NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders #FASD : Community participation is a key principle in effective health promotion

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 ” Community participation is a key principle in effective health promotion. Gurriny have used a whole-of-community approach by involving the five above mentioned target groups when designing their FASD prevention activities.

Gurriny consulted with women of childbearing age to learn about their views and attitudes towards alcohol, and assed their current knowledge about the harms associated with drinking in pregnancy. It was also important for health professionals to understand what types of alcoholic drinks women of child bearing age were consuming and how much.

For further information about the FASD Prevention and Health Promotion Resources Project please contact Bridie Kenna on 0401 815 228 or bridie.kenna@naccho.org.au

Read 17 Articles about FASD

Menzies School of Health Research have partnered with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) to develop a package of resources to reduce the impacts of FASD on the Aboriginal population.

FASD is a diagnostic term used for a spectrum of conditions caused by fetal alcohol exposure. Each condition and its diagnosis is based on the presentation of characteristic features which are unique to the individual and may be physical, developmental and/or neurobehavioural.

The package of resources is based on the model developed by the Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service (OVAHS). OVAHS is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service located in the far north east region of the Kimberly in Western Australia. OVAHS services Aboriginal people in the remote town of Kununurra and surrounding regions.

The package incorporates FASD education modules targeting five key groups:

  • Pregnant women using New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services (NDMBS) antenatal services, and their partners and families;
  •  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of childbearing age;
  •  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander grandmothers;
  •  NDMBS staff who provide antenatal care
  •  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

To complement the package of resources, two day capacity building workshops for the 85 New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services (NDMBS) were held in Darwin, Cairns, Melbourne (TAS, VIC and SA sites combined), Perth and Sydney. The aim of the training workshops was to enable NDMBS sites to develop, implement and evaluate community-driven strategies and solutions by:

i. Increasing awareness and understanding of alcohol use during pregnancy, and FASD;

ii. Increasing awareness and understanding of existing FASD health promotion resources;

iii. Increase understanding, skills and capacity to use existing FASD health promotion resources within NDMBS, in line with their capacity, readiness and community circumstances and needs.

Staff from Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (Gurriny) participated in the Queensland FASD training workshop in April. Since then, Gurriny have thrived in the area of FASD prevention by implementing multiple strategies within their community.

A key component of the FASD training workshop was highlighting the importance of routine screening of women about alcohol use during pregnancy. Assessment of alcohol consumption, combined with education in a supportive environment can assist women to stop or significantly reduce their alcohol use during pregnancy. A number of screening tools were introduced at the workshop including AUDIT-C (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test – Consumption), which Gurriny have now incorporated into their own data recording system. This tool has three short questions that estimate alcohol consumption in a standard, meaningful and non-judgemental manner.

Gurriny now places great emphasis on providing routine screening of women about their alcohol use during all stages of pregnancy and recording results in clinical records at each visit. Health professionals at Gurriny often use brief intervention and motivational interviewing techniques to guide conversations about alcohol and pregnancy.

This is of particular significance when working with pregnant women, as there are multiple opportunities through routine antenatal care to provide support through the stages of change. There is sound evidence that motivational interviewing and brief interventions can decrease alcohol and other drug use in adults. Both practices are listed in the Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) guidelines as an effective strategy for positive behaviour change.

It is estimated that over half of all pregnancies in Australia are unplanned and many Australian women are unknowingly consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Providing women of childbearing age with reliable information about the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the importance of contraception use if they are not planning a pregnancy are essential strategies in preventing FASD. Staff at Gurriny have pre-conception discussions about healthy pregnancies and FASD prevention with women who cease contraception use and may be planning a pregnancy. Women are provided with reliable information in a supportive environment to help them make informed decisions.

Knowledge transfer strategies are a key component to ensure new information is shared and retained within the service and community. Members from Gurriny’s Child and Maternal Health team have shared the package of resources and new skills gained at the workshop with a number of their colleagues, both clinical and administrative. They have also shared the new information with relevant health professionals from external organisations, including the local hospital. This assists in developing a more consistent approach to FASD prevention and maximises available resources in the community. Gurriny have made links with other health and community services within the Yarrabah community to develop a coordinated, strategic approach to FASD prevention.

Community participation is a key principle in effective health promotion. Gurriny have used a whole-of-community approach by involving the five abovementioned target groups when designing their FASD prevention activities.

Gurriny consulted with women of childbearing age to learn about their views and attitudes towards alcohol, and assed their current knowledge about the harms associated with drinking in pregnancy. It was also important for health professionals to understand what types of alcoholic drinks women of child bearing age were consuming and how much.

