

Aboriginal people are rarely represented in these discussions (or often just as a knee-jerk reaction if we are). The media often talks about us, laying judgement, without including us in conversations about our own lives and experiences.

The fact is a non-Indigenous person is not going to have the same experience, perspective or reality as an Indigenous person. Not just because of the racism experienced by our communities, but because the system we are living in was methodically set up to exclude and discriminate against Indigenous people.

Our experience in this country is unique to any other. Almost every Indigenous family and community has been affected by the forcible removal of Indigenous children with the purpose of assimilating us and stripping us of our identity and culture.

My own family has been impacted by the Stolen Generations; two of my aunties were forcibly removed from my grandmother and grandfather.

They were not removed for ‘their wellbeing’, they were removed due to racist policies that also saw my Anglo Grandfather jailed for 18 months for loving my Aboriginal grandmother — because it was illegal to cohabit with an Aboriginal person.

That is recent history, my aunties are still alive and that is still having a ripple effect on not only my family but our community and other Indigenous communities across the country. It is a lived real experience, one that is not just a distant memory in history books.

Where is the nuanced discussion in mainstream media when it comes to discussing the social issues we face? Why aren’t we talking about the immense trauma we are still suffering that is projected out into painful acts because the hurt is too hard to bear?

Kerri-Anne Kennerley also goes on to say “Throwing words around can be dangerous and very, very hurtful”.

I ironically agree with the sentiment. Inaccurate or inflammatory reporting from a position of power has a detrimental impact on already oppressed communities.

The media have an influential and permeating impact on how audiences understand and make sense of the world. Whether deliberate or unconscious, those working in the media have the power to influence how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are perceived and understood.

The media should take time to reflect on their own views, biases and opinions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and use facts and editorial judgement to challenge, rather than reinforce stereotypes.

Negative reporting is commonplace for our communities.

recent study of more than 300 articles about Aboriginal health, published over a 12-month period showed that almost 75 percent of these articles were negative.

What the media says matters. When Indigenous people are persistently portrayed as child abusers and other stereotypical labels, it feeds racist attitudes infiltrating the wider population (which have been conditioned by the media) and continues to fuel prejudice, misconceptions and ignorance.

These stereotypes are internalised for our people, it creates shame and fuels pain and trauma which often isolates people from participating in mainstream society. This perpetuates the cycle of disadvantage.

We are consistently barraged with commentary about how damaged, destructive and broken we are and that we are not taking any responsibility for this. Why should we be the only ones to carry the weight of colonisation and the social impact it has had on our communities? It is our shared responsibility to dismantle the racist institutions that have systematically worked to oppress Indigenous people.

But frankly, I’m tired of carrying the weight and having to constantly justify my humanity and educate the 97 percent of Australians about why saying inflammatory, ill-informed and stereotypical things are racist.

We need more people like Yumi to step up and share the burden and call out racism in all shapes and forms.

Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman and National NAIDOC Committee member. She is Media Diversity Australia’s Indigenous Affairs advisor where she co-authored a handbook for better reporting on Indigenous peoples and issues. Follow Shannan @ShannanJDodson

Part 3  The truth behind Kerri-Anne Kennerley’s ‘racist’ claims on Studio 10

From Mamamia

Morning television has a reputation for being typically, well, sedate. But on Monday’s episode of Studio 10, the panel engaged in a debate that has left people fuming.

It centres around an exchange between daytime television stalwart Kerri-Anne Kennerley and presenter Yumi Stynes regarding protests that took place around the country on January 26, which called for the date of Australia Day to be changed and to highlight ongoing oppression and disadvantages experienced by First Nations people.

Kennerley’s take: “Has any single one of those 5000 people waving the flags, saying how inappropriate the day is, has any one of them been out to the outback where children, babies five-year-old’s are being raped, their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped, they get no education? What have you done?”

To Stynes, the comments sounded “racist”; an accusation that left Kennerley “seriously offended”.

“Just because I have an opinion doesn’t mean I’m racist,” she replied.

But Kennerley’s comments weren’t presented as an opinion – they were presented like fact. So, was she actually right? Let’s take a look

Of course, it should be noted that Kennerley was raising a question rather than making a direct accusation. But it was clearly a loaded one.

Author/filmmaker/actor Elizabeth Wymarra, who was among those to lead a protest against Kennerley outside Channel 10’s Sydney HQ this morning, argued that the premise of Kennerley’s question was not only presumptive and unfounded, but hypocritical.

Watch video 

“There was over 50,000 people that came out and marched in the Invasion Day march in Sydney, and a lot of those people were non-Indigenous people. They were non-Indigenous people who care about the oppression and discrimination of my people,” she stated in a Twitter video. “They’re in solidarity with us, unlike you, so it seems… Last time I checked, I don’t see you coming into my house, or my community, helping my people. So who are you to point fingers at people going to marches?

“You don’t know none of those 50,000 people that marched with us. You don’t know they don’t go to community.”

In remote Indigenous communities “…children, babies, five-year-old’s are being raped, their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped, they get no education

Breaking it down…

Sexual abuse.

Stynes’ criticism of this statement was that Kennerley was implying that “women aren’t being raped here in big cities, and children aren’t being raped here in big cities”. In other words, that sexual violence is a remote Indigenous issue rather than a national one.

That’s clearly not the case. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data indicates that one in five women around Australia have experienced sexual violence since age 15.

There is evidence that Indigenous Australians are more likely to experience sexual violence, though. According to the AIHW, in 2016 the rate of Indigenous sexual assault victims (ie. per 100,000 people) across NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia was between 2.3 and 3.4 times higher than that among non-Indigenous victims.

When it comes to sexual violence against children, the picture is similar. In 2016 the rate of Indigenous children, aged 0–14, recorded by police as victims of sexual assault in the above states was approximately twice that of non-Indigenous children.

Importantly though, data on the sexual assault of women and children in remote Indigenous communities specifically – or “the outback”, as Kennerley put it – is not comprehensive.

Education.

The claim that there’s “no education” in outback communities is quite obviously not true. According to Creative Spirits, there are reportedly 17,000 Indigenous children attending school in remote areas.

That being said, there are barriers to accessing education in particularly remote communities. including availability of teaching staff, transport, weather cutting off roads, etc., which impacts attendance rates and outcomes for Indigenous students. For example, while attendance rates among Indigenous students in inner regional areas stood at 86.8 per cent in the first half of 2017, it dropped to 64.6 per cent in very remote areas according to government data.

But overall, nationwide stats show that the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students attend school and are achieving national minimum standards for literacy and numeracy.

Indigenous university enrolment has also more than doubled over the past decade.

Response

Kennerley responded to that the backlash this morning on Studio 10. While again taking issue with being labelled racist, this time she made an important distinction.

She used the word “some”.

“The statement that I made was about the tragic abuse of women and children in some Indigenous communities,” she said. “Now that is a fact, it’s backed up by a lot of people. It is not a judgement, it doesn’t mean.. thinking a group is superior, or someone is inferior.”

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #AustraliaDay2019 or #InvasionDay1788 Debate : With Editorial from PM @ScottMorrisonMP, Jeff Kennett and Marion Scrymgour : On #SurvivalDay 2019 we recognise the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

” Yesterday 25 January my family and I spent time with the Ngunnawal people — the first inhabitants of the Canberra region. We attended a smoking ceremony, an ancient cleansing ritual, in what I believe should become a prime ministerial tradition on the eve of Australia Day.

The timing, ahead of our national day, is entirely appropriate because the sacred custodianship of our indigenous people marked the first chapter in the story of our country.

