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

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

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

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

 OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin 

Download the report HERE  tipping-the-scales

Read over 30 + NACCHO Obesity articles published last 5 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch video HERE : How does junk food marketing influence kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Aboriginal Male Healthy Futures 2013-2030 Register Now #OchreDay2017 Darwin 4-5 Oct: How can we increase positive outcomes for our mob ?

 

” NACCHO has long recognised the importance of an Aboriginal male health policy and program to close the gap by 2030 on the alarming Aboriginal male mortality rates across Australia.

Aboriginal males have arguably the worst health outcomes of any population group in Australia.

To address the real social and emotional needs of males in our communities, NACCHO in 2013 proposed a positive approach to Aboriginal male health and wellbeing.”

At the National Male Health #OCHRE DAY in Darwin October 4-5 Dr Mick Adams will be facilitating discussions around strategies to increase positive Aboriginal Male Health outcomes locally , state/Territory and nationally : see below for full program or

Download the  2 Day Program HERE :

final 2017-Ochre-Day-Program

For more information call 08 8942 5400 or naccho.ochre@ddhs.org.au

The Ochre Day program has now been finalised and registrations are filling fast – register now for Ochre Day 2017

REGISTER HERE

Other Speakers and presenters will include :

  1. Tony Lee – Elder Larrakia Nation
  2. Richard Fejo – Chair Larrakia
  3. Matthew Cooke – NACCHO Chair . Welcome to NACCHO Ochre Day
  4. The Hon Ken Wyatt M.P. Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health. An overview of Aboriginal Mens Health : a Government perspective
  5. John Paterson – Amsant – Overview of Aboriginal Mens Health Programs in the N.T.
  6. Joseph Knuth – Danila Dilba Health Services Deadly Choices
  7. David Adams- Danila Dilba Health Services – Mens Clinic
  8. Professor James Ward- S.A. Health and Medical Research Institute
  9. Danielle Dyall – Trauma Informed Care – Transintergenerational Trauma
  10. Sarah Haythronthwaite – AMSANT
  11. Charlie King – No more Campaign – Family Violence
  12. Jack Bulman – No more campaign – Family Violence
  13. Olga Havnen – DDHS – Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children N.T. N.Z- Diversionary Program Proposal
  14. Paul Fong – DDHS- The Role of the Counsellor
  15. Brad Hart- Kornar Winmil Yunti Aboriginal Corporation S.A.- What are Healing Circles
  16. Brad Hart – Kornar Winmil Yunti Aboriginal Corporation
  17. Stuart Mc Minn- Interrelate- The Health and Formation of Adolescent Males
  18. Nathan Rigney- Cancer Council S.A. –
  19. Professor James Ward – S.A Health and Medical research Institute
  20. Glen Poole- Australian Men’s Health Forum –
  21. Nick Espie- Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children N.T.
  22. Joe Williams – Enemy With In – Suicide Prevention and Wellbeing Education

 Background to NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint 2013-2030

NACCHO, its affiliates and members are committed to building upon past innovations and we require targeted actions and investments to implement a wide range of Aboriginal male health and wellbeing programs and strategies.

At the 2013 NACCHO OCHRE DAY in Canberra the delegates called on State, Territory and Federal governments to commit to a specific, substantial and sustainable funding allocation for the NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint 2013-2030

This blueprint as set below highlighted how the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector could continue to improve our rates of access to health and wellbeing services by Aboriginal males through working closely within our communities, strengthening cultural safety and further building upon our current Aboriginal male health workforce and leadership.

We celebrate Aboriginal masculinities, and uphold our traditional values of respect for our laws, respect for elders, culture and traditions, responsibility as leaders and men, teachers of young males, holders of lore, providers, warriors and protectors of our families, women, old people, and children

The NACCHO 10-Point Blue print Plan is based on a robust body of work that includes the Close the Gap Statement of Intent and the Close the Gap targets, the National Framework for the Improvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health (2002), NACCHO’s position paper on Aboriginal male health (2010)  the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP), and the NACCHO Healthy futures 10 point plan  2013-2030

These solutions have been developed in response to the deep-rooted social, political and economic conditions that effect Aboriginal males and the need to be addressed alongside the delivery of essential health care.

Our plan is based on evidence, targeted to need and capable of addressing the existing inequalities in Aboriginal male health services, with the aim of achieving equality of health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal males and non-Aboriginal males by 2030.

This blueprint celebrated our success so far and proposes the strategies that governments, NACCHO affiliates and member services must in partnership commit to and invest in to ensure major health gains are maintained into the future

NACCHO, our affiliates and members remain focused on creating a healthy future for generational change and the NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint 2013-2030 will enable comprehensive and long-term action to achieve real outcomes.

To close the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal males and non-Aboriginal within a generation we need achieve these 10 key goals

1. To call on government at all levels to invest a specific, substantial and sustainable funding allocation for the, NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint plan 2013-2030 a comprehensive, long-term Aboriginal male Health plan of action that is based on evidence, targeted to need, and capable of addressing the existing inequities in Aboriginal male health

2. To assist delivering community-controlled ,comprehensive primary male health care, services that are culturally appropriate accessible, affordable, good quality, innovative to bridge the gap in health standards and to respect and promote the rights of Aboriginal males, in urban, rural and remote areas in order to achieve lasting improvements in Aboriginal male health and well-being

3. To ensure Aboriginal males have equal access to health services that are equal in standard to those enjoyed by other Australians, and ensure primary health care services and health infrastructure for Aboriginal males are capable of bridging the gap in health standards by 2030.

4. To prioritise specific funding to address mental health, social and emotional well-being and suicide prevention for Aboriginal males.

5. To ensure that we address Social determinants relating to identity culture, language and land, as well as violence, alcohol, employment and education.

6.To improve access to and the responsiveness of mainstream health services and programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health  services are provided commensurate Accessibility within the Primary Health Care Centre may mean restructuring clinics to accommodate male specific areas, or off-site areas, and may include specific access (back door entrance) to improve attendance and cultural gender issues

 7.To provide an adequate workforce to meet Aboriginal male health needs by increasing the recruitment, retention, effectiveness and training of male health practitioners working within Aboriginal settings and by building the capacity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.

8 To identified and prioritised (as appropriate) in all health strategies developed for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) including that all relevant programs being progressed in these services will be expected to ensure Aboriginal male health is considered in the planning phase or as the program progresses. Specialised Aboriginal male health programs and targeted interventions should be developed to address male health intervention points across the life cycle continuum.

9. To build on the evidence base of what works in Aboriginal health, supporting it with research and data on relevant local and international experience and to ensure that the quality of data quality in all jurisdictions meets AIHW standards.

10. To measure, monitor, and report on our joint efforts in accordance with benchmarks and targets – to ensure that we are progressively reaching our shared aims.

NOTE 2013 : 1.Throughout this document the word Male is used instead of Men. At the inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Gathering-Alice Springs 1999, all delegates present agreed that the word Male would be used instead of the word Men. With the intention being to encompass the Male existence from it’s beginnings in the womb until death.

2.Throughout this document the word Aboriginal is used instead of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This is in line with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) being representative of Aboriginal People. This does not intend to exclude nor be disrespectful to our Brothers from the Torres Strait Islands.

OCHRE DAY Program

 

Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #RUOKDay 14 Sept Advanced Speeches : The cause bringing Turnbull and Shorten together

 ” The truth is that mental health is enormously costly, in every respect.

It’s costly for individuals who suffer, its costly to their families but it’s especially costly when people take their own lives.

So we all have a vested interest in each others’ mental health. The most important thing we can do is to look out for each other.

Yes, governments and parliaments and health professionals spend money and trial new approaches and use digital technologies more effectively and we’re doing all these things and we’ll no doubt do much more in the future.

But you know, just four letters ‘R U OK?’ can make a difference. Because they represent another four letters, ‘L O V E’ – love. That’s what it’s about; showing that love and care for the people with whom you are with, whether they are your families, your friends or your workmates. Reach out to them, ask are you okay, show you care.

You could not just change a life, you could save a life.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressing the RUOK Breakfast 12 September

Download his speech or read in full Part 2 Below PM Malcolm Turnbull RUOK

Read over 150 Aboriginal Mental Health articles published by NACCHO over 5 years

” We know that suicide is the scourge of rural and regional communities.

It takes a shocking toll on our people in the bush.

We know the suicide rate is twice as high amongst our First Australians, Pat Dodson has written movingly about those nights when his phone rings with the tragic news that another young person in the Kimberley has taken their life.

There is always time to start a conversation.

I think about all the people that I have known – and I am not sure I could have done anything then to change something.

But I wish that I knew then what I know now, and was able to ask these people: ‘Are you ok?’ “

Opposition Leader  Bill Shorten addressing the RUOK Breakfast 12 September

Download his speech or read in full Part 3 Below Bill Shorten RUOK

Part 1 The cause bringing Turnbull and Shorten together

From SBS Report

When Bill Shorten sat down to prepare some remarks for a parliamentary breakfast on suicide, he reflected on how many people he knew who had taken their own life.

He stopped at about seven.

“The thing about these people I thought about is that they remain forever young,” the opposition leader told an ‘R U Ok?’ gathering at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Shorten said he questioned what he could have done to help them or whether people didn’t see a sign.

He’s not alone. Seven people commit suicide on average every day in Australia.

“It is a silent crisis at the heart of our nation,” he said.

“These are preventable deaths.”

Mr Shorten reflected on veterans who feel let down by the nation they served and young people who feel like they don’t fit in.

The world of social media had created a form of emotional distance, a world of exotic holidays and glamorous events, he noted.

“The challenge is to look beyond the superficial snapshots of endless good times. To go further than simply clicking ‘like’.”

Mr Shorten believes MPs and senators are actually well placed to understand the message of the suicide prevention charity.

“In this very large building with thousands of people it can be a hard and isolating experience.”

“Suicide knows no boundaries, we are all in this together” Professor Gracelyn Smallwood in Townsville

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said suicide prevention was about people but the high statistics demand everyone do much better.

He believes a reluctance to talk about mental health issues – whether because of stigma or taboo – has been a barrier.

“You can’t deal with a problem that you don’t acknowledge,” he said.

Mr Turnbull noted the work of the late Watson’s Bay resident Don Ritchie who invited anxious people at The Gap nearby in for a chat and a cuppa.

“He would gently lure them back from the brink by doing no more than showing that he cared for them,” he said.

“That is why ‘R U Ok?’ day is so important.”

Mr Shorten was glad the event brought the two leaders together.

“It’s a galling thing when you’re leader of the opposition and the prime minister yells slogans at you,” he said.

“But then occasionally sometimes he gives a speech like that and I think ‘you’re not too bad after all’.”

Both agreed the mutual feeling would be over by question time.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Part 2 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressing the RUOK Breakfast 13 September

Well good morning. It’s great to be here with Andrew Wallace who is standing in for Julian Leeser, who together with Mike Kelly are Co-Chairs of the Friendship Group.

I acknowledge Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health and Sport, Bill Shorten, Julie Collins the Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health, Murray Bleach, the Chairman Suicide Prevention Australia, Mike Connaghan – Chairman of RUOK? and Mike and I were reflecting on how many decades it is since we first met and worked together in advertising but there it is. You’re looking very youthful. That’s what happens if you don’t go into politics.

And of course Professor Batterham is our guest speaker this morning – and so many other leaders in health and in suicide prevention, and of course all my Parliamentary colleagues here as well.

Now we’re all united here behind Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day. Suicide Prevention Day was on Sunday and R U OK? Day is later this week.