Based on the findings, laminated cards were developed which show the number of standard drinks in each serving according to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) alcohol guidelines. These cards are used in both one-on-one and group based education sessions. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption at any stage of pregnancy; this message is emphasised at all opportunities with women of childbearing age.

Raising community awareness is a key strategy in successful health promotion. Gurriny have a strong presence in the Yarrabah community and often attend health and community events to raise awareness of the harms associated with drinking in pregnancy and FASD.

Health staff make use of any opportunity to raise awareness, share information and prompt people to think about making positive changes to their own drinking behaviour, or support others to do so.

Additional awareness raising strategies include showing FASD prevention DVD’s on iPad’s in clinic waiting rooms, demonstrating the concept of the invisible nature of FASD disability by using demonstration FASD dolls in education sessions, and having posters about healthy pregnancies and FASD prevention in clear view throughout the clinic.

Health promotion is most effective when multiple strategies are used which target not only the individual, but the community at large. It is evident Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service is using this approach in order to reach the best possible health outcomes for women, children and families.

For further information about the FASD Prevention and Health Promotion Resources Project please contact Bridie Kenna on 0401 815 228 or bridie.kenna@naccho.org.au

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Drug #Ice :Applications close 8 February for local community drug action teams to tackle ice

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“These Local Drug Action Teams will provide a structure to unite communities so they can work together more effectively, They will drive community action to reduce demand for drugs such as ice and reduce the harm associated with alcohol and other drugs more broadly.

“Stronger prevention action will help individuals and families to avoid the destruction that ice is causing, especially in rural and regional communities.”

Minister for Health, Sussan Ley

A program to help local communities tackle the impact of ice through 220 community-based local action teams across Australia over the next four years was announced just before Xmas by the Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, as part of the National Ice Action Strategy.

She said that local councils, schools, police, youth services, primary health and treatment services, community groups, non-government organisations (NGOs) and community members would be eligible to be members of a Local Drug Action Team.

More info : http://adf.org.au/community/our-programs/local-drug-action-teams/

Funding of $19.2 million has been provided to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (formerly the Australian Drug Foundation) to administer the community-based action teams. Applications for communities wishing to form a local team opened  (23 December 2016) and will close on 8 February 2017.

Ms Ley said development of community-based teams was a direct response to the Government’s National Ice Taskforce’s call for more locally-tailored strategies to address local issues to strengthen prevention activities and reduce demand for drugs such as ice.

There will be ongoing opportunities through 2017 and 2018 for communities who want to form teams but miss out in the first application process. The first group of 40 local community teams will be determined by early 2017.

Interested groups and individuals can find more information on the program on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s website.

The Local Drug Action Team initiative is part of the Australian Government’s investment of $298 million investment over four years to reduce the impact of drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol and Drug Foundation chief executive officer John Rogerson welcomed the partnership with the Australian Government.

“Building community partnerships to develop locally-based and locally-delivered solutions is the key to reducing alcohol and drug related harm,” he said.

“These community teams will be on the ground in your neighbourhood playing a key role in implementing unique prevention programs that are tailored to their community’s issues.

“They will also give much-needed support to those impacted by ice, other illegal drugs and alcohol.”

Ms Ley has also announced funding for expansion of a program run by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation to tackle illegal drugs by providing education and awareness programs through 1200 local sporting clubs.

The new program is an extension of the Foundation’s successful grass-roots Good Sports program, which encourages cultural change in behaviours and attitudes to drug and alcohol use in sporting clubs. The program has helped more than 7,000 clubs nationwide.

“People aged 20 to 29 years are among the highest users of illicit drugs and many people in this age group are also members of local sporting clubs,” Ms Ley said.

“This program will be an important part of encouraging these young people to talk about drugs, as well as providing information for people who might need help and support.”

For more information on Local Drug Action Teams see www.adf.org.au/ldat

For more information on Good Sports see www.adf.org.au/good-sports

and from Team NACCHO

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For NACCHO Media Contact

Colin Cowell Editor 0401 331 251

Email mailto:nacchonews@naccho.org.au

NACCHO Aboriginal #HealthyFutures : 2017 #Prevention Resolutions and Reconciliation for Federal Govt :

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“We know that where you live greatly impacts on your health.

However, it is also important to acknowledge that such differences are more likely attributable to the socio-economic circumstances and the spread of wealth within these regions rather on the locations themselves.

Four PHAA New Year’s resolutions for governments in 2017:

1. Develop and implement a National Food and Nutrition Plan to provide national guidance and consistency

2. Stop the marketing of ‘junk food’ to children

3. Implement a sugar tax and invest the money generated in to public health initiatives

4. Greater investment in targeted anti-tobacco campaigns

Resolutions  2017  : Michael Moore CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

 ” Sections of the media writing off the outcome of consultations around constitutional recognition, after the first of 12 discussions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in Hobart just over a week ago, are selling the nation short.

