NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health and #Housing @2019wihc #CloseTheGap : Co Host John Paterson CEO @AMSANTaus opening speech @IEHU_UniMelb #ClosingtheGap in Vision 2020 #CTGV19 Conference Plus #AliceSprings Declaration @OptometryAus @RANZCOeyedoctor @Vision2020Aus

Regarding the environmental improvements, we know that the NT Aboriginal population has the worst housing in Australia.  

Around 60% of Aboriginal people live in over-crowded housing and one third live in poorly maintained houses. 

This directly impacts on the ability of our people to maintain healthy living practices such as ensuing their kids have clean faces and clean clothes. 

We cannot keep on relying on antibiotics to get rid of trachoma – to be sustainable, there must be major improvements in environmental health and housing.

Improving housing will also lead to improvements in other infectious diseases that are way too common in our people in the NT

John Paterson CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT or AMSANT. See full Speech Part 1 Below

Alice Springs Declaration

At the 2019 Close the Gap in vision 2020 conference, held in Alice springs, delegates heard that improvements in environmental health and housing are essential to eliminate trachoma and to reduce rates of other childhood infections that can lead to serious conditions such as rheumatic heart disease, blindness and deafness.

The conference heard about good progress in reducing trachoma rates but also that there had been some stalling in remote Central Australian communities where trachoma remains endemic and will not be eliminated unless housing is addressed.

Over half of Aboriginal people in the NT live in overcrowded housing and nearly one third live in poorly maintained housing. This is by far the worst result of any jurisdiction in Australia.

The Conference noted that there is currently a political impasse between the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments which is preventing the completion of an agreement to enable desperately needed Commonwealth investment in Aboriginal housing to be made available.

The Conference was also concerned at the very slow pace of implementation of the Northern Territory government funded housing program, where only 62 million of 220 million has been spent in the first two years.

The delegates demand that both levels of government urgently work to fix this impasse to ensure that Aboriginal housing investment can be made available to address the critical housing needs in the NT and contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Territorians.

This declaration was unanimously endorsed

Download PDF Copy

CTG19 ALICE SPRINGS DECLARATION

” Supporting and improving the local primary health care service capacity to confidently perform eye assessments should reduce the dependency on visiting eye specialists.

Going forward I see the promotion of these items as a highly effective way of investing in people and communities to have the capacity to manage and improve their own health outcomes.

Building local workforces must be key and I know that’s easier said than done.

The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision is a standout example of a program that has been successful in its impact towards closing the First Nations health gap.

Remarkable results have been achieved in just under a decade and the Roadmap recommendations are well on the way to being fully implemented.

Progress in Indigenous eye health has long been a challenge, making the success of this collaborative work even more remarkable.

The Hon Warren Snowdon Opposition Spokesperson Indigenous Health Keynote Address #CTG19 see full speech part 2 Below

Good morning everyone. My name is John Paterson and I am the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT or AMSANT. As many of you will know, AMSANT is the peak body for Aboriginal community controlled health services in the Northern Territory.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners, the Arrernte past, present and future, of the land on which we’re meeting: Mbantua – also known as Alice Springs.

To everyone here today, welcome to this important conference that is for the first time being held outside of Melbourne.

It will provide us with a great opportunity to share challenges, learnings and new ideas in a key regional centre for Aboriginal Australians who live in remote and very remote settings.  Aboriginal culture is strong and proud here, as it is across the NT.

Welcome to the many attendees from the NT and right across Australia. Thank you for the work you do in eye health and your interest in improving Aboriginal health outcomes.

I would like to begin by talking a little about the history of our sector in the NT.

It is a story of self-determination.

And it is a story about the passion and dedication in developing essential primary health care services to our people from the ground up.

It is a story about always being a strong advocate for our people.

Our sector provides comprehensive primary health care from Darwin to the most remote areas of the NT.

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress is 45 years old and is the second oldest ACCHS after Redfern. It is also the largest ACCHS in the NT and one of the largest in Australia.

Keynote from Donna Ah Chee CEO Congress calling on the sector to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health in the context of the bigger picture of Indigenous health.

Miwatj is the largest remote ACCHS in Australia and Utopia is the oldest ACCHS based in a very remote region, having also recently turned 40.

We have in total 26 members – 13 of which provide comprehensive primary health care across the NT.

We work in partnership with the Northern Territory Government, who also provide Aboriginal PHC services to the NT. However, ACCHSs are the larger of the two providers and our sector is expanding in line with the Commonwealth and NT Government commitment to transition PHC services to community control.

The theme of this conference – “Strengthen and sustain” – resonates with the foundational principles of our sector including the need to build capacity and self-determination.

The ACCHS sector aims to provide comprehensive primary health care with our larger services providing a broad and expanding range of services that go beyond providing physical health care. Comprehensive primary health care includes Social and Emotional Wellbeing, social support, youth work, health promotion and prevention, with some now extending into aged care and even disability care.

The broad range of services considered to be part of primary health care is in line with the Alma Ata Declaration of 1978, where primary health care leaders from around the world – including leaders from the Aboriginal community controlled sector – set out a vision of primary health care that is now reflected in how our sector operates.

The declaration emphasised the need for communities to have a say and be involved in the running of primary health care, hence the fundamental importance we attach to our sector being community controlled.

Another principle of the Declaration is that comprehensive primary health care should work with government policy makers and other sectors such as employment and housing, to address the conditions that lead to poor health. Our sector strives to do this at every level, from the community to national levels, and even on the international stage.

In the NT, one of the main ways we are achieving this is by working with other Aboriginal peak bodies in an Alliance called the Aboriginal Peak Organisation NT, or APONT. APONT includes AMSANT, along with the Central and Northern Land Councils, who assist traditional owners and native title holders in the management and development of their land, including through Aboriginal ranger groups and increasingly, community development projects.

The Alma Ata declaration also emphasised the need to aim for equity of outcomes in health care provision – noting that across the world including in rich countries such as Australia, there is an unacceptable health gap between the well off and those living in poverty. As you all know, on our own country, this health gap is even larger between Aboriginal Australians and the rest of Australia. Equity is a foundational principle of our sector.

The first national Aboriginal Health Strategy, in 1989, reflected these principles and others including the need to take a holistic view of health care, including the physical, social, spiritual and emotional health of people.

This strategy recognised the inter-relationship between good health and the social determinants of health and the need to partner with sectors outside health. The strategy also emphasised capacity-building of community-controlled organisations and the community itself to support local and regional solutions to improving health.

This was a fine strategy, however, an implementation plan was not properly developed and the strategy was not properly funded. This has been a recurring story in Aboriginal health over the years.

The most recent national Aboriginal health plan is also based on self-determination, including the need for community control and the critical importance of the social and cultural determinants of health.

As I hope most of you know, there are a national set of Close the Gap targets that are soon due to expire, that guide our efforts to improve Aboriginal health.  Sadly only 3 of the 8 target are currently on track – and the health gap is one of those that is not on track.

In fact, despite marked improvement in life expectancy in the NT over the last thirty years, life expectancy in the NT now seems to be stalling which is due to the failure to address social determinants, and the ever-growing chronic disease epidemic in our people.

I believe we would have seen much more progress towards closing the gap if the vision first set out in 1989 in the National Aboriginal Health Strategy had been implemented by both the Federal and State governments, including the critical need to commit to self-determination.

While that precious opportunity has foundered for the last three decades, I believe we are once again at a critical juncture and seeing a shift towards governments working in equal partnership with our people. This trend must continue if we are to see sustainable improvement.

At a national level, I am very heartened to see that the process to refresh the Closing the Gap targets is now developing into an equal partnership between Aboriginal leaders across Australia and Commonwealth, State and Territory governments through the Council of Australian Governments or COAG process.

We now, for the very first time, have a large group of Aboriginal peak bodies working closely with government to set the forward agenda for tackling the health gap. Our national peak organisation, NACCHO, led by an inspiring Aboriginal Alice Springs leader – Pat Turner – is at the vanguard of this work.

Read all 50 plus NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health Articles Here

I represent APONT on this national coalition, ensuring that our leadership in the Northern Territory continues to influence the national agenda. We will be working hard to ensure that the targets reflect the critical issues affecting the health of our people – across the social determinants, and including issues such as housing,  the skyrocketing imprisonment rates and tragically high rates of children in the child protection system.

How does all of this high-level government policy relate to eye care?

We know that our Aboriginal community controlled health services in the NT are under resourced.

Six years ago, a study was done in a small ACCHS in the NT – one of our better funded services. The study looked at how much it cost to carry out all the chronic disease care recommended by the CARPA manual – which is the guideline that all our services use.

It found that the service was under funded to the tune of $1700 per person per year. This funding gap may have increased since then.  The AMA has recently reiterated that there is a large funding gap in Aboriginal primary health care.

We cannot build specialist services, including specialist eye services, on a foundation of an under-resourced primary health care sector.  Our sector must be properly funded.

Trachoma is often described as a disease of poverty, which is one of the reasons why its continued existence in Australia, and almost exclusively in Aboriginal communities, is a national disgrace.

The World Health Organisation has developed the SAFE strategy for eliminating trachoma.

I am sure most of you know that the S stands for surgery, A for antibiotics, F for facial cleanliness and E for Environmental Improvements.

Regarding the environmental improvements, we know that the NT Aboriginal population has the worst housing in Australia.

Around 60% of Aboriginal people live in over-crowded housing and one third live in poorly maintained houses.

This directly impacts on the ability of our people to maintain healthy living practices such as ensuing their kids have clean faces and clean clothes.

We cannot keep on relying on antibiotics to get rid of trachoma – to be sustainable, there must be major improvements in environmental health and housing.

Improving housing will also lead to improvements in other infectious diseases that are way too common in our people in the NT, including skin sores and sore throats – which can both precipitate RHD; and with skin sores also being linked to high rates of renal disease.

A recent data linkage study found that over-crowded housing was by far the biggest reason for children missing school – accounting for over 30 days of missed school a year on average.

We know that poor school attendance is very closely linked to poor school results.  Our children need decent living conditions if they are to thrive both physically but also socially and at school.

What is AMSANT doing about the shocking state of housing in the NT?