Each year, around one in every five Australians experience mental illness and in 2015, more than 3,000 took their own life.

Now, suicide is about people, it’s about families, not numbers. But the statistics confront us all and call on us to do much better.

I am firmly of the view that our reluctance to talk about mental health issues – whether you call it a stigma or a taboo – has been a very real barrier to addressing this issue. You can’t deal with a problem that you do not acknowledge.

So we have started to talk about suicide and mental health and in an open and honest way, as we have not done in the past.

Now my own electorate of Wentworth includes one of the most beautiful yet tragic places in Australia, The Gap. It is a place where many, many Australians take their lives. A part of The Gap story until he died in 2012 was an extraordinary man called Don Ritchie who was an old sailor and also very tall, I might add.

For the best part of half a century, he lived near The Gap and when he would go for walks and he saw somebody there – anxious, perhaps standing on the wrong side of the fence – he would talk to them.

He would say: “Are you OK? How are you going? Do you want to have a chat? Do you want to come in and have a cup of tea?” He would gently lure them back from the brink by doing no more than showing that he cared for them.

That is why ‘R U OK? Day?’ is so important. Because what it is all about, is showing that we do care. Four letters ‘R U O K’ import so much. They send a message of love, they send a message of care. Critically important and what could be more Australian than looking out for your mates? Or looking out for people you don’t even know? Looking out for somebody who seems anxious, worried, or someone at work that isn’t quite themselves. It is a caring and a loving question. And it raises very prominently this issue of awareness, to the forefront.

At Gap Park for example, as the local Member, I’ve pushed for more funding and support for suicide prevention. Since 2010 there has been implemented a ‘Gap Master Plan’ and I want to acknowledge the support that Julia Gillard provided as Prime Minister to support the local government, the Woollahra Council, towards that funding.

It was a series of measures of signs, telephones, obviously of cameras so that the police can keep an eye on what’s going on there and also a very innovative design in defences that are hard to get over, but easier to get back over, if you know what I mean.

So all of this makes a difference and since 2010 the local police tell me there has been a significant increase in the number of successful interventions at The Gap. But still, far, far too many people die there and in many other places around Australia.

Now, we’re working better to understand the factors that have contributed to rising suicide rates and to support communities to respond to their own unique circumstances.

We’re committed to reducing suicide rates through regional trials, research and building the evidence base with flexible models that address regional needs and work in our local communities.

This includes the implementation of 12 regional suicide prevention trial sites in Townsville, the Kimberley and Darwin and other places. Digital innovation trials and ten lead sites to trial different care models. All looking to see what actually works.

We’re also investing a great deal more in mental health and making services more effective, accessible and tailored to local needs.

Since 2016, we’ve invested an additional $367.5 million in mental health and suicide prevention support.

That includes a $194.5 million election package towards building a modern 21st century mental health system and our $173 million in new funding in the 2017‑18 Budget and $58.6 million to expand mental health and suicide prevention services for current and ex-serving ADF members and their families.

So we’re putting existing resources to work. But you know, the most important resource is you, is all of us. You know my very good friend and a good friend of all of yours, I know, Ian Hickie has got a great concept. He talks about the ‘mental wealth of nations’, sort of elaborating from Adam Smith.

The truth is that mental health is enormously costly, in every respect.

It’s costly for individuals who suffer, its costly to their families but it’s especially costly when people take their own lives.

So we all have a vested interest in each others’ mental health. The most important thing we can do is to look out for each other.

Yes, governments and parliaments and health professionals spend money and trial new approaches and use digital technologies more effectively and we’re doing all these things and we’ll no doubt do much more in the future.

But you know, just four letters ‘R U OK?’ can make a difference. Because they represent another four letters, ‘L O V E’ – love. That’s what it’s about; showing that love and care for the people with whom you are with, whether they are your families, your friends or your workmates. Reach out to them, ask are you okay, show you care. You could not just change a life, you could save a life.

Thank you very much.

Part 3 Opposition Leader  Bill Shorten addressing the RUOK Breakfast 13 September

Good morning everybody.

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, I pay my respect to their elders both past and present.

I’m actually going to spend a moment on what the Prime Minister said and thank him for his words.

It’s a galling thing when you’re Leader of the Opposition that the Prime Minister yells slogans at you one day, and you think oh why did he do that?

But then occasionally he gives a speech like that and I think, you’re not too bad after all.

It really was a good set of words.

Mind you, by Question Time that thought will be erased.

I’d like to thank Mike Kelly and Andrew Wallace filling in for Julian Leeser for bringing all of us here today.

We’ve got the Shadow Minister Julie Collins and we’ve got the Minister Greg Hunt.

Yesterday afternoon when I was preparing my words for this morning, I stopped to think about people I’d known who’d taken their own lives. And you start to construct that list.

I’m sure I’m not unique. I think most Australians find out after the event, someone they liked or loved has taken their own life.

As I got thinking about it, I could think of about seven people I knew. I actually stopped there. Because I knew the longer I thought, I could think of families with their kids and other people.

The thing about these people I thought about, is that they remain forever young.

You can still imagine them. You can remember not everything that you should, but you can remember some of their jokes perhaps, some of their ideas, some of their abilities.

I think about RUOK and I thought what could we have done then, what could I have done then?

And what has been done today to help this be prevented in the future.

I think about each of these people, and I went through the process of writing down their names just to start reconstructing.

Because you don’t always think about the people who have passed, you move on, the events move on.

And I think, was there some sign that they weren’t well? Was there some signal, some marker?

Is there something you could have done differently?

Some of the people I think of were teenagers, highly-talented. They seemed to be very successful at everything they did. But inside they were battling illness and great, great depression.

And when I thought about seven people I could think of I was reminded that seven Australians take their life on average every day, and possibly seven more will today. Every single day.

It is a silent crisis at the heart of our nation.

I’m sure all of you have sat with parents at their table when they’re numb with incomprehension, when they’re shattered by grief.

When they’re trying to write words to say farewell to their child or their adult child, taken too soon.

I still recall a school assembly where the school captain or someone very senior in the school said he died on a train, that’s what we were told. It was only years after that I found out that was the way the school dealt with the fact that he had taken his own life.

And you do think about what you could have done.

I think about veterans who are let down by the nation that they served.

Seven Australians – every day.

And what I wanted to say is that these are preventable deaths – we are not talking about a terminal condition, some dreadful metastasising cancer spread throughout a human body.

These deaths are preventable, there is nothing inevitable about suicide.

And we know that expert assistance can make the difference but it is in short supply.

Our emergency departments work very well. If you turn up with say chest pains, terrible chest pains I reckon nearly all of the time you’ll get the right diagnosis and the care is there.

When I was talking to Professor Pat McGorry who is here today, you know and he worries that you can turn up to an emergency department and you’ve got a very serious case of potential self-harm, or as a suicide risk.

Do we have the resources there to the same proportion as a medical condition, another medical condition? I don’t think we do.

And I know every Member of Parliament here regardless of their political affiliation will have constituents who come to them desperate, red-eyed saying I’ve got a child, an adult child who really needs that sub-acute care. And the search for the beds that aren’t there.

We know that suicide is the scourge of rural and regional communities.

It takes a shocking toll on our people in the bush.

We know the suicide rate is twice as high amongst our First Australians, Pat Dodson has written movingly about those nights when his phone rings with the tragic news that another young person in the Kimberley has taken their life.

We know, as Mike Kelly alluded to, that suicide is more common and more frequently attempted by young LGBTI Australians grappling with their sexuality, fearing rejection.

Completely alienated and unsure of where they fit in.

And we all do have a responsibility to call-out that hateful discrimination and language, particularly in the weeks ahead.

The simple truth is no part of our nation has a wall tall enough to keep the scourge of suicide from that postcode. Suicide is no respecter of ethnicity, of income.

It does not care which god you pray to, or who you love, it affects every Australian and therefore it is within the power of every Australian to do something about it.

We live in a world where it has been easier than ever to see what our friends and our family are up to.

I remember when I was a backpacker 25 years ago, I could be back home before any of the postcards which I had sent to Mum and Dad.

These days you feel like you’re on everybody else’s holiday half the time, as soon as you turn on the computer.

Australians aged between 15 and 24 spend an average of around 18 hours a week online.

And while social media has a tremendous ability to bring us closer together, Instagram,

Facebook and Snapchat also create emotional distance. A carefully-curated view of each other’s lives: exotic holidays, glamorous events, fun nights out, fancy meals.

We have now got a situation where before teenagers will eat the food, they will photograph it.

But the challenge for us is to look beyond the superficial snapshots of endless good times, to go further than simply clicking ‘like’ and scrolling on down the feed.

It’s about digging a bit deeper.

And in conclusion, that’s why we are here.

It’s time to make that call, to send a message, to drop-in for a visit – to really see how someone is going.

I actually think Parliamentarians are well placed to understand RUOK Day.

We’ve all seen our own challenges with mental health, I think previously in this parliament.

In this very large building with thousands of people, it can be hard and isolating experience.

It is important that RUOK day occurs because it is a reminder that we need to distinguish and not let the urgent distract us from the important.

There is always time to

  • Ask
  • Listen
  • Encourage action
  • And check-in

There is always time to start a conversation.

I think about all the people that I have known – and I am not sure I could have done anything then to change something.

But I wish that I knew then what I know now, and was able to ask these people: ‘Are you ok?’

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Strokeweek : #Fightstroke Aboriginal people are up to three times more likely to suffer a stroke than non-Indigenous

 

” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are up to three times more likely to suffer a stroke than non-Indigenous Australians and almost twice as likely to die, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It’s an alarming figure and one that  prompted the National Stroke Foundation in 2016 to urge the Federal Government to fund a critical $44 million awareness campaign in a bid to close the gap .

The good news is most strokes are preventable and treatable.

However communities need to be empowered to protect themselves from this insidious disease.”

Sharon McGowan, Stroke Foundation CEO ( see full Aboriginal Stroke statistics part 2 below

Download the 48 Page support guide :

journeyafterstroke_indigenous_0

Read over 75 Stroke related articles published by NACCHO over past 5 years

“Never had I ever come across one ( stroke ) or heard much about them. I had nothing to do with them,”

When I woke up, I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t communicate. I couldn’t tell anyone I was still here. It was really scary. I’d never seen the effects of a stroke.

First, I lost my voice, then my vision, my [ability to] swallow and my movement of all my body parts. I lost all my bowel and bladder function. I’ve still got bad sight but I can see again. My speech took about six months.

With help from the Aboriginal Disability Network, they advocated to get me out and get the right support equipment at home “

For Tania Lewis, an Awabakal woman, stroke was something that only happened to older people. But in 2011, Tania suffered a severe stroke at the age of 39 that would leave her with permanent right-sided hemiplegia – paralysis of one side of the body.

Pictured above : Editor of NACCHO Communique and Stroke Foundation Consumer Council Board Member Colin Cowell (left ) with fellow stroke survivor Tania Lewis at an NDIS workshop in Coffs Harbour conducted by Joe Archibald (right )

Part 1 Stroke Foundation in 2016 called on government to close the gap

Originally published here

A stroke occurs when supply of blood to the brain is disturbed suddenly. The longer it remains untreated, the heightened the risk of stroke-related brain damage.

Medical treatment during the first onset of symptoms can significantly improve a sufferer’s chance of survival and of successful rehabilitation.

In Australia, stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in adults, accounting for 25 per cent of all chronic disability. The NSF reports that roughly 50,000 strokes occur per year with over 437,000 people living with stroke across the country. While severity varies, two thirds of victims, like Tania, are left with impeding disabilities

But in 2011, Tania suffered a severe stroke at the age of 39 that would leave her with permanent right-sided hemiplegia – paralysis of one side of the body.