Our First Australians walked here long before anyone else, loving and caring for these lands and waters. They still do. We honour their resilience and stewardship across 60,000 years. We pay respect to the world’s oldest continuous culture.

A culture that is alive; a culture that has survived. A culture that speaks to us no matter what our background as Australians because it is part of the living, breathing soul of our land.

Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of Australia see full Text Published 26 January 2019 The Australian see Part 1 Below 

Watch video

 Minnie Tompkins ochreing the PM’s two Daughters at the event : Copyright Billy T.Tompkins

” We cannot celebrate 26 January when our children still face the devastating impacts of colonisation. Instead, on Survival Day we recognise the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

If we are to celebrate the many great things about our nation, we need a new date that is inclusive of all Australians and ensures we can all participate in celebrations together.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 26 January and the colonisation of Australia is a reflection of the ongoing discrimination and violation of human rights that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children face today.”

SNAICC Press Release 26 January 2019 

It was with profound sadness that I read two stories in The Australian this week: first was the front-page piece “Conservative MPs push to protect January 26”, published on Thursday, and then yesterday, “Dutton puts pressure on PM with support for Australia Day law”. This second story was accompanied by a report on an “invasion day” rally planned for the steps of Parliament House today.

In my column in Melbourne’s Herald Sun this week, I presented the case for changing the date from January 26.

I am the first to admit the issue of the date on which we celebrate Australia Day is not the top priority for Australians. Nor is the recalibration of the way in which Australia recognises its First Peoples. But changing the date is a start in building the recognition and trust I believe is necessary in an educated country

Stop this insult to our First Peoples in the Australian 26 January 2019

Jeff Kennett was the Liberal premier of Victoria, 1992-99 see Part 2 Below

” How can Australia possibly persist in celebrating as its national day the colonial acts of a foreign country? Without even touching on the sensitivities of Indigenous people, where does that leave the majority of Australians who came to or are descended from people who came to this country since Federation (including exponentially increasing numbers of Asian Australians)?

And finally, just to return to the issue of the stake of Indigenous people in this nation. Some have suggested that because there are pressing and immediate issues which are undermining our prospects for progress and wellbeing, it is inappropriate to spend time and energy participating in the debate about our national day.

Like many others who are committed to tackling domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unemployment amongst our people, I believe we can walk and chew gum at the same time.” 

Marion Scrymgour is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Tiwi Islands Regional Council. Prior to this she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Wurli-Wurliinjang Health Service and was Chair of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory.

Part 4 Invasion Day rally 2019: where to find marches and protests across Australia

Part 1 January 26, 1788 marked the birth of today’s modern Australia Scott Morrison

Today we also remember the second chapter of our country’s history that began on January 26, 1788, with the arrival of the First Fleet.

Wooden convict ships came carrying men and women who were sick, poor and destitute. Those men and women, who included my own ancestors, persevered, endured and won their freedom. They braved hardship and built lives and families. Indeed, the wonder of our country is that out of such hardship would emerge a nation as decent, as fair and as prosperous as ours.

For along with the cruelties of empire came the ideas of the Enlightenment, and Australia was the great project. Notions of liberty, enterprise and human dignity became the foundation for modern Australia.

And we embrace, too, all those who’ve come since — to make us the happy, thriving, multicultural democracy that we are. That’s the third chapter of our story: the one we’re still writing.

Across Australia, 16,212 men, women and children will become citizens today in more than 365 ceremonies. They will be endowed with the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities as every other Australian. Australia’s great bounty is that she is now made up of people from every nation on earth. Together, all these chapters make us who we are.

They’re not unblemished. We don’t have a perfect history. We’ve made mistakes, but no nation is perfect. But we have so much to be grateful for and so much to be proud of.

We’re a free nation, with an elected parliament, an independent judiciary and a free press. We believe in the equality of men and women — of all citizens no matter their creed, race, sexuality or gender. We’ve worked to create a nation that is harmonious, prosperous and safe — one where every individual matters.

That’s what today is about. Gratitude for all we have. Pride in who we’ve become together.

Australia Day is the day we come together. It’s the day we celebrate all Australians, all their stories, all their journeys. And we do this on January 26 because this is the day that Australia changed — forever — and set us on the course of the modern Australia we are today.

Our nation’s story is of a good-hearted and fair people always striving to be better. We have a go. We take risks. Occasionally we fall flat on our faces. But we get up. We always get up. After all, we know how to have a laugh. And we know how to help how mates when they’re down. Today we remember our history, we celebrate our achievements and we re-dedicate ourselves to the land and the people we love.

Happy Australia Day.

Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of Australia.

Part 2  Stop this insult to our First Peoples

It was with profound sadness that I read two stories in The Australian this week: first was the front-page piece “Conservative MPs push to protect January 26”, published on Thursday, and then yesterday, “Dutton puts pressure on PM with support for Australia Day law”. This second story was accompanied by a report on an “invasion day” rally planned for the steps of Parliament House today.

In my column in Melbourne’s Herald Sun this week, I presented the case for changing the date from January 26.

I am the first to admit the issue of the date on which we celebrate Australia Day is not the top priority for Australians. Nor is the recalibration of the way in which Australia recognises its First Peoples. But changing the date is a start in building the recognition and trust I believe is necessary in an educated country.

Let me start with the claims of “invasion day”. This is a term used by some in the indigenous community and by activists. It has gathered some mileage because its use has not been challenged regularly.

Australia was not invaded in 1788, it was settled. The country was occupied by a people from a different community and race to those who were already here, spread in tribes throughout the land.

As those settlers spread from Sydney Cove, the First Peoples were dispossessed of their lands and, yes, as that happened atrocities were committed.

Commodore Arthur Phillip did not arrive with a military force when he settled Port Jackson in 1788. There was no intent to wage a war against the local inhabitants. In fact, the opposite was true. Phillip was commissioned to work with the inhabitants of the country. Although that did not occur, nor did an invasion.

Let me turn to those so-called conservatives mentioned earlier. Probably the closest political grouping we have in Australia that claims to be conservative is the Nationals. Members of the Liberal Party are part of a broader church that I had always taken to mean economically conservative and socially generous.

Together in government the parties and their members discuss and find consensus on issues through policy development.

It is inconceivable to me that these so-called conservatives cannot see how celebrating Australia Day on January 26 every year reinforces a sense of loss among our First Peoples.

How can they not understand that passing legislation to enshrine January 26 as Australia Day would insult our First Peoples and defer any real hope of building the recognition they deserve?

Their action in pursuing such legislation indicates yet again how out of touch and inflexible some members of parliament have become. This is in the face of the demonstrated generosity of the community on social issues such as same-sex marriage and recognition of the challenges facing our disabled and their carers.

Why can’t they see that the same social generosity should be extended to our First Peoples?

Why do they argue that we should continue to discriminate against an important section of our community who are offended by January 26 as the date of national celebration?

The only reason these so-called conservatives are doing so is because some polls suggested that 75 per cent of Australians support January 26 as the day for the celebration.

This reasoning simply continues the cowardice of so many of our federal politicians over the past two decades.

They are elected to lead. Make bold decisions. Correct areas that cause pain to the community when bold action can easily resolve such pain.

Some in the community argue the government is not conservative enough. I disagree. The issues that were relevant in the 1960s and 70s have evolved through education and extraordinary advances in technology. There is a growing recognition of individual rights.

While I respect the right of all individuals in a broad church to hold differing views, I reserve the right to disagree with them, as I do on this issue. It is in my opinion a myopic view, outdated and based on wrong motives.