AMSANT has worked as part of the APONT alliance in supporting the formation of an Aboriginal Housing committee, AHNT, and is supporting AHNT to become the recognised Aboriginal housing peak body for the NT. Along with AHNT, we are working closely with NT Department of Housing to develop a community led housing strategy, to return Aboriginal housing to community control.

More info Register 

This is a long journey – but it is already bearing some fruit.

However, currently, as many of you will be aware from recent media reports – the NT and Commonwealth are at a stand-off about desperately needed Commonwealth funding for remote Aboriginal housing.

We must have cooperation between the two levels of government to address our housing crisis. We are tired of the excuses and political stand offs, while our communities suffer.

If they would for one moment stop and listen to us, come and talk with us, they would hear our message loud and clear – we want a seat at the decision-making table.

It the Prime Minister and the State and Territory Premiers and Chief Ministers can agree on an equal partnership with Aboriginal peak bodies on Closing the Gap, then the Commonwealth and NT governments can do the same for Aboriginal housing. We say – make it happen!

And now to eyes.

 

Eye health matters. In Australia, people with even mild vision loss have a risk of dying that is 2.6 times higher than those with good vision.

Vision loss causes 11% of the Indigenous health gap, meaning it accounts for 11% of years of life lost to disability for Indigenous people. It is the third leading cause of the gap behind cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The 2008 National Indigenous Eye Health Strategy demonstrated the huge gap between the eye health of Indigenous and other Australians:

  • Indigenous adults were 6 times more likely to become blind as non-Indigenous, despite 94% of this vision loss being preventable or treatable;
  • Australia was the only developed country in the world to have endemic trachoma in some regions;
  • And yet studies showed that Indigenous children have better eyesight than others.

However, as you know, a lot is happening in the eye space and primary health care is a critical part of that work.

The work done to close the gap for vision has been very successful. The progress made on the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, which comprises action against over 40 recommendations, is substantial and impressive, particularly given the number of stakeholders in many sectors who have contributed to its achievements.

One of the achievements in the NT has been the formation and ongoing success of regional eye health coordination groups, which are collaborations and partnerships involving all the key eye health stakeholders including primary health care, and are an important component of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision.

The Central Australian and Barkly collaboration has been working effectively for 10 years now, and has been joined in recent years by a Top End collaboration.

AMSANT is involved in both groups and has been funded by the Fred Hollows Foundation to become more involved, including through a position supporting the Central Australian committee.

However, I hope that you have got the message that everyone in health care – including those in eye health care – need to think more broadly about health and not just focus on their part of the gap.

The Aboriginal vision of health is holistic and specialist services need to be built on a strong primary health care foundation.

The international health research has shown that health systems built on a strong primary health care foundation are more equitable affordable and sustainable.

I believe that the eye care gap will not sustainably close – along with the rest of the health gap – if we do not have political commitment to self-determination, and an equitable approach to funding Aboriginal primary health care, based on need.

And we also  need a commitment to fixing the social determinants of health, equitably, based on need and Aboriginal-led.

We must avoid the situation where specialist areas advocate separately to government for their bit of Aboriginal health funding without seeing the bigger picture and the lack of resources on the ground in primary health care.

We need to work together in true partnership if we are to close the gap and that means we MUST be at the decision-making table, not an afterthought.

So thank you for all the work that you do in eye health care- we do appreciate it.

And I hope that you enjoy the two days and go back to your work refreshed, invigorated and inspired.

Thank you.

Part 2 : ADDRESS TO THE CLOSE THE GAP FOR VISION BY 2020

From the outset I want to stress that Federal Labor is acutely aware that Australia remains the only developed country with endemic trachoma, which is only found in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Further, while we acknowledge the scourge of Trachoma, cataract is the leading cause of blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and is 12 times more common than for non-Indigenous Australians. We have seen inroads in the rates of trachoma, many thanks to people in this room.

Trachoma has dropped from 21 per cent in outback children in 2008 to 3.8 per cent in 2018 and is on track to be eliminated by the end of 2020. This is a marvellous achievement and I again want to thank the tireless effort, tenacity and dedication of those in this room over the last decade in ensuring this has remained a front and centre issue for consecutive governments across partisan lines.

Today I want to discuss three things:

  • Where to now and looking beyond 2020
  • How we can build on the success of the Roadmap in other spaces and;
  • What to expect from a Shorten Labor Government

As the incidence of Trachoma lessens and is likely to be completely eliminated come 2020/21, we will face different vision-loss challenges. Blindness and impaired vision among Aboriginal people was six times the national rate in 2008, and it is now down to three times the national rate. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are still most likely to experience permanent vision impairment, with most cases of avoidable blindness resulting from uncorrected refractive error, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.

One in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults is at risk of Diabetic Retinopathy, which we all know can lead to irreversible vision loss. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wait on average 63% longer for cataract surgery than non-Indigenous Australians. Almost two-thirds of vision impairment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is due to uncorrected refractive error- often treatable with a pair of glasses.

And I want to note here, that I welcomed Minister Wyatt’s announcement in August last year to commit $2 million to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with easier access to affordable prescription glasses. This was a positive first step.

The case for well-informed advocacy around uncorrected refractive error, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts in the First Nation population must be a priority for this sector come 2020 and beyond. As we edge towards the complete elimination of Trachoma the traction from governments’ and the funding which comes attached I anticipate will lessen. This will be no surprise to people in this room.

Security of funding will decline without ongoing strategic advocacy from the sector. There will need to a be a sustained and coordinated approach as there has been with the Roadmap to ensure this doesn’t curtail the inroads that are being made in other areas of vision loss. For example; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with diabetes have significantly fewer recommended eye checks than the non-indigenous Australian population and this incidence is particularly escalated in remote and regional areas [35% comparted with 64% respectively].

The total indirect cost of blindness as a result of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema, the most frequent manifestations of diabetic retinopathy, is estimated to be more than $28,000 per person. Early investment into coordinated primary healthcare presents a powerful fiscal argument for governments at all levels.

These are the sorts of messages I encourage the sector to advocate for, we are in fiscally uncertain times so governments are constantly looking for costefficient measures.  The fact the up to 98 per cent of diabetes-related blindness can be prevented through annual eye exams and timely treatment in the early stages of disease, is compelling.

Investing in professional development and training to enhance existing clinicians’ skills to perform eye-health assessments can produce significant savings for both the patient and the tax payer. I am a proponent of the MBS 715 item [Aboriginal Health Check] and the annual MBS 12325 item [Diabetic Retinopathy Screening] to be employed in all instances, as both schedule items promote early screening and diagnosis, preventing future complications and the costs associated with vison impairment.

The establishment of diabetic eye screening rates as a key performance indicator for Primary Health Networks is a sensible way to drive MBS revenue and improve eye health outcomes. Further, employing MBS item service delivery models, is a sustainable model of care which does not rely on ongoing or recurrent government funding. Increased information-sharing around the schedule benefits can produce significant preventative health gains to the target communities as well as provide large fiscal returns to service practices.  It’s a no brainer.

Further, supporting and improving the local primary health care service capacity to confidently perform eye assessments should reduce the dependency on visiting eye specialists. Going forward I see the promotion of these items as a highly effective way of investing in people and communities to have the capacity to manage and improve their own health outcomes.

Building local workforces must be key and I know that’s easier said than done.

The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision is a standout example of a program that has been successful in its impact towards closing the First Nations health gap. Remarkable results have been achieved in just under a decade and the Roadmap recommendations are well on the way to being fully implemented. Progress in Indigenous eye health has long been a challenge, making the success of this collaborative work even more remarkable. This work has undergone rigorous scientific process and has a strong evidence base.

Importantly it has been strongly supported by local communities and organisations, including leading peak bodies and philanthropic organisations.

This disciplined coordination is what I think other sectors can really look towards and aspire to. And I must say this discipline is attributed in major part to the work of Professor Taylor. Stopping trachoma and other infections through the promotion of good hygiene practices and the emphasis on health hardware are pathways to negate further chronic health conditions.

Including: Ear infections and otitis media

  • Respiratory infection
  • Tooth and gum disease
  • Skin infections
  • Kidney disease

And I think most markedly

  • Rheumatic Heart Disease

The Roadmap has been able to achieve comprehensive culturally safe coordination in navigating all levels of care which is critical when managing health conditions, such as avoidable blindness.  Skilled workforce shortage complications in regional areas can ultimately be ameliorated by investing in people and communities to have the capacity to manage and improve their own health outcomes.

I know Diabetic retinopathy cameras and trained operators are being placed in more than 150 Aboriginal health clinics across Australia and this ideally must be the model we aspire for in other complex health areas. This model has been promoted and driven throughout the Roadmap.

To reiterate my major point, Labor is committed to Closing the Gap in eye health. The Roadmap was established under Labor and has since made significant improvements to the eye health of First Australians, as I’ve acknowledged. A Shorten Labor Government is committed to fully implementing the Roadmap to Close the Gap for vision.

A Shorten Labor government appreciates there is still work to be done to close the gap to meet the 2020 deadline. As an outcome of the Roadmap there are many regions of Australia where successful eye care programs have been developed providing high quality eye care for First Australians.

We acknowledge these successes and aim to build on and enhance these existing services. Now is the time to consolidate this good work and finally end avoidable blindness to ensure we meet our World Health Organisation obligations and successfully eliminate Trachoma. As Professor Taylor says, “we can’t afford to take our foot off the accelerator.” Equitable access to specialist and general eye health care services is critical to reducing high rates of preventable blindness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We’ve seen too many cases of good work in Aboriginal affairs left unevaluated and subsequently dismantled, especially under the Abbott/Turnbull/ Morrison government. The Tackling Indigenous Smoking program is a case in point which we’ve witnessed under this Government.

Guiding all the decisions under a Shorten Labor Government will be evidence- based policy.  The Federal Labor team will certainly have more to say on this and you can expect further announcements in the coming months in the lead up to the election. But I can say that any further investments will be to meet the 2020 Roadmap.

Under a Shorten Labor government we will be prioritising:

  • The national implementation of regional coordinators
  • Population based funding of outreach services
  • Case management and local coordination
  • Prompt housing repair and maintenance to ensure First Australians have access to safe and functioning bathrooms

We’re at the pointy end of finalising our election commitments but I do want to use this opportunity to encourage the experts before me to bring forward any policy proposals you have. If anyone wishes to share any policy ideas, as some have already, by all means I am open to hearing them and sharing them with my Federal Labor team. And for anyone in this room who isn’t aware I have an open-door policy, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch in near future.