The burden of stroke doesn’t just fall on the patient, but can take a significant toll on family and carers.

“The doctor at the hospital tried to take Power of Attorney and Guardianship away from me and give it to the Guardianship Board, because he didn’t believe that [my husband] Len or anyone could look after me,” Tania recalls.

“I was put through hell. I figured life wasn’t worth living anymore because they took everything away from me. I couldn’t go home to my family. So I tried to off myself.

“Then all of a sudden, one day the doctor said, ‘You can go home. We can’t rehabilitate you anymore’. At home, I was having seizures for a while. My hubby wouldn’t sleep. He and his mum would take shifts looking after me. We tried to get assistance but there was nothing for young people. So one day, my husband collapsed on the lounge room floor from exhaustion. It was just a nightmare. That’s how I ended up in aged care.”

Tania spent the next two and a half years between three aged care facilities.

“I wouldn’t wish it upon nobody,” she says.

It was during her nightly ritual of chatting with her daughter via Facebook that Tania typed “young people in nursing homes” into Google. The search engine’s results would lead to her life-changing encounter with the YPINH.

“With help from the Aboriginal Disability Network, they advocated to get me out and get the right support equipment at home. Whatever I need, physio, OT – they’ve got my back. I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me.”

Today, Tania is working with the Aboriginal Disability Network, helping Indigenous Australians navigate their way through the National Healthcare System.

It has long been recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a life expectancy that is approximately 20 years less than non-Indigenous Australians (Australian Bureau of Statistics). Recent data from the ABS shows that up to 80 per cent of the mortality gap can be attributed to chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

For many Aboriginal communities, especially those in remote regions, socio-economic factors play an important role. Kerin O’Dea from Darwin’s Menzies School of Health Research cites unemployment, poor education outcomes and limited access to fresh foods as key factors in her paper, Preventable chronic diseases among Indigenous Australians.

Lifestyle related risks such as smoking, alcohol misuse, stress, poor diet, and inadequate physical activity also need to be addressed, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare .

But the first step, McGowan says, is for indigenous stroke sufferers to recognise the signs of a stroke in themselves and their family members. The NSF recommends the F.A.S.T. test as the most effective way to remember the most common signs of a stroke.

Face: Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms: Can they lift both arms?
Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time: Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.

“If I had known that because I’d lost my vision I had suffered a stroke, I could’ve put two and two together and got help, but I didn’t know anything,” Tania says.

“I was a heavy smoker, but not anymore – no way. Life’s too important. I didn’t ever know anything about a stroke – I was more thinking when you smoke, you can have lung problems and lose your fingers, like on the packets. But they don’t say anything about a stroke – they don’t advertise that stuff.”

The Stroke Foundation called on the Federal Government to fund an urgent $44 million campaign to address the gap in stroke care. For more information on stroke and the campaign, visit strokefoundation.com.au.

Part 2 Aboriginal Stroke Facts

From here

  • The incidence rate of stroke for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians has been found to be 2.6 times higher for men and 3.0 for women (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2008; Katzenellenbogan et al. 2010) compared to non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and many suggest that these figures may in fact be underestimates (Thrift et al 2011).
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are known to experience stroke at a younger age than their non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counterparts, (Katzenellenbogen et al., 2010; Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2004) with 60% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander non-fatal stroke burden occurring in the 25-54 year age-group compared to 24% in the non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander group (Katzenellenbogen et al., 2010).
  • The prevalence of stroke is similarly significantly higher at younger ages among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Katzenellenbogen 2013), with a significantly higher prevalence of co-morbidities among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients under 70 years of age, including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, chronic rheumatic heart disease, ischaemic heart disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. This reflects the increased clinical complexity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stroke patients compared with non-Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander patients.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stroke patients aged 18–64 years have a threefold chance of dying or being dependent at discharge compared to non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients (Kilkenny et al., 2012).

NACCHO #OchreDay2017 Aboriginal Male Health : Celebrating #IndigenousDads #FathersDay Creating positive images of Aboriginal fathers

 

” We are surrounded by negative images of Aboriginal men and fathers.

In the mainstream media, and even academic literature, they are mostly portrayed in a negative context: the focus is on crime, domestic violence, alcohol and other drugs, unemployment, and child abuse.

It is time we started seeing more of the positives.

A recent study (Stoneham, Goodman and Daube, 2014) looked at 335 media stories relating to Australian Indigenous health and found that 74% of them were negative, 11% were neutral and only 15% were positive.”

 From Creating positive images of Aboriginal fathers

 

“As the spontaneous expression of Aboriginal identity and pride of #IndigenousDads demonstrated, Aboriginal fathers are teachers, lawyers, academics, employers, actors, animators, athletes.

Above all they are dedicated and devoted role models for future generations and give them hope that they can rise above discrimination and racism, be proud of their identity and culture, and be encouraged to reach their potential.

Roy Ah-See, a Wiradjuri man, is chairman of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, the largest member-based Aboriginal organisation in Australia : And former chair of Yerin ACCHO  see interview here from NACCHO TV

See full article HERE

Read over 300 NACCHO Male Health articles printed over past 5 years

 ” Recommendations developed from the present study are therefore strongly grounded in strength-based approaches that have the potential to empower urban Aboriginal fathers to develop, strengthen and reclaim relationships with their children and families.”

From Engaging Aboriginal fathers see part 2

We had to ask ourBe strongselves how could it be that a whole society is not thinking of positive images of Aboriginal fathers/men. The images that were available were all about domestic violence, assault, sexual abuse, alcohol and drugs. The messages with these images were about what men shouldn’t do. From there, the project team sat down with men of all ages and talked about the lack of positive images of themselves in the media, on posters and other public spaces. (p. 23)

Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  communities in Newcastle, the Tiwi Islands, Yarrabah, Wreck Bay, Alice Springs and Hobart  helped develop a series of beautiful posters that show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in a different light.

The article  (available online from the publisher at a cost of $3.98) includes discussion of the ways in which he engaged local communities. You can read about  other work with Aboriginal fathers (for free)  in the report Reaching the heart of Indigenous families & communities.

Chris Sarra spoke about his work as a principal at Cherbourg School it showed the power of changing how we see Aboriginal people and communities. Despite wide spread negative perceptions about Aboriginal students, he  knew they could be Strong and Smart (the school motto). Unfortunately not all the staff agreed.

We then had to establish a team that believed it could be done; those that didn’t believe it could be achieved were encouraged to move on. And I did sit in the staff room and say to staff, ‘What I believe and what the community believes is that our children can leave here stronger and smarter. If you don’t believe it, then you have to go. And half the staff left. (Sarra, 2005, p. 6. The whole speech is well worth reading.)

It was only when he had staff who really believed in the potential of their students that things could change. These types of negative perceptions are reinforced by the negative images that surround us.

We need to to be exposed to more positive images of Aboriginal families and communities and to hear more from people like Chris and Craig who recognise and build on their strengths.

Darwin October 4-5 Register HERE

 

Part 2 Findings  : Engaging Aboriginal fathers

Stuart, G., May, C., & Hammond, C. (2015). Engaging Aboriginal fathers. Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal (42), 4-17.

Read in full here

The Challenges

Some of the participants said that, at times, they found trying to engage  Aboriginal fathers frustrating, challenging and plain hard work.

Yes, it got really, really frustrating. You put all that work in. Especially with this [project] – and I went and saw the boys and said, ‘You make it look so silly, you let yourselves down really.’ I sort of put it all back on them. And then after that the group sort of kicked off again and we just let it go for a while and then it just dies off. (Trent)

Creating and maintaining momentum

A common challenge was creating or maintaining the momentum.

At [name of location]. I told them that I’ve got all these ideas and I wished to put forward to everybody and they’re saying, ‘Oh yes, we’ll be there, we’ll do it, just tell us when.’ Then when the word gets around, they don’t move. Had to go around and knock on his door and chase him up and drag them out of the house. [Chuckles] (Aaron)

Some participants felt that fathers tended to not do anything “until it gets to some sort of a pressure crisis point.” At times this meant that a problem had escalated to the extent where services were limited in the support they could provide and the fathers were unsatisfied with the response. This made further engagement less likely. Sometimes, by the time the worker could make contact, the crisis had passed and the father no longer wanted assistance.

Participants also described how they would establish an effective group for a while but numbers would dwindle off. Attendance could be spasmodic or decrease for a range of reasons – many of which were external to the program.

I started a men’s group at the end of last year called ‘Connecting Fathers’ at our school. It went real well last year – had about 15-18 people there, but this year because of all of the kids that are moving on to high school and a couple of families moving away, we got down to about six, seven people… (Dane)

Lack of male workers

Most participants in this research were female and/or non-Aboriginal, and this was clearly a challenge for some of them.

I just think maybe because I’m female and I’m not Indigenous. I just think that was just – already that’s something there. You’ve got to just keep trying to say ‘hello’ to people and just try and build up a relationship with them and just take it to the next step – but I just find that quite difficult. (Gina)

This challenge may have been particularly salient for services with sole female workers who expressed a need for a male presence to combat a perception that family services were mainly for women as this exchange and Liam’s comment show:

Whitney: I think the thing that’s lacking is just that male presence. Just thinking of the three meetings that we’ve got set up. We don’t even have men on the planning side of things, so that’s – we could start there….

Trent: It starts from there doesn’t it, so there’s no men involved in that meeting or in that group, you’re not going to get men to —

Whitney: Exactly.

and

One of the Aboriginal men I work with at the moment, he came to me he said, ‘I thought you only looked after women. I didn’t think you looked after men.’ (Liam)

Not being an Aboriginal man

While it was not discussed to the same extent as being male, some of the workers discussed the challenge of not being Aboriginal. As one women suggested ‘it’s ideal if you’re black and hairy’, that is, visually clearly both Aboriginal and male. Part of the challenge was in knowing the best way to respond to male Aboriginal culture. At times there was a problem being outside the culture and receiving conflicting advice from different people.

And I was very much told [by a female Aboriginal worker], ‘That’s men’s business. No. Don’t go there.’ Ok. But then, when I was talking with [a male Aboriginal worker] about it, he said, ‘No. Go and talk to them.’ (Jennifer)

One way in which Jennifer attempted to address this issue was by using Aboriginal trainees; however many of these trainees were challenged by limited knowledge and experience.

We found those challenges; we had Indigenous trainees with one of our playgroups at one stage and the aim of those trainees was to bring the Aboriginal perspective to the playgroup and cultural activities. What we found was many of those kids [the trainees] didn’t even have a good sense of their own culture and identity.  How can you impart that information and knowledge? (Jennifer)

Lack of time

Time and funding structures could also become a major constraint for service providers trying to build meaningful relationships with Aboriginal fathers. A male participant, who had extensive experience with a variety of services, found that funding agreements requiring a certain number of clients meant that he didn’t have the time to build and maintain relationships with quite marginalised fathers. Others spoke about the time required to become accepted, particularly when they were not part of the local Aboriginal community.

And time, it takes a long time. My work over in WA for example, it took 18 months nearly, to actually start talking to blokes. So we’d only just started conversations – or men were only just starting to look for me for conversations. (Bruce)

Strategies

The service providers identified a range of strategies that they had used to engage Aboriginal fathers.

Building strong, trusting relationships

Participants frequently spoke about the importance of building strong, trusting relationships with Aboriginal fathers. Jo suggested that relationships were particularly important when working with Aboriginal communities.