This is the first time Indigenous Australians have been authorised to design and undertake their own nationwide consultation process and it concerns the future of a relationship that has been fraught from the start.”

Reconciliation 2017 : Is it too early to write off Aboriginal reconciliation see article 2 below

Photo above File footage It is not every day that Santa Claus himself visits Ramingining, a remote community 560 kilometres east of Darwin in Arnhem Land. Thanks  Ronnie Garrawurra for your portrayal of the  ” big black man man in red.”

Latest AIHW Healthy Communities data provides for New Year’s resolutions for governments

The latest health data released from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has provided for some important New Year’s resolution for the government to improve the health of all Australians.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @AIHW download 3 reports Alert :

Obesity and smoking rates higher in regional Australia

And NACCHO Healthy Futures report Card

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The data, which has been separated in to local areas including Primary Health Networks (PHN), shows ongoing disproportionate health differences between metropolitan and regional/rural areas.

For example, those living in the Western NSW PHN are 30% more likely to be overweight or obese and more than three times more likely to smoke than those living in Northern Sydney PHN. This puts them at high risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Variations in health risk and outcome is evident in differences between metropolitan areas even when there is not much distance between areas. In these cases geographical differences can still be substantial. One example is the overweight and obesity rates between Eastern Melbourne PHN (65.9%) and South Eastern Melbourne PHN (59.3%).

The government must take action to address these health issues which are two of the biggest yet preventable risk factors for chronic disease and premature death.

New Year’s Resolutions for governments

Each year on 1 January millions of Australians make New Year’s resolutions to improve their own health.

“In the lead up to 2017 the PHAA calls on governments to make four New Year’s resolutions to help Australians improve their health wherever they live” continued Mr Moore.

Four New Year’s resolutions for governments in 2017:

1. Develop and implement a National Food and Nutrition Plan to provide national guidance and consistency

2. Stop the marketing of ‘junk food’ to children

3. Implement a sugar tax and invest the money generated in to public health initiatives

4. Greater investment in targeted anti-tobacco campaigns

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert #GetonTrack Report :

The ten things we need to do to improve our health

“The Healthy Communities report comes one week after the launch of the Getting Australia’s Health on Track by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration and the joint policy on food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

These documents reinforce the need for significant action by government to address preventable illnesses,” added President of the PHAA David Templeman.

“Getting Australia’s Health on Track and the Healthy Communities reports provides us with a guide forward. This is of particular importance in relation to the concerted effort required to improve the health and wellbeing not only of people in rural and remote areas, but particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People,”

“We know what is needed. The time for the government to act is now,” concluded Mr Templeman.

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It’s way too early to write off Aboriginal reconciliation

Sections of the media writing off the outcome of consultations around constitutional recognition, after the first of 12 discussions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in Hobart just over a week ago, are selling the nation short.

This is the first time Indigenous Australians have been authorised to design and undertake their own nationwide consultation process and it concerns the future of a relationship that has been fraught from the start.

The very least we should expect of ourselves as a nation is to respectfully allow that process – 12 dialogues undertaken in cities and regional centres across Australia, culminating in a convention at Uluru next April – to play out.

As The Age‘s Michael Gordon wrote on Saturday, we need to “allow the Indigenous consultation process on recognition to run its course, confident that all options for constitutional change will be seriously canvassed before and at a convention at Uluru in April”.

The task of the Referendum Council is to advise the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader on a way forward that is both acceptable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and likely to be supported by the Australian electorate more broadly via a referendum.

That task necessarily involves respectful consultation with Indigenous Australians, and will inevitably uncover a broad spectrum of views on what meaningful recognition would look like to them.

This approach is entirely consistent with Article 19 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which Australia formally endorsed in 2009. It obliges states to “consult and co-operate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them”.

Free prior and informed consent represents the best practice standard for the involvement of Indigenous peoples in decisions that affect them, and it goes well beyond a mere box-checking exercise. It is the collective right of Indigenous peoples under international law, which serves to safeguard other rights.

To break the concept down into its constituent parts:

• “Free” means free from manipulation, intimidation or coercion

• “Prior” means occurring well in advance of any decision-making, with adequate time for traditional Indigenous decision-making and consensus processes

• “Informed” means that consent is based on fulsome, objective, accurate and easily understandable information. It also means allowing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities to access independent legal advice to reach an informed decision, and

• “Consent’ means communities as a whole, including women, men, young people and different community organisations, have the power to reasonably understand the options and approve or reject a decision. This involves considerations of who has the right to speak for a community, consultation and participation processes, good faith negotiations and properly resourcing communities to have an equal opportunity to have their say.