I will be interested in see which conservatives put their names to any motion to put back any real advance in the recognition of our First Peoples.

As for Peter Dutton. Leader of the band? Jumping on the so-called conservative bandwagon? He has already done considerable damage to his political reputation and must accept much of the blame for the position of the government, having been instigator of the events that led to the removal of Malcolm Turnbull.

Leadership is what is required, Peter, not weakness. Leadership is what the community respects.

By the way, happy Australia Day to all. I hope today provides an opportunity for people, including politicians, to reconsider their position so that we can continue to build the respect we should be showing to our First Peoples.

Part 3 Let’s park the issues relating to Aboriginal people to one side and look at what the 26th of January represents and symbolises for Australians generally, and at how patently incompatible with our modern national identity it is as a selected national day.

Marion Scrymgour first published 2018

The debate about whether Australia Day should be changed to a date other than the 26th of January has in recent times been focussed on the offensiveness to many Indigenous Australians of using the commemoration of the establishment of an English colony in New South Wales as the foundation narrative of our national identity. The objection articulated by advocates for change is that it ignores, marginalises or diminishes Indigenous history and culture, and fails to acknowledge past injustices (some still unresolved).

Personally I think the objection is valid, but I accept that there are differing views. However, it is not necessary to even get into that argument to be persuaded conclusively that there should be a change of date. Let’s park the issues relating to Aboriginal people to one side and look at what the 26th of January represents and symbolises for Australians generally, and at how patently incompatible with our modern national identity it is as a selected national day.

The 26th of January marks the beginning of what sort of enterprise? What sort of uplifting and inspirational human endeavour? The answer is that it was a penal settlement. A remote punishment farm to warehouse the overflow from Britain’s prisons. A place of brutality and despair conceived out of a desire to keep a problem out of sight and out of mind.

Modern Australia has its flaws. Some may want to argue the toss over Don Dale or Manus Island, but the reality is that we are a civilised, enlightened and fair people. We embrace those values in ourselves and in each other. We all recognise how lucky we are to live in a tolerant society where diversity and difference are accepted and mateship and hard work are encouraged. We cherish our autonomy and freedom. A national day should resonate with and reflect those values. The way it can do that is by reminding us of something in our past which either brought out the best in our national character, or else represented a step along the path to our unique Australian identity.

Potential examples are many, but might include these: Kokoda; the first Snowy River hydro scheme (with its harnessing of migrant workers from all over Europe coming to seek a better life after the second world war); the abolition of the white Australia policy in 1966; the passage of the Australia Act in 1986 (when Australia’s court system finally became fully independent).

One thing I know for sure is that when we look into history’s mirror for some event or occasion that allows us to see ourselves as we aspire to be, the last and most alien screen we would contemplate downloading and sharing as emblematic of ourselves as Australians would be Sydney Cove in 1788. You just have to pause and think about it for a moment to be able to reject the concept as ludicrous. And yet that is the status quo that has become entrenched in our national calendar, through a process which has been more recent and less considered than most would be aware of.

In my view it is a matter of historical logic that Australia’s national day cannot be one which commemorates something which happened before Australia itself was created. That happened in 1901 when the various colonies joined together in a single federation in which each of them was transformed into an entity called a “state”.

The new Australian states were modelling themselves on the American colonies which had joined together to become the United States of America. Many of those colonies already had a long prior history since they had been established by European settlers and in most cases they were much prouder of their origins than those new Australian states which had started off as penal settlements. But if anyone, then or since, had proposed that the national day for the USA should be some day commemorating the early history of some individual colony, they would have been howled down by Americans. The American national day celebrates the independence of the unified whole, not a way-station in the history of a pre-independence colony. It should be the same with us.

If any recent event should have served to underscore the lack of fit between the date on which our national day is currently celebrated and our contemporary political reality it is the disqualifying of Federal Parliamentarians who have belatedly discovered that they are British citizens.

Just think about that for a moment. The colony of New South Wales was established on behalf of the British Crown. Then when the country called Australia was created in 1901, its people were classed as British subjects. Stand-alone citizenship came later and things have been slowly and fundamentally changing. In 2018 Britain is a foreign country and if you are a citizen of that country you are excluded from being elected to our Australian parliament. That is because it is recognised that there are conflicting interests and allegiances.

How can Australia possibly persist in celebrating as its national day the colonial acts of a foreign country? Without even touching on the sensitivities of Indigenous people, where does that leave the majority of Australians who came to or are descended from people who came to this country since Federation (including exponentially increasing numbers of Asian Australians)?

And finally, just to return to the issue of the stake of Indigenous people in this nation. Some have suggested that because there are pressing and immediate issues which are undermining our prospects for progress and wellbeing, it is inappropriate to spend time and energy participating in the debate about our national day. Like many others who are committed to tackling domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and unemployment amongst our people, I believe we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Marion Scrymgour

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention Crisis : Five Indigenous teenage girls between the ages of 12 and 15 years of age have taken their own lives in the past few days. Comments from @TracyWesterman @joewilliams_tew @cultureislife @GerryGeorgatos

 

” Five indigenous teenage girls between the ages of 12 and 15 years of age have taken their own lives in the past nine days.

The most recent loss was of a 12-year-old Adelaide girl who died last Friday.

Three of the other cases occurred in Western Australia and one was in Queensland.

The spate of deaths, first reported by The Australian, is believed to have began on January 3, when a 15-year-old girl from Western Australia died in Townsville Hospital from injuries caused by self-harm. She had been visiting relatives in the beachside town.

A 12-year-old girl took her own life in South Headland, a mining town in WA, the next day.

On January 6, a 14-year-old also took her own life in Warnum, an Aboriginal community in the Kimberley.

Another 15-year-old indigenous girl is believed to have taken her own life in Perth’s south last Thursday, according to The Australian.

A 12-year-old boy is also on life support after what is believed to have been a suicide attempt. He remains in Brisbane Hospital where he was flown for treatment from Roma on Monday.

From news.com.au see Part 1 Below

Graphic above NITV see Part 3 article below

– Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention contact: Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or NACCHO find an Aboriginal Medical Service here.

There are resources for young people at Headspace Yarn Safe.

Read over 128 Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years 

We have enormous amounts of funding injected into this critical area; yet, suicides continue to escalate. Our Indigenous youth are dying by suicide at EIGHT times the rate of non-Indigenous children and it is only right that we ask why this level of funding has had little to no impact.

There are actually two tragedies here; the continued loss of the beautiful young lives through suicide, and secondly, that all efforts to fund an adequate response capable of applying the science of what prevents suicide have failed.

I am as concerned that the primary focus is on encouraging people to simply ‘talk’ about suicide without the clinical and cultural best practice programs and therapies available to respond to this awareness raising, particularly in our remote areas.

Wasted opportunities for prevention are like an endless cycle in which money is thrown at band aid, crisis driven, reactive and ill-informed responses that disappear as fast as the latest headlines.

It is time to start demanding evidence of what works when we look at funded programs. Until we can get these answers, rates will continue to escalate.” 

Dr Tracy Westerman is a proud Njamal woman from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical Psychology).

WEBSITE 

She is a recognised world leader in Aboriginal mental health, cultural competency and suicide prevention achieving national and international recognition for her work. This is despite coming from a background of disadvantage and one in which she had to undertake most of her tertiary entrance subjects by Distance Education. 2018 Western Australian of the Year

See Part 2 Below

” When a Suicide occurs; we are constantly telling people to ‘speak up’ when they aren’t well – it’s very easy to say that to people, but when you are hurting mentally, you can’t speak up, you don’t tell people yr not well and you pretend everything is ok whilst slowly dying inside!!