I think my experience in the past is that Indigenous people work better with a person, rather than a service… If you can sit down, or you’re working with a man, they’re saying, ‘This is my problem’ they won’t walk into a building and go, ‘Oh, this building says they help kids with problems.’ They’ll go, ‘Who do I know that might be able to help me with this?’ (Jo)

It often took time to build trusting relationships and participants spoke about involvement in the local Aboriginal community and using non-work contexts as a means to help build these relationships.

And living locally where you work, you go shopping and to run in and grab some milk, takes you an hour and a half some days, because you get stopped as you’re walking towards the aisle you want to get to, as you’re walking back, as you get to the car, all by different people… It’s less confronting for them to walk up to you and chat like friends in a public place, they ask you a few things and you just say, ‘Come down and see me another day’, or ‘I can come around to your place.’ (Liam)

Some others, while recognising the value of being seen in the community and building relationships outside of work, expressed concerns about the demands that these expectations placed on their personal life. As one of the workers commented:

If I see someone up the street I’ll never ignore them, ‘Good day mate, how are you going?’ And then I’ll say, ‘No, just doing my shopping. Give me a call Monday morning mate. Come in and see me’ because I don’t, I can’t lower those boundaries… I don’t want to have to go to the shops and have to deal with a client; my life is very separate to my work.

Aboriginal workers who worked in the same community they lived in were under particular pressure.

We had some really good [Aboriginal] health workers in Newcastle. They got burned out and moved on… They get that constant interruption from community when they’re outside their work hours. (Liam)

Having male and Aboriginal workers

In terms of the importance of gender and Aboriginality, many of the participants felt that these factors needed to be taken into account in service design. They described how people coming to a service might want to see a male staff member and how having male or Aboriginal staff encouraged Aboriginal fathers to become involved.

I think it does make a difference if you’ve got an Aboriginal worker or project within your organisation… because what often happens in welfare services is they’re seen as a female service and therefore males aren’t welcome… And I think quite often Aboriginal workers and males in the organisation helps to change that opinion. (Sue)

Where having Aboriginal male staff wasn’t possible, an alternative was having somebody who was known to, and accepted by, the local Aboriginal community.

You could have a non-Aboriginal person, but it’s got to be somebody that really gets [the Aboriginal] culture and gets the diversity of communities… There’s a lot of guys who are well and truly accepted in the Aboriginal community that aren’t Aboriginal, but they’ve grown up there and have been part of that community and are very well accepted. (Jennifer)

Services with only female staff (often projects with a sole worker or only a few staff) sometimes tried to find men who could take a lead role or worked in partnership with other services who could provide a worker who was male, Aboriginal or both.

So when our playgroup first started up… we had a grandad coming along and he’d take his son and they’d come with the grandad. And we found that was brilliant. You’d sit at the table and have five or six dads and uncles and granddads and aunties, so it was really lovely. He got a job, not that far into it and that’s when we found the engagement of the dads really dropped off from the playgroup. The mums would still come, but we lost the dads. (Jennifer)

Creating father friendly environments

Participants also spoke about the importance of creating a father-friendly environment. An important starting point was the physical setting (colours, posters, reading material).

We had lots of pinks and things… and we changed them. There’s the pictures that we put up and we changed a lot of things around encouraging both dads and Aboriginal families, because there wasn’t a lot of that a couple of years ago, there were just scenes with single mothers and kids. (Jo)

As well as the physical setting, it was important to signal to fathers that they were both welcome and safe. As the following discussion suggests, female-dominated services could be challenging for some fathers:

I find that we’ve some of our younger dads are not bad looking and you’ve got all these single mums there. Some of them come out with the most inappropriate comments to the guys ‘Oh, what’s he like?’ ‘Is he single?’ … They [the fathers] laugh it off at the time, but I’m sure for a lot of them, particularly Aboriginal dads, they get quite shamed by it and it puts them well out of their comfort zone. (Jennifer)

Organising specific events or activities

One of the more frequent strategies employed to engage Aboriginal fathers was the organisation of specific events and activities. For example, NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) week was often seen as a good opportunity to engage Aboriginal fathers.

On Monday we had NAIDOC celebrations and we had Rika Alley [an Aboriginal performer] come…. Basically he did this dance to engage with them and the kids came up and it went right through, up to the teachers and then he called parents as well. I was quite surprised how many parents went up. And it was all, you know, with the dads and the kids just loved it and laughed. And it was just breaking that ice. (Gina)

However, relying on these one-off events may not be enough. As one person said, ‘You can’t continually have these big celebration things.’ Fathers would come for the special events but not continue their involvement with the organisation afterwards.

When we have formal assemblies at the school where there’s different awards or whatever, there’ll be a heap of dads. Education week we have big open school, we do get dads through. So, we’re getting them, but it’s just that momentum of keeping them. (Jennifer)

Providing camps and cultural activities

Most of the male participants in the focus groups had been involved in running camps for Aboriginal fathers and saw them as generally being successful in both engaging fathers with the service and in the lives of their children.

One dad said, ‘Well I’ve got three daughters and really I don’t know what to do with them or how to connect with them. At home it’s always mum, mum, mum. If they get hurt, they fall over, whatever, it’s always mum.’ When he went on this camp, he did everything and he had to do everything. And he loved it. (Trent)

Cultural activities were also seen as a particularly good way to engage Aboriginal fathers.

They liked doing Aboriginal painting and stuff, so they wanted to do a painting course… And we got blokes down wanting to do Aboriginal [hunting] weapons and stuff; wanted to show the kids how to make didgeridoos like I make them; wanted to do boomerangs, battle axes, that sort of stuff. (Dane)

Engaging family and community gatekeepers

Focus group participants identified the importance of recognising gatekeepers and ensuring they were supportive. Mothers and other female family members could play an important role in facilitating the engagement of Aboriginal fathers in a service and with their children, particularly in relation to their role as a gatekeeper to engagement with the children. Services needed the support of these important family members.

And I actually think that when I have a lot of Aboriginal clients over the years, of the male clients, probably 80 percent of those, the icebreaker was by a woman, who has actually brought them there; it could have been an aunt, or a mother or a sister, who has actually brought that person into the service, because a male person had the perception we don’t help men. (Janelle)

In Aboriginal communities, elders frequently play a vital role in engaging other community members. Gaining the support of elders could be quite beneficial for services.

And we’ve got a couple of key local elders that did have a lot of grandkids at the school and all those grandkids have now moved on, but we still have very close connections, but it has backed off a bit since the last of the grandkids moved onto high school – which is a shame because we really made a point of having that connection with local elders because they’re really the key people to get involved with. (Jennifer)

Having flexible programming

Flexibility was important in a range of areas including the hours of operation, location and way of working.

We do after hours work, long weekends. It all depends what the client wants. (Liam)

I do my groups of a night. I’ve had more males turn up to the night groups than the day. Out of 46 I’ve had six males. And most of them at night. (Sharon)

Participants also suggested that it was important to be flexible in terms of group membership so that extended family could be involved.

Yes starting to get some of the young fellows coming up to the group too like, some of the kids’ brothers and stuff were coming up – the dad or someone couldn’t make it, the pop would come or the uncle would come, so someone was always coming up to the group. (Dane)

Creating a sense of ownership

Finally it was important that participants had a sense of ownership of the programs.

Almost every group of mine that hasn’t worked has been a suggestion by somebody to do a group that I’ve had no connections with and what happens is I get a flyer out and often what happens is the mothers put down the father’s name and phone number…and it doesn’t work…. There was no connection. (Bruce)

Discussion

The present study identified a number of issues which need to be considered in developing strengths-based programs for engaging Aboriginal fathers and fathers of Aboriginal children. The strategies identified by the participants in this research offer suggestions for ways to address these issues.

It is important to note that our paper is grounded in the specific context of Aboriginal fathers in urban Newcastle/Lake Macquarie and the more rural setting of the Upper Hunter Valley. Despite the Hunter region’s history of colonisation, with the first European settlements being established very early in 1800s, and the major impact of oppressive, divisive and discriminatory policies, there is still a very strong sense of culture and identity within local Aboriginal communities.

While some of the findings may be relevant to other contexts, there may also be differences. The experience of Aboriginal fathers in regional NSW context will be very different to Aboriginal fathers in other contexts such as remote communities. Despite these differences, there are also likely to be similarities.

A key learning from this research is the need to carefully build strong and trusting relationships before meaningful intervention can begin.

Urban Aboriginal men have often moved to be with their partners and therefore their family and community connection are in other communities. This means they may be poorly connected to the community in which they live. Many will also experience distrust that has arisen from factors such as colonisation, cultural disconnection, family disruption and intergenerational trauma (Bowes & Grace, 2014; Lohoar, Butera, & Kennedy, 2014; Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, 2010). Building connections with these men requires both skill and credibility, particularly as the men often seek informal references from people they know within the community before engaging in any form of relationship with a service’s staff. Having male Aboriginal workers within the program has the potential to minimise barriers such as these and to reduce the risk that an engagement will fail before it has begun. The value of having Aboriginal male workers has been emphasised in previous literature (Beatty & Doran, 2007; Berlyn, Wise, & Soriano, 2008; Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia, 2010) but, as identified by participants in this research, this can be difficult for sole-worker service or services where all the staff are women. Services can address this by strategies such as adopting partnerships with Aboriginal workers, employing local Aboriginal men on a casual basis and recruiting well supported male volunteers.

Mothers, and their families, play a key role in managing the lives of children in urban Aboriginal communities (Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, 2010). Mothers are more likely to talk to teachers, attend services and provide a greater proportion of care to their children. If mothers are sceptical or anxious about a program then it is unlikely that fathers will be encouraged, or given permission, to attend (Tehan & McDonald, 2010). A key tenant of a program’s success may therefore lie in the ability to win the confidence and support of mothers. One strategy to manage maternal concerns is to operate programs out of services that mothers know and trust, and to incorporate the involvement of workers that have previously formed trusting relationships with the mothers.

Like fathers in other communities, Aboriginal men often rely on signals that a program is going to focus on their needs rather than fit them into a program designed for mothers.

This may particularly important for Aboriginal men because of highly differentiated maternal and paternal parenting roles that characterise many Aboriginal communities (Department of Families, 2009; Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, 2010).

Programs should therefore aim to create environments that explicitly welcome men and signal to them that they are in a man’s space (Berlyn et al., 2008). Programs should also aim to focus their activities on factors that relate to fathering roles in Aboriginal communities such as culture and connection to community.

One means of doing this is to link fathering activities with well-established cultural events.

A program, however, needs to create more opportunities than those afforded by these intermittent celebrations of harmony or culture. Holding camps where fathers can engage with their children around cultural activities was identified as an important way to fulfil many of these requirements within a program (see also Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia, 2010). However, it was also recognised that programs needed to actively engage with, and manage, potential maternal concerns that could easily arise from such activities.

Strengths-based approaches to working with fathers and Aboriginal communities are important in challenging some of the negative, disempowering approaches that have often been adopted when working with Aboriginal communities. Lohoar, Butera, and Kennedy (2014) argue that Aboriginal cultural practice and cultural identity is a strength that ‘acts as a protective force for children and families’ (p. 2) and a range of authors have advocated a strengths-based approach to working with Aboriginal families and communities (Armstrong et al., 2012; Bamblett & Lewis, 2006; Geia, Hayes, & Usher, 2011; McMahon, 2003; Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, 2010).

Recommendations developed from the present study are therefore strongly grounded in strength-based approaches that have the potential to empower urban Aboriginal fathers to develop, strengthen and reclaim relationships with their children and families.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @MHPNOnline free webinar : Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration

NACCHO Member Alert speaker update August 30

 ” Our CEO Pat Turner and NACCHO staff would like to invite all health workers to be a part of this free webinar: Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services.
 