I think that’s enough from me.

Thank you for your time this morning.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @TheAHCWA Chair Vicki O’Donnell and Moorditj Koort’s ACCHO express deep concern over the Federal Government’s decision to award over $1.6m to a non-Indigenous organisation

“It is quite concerning, considering there are only two Aboriginal Health Services in the Perth Metropolitan Region. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have been consulted,.

From an economic standpoint, Moorditj Koort should have been considered for the government grant as research shows Indigenous organisations deliver greater outcomes than non-Indigenous organisations. ”

Moorditj Koort’s CEO Jonathon Ford said the organisation was not consulted by the government to apply for the grant. Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre has been Indigenous-owned and run in Perth since it was founded in 2010 See Part 2 Below 

Chair of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA), Vicki O’Donnell has expressed deep concern over the Federal Government’s decision to award over $1.6m to a non-Indigenous organisation to deliver primary health care to Indigenous Australians.

AHCWA is the peak body for its 23 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across WA.

On February 14th, the Prime Minister stated “Governments fail when accountabilities are unclear ,when investment is poorly targeted, when systems aren’t integrated.

And when we don’t learn from evidence.”

Read Download HERE 

We have major concerns with the procurement process in relation to this funding decision.

  • How was the need for this additional service determined when there are already existing services in the area including Mooditj Koort, Derbarl Yerrigan and other not-for profit services? Is this not a duplication of services?
  • How would Redimed add value to the services already being provided in Midland given the existence of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) that have already built connections with the local Aboriginal community?
  • Why was the funding approval process not subject to an open tender process in fairness to existing agencies?
  • How was the capacity of the grant recipient to deliver the contract determined in terms of clinical accreditation and experience in delivering primary health care to Aboriginal people?
  • What is the rationale for introducing an additional non-Indigenous provider to deliver primary health care services to the area, rather than increasing the capacity of the two current ACCHS operating in Midland?

The AMA 2018 Report Card on Indigenous Health highlights the fundamental issues such as committing to equitable needs-based funding; systematically costing, funding, and implementing the ‘Closing the Gap’ health and mental health plans; identifying and filling the gaps in primary health care; addressing environmental health and housing; addressing social determinants; and Aboriginal leadership.

“Sizeable and rapid health gains would result from additional primary health care services and targeted improvements to existing primary health services to prevent, detect, and then manage the conditions that lead to potentially preventable hospital admissions and deaths.

By definition, it is these conditions that must be addressed if the life expectancy gap is to close….these services should generally be provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services that are more accessible, perform better in key areas, and are the most cost-effective vehicles for delivering primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Read Download AMA Report Card HERE

The decision to award such significant funding to a non-Indigenous organisation goes completely against the sentiments made in Prime Minister’s recent statement at the launch of the Closing the Gap Report

BACKGROUND NIT 

Over $1.6 million of funding for Indigenous health services has been awarded to a non-Indigenous health organisation.

Redimed, a private Perth-based company, has been the recipient of an Indigenous Comprehensive Primary Health Care grant worth $1,692,856 from the Commonwealth Department of Health.

Redimed’s grant application was labelled as targeted or restricted, indicating other organisations may not have been invited to tender.

The number of organisations asked to apply is unconfirmed and questions are arising over the suitability of selecting a non-Indigenous organisation to deliver culturally competent health services to Indigenous peoples.

The Australian Health Review reported in 2017 that Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Services are more effective at improving Indigenous health than other health providers as they are specialised in delivering care that is consistent with Indigenous patient needs.

“Simply, we have evidence that we can do better with the same amount of funds,” Mr Ford said.

He said it is ethically wrong for non-Indigenous organisations to receive Indigenous health funds.

“Our Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations have the right to self-determination and self-management under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Ford said he is unsure why the government would give a hefty sum like that awarded to Redimed without consulting the First Nations people of the land in Perth.

“I do know that unless government begins to enable our Aboriginal Organisations to provide community driven strength-based approaches to our people, it will not close the gap.”

National Indigenous Times can report that Redimed has registered a new business name: Aboriginal Health Care 360. It is unclear whether Redimed is collaborating with 360 Health which provides some Indigenous health care services.

Redimed owner Dr Hanh Nguyen was contacted for comment, however no response was received.

The funding issue is expected to be brought up in Friday’s Senate Estimates.

Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt did not respond to National Indigenous Times’ requests for comment.

By Hannah Cross

NACCHO Members Aboriginal Health Deadly Good News Stories : #NT @AMSANTaus @DanilaDilba @NRHACEO #TAS #QLD @ATSICHSBris @DeadlyChoices @Apunipima #VIC @VAHS1972 #NSW Katungul and Wellington ACCHos #SA Pika Wiya #WA @TheAHCWA #ACT

1.1 Back ACCHO medical services to #closethegap

1.2 National : In 2018–19, NACCHO and the RACGP are working on further initiatives and we want your input! Survey closes 15 February

1.3 National : SRWF inaugural Pat Turner Scholarship awarded

2. TAS : Deadly Ninja Warrior helps the Tasmanian FIAAI Tackling Smoking Team spread the message of the benefits of healthy choices.

3.1 WA : AHCWA and the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) signed an MOU

3.2 WA : AHCWA :  Do you want to be an Aboriginal Health Worker?

4.1 NSW : Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service are active members of the “Welcome Here Project ” #LGBTIQ

4.2 NSW : Katungul ACCHO credited with changing the life of Mark Scott who was using heroin for 14 years, in prison on-and-off for 14 years and an alcoholic for 17 years

5.1 VIC : VAHS ACCHO Coming soon: Aboriginal Seniors Games!!

6. ACT : Winnunga ACCHO leads the way for independent review into the “health” of Canberra’s prison

7.QLD : Apunipima’s ACCHO Mossman Gorge Clinic shares success of ACCHO’s with James Cook University’s School of Medicine and The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine.

8.1 NT : National Rural Health Alliance promotes Sunrise ACCHO clinic at Bullman

8.2 NT: AMSANT and Danila Dilba ACCHO Darwin offer ideas on how to increase the retention of Aboriginal Health Workers

9. SA:  Pika Wiya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation officially reopened the doors to the Davenport Health Clinic on Monday, January 14.

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

Email to Colin Cowell NACCHO Media 

Mobile 0401 331 251 

Wednesday by 4.30 pm for publication Thursday /Friday

1.1 Back ACCHO medical services to #closethegap

” The widening and persistent deficit in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is arguably the nation’s biggest policy failure, but Aboriginal communities are fighting back and showing how to close the gap, .

When the very first Aboriginal medical service opened its doors in a small shopfront in Sydney’s inner-city Redfern in 1971, the leaders who launched it showed enormous guts, resourcefulness and vision to address the very poor health of their people.

Almost five decades later, there are now about 145 such medical services located around Australia, with the vast majority run by boards comprised of Aboriginal people. Each year, they provide care to around 350,000 people.

Despite the efforts of these trailblazers, Aboriginal people are still missing out on primary and preventative health care, and this explains why we are failing as a nation to close the gap and achieve Aboriginal health equality.

And Australia is doing far worse than other countries that have a similar history of dispossession and colonisation. ”

Dr Paul Cleary is Oxfam Australia’s Indigenous policy and advocacy lead.

Professor Ian Ring AO is a distinguished expert in public health and epidemiology.

Read full article Here 

The Government’s justifying more funding into mainstream services by arguing that ACCHS only service around half of the Indigenous population ignores the strong preference of Indigenous people for community-controlled health.

Most of the services are at maximum capacity and there are many places where due to location and distance it is simply not possible to attend an ACCHS – the answer is increased investment not less,”

To make matters worse, the government seems to be giving preference to the mainstream sector in order to address Aboriginal health needs says Pat Turner, the chief executive of the peak body NACCHO

1.2 National : In 2018–19, NACCHO and the RACGP are working on further initiatives and we want your input! Survey closes 15 February

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

Please tell us your ideas for

-improving quality of 715 health checks

-clinical software -implementation of the National Guide

-culturally responsive healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

More info 

1.3 National : SRWF inaugural Pat Turner Scholarship awarded

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has welcomed the creation and awarding of the Pat Turner Scholarship Program by The Sir Roland Wilson foundation to six scholars. Pat Turner is the current CEO of NACCHO.

NACCHO Acting Chair Donnella Mills said, “the scholarship is named after Pat and will provide for Australian Public Service employees to complete full time post-graduate study at the Australian National University or Charles Darwin University. This honour for Pat is a testament to her years of hard work, resilience and advocacy for Indigenous peoples.”

Pat’s career as a public servant included many great achievements. She was the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Deputy CEO of ATSIC at its inception. She was also responsible for setting up the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation when working in the Dept of Prime Minister & Cabinet.

After winning the Monash Chair of Australian Studies, Georgetown University she moved to Washington DC as Professor of Australian Studies.

She was the inaugural CEO of NITV and was appointed NACCHO Chief Executive Officer in April 2016.

The Sir Roland Wilson PhD scholarship program has recently been extended to now include the Patricia Turner Scholarship program.

The Foundation decided to name it after an influential, significant and impressive Indigenous woman. She was considered a trailblazer in the APS and her legacy of encouraging her staff to seek out and undertake educational opportunities was certainly something to be celebrated.

That Pat came from humble beginnings and had to repeatedly prove herself against a system of societal inequality, was somewhat reminiscent of Sir Roland Wilson’s beginnings. He was from a very working-class background and was awarded a scholarship to study at Oxford.

In August 2018 SRWF held selection interviews for the inaugural Pat Turner Scholarship. We had 17 APS agencies participating and actively promoting the opportunity to their staff. Each participating agency conducted its own internal selection process and 13 nominations were forwarded to us. The Selection committee shortlisted 11 applicants to interview.

NACCHO congratulates the recipients and wished them well in their chosen fields of studies.

The scholarships were awarded to:

Anthony Cowley Department of Social Services Master by Research CDU

Craig Leon Department of Human Services Master by Research ANU

Martin Dallen Department of Agriculture & Water Resources Master of Forestry ANU

Peter (PJ) Bligh Department of the Environment & Energy Master of Economic Policy ANU

Steve Munns Department of Human Services PhD ANU

Deborah Katona Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Master of Public Policy CDU

2. TAS : Deadly Ninja Warrior helps the Tasmanian FIAAI Tackling Smoking Team spread the message of the benefits of healthy choices.