What’s stopping you from reaching in to help??

Don’t wait for people to speak up; start paying more attention to others; watch their behaviours, listen to how they respond.

If every person in the world pays attention to those close; family, kids, relatives, friends, work colleagues, team mates – then every person will be able to notice when someone isn’t well.

If we are not noticing, then I’m sorry, but we are not paying enough attention.

We are losing too many lives, every statistic is a person – don’t wait for others to reach out; reach in and help them when they feel silenced and it’s too hard for them to talk!!!

It starts with us – are we paying enough attention?

Joe Williams : Although forging a successful professional sporting career, Joe battled the majority of his life with suicidal ideation and Bi Polar Disorder. After a suicide attempt in 2012, Joe felt his purpose was to help people who struggle with mental illness. Joe is also an author having contributed to the book Transformation; Turning Tragedy Into Triumph & his very own autobiography titled Defying The Enemy Within – available in the shop section of this site.

Website 

In 2017 Joe was named as finalist in the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards for his work with suicide prevention and fighting for equality for Australia’s First Nations people and in 2018 Joe was conferred the highest honour of Australia’s most eminent Suicide Prevention organisation, Suicide Prevention Australia’s LiFE Award for his outstanding work in communities across Australia.

 “How can a child of 10 feel such ­despair that she would end her life? What must she have seen, heard and felt in such a short life to ­destroy all hope? What had she lived? How do her parents, her siblings, their communities live with the pain? How can they possibly endure the all-consuming grief of losing their child?

Now imagine if this were your child, your family, your close-knit community. Wouldn’t there be outrage, a wailing from the heart of overwhelming grief?

This is what is happening to ­indigenous children and young people in our country.”

See Part 4 Below : Love and hope can save young Aborigines in despair 

Published The Australian 17 January 

Download Press Release : culture is life press release 17 jan

Part 1 : Five indigenous girls take their own lives in nine-day period

“Suicides are predominantly borne of poverty and disparities,” said Gerry Georgatos, who heads up the federal government’s indigenous critical response team.

Writing in The Guardian, he described rural communities as being disparate from the rest of Australian society, where high incarceration rates infect communities, few complete schooling, employment is scant and “all hope is extinguished”.

He also said sexual abuse and self harm played a role in the suicides, with the recent spate taking the lives of young girls being “notable”.

The West Australian Government has advised that co-ordinators have been installed in every region of the state, alongside Aboriginal mental health programs.

These programs were introduced after a 2007 inquiry into 22 suicides across the Kimberley. The inquiry found the suicide rate was not due to mental illness such as “bipolar or schizophrenia” and that Aboriginal suicide was not for the most part attributable to individual mental illness.

It noted that the suicide rate, which had “doubled in five years”, was attributable to a governmental failure to respond to many reports.

Part 2 : It is time to start demanding evidence of what works when we look at funded programs. Until we can get these answers, rates will continue to escalate.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs has recently shared that the Commonwealth Government has allocated $134M of funding into Indigenous suicide prevention. If you look at the current suicide statistics this crudely translates to $248,000 per suicide death annually – without adding State funding into the mix.

We have enormous amounts of funding injected into this critical area; yet, suicides continue to escalate. Our Indigenous youth are dying by suicide at EIGHT times the rate of non-Indigenous children and it is only right that we ask why this level of funding has had little to no impact.

I am not privy to how funding decisions are made and I have ZERO funding for my services, research or programs but the gaps are sadly too clear and have been for decades.

As a country facing this growing tragedy, we still have no nationally accepted evidence-based programs across the spectrum of early intervention and prevention activities. This needs to be our first priority.

Currently, and staggeringly, funding does not require that programs demonstrate a measurable reduction in suicide and mental health risk factors in the communities in which they are delivered. This needs to be our second priority.

What this means is that we are not accumulating data or research evidence of ‘what works’. If we don’t evaluate programs and accumulate evidence, we have no hope of informing future practice to halt the intergenerational transmission of suicide risk. This needs to be a third priority.

Additionally, we are the only Indigenous culture in the world that has a virtual absence of mental health prevalence data. Until we have a widely accepted methodology for the screening of early stages of mental ill health and suicide risk, early intervention will remain elusive; evidence based programs cannot be determined and treatment efficacy not able to be monitored. This needs to be our fourth priority.

There are actually two tragedies here; the continued loss of the beautiful young lives through suicide, and secondly, that all efforts to fund an adequate response capable of applying the science of what prevents suicide have failed.

When suicide becomes entrenched, approaches need to be long term and sustainable. Report after report has pointed to the need for ‘evidence-based approaches’ but has anyone questioned why this continues to remain elusive?

When you have spent your life’s work working in Indigenous suicide prevention and self funding evidence based research, as I have, I can also tell you that despite extensive training the complex and devastating issue of suicide prevention challenges you at every level.

It challenges your core values about the right of people to choose death over life; it stretches you therapeutically despite your training in best practice; and it terrifies you that you have missed something long after you have left your at-risk client.

The nature of suicide risk is that it changes. Being able to predict and monitor suicide risk takes years and years of clinical and cultural expertise and well-honed clinical insight and judgement. Throw culture into the mix and this becomes a rare set of skills held by few in this country. Indeed, a senate inquiry in December found that not only are services lacking in remote and rural areas of Australia, but culturally appropriate services were often not accessible.

Funding decisions that are unsupported by clinical and cultural expertise in suicide prevention must be challenged and redirected in the best way possible. Toward the evidence.

Instead we have inquiry after inquiry, consultation after consultation, statistics and mortality data quoted by media purely to satisfy the latest ‘click bait’ 24-hour news cycle headline. On top of that, there are continued calls from those who receive large amounts of funding that they need “more funding”.

I am as concerned that the primary focus is on encouraging people to simply ‘talk’ about suicide without the clinical and cultural best practice programs and therapies available to respond to this awareness raising, particularly in our remote areas.

Wasted opportunities for prevention are like an endless cycle in which money is thrown at band aid, crisis driven, reactive and ill-informed responses that disappear as fast as the latest headlines.

It is time to start demanding evidence of what works when we look at funded programs. Until we can get these answers, rates will continue to escalate.

The time is now to make these changes and ask these questions. I am up for the challenge and have spent my life building and self-funding evidence of what can work to halt these tragic rates in Aboriginal communities and amongst our people. Will the decision makers join me in finding evidence-based ways to address this or continue to throw money at approaches and programs that are simply not working?

Aboriginal people deserve better, our future generations deserve better

Part 3 NITV  Indigenous youth suicide at crisis point

Originally published HERE 

Communities and families are mourning the loss of five young Aboriginal girls who took their own lives in separate incidents in Western Australia, Townsville and Adelaide this year.

In early January, a 15-year old girl from Western Australia died two-days after self-harming on a visit to Townsville.

Last Sunday, a 12-year old girl died in the Pilbara mining town of Port Hedland, followed by a 14-year old girl in the East Kimberley community of Warmun last Monday.

Another was a 15-year-old Noongar girl from Perth who died last Thursday and a fifth was a 12-year-old girl from a town near Adelaide who died last Friday.

Another 12-year-old boy is reportedly on life support at a hospital in Brisbane after what is suspected to be an attempted suicide. He was flown from Roma to Brisbane yesterday, The Australian reports.

The Director of Suicide Prevention Australia, Vanessa Lee, is calling on the federal government to support an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention strategy tailored specifically to meet the needs of Indigenous people.

“When are we going to see change… when are we going to see a national Indigenous suicide prevention strategy supported by the COAG, delivering for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Ms Lee said.