That the Hobart consultation raised the issue of treaty is neither surprising, nor the recognition death knell commentators are disingenuously suggesting.

And for anyone to suggest that talk of treaty should be somehow muzzled is to deny the nation a process that is of enormous value in and of itself.

As more than one state premier and scores of lawyers and academics have pointed out, constitutional recognition and treaty are ultimately separate issues that will require two separate processes, which are not mutually exclusive.

That said, many people support both objectives, and many people and institutions are working towards them contemporaneously. It is inevitable that both issues will arise in any free, informed discussion about either.

Surely it is not beyond us to let this process play out in good faith, to see if we can indeed find a path forward that is acceptable to our First Peoples and to the rest of us. This also involves consultation with members of the wider community, who are making submissions via the council’s website, and communicating their views through a multiplicity of other channels, including the media.

If such a path is not available to the nation at this time, let us call that at the appropriate time, when people have exercised this rare opportunity.

In the meantime, we must all of us – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – respect each other enough to continue to seek that elusive intersection of perspectives for the benefit of the nation and all Australians.

Mark Leibler AC is senior partner at Arnold Bloch Leibler and co-chairman of the Referendum Council on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

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#NACCHOagm2016 Launch speech @KenWyattMP NACCHO #HealthyFutures Report Card

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  I have been invited to launch the second Healthy Futures Report Card that is produced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

I applaud the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation for commissioning this annual report for the benefit of the entire sector.

This report is an invaluable resource because it provides a comprehensive picture of a point in time.

These report cards allow the sector to track progress, celebrate success, and see where improvements need to be made.

This is critical for the continuous improvement of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector as well as a way to maintain focus  and achieve goals.

We need to acknowledge the great system in place that comprises the network of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, and recognise the role you play to build culturally responsive services in the mainstream system.

Our people need to feel culturally safe in the mainstream health system; the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector must continue to play a central role in helping the mainstream services and the sector to be culturally safe “

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM,MP Assistant Minister for Health and Aged care  : SPEECH NACCHO MEMBERS CONFERENCE 2016 Launch of the Healthy Futures Report Card 8 December 2016 Melbourne

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Download copy NACCHO Healthy Futures Report Card Here

Before I begin I want to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet – the Wurundjeri people – and pay my respects to Elders past, present and future. I also extend this respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today.

I want to thank my hosts Matthew Cooke, Chair, NACCHO; and Patricia Turner, CEO, NACCHO for inviting me to speak and acknowledge NACCHO Board members. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Today I also want to specifically acknowledge Naomi Mayer and Sol Bellear from the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service. 2016 marks the 45th anniversary of the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service, the first such service in Australia and spearheaded by Naomi and Sol.

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Thank you Naomi and Sol and congratulations on achieving such a significant and important milestone. Your work has improved the lives of countless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians because of your leadership and compassionate care.

I have been invited to launch the second Healthy Futures Report Card that is produced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. I applaud the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation for commissioning this annual report for the benefit of the entire sector. This report is an invaluable resource because it provides a comprehensive picture of a point in time.

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These report cards allow the sector to track progress, celebrate success, and see where improvements need to be made. This is critical for the continuous improvement of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector as well as a way to maintain focus  and achieve goals.

Crucially, this report card is about and for the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector. It is not something that is happening at and to the sector. It’s yours.

This report card includes information from around 140 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services which provide care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The services you provide cover around two thirds of the services funded by the Australian Government for primary health care services specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

During 2014–15 these services saw about 275,000 of these clients who received almost 2.5 million episodes of care. More than 228,000 Australians were regular clients of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector.

I’m pleased that there have been a number of improvements identified since the 2015 report. Improvements include:

  •  Increases in the number of clients and episodes of care for primary health care services provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
  •  A rise in the proportion of clients receiving appropriate processes of care for 10 of the 16 relevant indicators. This includes:
    •  antenatal visits before 13 weeks of pregnancy
    •  birth weight recorded
    •  smoking status or alcohol consumption recorded, and
    •  clients with type 2 diabetes who received a General Practice Management Plan or Team Care Arrangement.

 Improved outcomes in three out of the five National Key Performance Indicators. This includes:

  • improvements in blood pressure for clients with type 2 diabetes, and
  • reductions in the proportion of clients aged 15 or over who were recorded as current smokers.

These are commendable results from services in some of the most diverse and challenging environments in Australia.

I echo the report’s authors when they say that the findings in this Report Card will assist Services in their continuous quality improvement activities, in identifying areas where service delivery and accessibility issues need to be addressed, and in supporting the goals of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023.

We are all united in our determination to close the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, so they live longer and have a better quality of life. A critical means to close the gap is the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

The Implementation Plan has seven domains that focus on both community-controlled and mainstream services.