Developed by NACCHO and produced by Mental Health Professionals’ Network (MHPN) the webinar features Q&A with a panel of experts and will explore the key issues and the impact that incarceration has on individuals, families and communities.”

Download FLYER HERE and share /promote this free webinar

No need to travel to benefit from this free PD opportunity.
Simply register and log in to participate from your home, work or anywhere you have a computer or tablet with a high speed internet connection.
 
Register now to attend this free webinar for health practitioners on
Wednesday 13 September 2017, from 4:30pm – 5:45pm AEST.
 
NACCHO also invites all Member services to ask staff to register now to access a free Mental Health Professionals’ Network webinar for their own professional development.
 
The Indigenous interdisciplinary panel will explore and discuss ways of reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services.
 
This professional development opportunity is free and the previous webinar conducted by the MHPN had 680 participants across Australia.
 
The webinar features a Q&A with a panel of experts and will explore the key issues and the impact that incarceration has on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The panel will discuss strategies to enhance cultural awareness and develop responsive services for Indigenous communities affected by incarceration.

WHO’S ON THE PANEL?
 
Julie Tongs OAM : CEO Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service ACT
Dr Louis Peachy : QLD-based rural medical advisor
Dr Marshall Watson : SA-based psychiatrist
Dr Jeff Nelson : QLD-based psychologist
 
Facilitator: Dr Mary Emeleus (QLD-based general practitioner and psychotherapist).
 
Simply register and log in to participate from your home, work or anywhere you have a computer or tablet with a high speed internet connection.
Registrations close at midnight on Tuesday 12th September, 2017.
 
Please find attached a flyer about the updated webinar and it would be appreciate if you could distribute this to your local network.
 
 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Tributes to Dr G Yunupingu and Mr Yami Lester – Men without sight but not without a vision

 

Not far from that creek crossing, at Maralinga, when Yami Lester was a 12-year-old, the British government, in collusion with our Australian government, exploded a series of atomic weapons.

A black mist rolled over their lands, hurting the eyes of this young boy. After a relatively short period of time he became blind.

At his funeral service, we were moved by the singing of Paul Kelly, whose song Maralinga told the story of Mr Lester.

Paul Kelly also worked with the second blind man I wish to commemorate today, Dr G Yunupingu, who brought his beautiful, ethereal voice, in his Yolngu language, to people across the world.

Both men died, in part, due to kidney disease.

Dr Yunupingu had suffered from liver and kidney diseases for many years. He was just 46 years of age. Mr Lester died from end-stage renal failure.”

Extracts from Senator DODSON (Western Australia) Senate Tribute in full Part 2

Picture above from  : Yami Lester: More than 500 people travel to South Australia’s far north for leader’s funeral  : Image and full name used with Permission from family

 ” Dr G Yunupingu ‘s uncle, senior Gumatj elder Djunga Djunga Yunupingu, is reported to have told the crowd at the National Indigenous Awards last week that Dr G Yunupingu ‘built a bridge between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australia with his music.

Both Yolngu and Balanda walking together hand in hand—two laws, two people, one country.’

These words speak to the moving and reconciling impact of the life Dr G Yunupingu lived, which, sadly, was all too short.

The coalition government and this parliament recognise kidney disease as an important health condition impacting too greatly on our first Australians. Recognising this, we have invested in significant renal services, including dialysis, and we will continue to push for improved services for Territorians.

Dr G Yunupingu’s achievements over his life have left a legacy in the music industry. He will remain one of Australia’s most treasured music artists, described by the Prime Minister as a remarkable Australian who shared Yolngu language with the world through music.

Extracts from Senator Scullion (Northern Territory ) Senate tribute Part 1 Below

 ” We owe him (Mr Lester)  a great debt because he faced adversity with understated courage, with humility, with humour, with great strength.

In a world without nuclear threats and risks Mr Lester would have been a great stockman. In a world with nuclear threats and risks he would crack his whip loud, hard, sharp and constant to sound a different alarm.

Mr Lester made it part of his life’s work to fight for people affected by nuclear testing and to campaign for Indigenous land rights, and we’ve just heard today what a success he made of that and what a difference he made.

Vale, Mr Lester, and our condolences go out to his family and friends.

I was at Garma just a couple of weeks ago, where his legacy was celebrated and his passing very strongly felt.

You could feel it everywhere over the weekend at the time of Garma.

I just want to add, very briefly, to the comments that Senator Dodson just made around kidney disease and the need to address kidney disease in this country, given the impact it has had on these two great Aboriginal Australians.”

Extracts Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia ) senate Tribute in full Part 3 Below

Part 1 Full Text  Senator SCULLION: I move:

That the Senate records its sincere condolences at the deaths, on 21 July 2017 of Mr Kunmanara Lester OAM, and on 25 July 2017 of Dr G Yunupingu, places on record its gratitude and admiration for their service to the nation, and tenders its profound sympathy to their family and community in their bereavement.

I rise on behalf of the coalition government to pay respects and provide sincere condolences to the families, friends and communities of two remarkable men, two First Australians, who have each made such a difference to the nation through their own respective life paths.

Today the Senate pays respects to the outstanding and remarkable contributions of Dr G Yunupingu and Mr Yami Lester. Perhaps what is most striking is that both of these men lived a life without sight, but certainly not without insight and vision, for these two men saw and strived for a better future for their people using both words and action.

I was incredibly saddened by the news of Dr G Yunupingu’s passing, having had the delight of spending time with him in very different circumstances to most people, on his country.

In my previous life as a commercial fisherman, I and my young family at the time spent many years around Dr G Yunupingu’s country, around his home, particularly on the northern end of Elcho Island.

I consider myself blessed to have been able to know this man on his country, when many would see he was most himself.

In fact, I learned that, despite being born blind, Mr G Yunupingu was a great optimist and a man who made the best of everything.

He was a hero of his people and his community and a champion of the Indigenous music industry.

In fact, he was a champion of the Australian music industry, taking Indigenous music and Australian culture to the world.

Learning to play the guitar from an early age, Dr G Yunupingu joined the acclaimed Yothu Yindi band as a teenager.

This band changed the Australian music industry for the better and, more importantly, changed the psyche of our nation through its thought-provoking songs and powerful lyrics.

This music compelled you to listen.

It was music that made all who heard it stop and listen, to listen and learn.

Dr G Yunupingu ‘s uncle, senior Gumatj elder Djunga Djunga Yunupingu, is reported to have told the crowd at the National Indigenous Awards last week that Dr G Yunupingu ‘built a bridge between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australia with his music.

Both Yolngu and Balanda walking together hand in hand—two laws, two people, one country.’

These words speak to the moving and reconciling impact of the life Dr G Yunupingu lived, which, sadly, was all too short.

The coalition government and this parliament recognise kidney disease as an important health condition impacting too greatly on our first Australians. Recognising this, we have invested in significant renal services, including dialysis, and we will continue to push for improved services for Territorians.

Dr G Yunupingu’s achievements over his life have left a legacy in the music industry. He will remain one of Australia’s most treasured music artists, described by the Prime Minister as a remarkable Australian who shared Yolngu language with the world through music.

Dr G Yunupingu stands among the many Yolngu leaders who have gone before him, including those who were signatories of the Yirrkala bark petitions that were tabled in Parliament this very week back in 1963. Family, friends, fellow Territorians, fans and followers will mark Dr G Yunupingu’s life and provide a final farewell on Tuesday, 19 September at the Darwin Convention Centre.

Today the Senate also provides its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Yami Lester OAM, who passed away on 21 July 2017.

Born in the early 1940s in the APY Lands, on Granite Downs Station in the far north of South Australia, Yami, a Yankunytjatjara man, would go on to live a legacy of leadership that our country acknowledges with sincerity.

The stature of Mr Lester’s leadership was demonstrated in all he did, including as first chair of Pitjantjatjara Council, regional councillor, zone commissioner, driving force of the Institute of Aboriginal Development and chair of the Nganampa Health Council.

Mr Lester is a man who rose from personal tragedy. He was tragically blinded as a young man as a result of the black mist from the nuclear bomb test that blew through his homelands in South Australian when he was only a child. In the decades that followed, Mr Lester’s passion was to fight for justice and restoration for his people and rightful recognition.

He was courageous and persistent. He succeeded in delivering better outcomes for the community he served—for land rights, the health of his people, education, language and culture. He fought for a better future, better health, better education and better jobs.

In all of this, he demonstrated the power of his influence in bringing about major change.

At the state funeral, which I attended with my colleagues Senator Dodson and the member for Lingiari from the other place, I spoke with Mr Lester’s son, Leroy, who shared with me his father’s passion about improving school attendance in his own community.

Mr Lester knew the benefits education can bring not only to his people but to all Australians.

His record of achievement has left a legacy of better outcomes for his community, his people and his nation. Mr Lester advocated for the Pitjantjatjara land rights act. He was part of the historic handover of Uluru-Kata Tjuta, and we remember how he stood alongside Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen in 1975 and interpreted speech.

He tirelessly advocated for the McMillan royal commission into the British nuclear test that later saw his people compensated.

Mr Lester’s leadership created a legacy that will not be forgotten. He will be remembered as a man of great strength, intelligence, courage and great kindness.

The Prime Minister has described Yami as an extraordinary Australian whose courageous life will be remembered forever.

Both Yami Lester and Dr G Yunupingu leave behind loving families and a nation that is better off for their contribution and worse off for their passing.

We the Australian government commemorate the remarkable lives they lived and pay respect to the legacy they leave. Vale Dr G Yunupingu and Yami Lester.

Part 2 Senator DODSON (Western Australia) :

Today I rise to commemorate the memory of two great Indigenous Australians who have passed since the last sitting of the Senate—Mr Yami (Kunmanara) Lester and Dr G Yunupingu, two blind Aboriginal men who had a vision for Australia. Despite their physical impairment they were far-seeing and insightful, and their lives give testament to their strength and resilience.

From humble beginnings in remote and isolated parts of our continent, one in the desert, the other in the saltwater country, they changed our nation for the better.

Of the two men, I knew Yami Lester the better.

I am proud to call him a friend, a leader and a mentor.

Last week, thanks to the generosity of the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, I was privileged to attend his state funeral in the remote South Australian community of Walatina.

Very few state funerals have occurred in a place so remote.

The hearse, a Land Cruiser embellished with flowers, stopped at a dry creek crossing.

Senior women travelling with his body took the opportunity to point to the dry creek bed at Walkinytjanu, in the middle of the desert, where Mr Lester was born.

While we waited for the Governor, the Premier, the South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Leader of the Opposition and other dignitaries we had a chance to feel the power of the simple birthplace, under the gum trees in the red sand, at a soakage in the desert.

Not far from that creek crossing, at Maralinga, when Yami Lester was a 12-year-old, the British government, in collusion with our Australian government, exploded a series of atomic weapons.

A black mist rolled over their lands, hurting the eyes of this young boy. After a relatively short period of time he became blind.

He believed this was as a direct result of this evil mist. He spent six or so years in a home in Adelaide, where only a younger person spoke his language, Yankunytjatjara. He became a ‘broomologist’, as he used to say, making brooms in the Adelaide school for the blind.

As an adult, with his wife Lucy, he moved to Alice Springs, where I came to know him and learn from his wisdom and insight into life and politics.

He became a leader of Aboriginal organisations there. With the late Reverend Jim Downing he established the Institute for Aboriginal Development, promoting Aboriginal language and culture against the grain of assimilation and forced social and cultural change.