“We need to remember that Indigenous people know the solutions. We know the answers. We didn’t write the Redfern Statement  for a joke… funding needs to be put into Indigenous organisations, into Indigenous hands.”

Aboriginal people know the answers

“We need to remember that Indigenous people know the solutions, we know the answers” – Vanessa Lee

National coordinator for the National Child Sexual Abuse Trauma Recovery Project, Gerry Georgatos, told NITV News the recently reported suicides have weighed heavily on the affected families and communities.

“These incidences… have impacted –psycho-socially– the family. Hurt them to the bone. There are no words for anyone’s loss,” he said.

“To lose a child impacts ways that no other loss does, and to lose a child is a haunting experience straight from the beginning and doesn’t go away.”

South-western Noongar woman, Grace Cockie, lost her 16-year old daughter to suicide last March in their home in Perth.

“It was a devastating experience, I don’t ever want to go through that again and I don’t want no one else to go through that,” Ms Cockie told NITV News.

“She went to school every day. She loved going to school, hanging out with her friends, playing football with her Aunties.

“Part of us is gone… No one is going to replace her,” she said.

Ms Cockie wants other parents to encourage their children to speak-out if they feel unwell and said there needs to be more mental health initiatives which offer culturally supportive help for Aboriginal youth.

“Keep an eye on them and talk to them all the time,” she said.

“There’s a lot of avenues for whitefella kids, you know, and with our Aboriginal kids they’re probably too scared… they probably think they (mental health workers) won’t help them,” she said.

The Kimberley region faces alarming suicide rates

The deaths come as WA waits on a final report from an inquest into 13 Indigenous youth suicides in the Kimberley region from 2012 to 2016.

The Kimberley region has the highest Indigenous suicide rates in Australia – not just for Aboriginal youth, but for the entire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

The inquest by state coroner Ros Fogliani is expected to table findings early this year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found last month that Indigenous children aged between five and 17 died from suicide-related deaths at five times the rate of non-Indigenous children.

This rate was 10.1 deaths by suicide per 100,000 between 2013 and 2017, compared with 2 deaths by suicide per 100,000 for non-Indigenous children.

One in four people who took their own life before turning 18 were Aboriginal children.

Mr Georgatos said nine out of 10 suicides in the Kimberley region have involved Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

A senate inquiry in December found that not only are services lacking in remote and rural areas of Australia, but culturally appropriate services were often not accessible.

The inquiry found that the lack of culturally supportive services is leaving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing mental health services at a far lower rate than non-Indigenous people.

Mr Georgatos said that services aren’t accessible to the majority of people living in the Kimberley, saying that suicide prevention has come down to community support as opposed to accessible mental health professionals.

“Many of these communities [in the Kimberley region] have no services… It is forever community buy-in to support, to have a watchful eye …, but people become exhausted,” he said.

Mr Georgatos said he believes investing in local workforces that possess local cultural knowledge and training these workers to understand intense psychosocial support for young adults is the way forward.

Poverty the ‘driver’ towards suicide

Poverty and sexual abuse in the Kimberley region may be a leading factor for youth suicide, according to Mr Georgatos.

“Nearly 100 per cent of First Nations suicides… are of people living below the poverty line,” he said.

“Crushing poverty [in Kimberley and Pilbara] is the major driver of suicidal ideation, of distorted thinking, of unhappiness, of watching the world pass one by right from the beginning of life.

“One-eighth of First Nations people living in the Kimberley live in some form of homelessness… sixty per cent live below the poverty line.”

A Medical Journal of Australia report in 2016 showed seven per cent of all people living in the Kimberley were homeless.

Last year, forty per cent of youth suicides in Australia were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

“It is a humanitarian crisis… one-third of those suicides is identified as children of sexual abuse, and we don’t have the early intervention to disable the trauma of child sexual abuse,” Mr Georgatos said.

“We don’t have the early intervention and the trauma recovery for them, we don’t have the outreaches for them but what we also don’t have is the talking up and calling out of sexual predation in communities.”

Mr Georgatos said he believes if we have education in communities about what young children should do if they were to ever be predated upon, it would reduce the child internalising their trauma which may lead to suicidal ramifications.

“What we need to do is we need to outreach more personal on the ground to outreach into these communities to support them into pathways where they can access education,” Mr Georgatos said.

“We need more psychosocial support, people just to spread the love… to keep people on a journey to a positive and strong pathway and to ordered thinking, not disordered thinking.”

“We need more psychosocial support, people just to spread the love” – Gerry Georgatos.

Government supported resources

Australian youth mental health organization, headspace, last week received a $47 million funding boost from the federal government.

Chief Executive Officer, Jason Trethowan, told SBS World News the organisation will be working closely with Indigenous communities thanks to the new funding.

“We know there are challenges around rural remoteness and often headspace hasn’t been there for them… that’s why we have a trial going on in the Pilbara region of Western Australia where there are actually headspace services without a headspace centre,” he said.

Indigenous health minister, Ken Wyatt, told NITV News the federal government will continue to invest $3.9 billion over the next three years (from 2018-22) in Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to commission regionally and culturally appropriate mental health and suicide prevention services, particularly in the Kimberley and the Pilbara regions.

Currently the key active programs in these regions include the government’s $4 million Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial and the $2.2 million Pilbara headspace trial, which opened in April last year.

The Pilbara headspace trial was co-designed with local communities, including young people, service providers, community members and local Elders.

The Pilbara headspace team has staff located in Newman, Port Hedland and Karratha, with employees spending their time in schools, youth centres, Aboriginal Medical Services, community centres and other locations.

This allowing them to reach out to youth who may not typically engage with school or youth services, said Samara Clark, manager of headspace, Pilbara.

“It’s all about engagement first, building trust, building visibility,” she said.

“What we’re hoping for is positive help-seeking behaviour, where they feel safe and comfortable enough to come up to us,” she said.

Ms Clark encourages anyone who sees a headspace worker, who may be identified by their green t-shirts, to reach out to them for support.

“If a young person sees one of the team members around, even if a community member sees them, just go up and have a yarn … the team will talk to you then and there.”

– Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact: Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or find an Aboriginal Medical Service here.

There are resources for young people at Headspace Yarn Safe.

Part 4 Love and hope can save young Aborigines in despair 

Published The Australian 17 January 

How can a child of 10 feel such ­despair that she would end her life? What must she have seen, heard and felt in such a short life to ­destroy all hope? What had she lived? How do her parents, her siblings, their communities live with the pain? How can they possibly endure the all-consuming grief of losing their child?

Now imagine if this were your child, your family, your close-knit community. Wouldn’t there be outrage, a wailing from the heart of overwhelming grief?

This is what is happening to ­indigenous children and young people in our country. And to parents and communities as our young people are dragged into a vortex of suicide by despair.

In a week, five Aboriginal girls have taken their own lives — prompting a warning from one ­researcher that indigenous children and young people could soon comprise half of all youth suicides. Researcher Gerry Georgatos says poverty is a major issue in suicide among young indigenous Australians, but also that sexual predation is a factor in a third of cases. My heart breaks for these girls and their families and their unimaginable pain.

The organisation that I lead, Culture is Life, wants our country to treat this as the national emergency it is. We want every Australian to think about the devastating toll of indigenous youth suicide and to help us to stop it. Urgently.

Instead of expecting youth suicide, we must take a stand of ­defiance against it. Unfortunately, across Australia, suicide and self-harm are on the increase. This is being driven by a deep sense of hopelessness and despair, by a lack of belonging and connection, and in some cases by the abuse young people have experienced.