JACK WILSON or as he’s known, The Deadly Ninja Warrior was in Tasmania during the month of January to help the FIAAI Tackling Smoking Team spread the message of the benefits of healthy choices.

Jack is mostly known for his athleticism and skills on the widely popular TV show Ninja Warrior but he is also passionate about educating and inspiring communities to be the best versions of themselves.

Jack started his Tasmanian journey down South at the Huon Valley PCYC sharing his story and engaging with the kids in a workout at a community event in partnership with the South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation.

The event also incorporated a large number of other community organisations and services, such as the Tasmania Fire Service, SES, Misha’s Mates, Quit Tasmania, Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service, The Heart Foundation plus many more.

Jack’s next appearance was at The Link Youth Health Service in Hobart City with 17 eager attendees.

Duncan Giblin, AOD worker stated ‘Jack was down to earth and engaged really well with the young people who attended. Jack encouraged people to seek help to address the barriers in their lives and to be persistent when things seemed hard.’

Leaving the youth inspired, Jack headed just around the corner to another youth group to spread the message even further. ‘It was a very engaging session’ said Simon, Team Leader at Youth Arts and Recreation Centre.

Simon continued to state that ‘The intimate audience of young people and youth workers listened curiously which sparked many questions to Jack ranging from his time on Australian Ninja Warrior to running the New York Marathon.”

Jack and the Tackling Smoking Team then headed north to visit a Detention Centre and the Launceston PCYC to further reiterate this important message and put them through their paces with a deadly ninja workout.

Ashley’s Detention Centre Program Coordinator told the tobacco action workers that “Jack’s visit had really inspired the young people. “

40 keen participants attended the event at the Launceston PCYC with one participant lucky enough to engage in a one on one training session with Jack after the event. Aaron Gornalle of Launceston now hopes to make it onto the next season of Australian Ninja Warrior.

The final hoorah landed Jack and the team on Flinders Island at the Furneaux Islands Festival where Jack took a huge portion of the Island’s youth through a large scale ninja obstacle course and discussed that in order to be at your peak, there is no room for unhealthy habits like smoking!

3.1 WA : AHCWA and the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) signed an MOU

This week , AHCWA and the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) signed an MOU with the key objective for both parties to adopt a shared and coordinated approach in seeking to address the health and wellbeing needs of the Aboriginal population in WA in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

(L-R): Learne Durrington, WAPHA CEO; Des Martin, AHCWA CEO; Dr Richard Choong, WAPHA Chairperson; and Vicki O’Donnell, AHCWA Chairperson

3.2 WA : AHCWA :  Do you want to be an Aboriginal Health Worker?

AHCWA can help you achieve this, places are still open for the 2019 intakes.

Becoming an Aboriginal Health Worker will allow you to work within the health care setting to assist your community to access and receive the appropriate care they require.

Contact adminmembersupport@ahcwa.org for more information.

4.1 NSW : Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service are active members of the “Welcome Here Project ” #LGBTIQ

Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service are active members of the “Welcome Here Project”.

What is this project, you ask, well the Welcome Here Project is the new Safe Place Project.

The Safe Place Project started in 1998 in response to high levels of street based violence directed at Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) people.

Local businesses signed up to become a ‘Safe Pace’ by putting a sticker in their shop front to let LGBTIQ community members know they could seek refuge if they were under the threat of violence.

Check out the deadly staff and their support for the LGBTIQA+ community!

4.2 NSW : Katungul ACCHO credited with changing the life of Mark Scott who was using heroin for 14 years, in prison on-and-off for 14 years and an alcoholic for 17 years

“My name is Mark Scott but my mates call me Baldy. I’m a Wiradjuri man and I’m pretty open with my past – if by sharing my story, I can help someone else then that’s a good thing.

I was using heroin for 14 years, in prison on-and-off for 14 years and an alcoholic for 17 years and I’m only 56.

I credit Katungul for the life I live today. Rohan Moreton (Katungul Drug and Alcohol Community Support Worker) convinced me to go up to Oolong House in Nowra (Oolong House provides residential treatment for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men who wish to regain their lives and manage problems linked to alcohol and other drugs) and since I graduated from that program I’ve been drug and alcohol free.

I have my own place to live, I got my driver’s license, and I even present two hours a week on 2SeaFM community radio. What makes me most proud though is that I’m back in touch with my kids and grandkids.

I meet with Katungul’s AOD team every week in Eden because they keep me grounded and remind me of how far I’ve come. I own the word ‘no’ now”

5.1 VIC : VAHS ACCHO Coming soon: Aboriginal Seniors Games!!

Want to get out of the house or know a family member who does. Whilst getting active, meeting new people and most importantly having fun! Then come along and check it out. This is a program not to be missed.

When: Wednesday’s starting March 6th
Time: 10am-2pm
Where: Aborigines Advancement League (Thornbury)

Need help registering? Want to learn more about the games?
Come along to our registration and info day on the 27th Feb 12-2pm at VAHS Preston. Lunch provided!

Follow the link to register for the games! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/senior

Any questions contact:03  8459 0932

6. ACT : Winnunga ACCHO leads the way for independent review into the “health” of Canberra’s prison

In its submission to the Moss review, the Winnunga Aboriginal Health Care service said that the “bashing, care, treatment and death of Steven Freeman [had been] characterised by a lack of transparency, accountability and of secrecy

Recommendations from the independent Moss review “So Much Sadness In Our Lives” which examined the 2016 death in custody of indigenous detainee Steven Freeman.

The 2016 death in custody of Steven Freeman sharply focussed attention on Canberra’s prison “

An independent review into the “health” of Canberra’s prison, the first of its type for any Australian correctional centre, is inviting public submissions and commentary as part of an extensive report to be tabled in the ACT Assembly mid-year.

Independent prison review invites submissions from the Canberra public CREDIT:JAY CRONAN

Submissions are now open, and close on May 1.

The ACT Inspector of Correctional Services said that the “healthy prison review” welcomes input from all interested parties including corrections staff, community organisations, unions and the academic community.

Detainees at the prison are also invited to submit, anonymously if wished, with a stated preference by the inspectorate for all submissions to directly address one or more of the four “pillars” of the review framework.

These pillars include:

  • prison safety;
  • respect;
  • purposeful activity; and
  • rehabilitation and preparation for release.

Submissions should not raise complaints about the treatment or conduct of named individuals although anonymous case studies are permitted.

The inspectorate’s role, in reporting directly to the ACT Assembly, is to deliver an independent assessment of Canberra’s prison and services.

The role was established as a government response to the recommendations from the independent Moss review “So Much Sadness In Our Lives” which examined the 2016 death in custody of indigenous detainee Steven Freeman.

The 2016 death in custody of Steven Freeman sharply focussed attention on Canberra’s prison

The prison treatment of Freeman over a lengthy period prior to his death highlighted deficiencies in the prison’s systems, facilities and detainee treatment.

These issues included the mixing of remandees with sentenced prisoners, prisoner boredom, poor CCTV surveillance coverage, a lack of opportunities to learn a skill or trade, illicit drug use, and the delivery of health services.

In its submission to the Moss review, the Winnunga Aboriginal Health Care service said that the “bashing, care, treatment and death of Steven Freeman [had been] characterised by a lack of transparency, accountability and of secrecy”.

The prison’s inspector, Neil McAllister, is permitted to conduct unannounced visits to all correctional centres, including the cells underneath the ACT court buildings.

He works alongside, but separate from, other oversight mechanisms such as the ACT Human Rights Commission, the ACT Ombudsman, the Public Advocate and the prison’s official visitors.

Primarily, his review is seeking to ascertain whether vulnerable detainees at the prison, such as those with mental health issues or cognitive impairment, are being held safely, and whether staff are able to work in a “safe and supportive” environment.

It will also examine whether human rights and dignity are respected within the prison.

It will seek to determine whether detainees are “able, and expected to engage in activity that is likely to benefit them”.

Finally, it will assess whether prisoners have access to programs and services which will assist and prepare them for a life outside the prison.

Submissions can be addressed to the office of the inspector of correctional services at http://ics@act.gov.au.

7.1 QLD : Apunipima’s ACCHO Mossman Gorge Clinic shares success of ACCHO’s with James Cook University’s School of Medicine and The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine.

This week the team at Apunipima’s Mossman Gorge Clinic spent time with representatives from James Cook University’s School of Medicine and The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine.

The Canadian visitors have spent their time in Australia learning more about Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO).

Visiting a number of services across North Queensland which has given them a good insight.

“Health care for Indigenous people in Canada is delivered in a far more traditional way than what we have seen here. I am impressed by the level of consultation and how different disciplines work together to deliver the best results for the patient.” said Carlyn Seguin, who oversees the Global Health Certificate at the University of Saskatchewan.

Students studying the Global Health Certificate with the University of Saskatchewan have the opportunity to apply for an international placement as part of the program. Placements in Australia are facilitated by James Cook University’s School Of Medicine, a partnership that is now entering its fourth year.

“JCU’s partnership with the University of Saskatchewan provides a valuable opportunity to develop a collective global voice for Indigenous health needs, concerns and successes.” said Tarun Sen Gupta, Professor of Health Professional Education at James Cook University.

7.2 QLD : At ATSIHS ACCHO Brisbane get your Deadly Choices All Star Shirt

Just in…the limited edition  Choices All Stars shirts. Get in quick to get yours at your health check (715)!

Contact us Visit HERE 


8.1 NT : National Rural Health Alliance promotes Sunrise ACCHO clinic at Bullman

Positive signs of No Sugar (Zoro Coke and water ) in Indigenous communities but there is a long way to go. The link between excessive sugar levels in soft drinks and diabetes, chronic disease is well established. More effort is required in remote communities

8.2 NT: AMSANT and Danila Dilba ACCHO Darwin offer ideas on how to increase the retention of Aboriginal Health Workers

“In [these] clinics, the decisions are made at the local community level and the response is fairly quick.

In the government clinics, I’d imagine there’s a hierarchical structure and people get frustrated.

Training put strains on some hopeful AHWs, with more demands on them today to travel away from their base clinics — which are also often their home communities — to learn in Alice Springs or Darwin.

This puts a lot of strain on families, particularly families with young kids and single parents.