They developed practical measures to assist families living in poverty and worked to reduce infant mortality by helping people to understand the causes of poor health and disease.

I recall giving a speech in Alice Springs on a topic I’ve now forgotten.

Yami pulled me up in the middle of the speech and said words that I took to heart. He said: ‘You’re a smart young man but you have to make a picture book for me in your speech; you need to paint a picture, so that I can see what you are talking about!’.

He was a leader in the struggle to establish Aboriginal controlled and managed organisations in Central Australia; to get recognition of land rights in South Australia; to get Uluru and Kata-Tjuta National Parks returned to traditional owners; and to establish a royal commission into the Maralinga tests.

In all of these struggles his wisdom, courage, determination and commitment were tempered by a wicked and irrepressible sense of humor and an infectious delight in life.

He was a mad supporter of the Melbourne Football Club.

This man, who could not see, showed us a vision of a reconciled Australia and led us on that path.

To his family—Lucy, Leroy, Rosemary and Karina—we express our thanks to you for allowing him to share his time with so many of us.

We wish you well in your future. At his funeral service, we were moved by the singing of Paul Kelly, whose song Maralinga told the story of Mr Lester.

Paul Kelly also worked with the second blind man I wish to commemorate today, Dr G Yunupingu, who brought his beautiful, ethereal voice, in his Yolngu language, to people across the world.

He was born on Elcho Island in the Northern Territory. As his song says, ‘I was born blind. I don’t know why.’ Dr G Yunupingu grew up in Galiwinku, the settlement on Elcho Island, off the north coast of Australia, which is over 500 kilometres northeast of Darwin.

Being blind, he spent his youth with his family absorbed in the Methodist mission environment, and become immersed in the world of music. He was a member of the famous Yothu Yindi band, whose classic song Treaty still resonates today, and the Saltwater Band. It was his solo albums that brought him fame and worldwide acclaim.

His amazing voice was complemented by the cello playing of his collaborator, friend and translator, Michael Hohnen.

Dr G Yunupingu performed for Her Majesty the Queen and for President Barack Obama, but it was the way in which his songs and music brought Yolngu culture and ideas into the minds of so many Australians that is his great gift to us all.

Dr G Yunupingu’s uncle—as the minister has said—senior Gumatj leader David Djunga Djunga Yunupingu, told the crowd in Darwin that his nephew had built a bridge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians with music, but died before the country was truly at peace. He said:

He left us without knowing his place in this nation, without knowing true unity for all Australians.

Both men died, in part, due to kidney disease.

Dr Yunupingu had suffered from liver and kidney diseases for many years. He was just 46 years of age. Mr Lester died from end-stage renal failure.

He made the choice not to move from his home in Walatinna to Alice Springs for dialysis, allowing the disease to take him on his home country.

We’ve lost two great Aboriginal Australians to the scourge of renal disease. In this place we must mark the passing of these great Australians by committing ourselves to doing more to eradicate this epidemic.

Part 3 Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia )

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing within days of each other of Mr Lester and Mr G Yunupingu.

Both men have made such a great contribution to this country.

I should say that Scott Ludlam would like to be here today to talk about and share his condolences for Mr Lester, because he worked with Mr Lester and other anti-nuclear campaigners to get justice and to campaign against the nuclear industry.

I think it was very fitting, and I’m so pleased, that Mr Lester got to see the commitment to the expansion of the gold card to those affected by the nuclear tests, in the budget in May.

I’m really pleased that he got to see that because he campaigned for such a long time for justice, for the people who are affected by the radiation from the British nuclear tests in Maralinga.

At least he got to see that.

It is a shame that Scott isn’t here to also add to the condolences.

Mr Dave Sweeney, who is a very well-known antinuclear campaigner and who worked with Mr Lester for a very long time, said of his passing:

We owe him a great debt because he faced adversity with understated courage, with humility, with humour, with great strength.

In a world without nuclear threats and risks Mr Lester would have been a great stockman. In a world with nuclear threats and risks he would crack his whip loud, hard, sharp and constant to sound a different alarm.

Mr Lester made it part of his life’s work to fight for people affected by nuclear testing and to campaign for Indigenous land rights, and we’ve just heard today what a success he made of that and what a difference he made.

Vale, Mr Lester, and our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Mr G Yunupingu—what a huge contribution he made to Australia and the world, sharing his music with the world.

It was such beautiful music which made such strong statements, such heartfelt statements, and enabled people to understand his culture through his words and his music.

His music is a lasting contribution to this country.

I was at Garma just a couple of weeks ago, where his legacy was celebrated and his passing very strongly felt.

You could feel it everywhere over the weekend at the time of Garma.

I just want to add, very briefly, to the comments that Senator Dodson just made around kidney disease and the need to address kidney disease in this country, given the impact it has had on these two great Aboriginal Australians.

People are aware that this has been discussed extensively in this chamber, and we need to keep talking about it until it gets the attention that it needs and we stop the going backwards and forwards between the state and territories and the Commonwealth about who pays for what.

It absolutely needs to be addressed. The causes need to be addressed, so that we don’t get to the point where we need end-stage treatment such as dialysis.

These two men’s legacies will constantly remind us of that.

Vale, Dr G Yunupingu and, as I said, the Greens add their condolences to this motion. I should also say thank you to Minister Scullion and Senator Dodson who ensured that we do get to commemorate these two great men in this chamber.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I now ask all senators to stand in silent support of the motion.

Question agreed to, honourable senators standing in their places.

Aboriginal Male Health #OchreDay2017 : @First1000DaysOz Defining #IndigenousDads , men and impact on family wellbeing. “

‘Monocultures of the mind’ approaches to the issues impacting on our families have also seen the erasure of the role and contribution of our men to strong, healthy and empowered households.

In the protection of our children, our men – their identity, their contribution to healthy, happy households has been made invisible. Our men and their contribution to families are impacted on by western ideals implicit in the economic concepts of development, improvement and engagement. 

This strategy has been pervasive; ever since the 2007 Northern Territory Intervention the inflammatory message that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are not capable caregivers is not, nor should it be, acceptable.

Because of it, our society has lost so much. The roles and responsibilities of men as fathers have become absent in the policy and program resource chain, and they are not often valued or seen as contributors to our children’s health and wellbeing.

What our men lose is an appreciation of their capacity for nurturance and their role as key contributors to the health and wealth of our households.

When I first looked in early childhood policy documents I could not see our men represented in policy as anything other than perpetrators of violence, overrepresented in the criminal justice system and in the suicide statistics and as ‘having high levels of disease’, particularly in the sexual and reproductive health literature. This representation of our men shakes the very foundations of our families and communities. “

Kerry Arabena Professor Indigenous Health University of Melbourne  Leading

Congress Alice Springs Inteyerrkwe Statement 2008

We the Aboriginal males from Central Australia and our visitor brothers from around Australia gathered at Inteyerrkwe in July 2008 to develop strategies to ensure our future roles as grandfathers, fathers, uncles, nephews, brothers, grandsons, and sons in caring for our children in a safe family environment that will lead to a happier, longer life that reflects opportunities experienced by the wider community.

We acknowledge and say sorry for the hurt, pain and suffering caused by Aboriginal males to our wives, to our children, to our mothers, to our grandmothers, to our granddaughters, to our aunties, to our nieces and to our sisters.

We also acknowledge that we need the love and support of our Aboriginal women to help us move forward “

John Liddle Congress ACCHO Alice Springs , on behalf of 400 Aboriginal Males at Ross River in response to NT 2007 Intervention see below for details

 ” This year NACCHO is pleased to announce the annual NACCHO Ochre Day will be held in Darwin 4-5 October 2017.

Beginning in 2013, Ochre Day is an important NACCHO Aboriginal male health initiative. Aboriginal males have arguably the worst health outcomes of any population group in Australia. NACCHO has long recognised the importance of addressing Aboriginal male health as part of Close the Gap by 2030.”

For more information and to register for Ochre Day

 Reprinted with permission and support from HERE

As current Program Chair and former CEO of the Lowitja Institute, I ( Kerry Arabena ) took great pleasure in celebrating the recent 20-year anniversary of both the Institute and its associated Cooperative Research Centres.

To mark the event, the Lowitja Institute commissioned a brief history, Changing the Narrative in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, which it launched at Parliament House on 9 August.

The publication details the evolution of collaborative and culturally appropriate ways of conducting health research that has a clear and positive impact for our communities. And although 20 years seems like a long time, it isn’t really. It is just over six policy cycles. We still have much to do.

This same week, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights has criticised the Turnbull government’s characterisation of welfare recipients, particularly those who use alcohol and drugs, observing that Australia’s ‘mid twentieth century language’ about welfare ran counter to the tendency internationally to use the more modern language of ‘social protection’.

Also this week, Senator Patrick Dodson responded to an article in which graphic footage of violence in some Western Australian communities was released to the media. Although the footage was shocking, Dodson stressed that regional WA towns are not ‘war zones’, and that their residents should be treated with respect.

He also responded to the overuse of simplistic language in which community members, particularly Aboriginal men, are vilified as the sole culprits for these appalling abuses. He went on to state that what is truly required are community people knowing about, then using circuit breakers that respond to, the multitude of issues contributing to the deep trauma and anxiety caused by alcohol and drug misuse, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

That is why I am proud of the efforts of the Lowtija Institute to address these and other issues relating to how we can all value and honour the roles of our young men, the genesis of work on reclaiming ideals of maleness derived from deep and enduring cultural values and relationships, as advocated for by men recorded in Dr. Brian McCoys’s work ‘Holding Men’.

Advocating for an approach in which men and women work together at a community level, as well as at local and regional levels, to help all members of communities find their feet is critical to redefining our strength and positivity.

Controlling and managing our affairs through principles of kinship, reciprocity, working together and respect is something that sits well with the Lowitja Institute – above all other research funders. In the First 1000 Days Australia movement, calls for men and women to work together to strengthen families for now and for the future has both an evidence base and a social function. Although both men and women experience trauma, they respond differently, as they do to the experience of anxiety.

Children have attachment to their birth parents, no matter what their experience of being with those parents is like, and we need, in turn, to respond appropriately to this.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women across the country are calling for families to have the type of relationships between and with each other, and with their children, that breaks cycles of trauma, heals our families and sets us up for a brighter, happier, healthier future

Part of that future, in my view, needs to be premised on a ‘theory of masculinity’ developed by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and supported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Dr Vandana Shiva, an Indian scholar, environmental activist and anti-globalisation author is someone I have long admired, and her influence in my development of the key concepts inherent in the First 1000 Days Australia movement is evident.

I am a Social Worker with a PhD in Environmental Science and President of the International Ecology and Health Association after all! Her Essays on Monocultures of the Mind was particularly powerful, showing how local knowledge is displaced and eradicated as part of the ongoing colonial project through its interactions with dominant Western knowledge.

This erasure takes place at many levels, through many steps. First, local knowledge is made to disappear by simply not seeing it, by negating its very existence. ‘Monocultures of the mind’ generate models of production that destroy diversity and legitimise that destruction as progress, growth and improvement.

From the perspective of ‘monocultures of the mind’, productivity and yields appear to increase when diversity is erased and replaced with uniformity; and in the case of our early childhood services, I would suggest the roles and contribution of men to families have been negated; and the roles and resourcing of universal early childhood services elevated, through people and systems invested in attitudes founded in monoculture thinking and action.

Western systems of knowledge have generally been viewed as universal.