Indigenous young people today are living with the consequences of acts committed by other human beings in charge of policies and laws through more than two centuries of trauma and dispossession. This history haunts us. It lives within us. It’s there in our families’ experiences of stolen land, children and wages, of killings and cruelty and abuses of power. They see this history in their grandparents’ eyes, if they are still alive. They discover it in their family stories of exclusion and unfairness.

And when they, too, feel the slap and sting of racism and ignorance when it comes at them as abuse in the schoolyard, or they sense the awkwardness of others in understanding their Aboriginality, or someone’s eyes won’t meet theirs, this history becomes the present. It eats away at them — at their confidence, their self-belief and their self-love — every time they are the target of racism and discrimination or at the end of ignorance and apathy, and when they are directly affected by abuse.

The task of repair and healing requires a powerful counterforce to all that.

We can tackle this together. We can begin to repair these wounds through daily acts of love and hope in communities, schools, universities and workplaces. Daily acts that send a message to our young people that there is belonging, strength and pride in indigenous peoples and cultures.

We are asking all Australians to show our young people that there is cause for love and hope. Show them that you share a deep sense of pride in who they are, in our inspiring cultures and in our strength. Tell them they matter, by showing your pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Share it with #loveandhope and #cultureislife.

Because when our children have love and hope in their lives, it combats helplessness and reduces the risk of self-harm. It gives them the support and courage required to take the steps they need and want to take. And when the broader community shows our kids that they care, it deepens our connections as Australians. One of the things I love most about my people is our willingness to invite ­others to connect with us and to experience our culture. And the only reciprocal ask is to take up the invitation to connect. Once you take up the invitation, you will be an ally in rectifying some of the most haunting statistics for our country.

We know from the research, and from psychologists who work with young indigenous people, that such small gestures of affirmation can make a powerful difference to their safety. Tanja Hirvonen, an Aboriginal psychologist, says many people don’t know the power of “warm interactions and warm gestures” at just the right moment to avert disaster.

She hears time and again from young people that “there was someone there for them at a particularly tricky time in their life … a coach or a teacher or an aunt or a grandmother … someone has said something pivotal to them at a particular time. Those warm ­interactions matter.”

Culture and connection are powerful protective factors against indigenous youth suicide. That’s why the work of Aboriginal leaders across the country in ­cultural pride, revitalisation and renewal programs is so crucial. People such as Yuin elder Uncle Max Harrison, who is teaching young men the ways of the old people, their lore, their duties, their responsibilities. And, as he does so, he is building their pride, strength and resilience.

So that they walk taller, knowing who they are, that they are cared for and supported and connected to this land. It’s a model for us all to feel more connected as Australians.

We cannot fail to act when we are able to save children and young people from the agony and hopelessness and torment that leads to suicide. We can affirm them in who they are, and in so doing, we can save lives.

Belinda Duarte, a Wotjobaluk woman, is chief executive of Culture is Life.
For help: Lifeline 13 11 14, Beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #chronicdisease @SandroDemaio How #obesity ups your chronic disease risk and what to do about it

” Almost two in every three Australian adults are now overweight or obese, as are one in four of our children.

This rising obesity burden is the outcome of a host of factors, many of which are beyond our individual control – and obesity is linked to a number of chronic diseases.”

Dr Sandro Demaio is an Aussie medical doctor and global expert on non-communicable diseases. Co-host of the ABC TV series ‘Ask the Doctor’, author of 30 scientific papers and ‘The Doctor’s Diet’ (a cookbook based on science) see Part 2 below 

This article was originally published HERE 

Part 1 NACCHO Policy

” The committee heard that Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) run effective programs aimed at preventing and addressing the high prevalence of obesity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Pat Turner, Chief Executive Officer of National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), gave the example of the Deadly Choices program, which is about organised sports and activities for young people.

She explained that to participate in the program, prospective participants need to have a health check covered by Medicare, which is an opportunity to assess their current state of health and map out a treatment plan if necessary.

However, NACCHO is of the view that ACCHOs need to be better resourced to promote healthy nutrition and physical activity.

Access to healthy and fresh foods in remote Australia

Ms Turner also pointed out that ‘the supply of fresh foods to remote communities and regional communities is a constant problem’.

From NACCHO Submission Read here 

” Many community members in the NT who suffer from chronic illnesses would benefit immensely from using Health Care Homes.

Unfortunately, with limited English, this meant an increased risk of them being inadvertently excluded from the initiative.

First, Italk Alice Springs produced the English version of the story. Then using qualified interpreters, they produced Aboriginal language versions in eight languages: Anmatyerre, Alyawarr, Arrernte, East Side Kriol, West Side Kriol, Pitjatjantjara, Warlpiri and Yolngu Matha

Read Article HERE

Figure 2.22-1 Proportion of persons 15 years and over (age-standardised) by BMI category and Indigenous status, 2012–13
Proportion of persons 15 years and over (age-standardised)

Source: ABS and AIHW analysis of 2012–13 AATSIHS

Read over 60 Aboriginal Health and Obesity articles published by NACCHO over past 7 Years

What is chronic disease?

Chronic disease is a broad term, which includes type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancers, certain lung conditions, mental illness and genetic disorders. They are often defined by having complex and multiple causes, and are long-term or persistent (‘chronic’ actually means long-term).

How is obesity linked to chronic disease?

Obesity increases the risk of developing certain chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke), sleep disorders, type 2 diabetes and at least 13 types of cancer.

Type 2 diabetes and obesity:

Obesity is the leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and even being slightly overweight increases this risk. Type 2 diabetes is characterised physiologically by decreased insulin secretion as well as increased insulin resistance due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Left uncontrolled, this can lead to a host of nasty outcomes like blindness, kidney problems, heart disease and even loss of feeling in our hands and feet.

Obstructive sleep apnoea and obesity:

This is another chronic disease often linked to obesity. Sleep apnoea is caused when our large air passage is partially or fully blocked by a combination of factors, including the weight of fat tissue sitting on our neck. It can cause us to jolt awake, gasping for oxygen. It leads to poor sleep, which adds physiological pressure to critical organs.

A woman preparing vegetables for a meal

Cancer and obesity:

This is a disease of altered gene expression. It originates from changes to the cell’s DNA caused by a range of factors, including inherited mutations, inflammation, hormones, and external factors including tobacco use, radiation from the sun, and carcinogenic agents in food. Strong evidence also links obesity to a number of cancers including throat cancer, bowel cancer, cancer of the liver, gallbladder and bile ducts, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer and kidney cancer.

Obesity is also associated with high blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

This might sound overwhelming, but it’s not all bad news. Here are a few things we can all start to do today to reduce our risk of obesity and associated chronic disease:

1. Eat more fruit and veg

Most dietary advice revolves around eating less. But if we can replace an unhealthy diet with an abundance of fresh, whole fruits and vegetables – at least two servings of fruit per day and five servings of vegetables – we can reduce our risk of obesity whilst still embracing our love for good food.

2. Limit our alcohol consumption

Forgo that glass of wine or beer after a long hard day at work and opt instead for something else that helps us relax. Pure alcohol is inherently full of energy – containing twice the energy per gram as sugar. This energy is surplus and non-essential to our nutritional needs, so contributes to our widening waistlines. And whether we’re out for drinks with mates or at a function, we can reduce our consumption by spacing out our drinks and holding off before reaching for another glass.