Once trainees graduate, many get burned out by the job, especially those working in remote locations.

Often did not get perks like cheap accommodation offered to police officers or doctors

The real challenge is to encourage and offer the proper incentives and renumeration to reward those who do want to undertake that particular work in rural and remote Northern Territory,” he said.

The salaries of Aboriginal health practitioners also needs to be reviewed.”

The chief executive of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT, John Paterson, said the data might hint at how the workers felt more supported in Aboriginal-community-controlled health clinics.

FROM the ABC

The Northern Territory is the only place in the nation with falling numbers of health sector workers trained to bridge cultural gaps between First Nations and non-Indigenous people.

Key points:

  • NT Health is losing Aboriginal Health Workers
  • This may be partly due to difficult training requirements
  • Others may be moving into health streams like nursing or medicine

Data obtained by the ABC shows the number of registered Aboriginal Health Workers in the NT fell almost 17 per cent over six years, even though almost a third of the Territory’s population is Indigenous.

All of those losses came from the public health sector, rather than private or Aboriginal-controlled health services.

‘I get to help my mob’

Kiara Peacock is one year into her traineeship as an Aboriginal Health Worker (AHW) at the Aboriginal-community-controlled health clinic, Danila Dilba.

The Larrakia woman used to work in HR but jumped at the chance when the traineeship position came up in Darwin.

“I get to help my mob,” Ms Peacock said.

“We have more of an understanding with the cultural side of things, with communicating to our patients and understanding them as well.”

That is incredibly important in a place like the Territory, which has the biggest proportion of Indigenous people per capita in Australia and many different language groups often not spoken by non-Indigenous doctors and nurses.

Another Danila Dilba trainee, Darren Braun, said he believed Indigenous patients felt more able to open up to him because of their shared culture and his grasp on the language Kriol.

“I find that in consults, if a doctor is doing consults first and we do it after, we get more information than what a doctor can do,” he said.

Yet Ms Peacock and Mr Braun are entering the profession at a time when the overall numbers of AHWs working in the Territory is dwindling.

Data obtained by the ABC shows the number of registered workers in the NT fell from more than 250 in 2012 to just 211 in 2018.

The data follows a recent study by the Australian National University that found the Territory was the only jurisdiction in the country where the numbers of these workers had declined in the past decade.

ANU researcher Alyson Wright found at a national level, retiring workers were not being replaced by younger workers.

The ABC crunched the data by ANU and – in terms of workers per Indigenous person – Victoria and South Australia now have the highest proportion of workers, with Queensland, Western Australia and the NT trailing on relatively similar levels.

What sector are the workers leaving?

Danila Dilba chief executive Olga Havnen said the numbers of AHWs at the clinic had been relatively stable over the last decade.

She said they had achieved that by prioritising traineeships.

Data shows numbers of AHW working in non-government clinics like Danila Dilba had slightly increased since 2012, with the overall decline in numbers all coming from the government sector, NT Health.

NT Health — which operates clinics in Darwin through to very remote Indigenous communities — has lost a staggering 61 of these workers since 2012.

The department did not respond to questions from the ABC about whether this is directly related to the closure of NT Health Clinics.

However, in a statement, a spokesperson said the loss was not due to redundancies.

“While our numbers are declining, we have not cut positions,” the spokesperson said.

He said there were many factors behind the decline, including changes to the training requirements for AHWs in the Territory and a very low completion rate by trainees.

This is something experienced by Ms Peacock — while she is based in Darwin, she has to travel an hour for her studies every month to Batchelor.

“If anything would stop me doing this job personally, it’s the location of where I study,” she said.

“Some of us are quite young. We’ve only just got our Ps. Some don’t even have a car themselves or transport. Some of us come from places like [the remote community] Maningrida.”

Is there a silver lining to the trend?

The NT Health spokesperson said the department was, “developing a workforce strategy that will have a clear career path with the appropriate support mechanisms to attract and retain” the workers.

“Including looking at ways Aboriginal students are supported while they are studying, often away from their country,” they said.

Yet despite the decline in numbers, the spokesperson said some of the workers leaving are moving into other health streams like nursing or medicine.

That is something Ms Havnen from Danila Dilba has noticed.

“So I’m hoping that what people is doing is taking slightly different career paths,” she said.

Mr Paterson agreed this was a positive step forward, but that the growth of Indigenous people into these other roles should not come at the loss of AHWs in the Territory.

“We’ve got to get that balance right,” he said.

9. SA:  Pika Wiya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation officially reopened the doors to the Davenport Health Clinic on Monday, January 14.

The clinic has been closed for several months due to a “lack of staff and the ongoing problem with the recruitment of doctors”, but is now back in business, giving Davenport residents a closer option for their health requirements.

Pika Wiya CEO Alan Morris said the return of the health clinic was “long overdue”.

“We decided to address the needs out here,” Mr Morris said.

“For the first six months, we’ll be seeing and assessing what those needs will be by looking at the patient numbers coming through.

“We’re very happy to be back out here.”

Pika Wiya’s healthcare is available to the Aboriginal population in Port Augusta and surrounding towns, with about 3200 active customers and patients accessing the medical service.

With the Port Augusta centre on Dartmouth Street facing an influx of patients during the summer months, Pika Wiya began working towards reopening the Davenport clinic.

Mr Morris said Pika Wiya’s board, as well as the Davenport community, were keen for the clinic to reopen.

“Patients could have transport issues. They might not be able to access (the Port Augusta centre),” Mr Morris said.

“We’ve spent a lot of money on doing up the clinic, so it’s in pretty good nick.”

Davenport community members gathered at the clinic on Monday morning to celebrate the opening, with staff hosting a barbecue breakfast.

Mr Morris said the event was a good opportunity to let the community know that the doors were officially open.

“It was just a chance for us to say ‘here we are, we’re back and we’re going to be operating again’,” he said.

The Davenport Health Clinic is open on Monday afternoons from 2-4pm, and Wednesday and Fridays from 9am-12:30pm

Patients will have access to general practitioners and Aboriginal health workers at the refurbished clinic.

For more information about the clinic, contact 8642 2556.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #Heart Health #refreshtheCTGRefresh : Two leading Victorian health organisations have developed a new relationship to help #ClosetheGap on heart disease and improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It is essential that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are respected as cultural experts, central to their own care. Yet we can’t expect to close the healthcare gap, let alone eliminate it as is our aim, by working in isolation.

Too many Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are diagnosed with illnesses much later than non-Indigenous Victorians, resulting in a significant burden on health services and other long-term costs on the system.

Together with the Heart Foundation, we can provide support and share information to help Aboriginal communities affected by, or at risk of, heart disease across the state access the services they need.”

VACCHO Acting CEO Trevor Pearce welcomed the opportunity to continue working with the Heart Foundation to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

 ” The people you love, take them for heart health checks.

Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and make sure to ring 000 (Triple Zero) if you think someone in your community is having one. Secondly give cigarettes the boot:

If you smoke, stop. I was only a light smoker but it still did me harm, so now I’ve given up.”

Former champion footballer Nicky Winmar always looked after his health, apart from having been a light smoker for years : Watch video 

Read this article and over 60 NACCHO Aboriginal Heart Health Articles HERE published over 6 years

Two leading Victorian health organisations have developed a new relationship to help Close the Gap on heart disease and improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

 and  The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the Heart Foundation in Victoria today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to improve the heart health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander communities in this state.

Heart disease is the leading killer of Australians, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are twice as likely to die from heart disease than non-Indigenous people.

In some regions of Victoria, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are hospitalised for heart conditions up to three times more often than non-Indigenous Australians. Yet they are less likely than non-Indigenous people with heart disease to have coronary angiography and other cardiac procedures; to receive or attend cardiac rehabilitation; or to be prescribed statins.

Heart Foundation CEO Victoria Kellie-Ann Jolly said, “Signing this MOU reinforces the relationship and commitment both organisations have towards achieving health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander peoples.

“We understand how important it is to build mutual respect and trust at a local level through our previous work with Shepparton’s Rumbalara Aboriginal Health Service, and as part of the Lighthouse Hospital Project with the Bairnsdale Regional Health Service and the town’s local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO),” Ms Jolly said.

“With almost one-quarter of the mortality gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people due to cardiovascular disease, it is vital we work together to address this pressing issue.

“We see our collaboration with VACCHO as a long-term partnership towards achieving our shared vision of improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heart health care in Victoria.

“While there’s still a long way to go, increasing awareness of heart disease and working towards improved pathways to access culturally-safe healthcare services are critical if we are to see change.

“Eliminating rheumatic heart disease, which is far more common in Indigenous communities, is another priority for the Heart Foundation. It is only through working together with grass-roots organisations and the peak body, VACCHO, that we can begin to address this issue.”

VACCHO and the Heart Foundation will also work together to advocate for projects and initiatives that strive towards health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This MOU signing marks a significant step towards Closing the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

About the Heart Foundation

The Heart Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to fighting the single biggest killer of Australians – heart disease. For close to 60 years, it’s led the battle to save lives and improve the heart health of all Australians. Its sights are set on a world where people don’t suffer or die prematurely because of heart disease. To find out more about the Heart Foundation’s research program or to make a donation, visit www.heartfoundation.org.au or call 13 11 12.

About VACCHO

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc (VACCHO) was established in 1996. VACCHO is the peak body for Aboriginal health and wellbeing in Victoria, with 30 Member ACCOs providing support to approximately 25,000 Aboriginal people across the state.

Visit www.vaccho.org.au

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and local #Adoption : @CAACongress @SNAICC and @AbSecNSW streamed live today August 14 from Canberra , public hearing local adoption : Plus @AMSANTaus full submission

 

We are aware that this Inquiry was called in the wake of recent media coverage relating to the issue of adoption of Aboriginal children, including the Minister’s own comments that adoption policies should be changed to allow more Aboriginal children to be adopted by non-Aboriginal families.

AMSANT would like to emphasise the importance of informed discussion on this issue and draws the Committee’s attention to the following, put forward in March of this year as part of a joint statement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in response to media coverage:

We need to have a more rational and mature discussion aimed at achieving better social, community, family and individual outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. We must work to ensure that the drivers of child protection intervention are addressed, rather than continuing with a poorly designed and resourced system that reacts when it’s too late, after families have already reached breaking point and children have been harmed1

See Full AMSANT Submission Part 2 Below

 

“As detailed in our submission, AbSec is strongly opposed to the coerced adoption of Aboriginal children by statutory child protection systems. Adoption orders are characterised by the absence of key safeguards to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children.