However, dominant systems are also local systems, with their social basis in a particular culture (non-Indigenous), class (middle) and gender (male). It is not universal in an epistemological sense, merely the globalised version of a very local and parochial tradition emerging from a dominating and colonising culture.

What I learned from Dr Shiva and others is that, from a perspective of diversity, monocultures are impoverished systems both qualitatively and quantitatively. They are also highly unstable and non-sustainable systems. Monocultures spread not because they produce more, but because they control more. Thus, the expansion of monocultures has more to do with politics and power than with enriching and enhancing systems premised on diversity and locality.

What we need to do is reclaim men’s capacity for nurturance and bring their role and contributions into early childhood in ways that are in line with the First 1000 Days Australia Council Charter of Rights, and specific to families, communities, nations and geographic regions.

Applied to the First 1000 Days Australia movement, which we are building to respect the diversity and legitimacy of local knowledge about culture, caring and parenting.  This approach has seen us:

  • Take an ecological approach to how we do our work, understanding that we are born into ecosystems not societies. This is important positioning, as the world is gripped by the sixth largest mass extinction and, over the next 50 years, our children will have to respond to a series of global megatrends including planetary pushback. Positioned at the commencement of the 21st century, we need to be forward looking.
  • Undertake to support strategies for local and regional programs that are both founded on a celebration of local knowledges and proudly acknowledge people’s capacities for contribution OUTSIDE of the universal service system. These strategies include Welcome Babies to Country programs, building of a ‘culture as therapy’ workforce, and supporting local entrepreneurial activity to escape being trapped in welfarised ‘service delivery systems’ that permeate Indigenous Affairs.
  • Build on and support the role of both our men and women in our First 1000 Days Australia work. Indigenous Dads have so much to contribute to our families, as can be seen by the many dads who are celebrated in the #IndigenousDads movement, which has reclaimed the inspirational role that so many men provide for their partners, their children and other children in their lives more generally.

‘Monocultures of the mind’ approaches to the issues impacting on our families have also seen the erasure of the role and contribution of our men to strong, healthy and empowered households.

In the protection of our children, our men – their identity, their contribution to healthy, happy households has been made invisible. Our men and their contribution to families are impacted on by western ideals implicit in the economic concepts of development, improvement and engagement.

This strategy has been pervasive; ever since the 2007 Northern Territory Intervention the inflammatory message that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are not capable caregivers is not, nor should it be, acceptable.

Historic background added by NACCHO

Men need to be part of the solution says NACCHO at national Aboriginal health meeting

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.
Media Release  2008

The annual general meeting in Broome this week of the national peak body for Aboriginal health, NACCHO, has endorsed the “Inteyerrkwe Statement” from the July Aboriginal Male Health Summit in Central Australia acknowledging and apologising for the suffering some Aboriginal men have caused in their communities.

The meeting called on all Aboriginal men to think about the statement and to commit to its principals of caring for children in a safe family environment and recognising the need for the love and support of Aboriginal women to help men move forward

See Congress Alice Springs Aboriginal Male Health submission

Download 1. Congress Aboriginal Male Health 2008

Aboriginal Male Health‐ Brothers Supporting Brothers‐ a central Australian Aboriginal perspective.

Download Report 2. Congress Final report Male Health summit Part 1

Because of it, our society has lost so much. The roles and responsibilities of men as fathers have become absent in the policy and program resource chain, and they are not often valued or seen as contributors to our children’s health and wellbeing.

What our men lose is an appreciation of their capacity for nurturance and their role as key contributors to the health and wealth of our households.

When I first looked in early childhood policy documents I could not see our men represented in policy as anything other than perpetrators of violence, overrepresented in the criminal justice system and in the suicide statistics and as ‘having high levels of disease’, particularly in the sexual and reproductive health literature.

This representation of our men shakes the very foundations of our families and communities. And their absence in early childhood policy and programs falsifies the gender roles and responsibilies in our communities and accomplishes the colonial mission that was started more than 200 years ago – through modern knowledge systems premised on monocultures and monopolies.

In part to disrupt these knowledge systems, and to empower men as nurturers, First 1000 Days Australia advocates changing the names of ‘child and maternal health services’ to move beyond privileging the biological role that women play in the carrying of their children and recognising the social circumstance into which children are born. First 1000 Days Australia advocates for child and family services, with an emphasis on men’s capacity for care.

We are interested in SMS4Dads as a program, for example, to assist men prepare for the birth of their baby by attending men’s antenatal classes and having other men to talk to about the transition to fatherhood.

We want to provide space for men to support each other in their fatherhood journey, and as carers of children.

We appreciate the roles of uncles, brothers and cousins in the care of children.

We want to hear from men about how best to support them respond to the needs and aspirations of their partners and children in powerful and tender ways.

We need a gender equity approach to raising our children, and to recognise there are single fathers out there who are doing it tough, and who need supports from services and other families to know they are doing ok.

We also recognise the value of those men who support anti-violence campaigns, who work in our early childhood centres, who mentor and help our young men prior to becoming dads and who stick with them through those important early years.

This work, while valuing our men, has not yet developed a theoretical underpinning but it is high on our agenda.

First 1000 days Australia also wants to disrupt the ‘monocultures of the mind’s’ pervasive attitude that needs to erase the role and contribution of our men, and to replace our values with those that extend structures perpetuating the colonial project.

We need to examine the ways in which colonial practices have diminished our beliefs about gender, race and privilege and to address the impact of these, particularly in constructing only two distinct genders – men and women. Perhaps there can be something learned from other Indigenous authors who are reclaiming Indigenous masculinity.

I don’t often say this out loud, but, having been a long time single parent, I have often described myself as both ‘mother and father for my children’.

Perhaps, if I were to decolonise my mind, I would have said something more nuanced like. ‘I am a woman who has also had to call on my masculine self to raise my children’.

We are people, with male and female hormones, who can embody both masculine and feminine expressions of self in our one body. In this way, I can release myself from colonial constructs of separateness, power, privilege and embodiment.

What will assist the work of First 1000 Days Australia is for men to address the lack of critical attentiveness to Indigenous masculinities in Australia, through our own knowledge systems and under the leadership of Indigenous academics.

We would be so proud to take carriage of these findings into our activities and support our way forward – as families and as communities – together.

And it is starting – through the Lowitja Institute. Through the Lowitja Institute we can explore the full range of options available to us, and set an agenda to suit ourselves both now and into the future.

I cannot imagine another research institute being able to create then hold the space for the discussions that need to be had, to bring this research agenda to life.

It is an exciting time for the Program Committee, whose members are working with others in designing research questions that will make a difference, and change the narrative about what it means to be an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man caring for our children.

Over the next year or so, the Lowitja Institute will support a program of research related to valuing our men, which is being led by a group of men and supported by women, to start to lay the way forward for all of us.

Nothing defines a society so much as how they care for children. It is our job, our responsibility to care for our children; particularly in calls across the country for Treaty.

We need to start to define how we are going to raise Treaty Kids, living Treaty Lives, in Treaty Families, with Treaty fathers caring for Treaty mothers if we are going to make Treaty real.

We look forward to seeing our people take the lead in these important conversations and that our combined efforts bring about positive generational change for our children.

We celebrate the Lowitja Institute, and for its past 20 years of changing the narrative in Indigenous health research. May we be resourced to do this for the next 20 years – and beyond.

Aboriginal Health and the @AusLawReform inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal peoples

 

” The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry ask the ALRC to consider laws and legal frameworks that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody.

ALRC Home page

Download this 236 page discussion paper

discussion_paper_84_compressed_no_cover

Full Terms of reference part B below

The ALRC was asked to consider a number of factors that decision makers take into account when deciding on a criminal justice response, including community safety, the availability of alternatives to incarceration, the degree of discretion available, and incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment

The Terms of Reference also direct the ALRC to consider laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Submissions close on 4 September 2017.

Make a submission

Part A Proposals and Questions

1. Structure of the Discussion Paper

1.40     The Discussion Paper is structured in parts. Following the introduction, Part 2 addresses criminal justice pathways. The ALRC has identified three key areas that influence incarceration rates: bail laws and processes, and remand; sentencing laws and legal frameworks including mandatory sentencing, short sentences and Gladue-style reports; and transition pathways from prison, parole and throughcare. These were the focus of stakeholder comments and observations in preliminary consultations.

1.41     Part 3 considers non-violent offending and alcohol regulation. It provides an overview of the detrimental effects of fine debt on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the likelihood of imprisonment in some jurisdictions. Fine debt can be tied to driver licence offending, and the ALRC asks how best to minimise licence suspension caused by fine default. Part 3 also looks at ways laws and legal frameworks can operate to decrease alcohol supply so as to minimise alcohol-related offending in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

1.42     Part 4 discusses the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. It contextualises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female offending within experiences of trauma, including isolation; family and sexual violence; and child removal. It outlines how proposals in other chapters may address the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and asks what more can be done.

1.43     Part 5 considers access to justice, and examines ways that state and territory governments and criminal justice systems can better engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to prevent offending and to provide better criminal justice responses when offending occurs. The ALRC places collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations at the centre of proposals made in this Part, and suggests accountability measures for state and territory government justice agencies and police. The remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpreters are also discussed. Alternative approaches to crime prevention and criminal justice responses, such as those operating under the banner of ‘justice reinvestment’, are also canvassed.

2. Bail and the Remand Population

Proposal 2–1        The Bail Act 1977 (Vic) has a standalone provision that requires bail authorities to consider any ‘issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality’, including cultural background, ties to family and place, and cultural obligations. This consideration is in addition to any other requirements of the Bail Act.

Other state and territory bail legislation should adopt similar provisions.

As with all other bail considerations, the requirement to consider issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality would not supersede considerations of community safety.

Proposal 2–2        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify service gaps and develop the infrastructure required to provide culturally appropriate bail support and diversion options where needed.

3. Sentencing and Aboriginality

Question 3–1        Noting the decision in Bugmy v The Queen [2013] HCA 38, should state and territory governments legislate to expressly require courts to consider the unique systemic and background factors affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

If so, should this be done as a sentencing principle, a sentencing factor, or in some other way?

Question 3–2        Where not currently legislated, should state and territory governments provide for reparation or restoration as a sentencing principle? In what ways, if any, would this make the criminal justice system more responsive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

Question 3–3        Do courts sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders have sufficient information available about the offender’s background, including cultural and historical factors that relate to the offender and their community?

Question 3–4        In what ways might specialist sentencing reports assist in providing relevant information to the court that would otherwise be unlikely to be submitted?

Question 3–5        How could the preparation of these reports be facilitated? For example, who should prepare them, and how should they be funded?

4. Sentencing Options

Question 4–1        Noting the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

(a)     should Commonwealth, state and territory governments review provisions that impose mandatory or presumptive sentences; and

(b)     which provisions should be prioritised for review?

Question 4–2        Should short sentences of imprisonment be abolished as a sentencing option? Are there any unintended consequences that could result?

Question 4–3        If short sentences of imprisonment were to be abolished, what should be the threshold (eg, three months; six months)?

Question 4–4        Should there be any pre-conditions for such amendments, for example: that non-custodial alternatives to prison be uniformly available throughout states and territories, including in regional and remote areas?

Proposal 4–1        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to ensure that community-based sentences are more readily available, particularly in regional and remote areas.

Question 4–5        Beyond increasing availability of existing community-based sentencing options, is legislative reform required to allow judicial officers greater flexibility to tailor sentences?

5. Prison Programs, Parole and Unsupervised Release

Proposal 5–1        Prison programs should be developed and made available to accused people held on remand and people serving short sentences.