It is a huge step forward to have racism recognised in the Implementation Plan – this is a critical issue for the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Domain seven of the Implementation Plan is about the social and cultural determinants of health. These determinants impact on everything that we do and contribute to at least 31 per cent of the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

As we all know, health departments and health providers are only part of the solution. We need an integrated approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

To have strong healthy children and strong communities we need to have effective early childhood education, employment, housing and economic development where people live. These issues can only be addressed through whole-of-Government action. Whole-of-Government action across departments and across jurisdictions.

However, it is not only about governments coordinating their actions because governments alone cannot progress this agenda and action. This can only be done working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Implementation Plan Advisory Group, established to drive the next iteration of the Implementation Plan, comprises representatives from the Departments of Health, Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

I’m pleased that this Advisory Group also includes respected and experienced members such as:

  •  Richard Weston from the National Health Leadership Forum and the Healing Foundation, who is Co-Chair.
  •  Pat Turner from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.
  •  Donna Ah Chee , Julie Tongs and Mark Wenitong who are experts on, among other things, Indigenous early childhood; comprehensive primary health care; and acute care.

See NACCHO TV Interviews

          Donna Ah Chee

           Julie Tongs

          Dr Mark Wenitong

The Group also includes jurisdictional members of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Standing Committee from South Australia and Western Australia.

I believe that the next iteration of the Implementation Plan, due in 2018, will be stronger because of these ongoing—and new—collaborations and partnerships.

It is clear that you all work extremely hard on behalf of the communities you serve. You are delivering excellence in primary health care and I congratulate you on the delivery of comprehensive, holistic models of care.

At the end of the day, we share the ultimate goal of Closing the Gap in health outcomes for our people so that they live longer and experience a better quality of life.

But we also have a health system under pressure. There are frontline pressures on the whole health system from our hospitals, to rural health to remote Indigenous communities. And the pressures are mounting. There is a growth in demand for services, increasing costs and growing expectations.

Expenditure on health services accounts for approximately one-sixth of the Australian Government’s total expenses—estimated at more than $71 billion for the current financial year. This figure is projected to increase to more than $79 billion by 2019-20.

There is enormous pressure on the health and aged care sectors to do more, with less. This is why there is a clear expectation that all Government-funded organisations provide the evidence basis for what they do, and show the difference their programs are making on the ground. All of us—governments and organisations—need to ask ourselves how can we do better and continue to reform within this tight fiscal environment.

I am sure many of you will be aware of the Nous Review of the Roles and Functions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Peak Bodies and some of you, of course, participated in the Review consultations. I thank you.

The Government has not published a formal response to the Review because we recognise that what happens now is a discussion that we need to have together.

I know that NACCHO, as well as State and Territory Peak Bodies, are working with the Department of Health to chart a way forward that takes into consideration the findings of the Review.

The Nous Review provided a clear message: Peak Bodies need to play a role in supporting the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector AND mainstream health care providers to deliver appropriate and responsive health care services.

Governance reform for the Peak Bodies is a central element of the way forward. I know this is being driven by NACCHO in close cooperation with affiliate organisations and I applaud your initiative and commitment. I understand that Bobbi Campbell spoke with you yesterday on this matter, so I will keep my remarks brief.

I do want to say that it is important to Government to see the sector positioned as a key component of the overall health system with a clear unified voice.

The Government looks at the health system as a whole and expects collaboration that delivers effectiveness, efficiency and quality. We need a truly linked up, integrated, affordable and sustainable system.

We need to acknowledge the great system in place that comprises the network of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, and recognise the role you play to build culturally responsive services in the mainstream system.

Our people need to feel culturally safe in the mainstream health system; the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector must continue to play a central role in helping the mainstream services and the sector to be culturally safe.

Australia has come a long way in improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but there is still a long, hard road ahead. I know that if we continue to work together, to collaborate and to talk about the issues and opportunities for the sector then the next Healthy Futures Report Card will have an even longer list of achievements.

I thank you for the work you do for the benefit of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and wish you only the best now, and into the future.

Thank you.

For further reading

NACCHO November 16 Newspaper : Aboriginal Health and wellbeing is close to my heart says Ken Wyatt

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert #GetonTrack Report : The ten things we need to do to improve our health

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” Australia’s Health Tracker reports that 25.6% of children and 29.5% of young people are overweight or obese, with even higher prevalence reported in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Over-consumption of discretionary or junk foods contributes to Australia’s inability to halt the rise of diabetes and obesity. Australia’s Health Tracker also reports that junk foods contribute, on average, to approximately 40% of children and young people’s daily energy needs.