They fail to uphold an Aboriginal child’s fundamental rights to family, community and culture, and the importance of these connections to our life long wellbeing and resilience. They are not in the best interests of our children.

In particular, it must be noted that past policies of the forced separation of Aboriginal children and young people from their families, communities, culture and Country is regarded as a key contributor to this ongoing over-representation. It is not a solution.

AbSec, alongside QATSICPP and SNAAICC, call for the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led approaches to the care of our children “

ABSEC Submission Download Here

ABSEC Adoption submission

SNAICC Submission Download Here

Snaicc Adoption submission

 Part 1 Next public hearing for local adoption inquiry

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs will hold a public hearing into a nationally consistent framework for local adoption in Australia.

The Committee will hear from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care – National Voice for our Children (also known as SNAICC), and the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (NSW) (also known as AbSec).

A detailed program for the hearing is available from the inquiry webpage (www.aph.gov.au/localadoption).

Public hearing details: Tuesday 14 August, 4.40pm (approx) to 6.00pm, Committee Room 1R2, Parliament House, Canberra

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

SNAICC (Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care) – National Voice for our Children

AbSec – the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (NSW)

The hearings will be streamed live in audio format at aph.gov.au/live.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the hearing however there will be limited seating available.

Further information about the inquiry, including the terms of reference and submissions published so far, is available on the inquiry webpage.

Part 2 AMSANT submission to The Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs: Inquiry into local adoption

AMSANT welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the Inquiry into Local Adoption. As the peak body for the community controlled Aboriginal primary health care sector in the Northern Territory AMSANT advocates for equity in health, focusing on supporting the provision of high quality comprehensive primary health care services for Aboriginal communities.

This submission provides an overview of AMSANT’s position in relation to Aboriginal children in Child Protection, including Out of Home Care (OOHC) and potential adoption, and also responds directly to Terms of Reference 1 and 2 of the Inquiry.

Overview

AMSANT embraces a social and cultural determinants of health perspective which recognises that health and wellbeing are profoundly affected by a range of interacting economic, social and cultural factors. Accordingly, we advocate for a holistic and child-centred approach to Child Protection that seeks first and foremost to address the underlying causes of abuse and neglect through prevention and early intervention.

We are aware that this Inquiry was called in the wake of recent media coverage relating to the issue of adoption of Aboriginal children, including the Minister’s own comments that adoption policies should be changed to allow more Aboriginal children to be adopted by non-Aboriginal families.

AMSANT would like to emphasise the importance of informed discussion on this issue and draws the Committee’s attention to the following, put forward in March of this year as part of a joint statement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in response to media coverage:

We need to have a more rational and mature discussion aimed at achieving better social, community, family and individual outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. We must work to ensure that the drivers of child protection intervention are addressed, rather than continuing with a poorly designed and resourced system that reacts when it’s too late, after families have already reached breaking point and children have been harmed1.

As captured in this statement it is essential that efforts to improve outcomes for children and families in contact with the Child Protection System stem from an understanding that abuse and neglect of children are most often the result of deeper family conflict or dysfunction, arising from social, economic and/or psychological roots.

In cases where children do need to be removed from family, decisions about what kind of placement, including adoption, is most appropriate for that child should occur in line with the following principles:

 Child-centred approach that allows for children to have a say in decisions that affect them

 OOHC for Aboriginal children delivered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Services (ACCSs)

 Adoption of a set of national standards for the rights of children in care

 Maintaining connection to family, community, culture and country, including prioritising adoption by extended family or if that is not possible, Aboriginal families who are not related.

 Improved support for kinship carers

1 See full statement here: http://www.snaicc.org.au/snaicc-statement-14-march-2018-joint-statement-aboriginal-torres-strait-islander-leaders-recent-media-coverage-around-child-protection-children/ Inquiry into local adoption

Stability and permanency for children in out-of-home care with local adoption as a viable option

Transition of OOHC to Aboriginal Community Control

Evidence clearly demonstrates that culturally competent services lead to increased access to services by Aboriginal children and their families2. Aboriginal led and managed services are well-placed to overcome the many barriers that exist for Aboriginal families and children to access services3, such as:

 a lack of understanding of the OOHC system and how to access advice and support;

 a mistrust of mainstream legal, medical, community and other support services;

 an understanding of the cultural or community pressures not to seek support, in particular perceptions of many Aboriginal families that any contact with the service system will result in the removal of their child4.

As the evaluation of child and family service delivery through the Communities for Children program identifies, “Indigenous specific services offer Indigenous families a safe, comfortable, culturally appropriate environment that is easier to access and engage with.”5 In addition, they are also going to be better at locating, training and supporting Aboriginal foster carers. This provides the opportunity to increase the quality of OOHC for Aboriginal children at significant lesser cost than the current “professional” foster care arrangements that are too often being put in place for Aboriginal children.

Following the lead of NSW, who in 2012 commenced a process of transfer to community control, there is a project currently being undertaken by the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT), in collaboration with the NT Government, to develop a strategy for the transition of OOHC to Aboriginal community control in the NT. Victoria has also confirmed that all OOHC service provision for Aboriginal children and families will be provided by community controlled services, with Queensland and Western Australia both exploring similar shifts.

AMSANT supports APO NT’s vision that Aboriginal children and young people in out of home care, as a priority, are placed with Kinship or Aboriginal foster carers and supported to retain culture, identity and language.

Strengthening the voice of children in decisions that affect them

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states; “Children have the right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account” 6.

There is a need for Child Protection proceedings to be more responsive to the child’s aspirations and needs. An approach taken in Family Law known as child-inclusive family dispute resolution has been shown to produce better outcomes for families with parenting disputes, including greater stability of care and contact patterns, and greater contentment of children with those arrangements7. Central to this approach is the use of an independent, specially trained child health professional to conduct interviews before any decision is made about them.

There is no reason why a similar approach couldn’t be taken in terms of long term care arrangements for children but with specific provisions for continuing contact with family and community.

Maintaining connection with family, kin and country

In line with international convention, Aboriginal children and families have the right to enjoy their cultures in community with their cultural groups (UNCRC, article 30; UNDRIP, articles 11-13). This right has been enshrined in these conventions to reflect the wealth of evidence that show culture, language and connection to country are protective factors for at-risk communities8.

The Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Placement Principle (ATSIPP) has been developed to ensure recognition of the value of culture and the vital role of Aboriginal children, families and communities to participate in decisions about the safety and wellbeing of children.

Despite the commitment from all States and Territories to fully implement this principle under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, in 2015 only 34.7% of Aboriginal children in the NT were placed in care in accordance with the Child Placement principle, compared with a national average of 65.6%, and only 3.3% of children were placed with relatives or kin, compared with 48.8% at the national average9.

This reflects the need for better practice relating to kinship care in the NT including;

– early identification of kinship networks when the child first comes to the attention of Child Protection, rather than when a crisis point has been reached;

– increased access to supports and training for kinship carers (see below);

– support services to birth parents to strengthen the option for reunification;

– development of cultural support plans for all Aboriginal children to ensure meaningful connection to family, culture and community is maintained.

Improved support for kinship carers

A lack of adequate support for kinship carers can contribute to placement breakdown, and escalation for children and young people in the statutory OOHC system, including entry into residential care.

Conversely, home based care and placement stability are associated with a range of better health, education, economic and wellbeing outcomes.

Improved access to the following would support kinship carers in maintaining more stable placements for the children in their care:

– Ensure a comprehensive assessment of the child has been conducted and a care plan, incorporating cultural supports for Aboriginal children, is developed and fully implemented.

– Ensure access to training courses across a broad range of issues (parenting solutions, behavioural management, understanding and responding to trauma etc.)

– Increased financial support to bring payments in line with foster carers.

It is important to note that even for many long-term, stable care arrangements, including for children in kinship care, adoption may not be seen as a viable option due to the loss of supports that would be incurred in transitioning from ‘carer’ to ‘parent’.

In this way it is clear that the type of placement reflects neither stability and permanency nor wellbeing for the child, but rather the particular vulnerabilities and needs of the child and their carer. Adequately meeting these needs should remain the paramount focus of any efforts to create stable, loving homes for children in care.

Appropriate guiding principles for a national framework or code for local adoptions within Australia

In order to ensure that the rights and needs of the child remain central to all Care and Protection operations, AMSANT advocates that Australia adopt a set of national standards that set out the rights of children in care, which would be modelled on the Council of Europe’s 2005 Recommendation on the Rights of Children Living in Residential Institutions10.

This recommendations sets out a list of basic principles, specific rights of children living in residential institutions and guidelines and quality standards in view of protecting the rights of children living in residential institutions, irrespective of the reasons for and the nature of the placement. It advocates that the placement of a child should remain the exception and that the placement must guarantee full enjoyment of the child’s fundamental rights.

 

NACCHO partners with @Mayi_Kuwayu and key Indigenous peak bodies to survey 200,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in national Wellbeing study

“The Aboriginal-led and governed study will be larger than any previous study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults.

It aims to provide information for communities, services and policy makers to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.”

Dr Mark Wenitong, study co-investigator from the Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

In an Australian first, the Australian National University will partner with key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies to conduct a national study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing.

The study name, ‘Mayi Kuwayu’ means ‘to follow Aboriginal people over time’ in Ngiyampaa language, the family language of the study’s director, Associate Professor Ray Lovett from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU.

Download Mayi Kuwayu Study_Protocol

“The survey includes questions that people have told us matter to them as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Those things include connection to country, cultural beliefs and knowledge, language, family, kinship and community, cultural expression and continuity and self-determination and leadership, along with health”, Associate Professor Ray Lovett said.

 

The study will be rolled out in the second half of 2018 and will provide much needed evidence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and its impact on health and wellbeing.

The team has developed the survey questions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across the country over the last three years.

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governance committee will oversee the study, and ensure that it adheres to principles of Indigenous data sovereignty and governance.

All Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 years or older can be part of the study.

 

Potential participants can contact the team at mkstudy@anu.edu.au, at the study website www.mkstudy.com.au, or by free call on 1800 531 600.