Question 5–1        What are the best practice elements of programs that could respond to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples held on remand or serving short sentences of imprisonment?

Proposal 5–2        There are few prison programs for female prisoners and these may not address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners. State and territory corrective services should develop culturally appropriate programs that are readily available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners.

Question 5–2        What are the best practice elements of programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners to address offending behaviour?

Proposal 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole should apply in all states and territories.

Question 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole applies in NSW, Queensland and SA. What are the best practice elements of such schemes?

Proposal 5–4        Parole revocation schemes should be amended to abolish requirements for the time spent on parole to be served again in prison if parole is revoked.

6. Fines and Driver Licences

Proposal 6–1        Fine default should not result in the imprisonment of the defaulter. State and territory governments should abolish provisions in fine enforcement statutes that provide for imprisonment in lieu of unpaid fines.

Question 6–1        Should lower level penalties be introduced, such as suspended infringement notices or written cautions?

Question 6–2        Should monetary penalties received under infringement notices be reduced or limited to a certain amount? If so, how?

Question 6–3        Should the number of infringement notices able to be issued in one transaction be limited?

Question 6–4        Should offensive language remain a criminal offence? If so, in what circumstances?

Question 6–5        Should offensive language provisions be removed from criminal infringement notice schemes, meaning that they must instead be dealt with by the court?

Question 6–6        Should state and territory governments provide alternative penalties to court ordered fines? This could include, for example, suspended fines, day fines, and/or work and development orders.

Proposal 6–2        Work and Development Orders were introduced in NSW in 2009. They enable a person who cannot pay fines due to hardship, illness, addiction, or homelessness to discharge their debt through:

  • work;
  • program attendance;
  • medical treatment;
  • counselling; or
  • education, including driving lessons.

State and territory governments should introduce work and development orders based on this model.

Question 6–7        Should fine default statutory regimes be amended to remove the enforcement measure of driver licence suspension?

Question 6–8        What mechanisms could be introduced to enable people reliant upon driver licences to be protected from suspension caused by fine default? For example, should:

(a)     recovery agencies be given discretion to skip the licence suspension step where the person in default is vulnerable, as in NSW; or

(b)     courts be given discretion regarding the disqualification, and disqualification period, of driver licences where a person was initially suspended due to fine default?

Question 6–9        Is there a need for regional driver permit schemes? If so, how should they operate?

Question 6–10      How could the delivery of driver licence programs to regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be improved?

7. Justice Procedure Offences—Breach of Community-based Sentences

Proposal 7–1        To reduce breaches of community-based sentences by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, state and territory governments should engage with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify gaps and build the infrastructure required for culturally appropriate community-based sentencing options and support services.

8. Alcohol

Question 8–1        Noting the link between alcohol abuse and offending, how might state and territory governments facilitate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, that wish to do so, to:

(a)     develop and implement local liquor accords with liquor retailers and other stakeholders that specifically seek to minimise harm to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, for example through such things as minimum pricing, trading hours and range restriction;

(b)     develop plans to prevent the sale of full strength alcohol within their communities, such as the plan implemented within the Fitzroy Crossing community?

Question 8–2        In what ways do banned drinkers registers or alcohol mandatory treatment programs affect alcohol-related offending within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities? What negative impacts, if any, flow from such programs?

9. Female Offenders

Question 9–1        What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and improve criminal justice processes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female defendants and offenders?

10. Aboriginal Justice Agreements

Proposal 10–1       Where not currently operating, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to renew or develop Aboriginal Justice Agreements.

Question 10–1      Should the Commonwealth Government develop justice targets as part of the review of the Closing the Gap policy? If so, what should these targets encompass?

11. Access to Justice Issues

Proposal 11–1       Where needed, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to establish interpreter services within the criminal justice system.

Question 11–1      What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and specialist sentencing courts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Proposal 11–2       Where not already in place, state and territory governments should provide for limiting terms through special hearing processes in place of indefinite detention when a person is found unfit to stand trial.

Question 11–2      In what ways can availability and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services be increased?

Proposal 11–3       State and territory governments should introduce a statutory custody notification service that places a duty on police to contact the Aboriginal Legal Service, or equivalent service, immediately on detaining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.

12. Police Accountability

Question 12–1      How can police work better with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to reduce family violence?

Question 12–2      How can police officers entering into a particular Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community gain a full understanding of, and be better equipped to respond to, the needs of that community?

Question 12–3      Is there value in police publicly reporting annually on their engagement strategies, programs and outcomes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that are designed to prevent offending behaviours?

Question 12–4      Should police that are undertaking programs aimed at reducing offending behaviours in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be required to: document programs; undertake systems and outcomes evaluations; and put succession planning in place to ensure continuity of the programs?

Question 12–5      Should police be encouraged to enter into Reconciliation Action Plans with Reconciliation Australia, where they have not already done so?

Question 12–6      Should police be required to resource and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment strategies, where not already in place?

13. Justice Reinvestment

Question 13–1      What laws or legal frameworks, if any, are required to facilitate justice reinvestment initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Part B The Term of reference

ALRC inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

I, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia, refer to the Australian Law Reform Commission, an inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons.

It is acknowledged that while laws and legal frameworks are an important factor contributing to over‑representation, there are many other social, economic, and historic factors that also contribute. It is also acknowledged that while the rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and their contact with the criminal justice system – both as offenders and as victims – significantly exceeds that of non‑Indigenous Australians, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people never commit criminal offences.

Scope of the reference

  1. In developing its law reform recommendations, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) should have regard to:
    1. Laws and legal frameworks including legal institutions and law enforcement (police, courts, legal assistance services and prisons), that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody, specifically in relation to:
      1. the nature of offences resulting in incarceration,
      2. cautioning,
      3. protective custody,
      4. arrest,
      5. remand and bail,
      6. diversion,
      7. sentencing, including mandatory sentencing, and
      8. parole, parole conditions and community reintegration.
    2. Factors that decision-makers take into account when considering (1)(a)(i-viii), including:
      1. community safety,
      2. availability of alternatives to incarceration,
      3. the degree of discretion available to decision-makers,
      4. incarceration as a last resort, and
      5. incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment.
    3. Laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and including, for example, laws that regulate the availability of alcohol, driving offences and unpaid fines.
    4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their rate of incarceration.
    5. Differences in the application of laws across states and territories.
    6. Other access to justice issues including the remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language and sign interpreters.
  2.  In conducting its Inquiry, the ALRC should have regard to existing data and research[1] in relation to:
    1. best practice laws, legal frameworks that reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration,
    2. pathways of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the criminal justice system, including most frequent offences, relative rates of bail and diversion and progression from juvenile to adult offending,
    3. alternatives to custody in reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and/or offending, including rehabilitation, therapeutic alternatives and culturally appropriate community led solutions,
    4. the impacts of incarceration on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including in relation to employment, housing, health, education and families, and
    5. the broader contextual factors contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration including:
      1. the characteristics of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison population,
      2. the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration and inter‑generational trauma, loss of culture, poverty, discrimination, alcohol and drug use, experience of violence, including family violence, child abuse and neglect, contact with child protection and welfare systems, educational access and performance, cognitive and psychological factors, housing circumstances and employment, and
      3. the availability and effectiveness of culturally appropriate programs that intend to reduce Aboriginal; and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration.
  3. In undertaking this Inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consider other reports, inquiries and action plans including but not limited to:
    1. the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,
    2. the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (due to report 1 August 2017),
    3. Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration’s Inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Experience of Law Enforcement and Justice Services,
    4. Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs’ inquiry into Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric impairment in Australia,
    5. Senate Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs inquiry into Harmful Use of Alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities,
    6. reports of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
    7. the ALRC’s inquiries into Family violence and Family violence and Commonwealth laws, and​
    8. the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

The ALRC should also consider the gaps in available data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and consider recommendations that might improve data collection.

  1. In conducting its inquiry the ALRC should also have regard to relevant international human rights standards and instruments.

Consultation

  1. In undertaking this inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consult with relevant stakeholders including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations, state and territory governments, relevant policy and research organisations, law enforcement agencies, legal assistance service providers and the broader legal profession, community service providers and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Timeframe

  1. The ALRC should provide its report to the Attorney-General by 22 December 2017.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @amapresident says Treat Dependence And Addiction As Chronic Brain Disease

Behavioural addictions – such as pathological gambling, compulsive buying, or being addicted to exercise or the internet – and substance dependence are recognised as chronic diseases of the brain’s reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry,

Substance abuse is widespread in Australia. Almost one in seven Australians over the age of 14 have used an illicit substance in the past 12 months, and about the same number report drinking 11 or more standard alcoholic drinks in a single session.

Left unaddressed, the broader community impacts include reduced employment and productivity, increased health care costs, reliance on social welfare, increased criminal activity, and higher rates of incarceration.”

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon pictured above with NACCHO Chair on a recent visit to NT ACCHO Danila Dilba

Read view over 170 Articles last 5 years NACCHO Alcohol and other drugs

Substance dependence and behavioural addictions are chronic brain diseases, and people affected by them should be treated like any other patient with a serious illness, the AMA says.

Releasing the AMA’s Harmful Substance Use, Dependence, and Behavioural Addiction (Addiction) 2017 Position Statement today, AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said that dependence and addiction often led to death or disability in patients, yet support and treatment services were severely under-resourced.

Download copy Harmful Substance Use, Dependence and Behavioural Addiction (Addiction) – 2017 – AMA position statement

“Substance use does not inevitably lead to dependence or addiction. A patient’s progression can be influenced by many factors – genetic and biological factors, the age at which the use first started, psychological history, family and peer dynamics, stress, and access to support.

“The costs of untreated dependence and addictions are staggering. Alcohol-related harm alone is estimated to cost $36 billion a year.

“Those affected by dependence and addictions are more likely to have physical and mental health concerns, and their finances, careers, education, and personal relationships can be severely disrupted.

“Left unaddressed, the broader community impacts include reduced employment and productivity, increased health care costs, reliance on social welfare, increased criminal activity, and higher rates of incarceration.

“About one in 10 people in our jails is there because of a drug-related crime.

“Given the consequences of substance dependence and behavioural addictions, the AMA believes it is time for a mature and open discussion about policies and responses that reduce consumption, and that also prevent and reduce the harms associated with drug use and control.

“Services for people with substance dependence and behavioural addiction are severely under-resourced. Being able to access treatment at the right time is vital, yet the demand for services outweighs availability in most instances.

“Waiting for extended periods of time to access treatment can reduce an individual’s motivation to engage in treatment.

“While the Government responded quickly to concerns about crystal methamphetamine use with the National Ice Action Strategy, broader drug policy appears to be a lower priority.

“The recently-released National Drug Strategy 2017-2026 again lists methamphetamine as the highest priority substance for Australia, despite the Strategy noting that only 1.4 per cent of Australians over the age of 14 had ever tried the drug.

“The Strategy also notes that alcohol is associated with 5,000 deaths and more than 150,000 hospitalisations each year, yet the Strategy puts it as a lower priority than ice.

“The updated National Drug Strategy is disappointing. The fact that no additional funding has been allocated to the Strategy to date means that any measures that require funding support are unlikely to occur in the short to medium term.

“The Government must focus on those dependencies and addictions that cause the greatest harm, including alcohol, regardless of whether some substances are more socially acceptable than others.

“General practitioners are a highly trusted source of advice, and they play an important role in the prevention, detection, and management of substance dependence and behavioural addictions. Unfortunately, limited access to suitable treatment can undermine GPs’ efforts in these areas.”