These foods and drinks tend to have low levels of essential nutrients and can take the place of other, more nutritious foods. They are associated with increased risk of obesity and chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer.

Obesity during adolescence is a risk factor for chronic disease later in life and can seriously hinder children’s and young people’s physical and mental development. ”

From the Getting Australia’s Health on Track

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Download the report here getting-australias-health-on-track-ahpc-nov2016

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Newspaper What Works Part 3 : Healthy Futures for our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services the 2016 Report Card will say

Report from the Conversation

In Australia, one in every two people has a chronic disease. These diseases, such as cancer, mental illness and heart disease, reduce quality of life and can lead to premature death. Younger generations are increasingly at risk.

Crucially, one-third of the disease burden could be prevented and chronic diseases often share the same risk factors.

A collaboration of Australia’s leading scientists, clinicians and health organisations has produced health targets for Australia’s population to reach by the year 2025.

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These are in line with the World Health Organisation’s agenda for a 25% global reduction in premature deaths from chronic diseases, endorsed by all member states including Australia.

Today the collaboration is announcing its top ten priority policy actions in response to a recent health report card that identifies challenges to meeting the targets.

The actions will drive down risk factors and help create a healthier Australia.

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1. Drink fewer sugary drinks

One in two adults and three out of four children and young people consume too much sugar. Sugary drinks are the main source of sugar in the Australian diet and while many other factors influence health, these drinks are directly linked to weight gain and the risk of developing diabetes.

Putting a 20% tax on sugary drinks could save lives and prevent heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. The tax would also generate A$400 million each year that could be spent on much needed health programs.

2. Stop unhealthy food marketing aimed at kids

Almost 40% of children and young people’s energy comes from junk food. Children are very responsive to marketing and it is no coincidence almost two-thirds of food marketing during popular viewing times are unhealthy products.

Restricting food marketing aimed at children is an effective way to significantly reduce junk food consumption and Australians want action in this area. Government-led regulation is needed to drive this change.

3. Keep up the smoking-reduction campaigns

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia, although the trends are positive.

Campaigns that highlight the dangers of smoking reduce the number of young people who start smoking, increase the number of people who attempt to quit and support former smokers to remain tobacco free.

4. Help everyone quit

About 40% of Aboriginal people and 24% of people with a mental illness smoke.

To support attempts to quit, compliance with smoke-free legislation across all work and public places is vital. Media campaigns need to continue to reach broad audiences. GPs and other local health services that serve disadvantaged communities should include smoking cessation in routine care.

5. Get active in the streets

More than 90% of Australian young people are not meeting guidelines for sufficient physical activity – the 2025 target is to reduce this by at least 10%.

Active travel to and from school programs will reach 3.7 million of Australia’s children and young people. This can only occur in conjunction with safe paths and urban environments that are designed in line with the latest evidence to get everyone moving.

6. Tax alcohol responsibly

The Henry Review concluded that health and social harms have not been adequately considered in current alcohol taxation. A 10% increase on the current excise, and the consistent application of volume-based taxation, are the 2017 priority actions.

Fortunately, the trends suggest most people are drinking more responsibly. However approximately 5,500 deaths and 157,000 hospital admissions occur as a consequence of alcohol each year.

7. Use work as medicine

People with a mental illness are over-represented in national unemployment statistics. The 2025 target is to halve the employment gap.

Unemployment and the associated financial duress exerts a significant toll on the health of people with a mental illness, and costs an estimated A$2.5 billion in lost productivity each year.

Supported vocational programs have 20 years of evidence showing their effectiveness. Scaling up and better integrating these programs is an urgent priority, along with suicide prevention and broader efforts.

8. Cut down on salt

Most Australian adults consume in excess of the recommended maximum salt intake of 5 grams daily. This contributes to a high prevalence of elevated blood pressure among adults (23%), which is a major risk factor for heart diseases.

Around 75% of Australian’s salt intake comes from processed foods. Reducing salt intake by 30% by 2025, via food reformulation, could save 3,500 lives a year through reductions in heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

9. Promote heart health

Heart disease is Australia’s single largest cause of death, and yet an estimated 970,000 adults at high risk of a cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke) are not receiving appropriate treatment to reduce risk factors such as combined blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications. Under-treatment can be exacerbated by people’s lack of awareness about their own risk factors.

National heart risk assessment programs, along with care planning for high-risk individuals, offer a cost-effective solution.

10. Measure what matters

A comprehensive Australian Health Survey must be a permanent and routine survey every five years, so Australia knows how we are tracking on chronic disease.