3. Get moving

While not everyone loves a morning sprint, there are many enjoyable ways to maintain a sufficient level of physical activity. Doing some form of exercise for at least 30 minutes each day is an effective way of keeping our waistlines in check. So, take a break to stretch out the muscles a few times during the workday, spend an afternoon at the local pool, get out into the garden or take some extra time to ride or walk to work. If none of these appeal, do some research to find the right exercise that will be fun and achievable.

Two women exercising in a park together

4. Buddy up

There’s nothing like a bit of peer pressure to get us healthy and active. Pick a friend who has the same goals and encourage each other to keep going. Sign up for exercise classes together, meet for a walk, have them over for a healthy meal, share tips and seek out support when feeling uninspired.

5. Prioritise sleep

Some argue that sleep is the healthy icing on the longevity cake. The benefits of a good night’s sleep are endless, with recent research suggesting it can even benefit our decision-making and self-discipline, making it easier to resist that ‘between-meal’ treat. Furthermore, lack of sleep can increase our appetite and see us lose the enthusiasm to stay active.

Above all, we need to foster patience and perseverance when it comes to achieving a healthy weight. It might not happen overnight, but it is within reach.

Let’s start today!

Co-host of the ABC TV series ‘Ask the Doctor’, author of 30 scientific papers and ‘The Doctor’s Diet’ (a cookbook based on science), Dr Sandro Demaio is an Aussie medical doctor and global expert on non-communicable diseases.

NACCHO Aboriginal Women’s and Bubs Health :#ClosetheGap #refreshtheCTGRefresh All-Aboriginal team at ACCHO helps mums raise healthier babies

If they have a healthy pregnancy then the bubba’s going to be healthy once bubba comes along, and they’re going to be healthy adults.

“That [will] be passed on intergenerationally as well, that’s where we’re really going to close the gap.”

Nurse Katarina Keeler said she wants her clients to leave the program feeling empowered to make good choices for themselves and their young families.

By Jacqueline Breen

Towards the end of our interview, in between giggles, Kirri McKenzie hinted at something that has been worrying her.

She is 26 weeks pregnant and woke up that morning feeling teary and short-tempered.

“All I was thinking is, ‘am I going to’?” she said, her big grin flickering off and on.

She has been watching, warily, for any possible signs of pre-natal depression — she presses her hand to her heart at the thought.

“But I guess it was just this morning, and now this morning’s over,” she said.

She laughed: “It’s past lunch now, so we’re getting there!”

Nurse Katarina Keeler sat next to Kirri on the couch watching on, and gently chipped in.

“Don’t forget about all those hormones changing as well,” she said.

Kirri nodded, put her smile back on, and launched in to an anecdote about her recent mood swings and cravings, and a meltdown triggered by the theft of a much-needed hash brown by a younger sibling.

She has Kat’s help on hand for the next two years, at least, although Kirri has already declared the young nurse a de facto aunty for her soon-to-be first-born.

The two are paired together as part of a nurse home visiting program for women having Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander babies, a program that will hit a milestone in 2019 of 10 years’ operation in Australia.

Four women stand holding dolls

‘We’ve already been there’

The program was imported from the United States where it was first created to help younger, poorer families raise healthier babies.

It was adapted for an Indigenous Australian context and extra funding from the Australian government in 2018 saw it expand to new sites, so it now operates in all states except Tasmania and Western Australia.

In Darwin, where the program has been running for 18 months, the team is all Aboriginal women, working from Danila Dilba Health Service’s northern suburbs clinic.

The shared cultural background helps nervous clients feel more comfortable, said nurse supervisor Colleen Voss.

“They know they’re not going to be judged by anybody,” she said.

“We know what they’re going through because we come from communities also, and we’ve already been there and done all that.”

Navigating the systems

Kat and the other nurse home visitors talk their clients through pregnancy to toddlerhood, covering everything from healthy eating and breastfeeding to the risks of smoking and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

But they also go above and beyond the strictly medical stuff, and trouble-shoot problems that could otherwise spiral.

Kirri needed help dealing with Centrelink (“the worst place on earth!”) when she was fired after ongoing morning sickness early in her pregnancy.

And Kat said many clients are living in over-crowded housing, where they have less control over the environment surrounding them and their baby.

“There’s a big wait-list, about five to six years, for [public] housing here in Darwin,” she said.

“That’s one of the biggest stressors that we always have a yarn about with our clients — we help put in the housing application forms, we help with the ID and stuff.

“We just help them navigate those systems a bit easier.”

A long-term vision

In 2017 the Northern Territory youth detention and child protection royal commission said in its final report, like others already had, that early, effective support for vulnerable families can make collisions with those systems less likely later on.

The report also recommended a Productivity Commission review of spending on child and family services in the Northern Territory to ensure that they are coordinated — the NT and Federal Governments are still yet to agree on an inquiry’s terms of reference.

Katarina Keeler said she wants her clients to leave the program feeling empowered to make good choices for themselves and their young families.

“If they have a healthy pregnancy then the bubba’s going to be healthy once bubba comes along, and they’re going to be healthy adults,” she said.

“That [will] be passed on intergenerationally as well, that’s where we’re really going to close the gap.”

.@NACCHOChair Season’s Greetings and a very Happy #ChooseHealth New Year from all the NACCHO mob : Make @DeadlyChoices a #sugarfree 2019 New Year #SugaryDrinksProperNoGood

Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

On behalf of NACCHO, the Board and our staff we wish you a safe, happy and healthy festive season.

Please note : Our Canberra Office Closes 20 December and Re Opens 4 January 2019

2018 has been a year of change, with many new members joining the NACCHO Board.

With change comes opportunity, 2019 will see many new and exciting developments as NACCHO continues to enhance better service for the sector.

We look forward to building strong relationships with you, maintain Aboriginal community control and work together in the new year to improve health and well-being outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I hope you all have good health, happiness and a safe holiday season

Ms Donnella Mills Chair NACCHO

Click on our 2018 year in review

If the NACCHO Christmas card isn’t playing, click here to view in a web browser.

”  This campaign is straightforward – sugary drinks are no good for our health.It’s calling on people to drink water instead of sugary drinks.’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Cape York and throughout all our communities experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease compared to other Australians.’

‘Regular consumption of sugary drinks is associated with increased energy intake and in turn, weight gain and obesity. It is well established that obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and some cancers. Consumption of sugary drinks is also associated with poor dental health.

Water is the best drink for everyone – it doesn’t have any sugar and keeps our bodies healthy.’

Apunipima Public Health Advisor Dr Mark Wenitong

WATCH Apunipima Video HERE

“We tell ‘em kids drink more water; stop the sugar. It’s good for all us mob”

Read all 60 + NACCHO articles Health and Nutrition HERE

https://nacchocommunique.com/category/nutrition-healthy-foods/

 ” Let’s be honest, most countries and communities (and especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders ) now face serious health challenges from obesity.

Even more concerning, so do our kids.

While no single mission will be the panacea to a complex problem, using 2017 to set a new healthy goal of giving sugar the kick would be a great start.

Understand sugar, be aware of it, minimise it and see it for what it is – a special treat for a rare occasion.

This New Year’s, make breaking up with sugar your planned resolution.

“Hey sugar – it’s not me, it’s you…”

Alessandro R Demaio  Global Health Doctor; Co-Founded NCDFREE & festival21; Assoc. Researcher, University of Copenhagen and NACCHO supporter ( First Published 2016 see in full below )

We recommend the Government establish obesity prevention as a national priority, with a national taskforce, sustained funding and evaluation of key measures including:

  • Laws to stop exposure of children to unhealthy food and drink marketing on free to air television until 9.30 pm
  • Mandatory healthy food star rating from July 2019 along with stronger food reformulation targets
  • A national activity strategy to promote walking, cycling and public transport use
  • A 20 per cent health levy on sugary drinks

Australia enjoys enviable health outcomes but that is unlikely to last if we continue to experience among the world’s highest levels of obesity.

 CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells

NACCHO Aboriginal #HealthStarRating and #Nutrition @KenWyattMP Free healthy choices food app will dial up good tucker

” Weight gain spikes sharply during the Christmas and New Year holiday period with more than half of the weight we gain during our lifetime explained just by the period between mid-November and mid-January.

Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA

 ” Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

The study used computer modelling to simulate daily activities like food and beverage shopping of the populations of three U.S. cities – Baltimore, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

It found that warning labels in locations that sell sugary drinks, including grocery and corner stores, reduced both obesity and overweight prevalence in the three cities, declines that the authors say were attributable to the reduced caloric intake.

The virtual warning labels contained messaging noting how added sugar contributes to tooth decay, obesity and diabetes.

The findings, which were published online December 14 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, demonstrates how warning labels can result in modest but statistically significant reductions in sugary drink consumption and obesity and overweight prevalence.”

Diabetes Queensland : Warning labels can help reduce sugary drinks consumption and obesity, new study suggests

 

Global recognition is building for the very real health concerns posed by large and increasing quantities of hidden sugar in our diets. This near-ubiquitous additive found in products from pasta sauces to mayonnaise has been in the headlines and in our discussions.

The seemingly innocuous sweet treat raises eyebrows from community groups to policy makers – and change is in the air.

Let’s review some of the sugar-coated headers from 2016 :

  • The global obesity epidemic continued to build while more than two-in-three Australian adults faced overweight or obesity – and almost one in four of our children.
  • Science around sugary drinks further solidified, with consumption now linked to obesitychildhood obesityheart diseasediabetes (type-2), dental caries and even lower fertility.
  • Australians were estimated to consume a staggering 76 litres of sugary drinks each since January alone, and new reports highlighted that as much as 15% of the crippling health costs associated with obesity could result from sugary drinks consumption.
  • Meanwhile around the planet, more countries took sound policy measures to reduce sugar consumption in their citizens. France, Belgium, Hungary, Finland, Chile, the UK, Ireland, South Africa and many parts of the United States implemented, continued or planned the implementation of pricing policies for sugary drinks.

In short, the over-consumption of sugar is now well recognised as a public health challenge everywhere.

With all this in mind and a New Year ahead, it’s time to put big words into local action. With resolutions brewing, here are seven helpful tips to breaking up with sugar in 2017.

1. Understand sugar

When it comes to sugar, things can get pretty confusing. Below, I shed some light on the common misunderstandings, but let’s recheck sugar itself – in simplest terms.

Sugar is a type of refined carbohydrate and a source of calories in our diet. Our body uses sugar and other sources of calories as energy, and any sugar that is not used is eventually stored as fat in our liver or on our bellies.

“Free sugars” are those added to products or concentrated in the products – either by us or by the manufacturer. They don’t include sugars in whole fruits and vegetables, but more on that later. For a range of health reasons, the World Health Organization recommends we get just 5% of our daily calories from free sugars. For a fully grown man or woman, this equates to a recommended limit to sugar consumption of roughly 25 grams – or 6 teaspoons. For women, it’s a little less again.

Consume more than this, and our risk of health problems rises.

2. Quit soft drinks

With 16 teaspoons of sugar in a single bottle serving – that’s more than 64 grams– there’s nothing “soft” about soft drinks. Including all carbonated drinks, flavoured milks and energy drinks with any added sugars, as well as fruit drinks and juices, sugary drinks are a great place to focus your efforts for a healthier 2018. Sugary drinks provide no nutritional value to our diets and yet are a major source of calories.

sugartax

What’s more concerning, evidence suggests that when we drink calories in the form of sugary drinks, our brains don’t recognise these calories in the same way as with foods. They don’t make us feel “full” and could even make us hungrier – so we end up eating (and drinking) more. In this way, liquid calories can be seen as even more troubling than other forms of junk foods. Combine this with studies that suggest the pleasure (and sugar spike) provided by sugary drinks may make them hard to give up – and it’s not difficult to see why many of us are drinking higher amounts, more often and in larger servings. This also makes cutting down harder.

The outcome is that anything up to one-seventh of the entire public cost of obesity in Australia could now result from sugary drinks. In other words, cut out the sugary drinks and you’ll be doing your own health a favour – and the health of our federal and state budgets.

3. Eat fruit, not juice

When it’s wrapped in a peel or a skin, fruit sugars are not a challenge to our health. In fact, the sugars in fruit are nature’s way of encouraging us to eat the fruit to begin with. Fruits like oranges, apples and pears contain important fibres. The “roughage” in our foods, this fibre is healthy in many ways but there are three in particular I will focus on. First, it slows our eating down; it is easy to drink a glass of juice squeezed from 7 apples, but much harder to eat those seven pieces whole. Second, it makes us feel full or satiated. And third, it slows the release of the sugars contained in fruit into our blood streams, thus allowing our bodies to react and use the energy appropriately, reducing our chances of weight gain and possibly even diabetes.

Juice, on the other hand, involves the removal of most of those fibres and even the loss of some of the important vitamins. What we don’t lose though, is the 21 grams or more than five teaspoons of sugar in each glass.

In short, eat fruit as a snack with confidence. But enjoy whole fruit, not juice.

4. Sugar by any other name

High-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, malt sugar and molasses – they all mean one thing: sugar.

As the public awakens to the health challenges posed by sugar, the industry turns to new ways to confuse consumers and make ‘breaking up’ more difficult. One such way is to use the many alternative names for sugar – instead of the ‘s’ word itself. Be on the lookout for:

Evaporated cane juice, golden syrup, malt syrup, sucrose, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose and more…

5. Eat whole foods where possible

Tomato sauce, mayonnaise, salad dressings, gravies, taco sauces, savoury biscuits and breakfast cereals – these are just some of the many foods now often packed with hidden, added sugars.

study found that 74% of packaged foods in an average American supermarket contain added sugars – and there is little evidence to suggest Australia would be dramatically different. Added to food to make it more enjoyable, and moreish, the next tip when avoiding such a ubiquitous additive is to eat whole foods.

It’s hard to hide sugar in plain flour, or a tomato, or frozen peas. Buying and cooking with mostly whole foods – not products – is a great way to ensure you and your family are not consuming added sugars unaware.

6. See beyond (un)healthy claims

Words like “wholesome”, “natural” and “healthy” are clad on many of our favourite ingredients. Sadly, they don’t mean much.

Even products that are full of sugar, like breakfast cereals and energy bars, often carry claims that aim to confuse and seduce us into purchase. Be wary – and be sure to turn the package over and read the ingredients and nutrition labelling where possible (and if time permits).

7. Be okay with sometimes

The final but crucial message in all of this is that eating or drinking sugar is not a sin. Sugar is still a part of our lives and something to enjoy in moderation. The occasional piece of cake, or late night chocolate – despite the popular narrative painted by industry to undermine efforts for true pricing on sugar – these occasional sweet treats are not the driving challenge for obesity. The problem is that sugary drinks, and sugar in our foods, have become every day occurrences.

With this in mind, let’s not demonise sugar but instead let’s see it for what it is. Enjoy some juice or bubbles from time to time but make water the default on an everyday basis. With the average can of cola containing 39 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar, be OK with sometimes.

Bitter truth

Let’s be honest, We now face serious health challenges from obesity.

Even more concerning, so do our kids.

Learn more about our ACCHO making Deadly Choices