The study received funding from the Lowitja Institute and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

A protocol paper describing the study has recently been published in the journal BMJ Open: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/6/e023861.share.

Our study partners include:

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #NTRC Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children @AMSANTaus welcomes historic investment of $229.6 million over the next five years

AMSANT welcomes this plan to address the needs of vulnerable children and families. This announcement is consistent with the Royal Commission and the Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory’s recommendations for a public health approach to focus on greater investment in early childhood and early intervention.

We now need the Commonwealth Government of Australia to work with us and look forward to collaboration through the Tripartite Forum.”

John Paterson, CEO, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) said that the peak body welcomes this announcement.

Read over 60 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #NTRC articles

 ” We have consulted and engaged with the sectors widely, and we will continue to do so as meaningful and long-term reform cannot be achieved by Government alone,

Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal peak bodies particularly have an important and central role in shaping the design and delivery of local reforms, as Aboriginal children are over-represented in the child protection and youth justice systems.

Together we will achieve the generational change that children, young people and families in the Northern Territory want and deserve.”

Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield said that the implementation plan has been informed through hundreds of hours of consultation and engagement with key stakeholders, community sector organisations and representatives of NT government agencies.

The Territory Labor Government today announced that it will invest an historic $229.6 million over the next five years to continue the overhaul of the child protection and youth justice systems, and implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT.

Download 1

Safe Thriving and Connected – Overview of the Plan

Download 2

Safe, Thriving and Connected – Implementation Plan

The Royal Commission delivered 227 recommendations in its final report late last year, and the NT Government accepted the intent and direction of all recommendations.

The 217 recommendations which relate to action by the NT Government have been allocated to 17 work programs. Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield today released the five-year implementation plan Safe, Thriving and Connected: Generational Change for Children and Families.

This Whole-of-Government approach will drive the changes to build safer communities.

“We are investing in generational change to create a brighter future for all Territory children and families. Too many of our vulnerable children are caught in the child protection and youth justice systems, and become adult criminals,” Ms Wakefield said.

“This record investment over five years will fund the systemic and long-term changes that are needed to put our children and families back on the right path.

“The implementation plan will deliver a Child Protection system that acts to support families early.

The plan will also deliver a Youth Justice system that will hold young people accountable for their actions while providing them with the best supports to make positive life choices.

“Health care, housing, education, family support, police and justice services, are all part of the implementation plan as they are crucial to tackling the root causes of child protection and youth justice.”

The funding includes $66.9 million over five years for a new information technology system that will enable better protection of children from abuse and improve youth justice.

The need for this new client information system and data brokerage service was highlighted again most recently in the review of an alleged sexual assault of a child in Tenant Creek.

“This new information system is crucial to help staff make informed decisions about children and keep them safe from abuse and harm. It will also link with health and police databases to allow for coordinated action,” Ms Wakefield said.

Other investments include:

  • $71.4 Million to replace Don Dale and Alice Springs Youth Detention Centres
  • $2.8 Million over four years to improve care and protection practice
  • $5.4 Million over four years to transform out-of-home care
  • $11.4 Million over four years to expand the number of Child and Family Centres from six to seventeen
  • $9.9 Million over four years to divert young people from crime and stop future offending
  • $22.9 Million over five years to improve youth detention operations and reduce recidivism
  • $8.9 Million over four years to empower local decision making and community led reform

Ms Wakefield said that the implementation plan has been informed through hundreds of hours of consultation and engagement with key stakeholders, community sector organisations and representatives of NT government agencies.

“The Territory Labor Government has been reforming the child protection and youth justice systems since August 2016.

We have consulted and engaged with the sectors widely, and we will continue to do so as meaningful and long-term reform cannot be achieved by Government alone,” she said.

“Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal peak bodies particularly have an important and central role in shaping the design and delivery of local reforms, as Aboriginal children are over-represented in the child protection and youth justice systems.

“Together we will achieve the generational change that children, young people and families in the Northern Territory want and deserve.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Youth Health News @KenWyattMP launches Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy 2018-2023, Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders at @TheAHCWA

“ The youth workshops confirmed young people’s biggest concerns are often not about physical illness, they are issues around mental health and wellbeing, pride, strength and resilience, and ensuring they can make the most of their lives

Flexible learning and cultural and career mentoring for better education and jobs were highlighted, along with the importance of culturally comfortable health care services.

While dealing with immediate illness and disease is crucial, this strategy’s long-term vision is vital and shows great maturity from our young people.”

Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt, AM launched AHCWA’s Western Australia Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy 2018-2023, Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders at AHCWA’s 2018 State Sector Conference at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle. Read the Ministers full press release PART 2 Below

See Previous NACCHO Post

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @TheAHCWA pioneering new ways of working in Aboriginal Health :Our Culture Our Community Our Voice Our Knowledge

“If we are to make gains in the health of young Aboriginal people, we must allow their voices to be heard, their ideas listened to and their experiences acknowledged.

Effective, culturally secure health services are the key to unlocking the innate value of young Aboriginal people, as individuals and as strong young people, to become our future leaders.”

AHCWA Chairperson Vicki O’Donnell said good health was fundamental for young Aboriginal people to flourish in education, employment and to remain socially connected.

Download the PDF HERE

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) has this launched its new blueprint for addressing the health inequalities of young Aboriginal people.

“The Turnbull Government is proud to have supported this ground-breaking work and I congratulate everyone involved,” Minister Wyatt said.

“Young people are the future, and thinking harder and deeper about their needs and talking to them about how to meet them is the way forward.”

Developed with and on behalf of young Aboriginal people in WA, the strategy is the culmination of almost a decade of AHCWA’s commitment and strategic advocacy in Aboriginal youth health.

The strategy considered feedback from young Aboriginal people and health workers during 24 focus groups hosted by AHCWA across the Kimberley, Pilbara, Midwest-Gascoyne, Goldfields, South-West, Great Southern and Perth metropolitan areas last year.

In addition, two state-wide surveys were conducted for young people and service providers to garner their views about youth health in WA.

During the consultation, participants revealed obstacles to good health including boredom due to a lack of youth appropriate extracurricular activities, sporting programs and other avenues to improve social and emotional wellbeing.

Of major concern for some young Aboriginal people were systemic barriers of poverty, homelessness, and the lack of adequate food or water in their communities.

Significantly, young Aboriginal people shared experiences of how boredom was a factor contributing to violence, mental health problems, and alcohol and other drug use issues.

They also revealed that racism, bullying and discrimination had affected their health, with social media platforms used to mitigate boredom leading to issues of cyberbullying, peer pressure and personal violence and in turn, depression, trauma and social isolation.

Ms O’Donnell said the strategy cited a more joined-up service delivery method as a key priority, with the fragmentation and a lack of coordination in some areas making it difficult for young Aboriginal people to find and access services they need.

“The strategy provides an opportunity for community led solutions to repair service fragmentation, and open doors to improved navigation pathways for young Aboriginal people,” she said.

Ms O’Donnell said the strategy also recognised that culture was intrinsic to the health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal people.

“Recognition of and understanding about culture must be at the centre of the planning, development and implementation of health services and programs for young Aboriginal people,” she said.

“AHCWA has a long and proud tradition of leadership and advocacy in prioritising Aboriginal young people and placing their health needs at the forefront.”

Under the strategy, AHCWA will establish the Aboriginal Youth Health Program Outcomes Council and local community-based Aboriginal Youth Cultural Knowledge and Mentor Groups.

The strategy also mandates to work with key partners to help establish pathways and links for young Aboriginal people to transition from education to employment, support young Aboriginal people who have left school early or are at risk of disengaging from education; and work with local schools to implement education-to-employment plans.

More than 260 delegates from WA’s 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are attending the two-day conference at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle on April 11 and 12.

Over the two days, 15 workshops and keynote speeches will be held. AHCWA will present recommendations from the conference in a report to the state and federal governments to highlight the key issues about Aboriginal health in WA and determine future strategic actions.

The conference agenda can be found here: http://www.cvent.com/events/aboriginal-health-our-culture-our-communities-our-voice-our-knowledge/agenda-d4410dfc616942e9a30b0de5e8242043.aspx

Part 2 Ministers Press Release

A unique new youth strategy puts cultural and family strength, education, employment and leadership at the centre of First Nations people’s health and wellbeing.

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM today launched the landmark Western Australian Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy, which sets out a five-year program with the theme “Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders”.

“This is an inspiring but practical roadmap that includes a detailed action plan and a strong evaluation process to measure success,” Minister Wyatt said.

“It sets an example for other health services and other States and Territories but most importantly, it promises to help set thousands of WA young people on the right path for healthier and more fulfilling lives.”

Produced by the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) and based on State wide youth workshops and consultation, the strategy highlights five key health domains:

    • Strength in culture – capable and confident
    • Strength in family and healthy relationships
    • Educating to employ
    • Empowering future leaders
    • Healthy now, healthy future

Each domain includes priorities, actions and a “showcase initiative” that is already succeeding and could be replicated to spread the benefits further around the State.

Development of the strategy was supported by a $315,000 Turnbull Government grant, through the Indigenous Australians Health Program.

“I congratulate AHCWA and everyone involved because hearing the clear voices of these young Australians is so important for their development now and for future generations,” the Minister said.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @AHCWA pioneering new ways of working in Aboriginal Health :Our Culture Our Community Our Voice Our Knowledge

NACCHO appreciates the work AHCWA has been doing constructively with all governments since 1997 and especially since the name change in 2005.

Your work to advance with one voice the development of Aboriginal Health in 22 ACCHSs in 7 regions of WA is not dissimilar to our work at a federal level.

It is commendable what you have achieved in such a short time frame. I love the passion, respect and commitment and am reinvigorated whenever I visit the state to discuss national advocacy issues.

Your youth policy program, health promotions, education and training programs are first rate.

As our Aboriginal population increases to one million people by 2030 I think we all should focus our increasing efforts to close the gap, have meaningful reconciliation in this nation and change aspects of our federal constitution.

NACCHO stands ready with you to be consulted, to provide advice and implement any urgent public awareness action plan as we now have 145 members with 6,000 staff in 304 health settings across the nation.

NACCHO believes there is no agenda more critical to Australia than enabling Aboriginal people to live good quality lives while enjoying all their rights and fulfilling their responsibilities to themselves, their families and communities.