All of these policies are effective, affordable and feasible opportunities to prevent, rather than treat, Australia’s biggest killer diseases

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #FASD : Record Indigenous incarceration #justjustice rates could be avoided with early clinical assessment: experts

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 “Australia’s prison population recently reached a record 33,791 with 27 per cent of those identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders

Leading experts in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) believe Australia’s record rates of Indigenous incarceration could be dramatically reduced if children were clinically assessed when their troubled behaviour first emerged in the classroom or at home.

In one form or another, Federal, State and Territory Governments have been inquiring into Indigenous prison rates since the 1987 leaving behind a long list of mostly-ignored recommendations “

As reported by Russell Skelton ABC

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NACCHO partnered with the Menzies School of Health Research and the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) to develop and implement health promotion resources and interventions to prevent and reduce the impacts of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and young children.

NACCHO Report 1 of 4 :Prevent and reduce the impacts of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)

Key points:

  • Experts say Indigenous incarceration rates could be reduced with early behavioural assessment
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) affects many of those incarcerated
  • People with FASD are often unable to instruct a lawyer, understand court procedures and even the decisions handed down when convicted

The facts about FASD

  • FASD covers a range of conditions that can occur in children whose mothers drink during pregnancy
  • Conditions vary from mild to severe
  • The effects can include learning difficulties, behavourial problems, growth defects and facial abnormalities
  • The Australian Drug Foundation believes the condition is “significantly under-reported” in Australia
  • National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines say not drinking at all all during pregnancy is the safest option

A major issue in recent months:

  • Last month the Northern Territory’s adult prison population hit an alarming 15-year high. According to Corrections Commissioner Mark Payne 958 people are being held — almost half aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. He expects half will reoffend within two years of being released.
  • A report by Amnesty International Australia found, and ABC Fact Check confirmed, that incarceration rates for Indigenous children were 24 times higher than they were for non-Indigenous children.In WA the rate is 76 per 10,000, in the US, where rates of black incarceration are regarded as the highest in the western world, it is 52.
  • Attorney-General George Brandis and the Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion announced the Federal Government have commissioned the Australian Law Reform Commission to investigate factors behind the over representation of Indigenous Australians in prison and to recommend reforms to “ameliorate the national tragedy”.
  • The appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate brutal treatment and years of detainee abuse at Darwin’s Don Dale Youth detention facility.The move followed detailed allegations of mistreatment by the ABC’s Four Corner program.

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The #JustJustice book is was launched  at Gleebooks in Sydney yesterday by Professor Tom Calma AO, and NACCHO readers are invited to download the 242-page e-version

The Federal Government must make good on its promise to listen to, and work with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including engaging with the solutions put forward in the forthcoming #JustJustice essay collection.

The book includes more than 90 articles on solutions to protect the rights of Australia’s First Peoples.

The experts said parents, teachers and health workers were often well aware of unacceptable behaviour in young people — both Indigenous and non-Indigenous — long before they appeared before the courts.

Around 70 per cent of young people in the juvenile justice system are Aboriginal, and research shows rates of the disorder amongst Aboriginal communities are significantly higher than non-Aboriginal communities.

Elizabeth Elliot, professor of Paediatrics and Child Health a Sydney University, said: “What we need is screening tool so teachers and health workers can assess a child’s executive functions and red flag cognitive impairments early on before they encounter the justice system.”

Paediatrician and clinical research fellow at Perth’s Telethon Kids Institute Dr Raewyn Mutch agreed, saying there was a growing need to identify serious behavioural issues associated with FASD and other developmental disorders such as autism so affected children can be better managed.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, known as FASD, occurs in the children whose mothers consumed alcohol during pregnancy.

Symptoms include lifelong physical, mental, behavioural and learning difficulties. It can cause severe intellectual impairment, learning and memory disorders, high-risk and violent behaviour.

Professor Elliott said reform in Australia had been “glacial” compared with Canada and the United States, as authorities have been slow to acknowledge the extent of the problem.

“In Canada it is estimated that 60 per cent of kids in the juvenile justice system are FASD, it is a huge number,” she said.

“We don’t need another inquiry into the justice system, we need governments to act on the evidence before them from past inquiries,

Professor Elliott was the paediatric specialist involved the ground-breaking Lililwan study initiated by Aboriginal women. The study that found that one in five Indigenous children living in WA Fitzroy River Valley had FASD. Although still teenagers, many were before the juvenile justice.

“For children suffering from FASD, it’s like having the umpire removed from an AFL match, they have difficulties deciding best choices or understanding cause and effect,” Dr Mutch said.

“A person with FASD may have cognitive impairment, language difficulties as severe as being illiterate.”

Professor Elliott, a widely acknowledged authority on FASD, said offenders — non-Indigenous and Indigenous — with fetal alcohol brain damage were often incapable of changing their behaviour and learning from mistakes.