Aboriginal people should feel safe in their strong cultural knowledge being freely practiced and acknowledged across the country.

This should include the daily use of our languages, in connection with our lands and with ready access to resources.

Aboriginal people should feel safe, free from racism, empowered as individuals and have health services to meet their needs and overcome health inequality and increase life expectancy “

Extracts from NACCHO CEO Pat Turner’s Key note for the WA Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector Conference Wednesday 11 April 2018 

Outlines the priorities for NACCHO moving forward and calls for the Sector to “exemplify evidence and best-practice in all that we do”

Mappa will actively help improve access for people living in regional and remote areas by showing them where their nearest health service is, even in the most remote communities. It will also better connect people with culturally appropriate healthcare closer to home.

AHCWA Chairperson Vicki O’Donnell see part 2 below

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) is hosting its annual two-day State Sector Conference this week at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle WA .

The 2018 State Sector Conference brings together representatives from AHCWA’s 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Member Services and key stakeholders and a range of disciplines and key portfolio areas, including representatives from Non-government, and State and Federal Government agencies.

More than 260 delegates, many who are Aboriginal leaders in health, will travel from all parts of the state to attend the state conference at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle on Wednesday, April 11 and Thursday, April 12.

Read Minister Wyatt’s recent Speech

Family key to Aboriginal Health

Highlights of the conference include an opening address by the Federal Indigenous Health Minister and Minister for Aged Care the Hon. Ken Wyatt AM and a keynote speech from National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chief Executive Officer Pat Turner.

Minister Wyatt opened the conference and return on day two to launch the Western Australia Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy 2018 – 2023, Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders.

Developed with and on behalf of young Aboriginal people in WA, the strategy is the culmination of almost a decade of AHCWA’s commitment and strategic advocacy in Aboriginal youth health.

AHCWA Chairperson Vicki O’Donnell said the conference was an opportunity for people involved in Aboriginal health to come together and share their professional experiences and knowledge, while engaging in frank, informed discussions about the health needs of Aboriginal people in WA.

The conference provides delegates with the opportunity to examine the successes and learning across the sector and to explore future strategic priorities and directions in Aboriginal health.

“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS), one of the largest employers of Aboriginal people in WA, are the also the largest provider of primary healthcare for Aboriginal people,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“Across Australia, these services provide more than 3 million episodes of care to 350,000 people each year.”

Located across geographically diverse metropolitan, rural, remote and regional locations in WA, ACCHS represent the most effective model of comprehensive primary health care for Aboriginal people and their communities.

The ACCHS model of care delivers comprehensive, holistic healthcare that reflects an understanding of the cultural needs of Aboriginal people, as well as the importance of connections to land, culture, spirituality, ancestry, family and community.

“We are very proud to be at the forefront of some of the most innovative projects and technological advancements in the Aboriginal health sector, Ms O’Donnell said.

“Our landmark projects will undoubtedly help improve access to vital healthcare for Aboriginal people and communities across Western Australia, particularly those living remotely.”

One of the highlights of the conference will be the launch of the innovative Mappa project, an adaptable browser-based mapping directory developed by AHCWA.

Mappa offers health service delivery information to help facilitate more seamless treatment options for rural and remote Aboriginal people to access services closer to home and during their patient journey in Perth. see Part 2 Below

ACHWA is also pleased to welcome Professor Charles Watson, Senior Health Advisor in the WA Office of the Chief Health Officer to the conference. Professor Watson will deliver a keynote address – The Hype and the Reality – on medical cannabis.

The dedicated staff of ACHWA’s member services will play a key role in the conference, delivering a range of thought-provoking and informative presentations. Among the topics will be Aboriginal men’s health, Balgo bush medicine, programs to tackle indigenous smoking in WA and the need for community led solutions in the rebuild of the Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service.

Leaders in Aboriginal youth health, including young achievers and two women who made it their lifelong mission to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal communities, will be recognised at the conference dinner on Wednesday night.

“This conference draws together some of the best minds and expertise so we can work together on culturally appropriate solutions to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“We are dedicated to addressing the health inequities in Aboriginal Health and doing all we can to close the gap, to ensure parity in the health outcomes and life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.”

Over the two days, 15 workshops and keynote speeches will be held. AHCWA will present recommendations from the conference in a report to the state and federal governments to highlight the key issues about Aboriginal health in WA and determine future strategic actions.

Wow, what a stage presence! The WA ACCHSs’ State-wide Tackling Indigenous Smoking Teams are presenting on the unique and evidence-based approach to address smoking in communities. They call it the ‘Western Australian Way!’. Awesome work by all!

The conference agenda can be found here

PART 2  LANDMARK MAPPING HELPS ALIGN PATIENTS WITH CARE CLOSE TO HOME

An innovative new health service mapping system developed by the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) will deliver better access to medical services and improved health outcomes for Aboriginal patients in regional and remote WA.

Mappa – Mapping Health Services Closer to Home is an adaptable browser-based mapping directory that integrates health services across WA with helpful information for all regional areas, including remote communities that do not register in Google searches.

The system, which is based on cutting-edge technology, was unveiled at AHCWA’s annual state sector conference at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle today. Data is available to primary and allied healthcare professionals through a free, public online map.

AHCWA Chairperson Vicki O’Donnell said Mappa offered comprehensive health service delivery information to help Aboriginal people living in regional and remote WA access services closer to home and improve their patient journeys in Perth.

“In Australia, people from all backgrounds and cultures routinely travel thousands of kilometres for healthcare with, at times, extremely sensitive and debilitating health issues,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“Through our expansive reach into regional and remote areas, AHCWA and our member services identified a severe lack of clarity in the types of health services available in country WA.

“For years, we have been hearing stories of Aboriginal people being flown to Perth for appointments and sent back home, only to be recalled to Perth two weeks later for a follow-up.

“In many cases, hospital staff do not realise that a patient’s journey home may involve a three or four day journey and travel by bus, train, plane, on unsealed roads and walking.

“We want to minimise patient dislocation by showing health professionals and patients what services are available in regional and remote WA so patients are closer to home, family, and country.

“Mappa is part of the solution to help bridge the gaps and bring greater cohesion around healthcare offerings.

“Mappa will actively help improve access for people living in regional and remote areas by showing them where their nearest health service is, even in the most remote communities. It will also better connect people with culturally appropriate healthcare closer to home.

“We hope this landmark tool will work to overcome the growing inability and inequality for Aboriginal people to access healthcare services, the unacceptably high rates of preventable health issues and the importance of culturally appropriate health care.”

Ms O’Donnell said it was likely that Mappa would also reduce costs to the public health system by decreasing non-attendance and costly unplanned re-admissions with extended lengths of stay.

“Not only will Mappa help to better connect Aboriginal people with appropriate healthcare, but we strongly believe it will also reduce costs associated with patient travel, regional and remote emergency responses and publicly funded specialist visits,” she said.

The conference agenda can be found here: http://www.cvent.com/events/aboriginal-health-our-culture-our-communities-our-voice-our-knowledge/agenda-d4410dfc616942e9a30b0de5e8242043.aspx

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #CloseTheGap Research @GregHuntMP and @KenWyattMP announces $6 million 3 year funding for Aboriginal led , only Academic Health Science Centre in Australia with a primary focus on #Aboriginal and #remote health

As the only Academic Health Science Centre in Australia with a primary focus on Aboriginal and remote health, we are pleased that Minister Hunt is leading on the front foot with an announcement such as this.

It’s especially pleasing that this is happening just as we are about to engage with a wide consultation between our members over health research priorities in Central Australia in the coming years—this three year commitment allows us to do this with confidence.

The Centre is already working in key areas such as endemic HTLV-1 infection, exploring the complex interplay between communicable and chronic disease as well as exploring the capacity of the primary health care sector to reduce avoidable hospitalisations,”

The Chairperson of the Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre [CA AHSC] John Paterson has welcomed the commitment over three years of significant research funding to the Centre by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

“Research projects that will be supported will emphasise those based on community need and initiative especially as expressed by the Aboriginal partner organisations, though this will not necessarily preclude externally identified needs. 

In any case, we will focus on comprehensive approaches to consultation and participation in the ethical design of research projects, the carriage of the research, and the rapid implementation of positive research results.

A key activity will be that of building future leaders in the Aboriginal research workforce. We have already started this critical work with the first meeting of a network of more than 15 Aboriginal researchers in Central Australia.”

A health research partnership benefitting Warumungu, Arrernte (Eastern), Pintupi, Pitjantjatjarra, Arrernte (Central), Yankunytjarra, Luritja, Arrernte (Western), Warlpiri, Anmatyere, Ngaanyatjarra, Kaytetye and Alyawarre speakers across Central Australia

Project website

Press Release : Medical research to uncover better treatment for Indigenous Australians

The Turnbull Government will invest more than $6 million in a health science centre in Alice Springs which is focused on addressing health challenges faced by Indigenous Australians.

The Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre will receive $6.1 million over three years from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

This funding will support better treatment and diagnosis of health challenges experienced by Indigenous Australians.

The Centre brings together top researchers, medical experts and local communities to look at ways to improve healthcare options for the specific health challenges facing Indigenous Australians.

The Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre is the first Aboriginal-led collaboration of its kind and demonstrates the importance of Aboriginal community leadership in research and health improvement.

See NACCHO Coverage of launch July 2017

Aboriginal Health #NAIDOC2017 : New Aboriginal-led collaboration has world-class focus on boosting remote Aboriginal health

These projects will directly benefit regional and remote Aboriginal communities and it is our hope that medical research will help in closing the gap on disadvantage.

The first priority project that will be supported through the Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre will be a study into addressing HTLV-1.

Additional areas that will be considered by the Centre include addressing research into ear and eye health, renal health and dialysis, children and maternity health in Indigenous communities.

Indigenous health is one of the Turnbull Government’s fundamental priorities and while progress has been made on some key indicators, with male and female life expectancy increasing and child mortality and smoking rates decreasing, more needs to be done.

Today I am also pleased to announce more than $740,000 of MRFF funding for University of Queensland researchers to undertake a world-first project, in collaboration with Aboriginal communities, to find ways to improve Aboriginal food security and dietary intake in cities and remote areas.

Poor diet and food insecurity are major contributors to the excess mortality and morbidity suffered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

The Turnbull Government is committed to improving the health services for Indigenous Australians and we will continue to invest in better treatment, care and medical research.