“These are young people who can be easily led, are incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions, have difficulty understanding the boundaries for acceptable behaviour. They can confess to crimes they did not commit.”

Dr Mutch said not only FASD affected individuals ended up in the justice system, but children with developmental difficulties and also children traumatised by conflict and abuse.

She is involved in landmark study of young offenders in WA’s Banksia Hill Detention Centre to establish the prevalence of FASD and other neurological disorders. The study is likely to revolutionise strategies for handling juveniles with “neurodevelopmental” issues.

The study will establish the first authoritative estimate in Australia of FASD among young people in detention. It involves a two day multi-disciplined clinical assessment of children with the hope of developing a screening tool for application among all young people entering the juvenile justice system.

“Children in the juvenile justice system have ended up there for a variety of reasons, many of these kids have learning and memory problems,” Dr Mutch said.

“They may also have speech and language problems. Not all are FASD affected, but all I would predict have experienced severe trauma.”

A ‘national tragedy’

A Productivity Commission report into Indigenous disadvantage released last week confirmed rates of incarceration had failed to drop despite a string of reports, inquiries and recommendations dating back to 1987 Deaths in Custody Royal Commission.

Dr Mutch said children were being excluded from society because their behaviour.

“The central question is what are the factors that caused them to be like that and how best to rehabilitate them,” she said.

Both Professor Elliott and Dr Mutch believe screening and clinical assessments in childhood would identify cognitive problems, enable early treatment and result in profound improvements in troublesome behaviours.

This would have an impact on child protection placements including foster care and the management of group homes where evidence has emerged of inappropriate placements and poor supervision.

Offenders with FASD are easily led, coerced by their peers. They can be incapable of providing a record of events, names of associates and often confabulate even to the extent of making false confessions.

They are often unable to instruct a lawyer, understand court procedures and even the decisions handed down when convicted.

In one form or another, Federal, State and Territory Governments have been inquiring into Indigenous prison rates since the 1987 leaving behind a long list of mostly-ignored recommendations.

The Senate is also inquiring into the indefinite detention of people with cognitive impairments — a central issue when it comes to explaining the “national tragedy”.

The Telethon Kids Institute noted in a submission to Senate inquiry into the indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment that diagnosis of FASD has been limited by a lack of knowledge and until recently an absence of accepted national diagnostic framework.

Australia’s prison population recently reached a record 33,791 with 27 per cent of those identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.

 

NACCHO Press Release : Self-determination needed to overcome Aboriginal disadvantage -NACCHO response to Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report

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“It’s good news that we’re having success in improving mortality rates for mothers and babies,  But we owe these children a better future than one where they’re at higher risk of dislocation from Country and culture, poor mental health, suicide, family violence, imprisonment and poverty.

We owe them the same future as every other Australian child.

Political will was needed to address disadvantage and make more inroads into closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in health and well-being and social advantage.”

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke naccho-press-release

NACCHO Aboriginal Health What Works Part 7 : Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2016 Productivity Commission Report shows some positive trends but…!

Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2016 Report

Download PDF and Word copies of report here

Aboriginal health services must be given a greater front line role in overcoming Aboriginal disadvantage, Australia’s peak Aboriginal health body said today.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair Matthew Cooke said the Productivity Commission’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report released today shows gains in some close the gap targets, but some areas of disadvantage are worse than the last report two years ago.

Mr Cooke said it was encouraging that child mortality rates have improved since 1998; more Aboriginal students are completing high school and university; and employment rates have increased.

However family violence rates, alcohol and substance use are unchanged; the mental health of Aboriginal communities is continuing to decline; and rates of juvenile incarceration have increased to 24 times the rate for non-Indigenous youth.

“Until governments show the political will to address all the determinants of health and well-being, we will not close these gaps,” he said.

“We’ve identified the disadvantage many, many times. The harder part is providing the services, the programs, and the changes to community attitudes that are need to overcome the disadvantage.

“It’s time to move beyond paper plans and strategies to action on the ground and that means real engagement with Aboriginal communities and empowering Aboriginal community controlled health services to take the lead.”

Matthew Cooke will keynote speakers at the  NACCHO Members Conference in Melbourne

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1. NACCHO Interim 3 day Program has been released -Download
2. The dates are fast approaching – so register today

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper and #JustJustice Evidence What Works Part 6 : Prevention and Healing needed

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Updated Sunday 27 the November

The #JustJustice book is being launched at Gleebooks in Sydney today by Professor Tom Calma AO, and readers are invited to download the 242-page e-version. see invite below

For news about the launch, follow #JustJustice on Twitter; we also hope to do some live Periscope broadcasts.

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As well, during the week ahead, Summer May Finlay and Dr Megan Williams will be tag-tweeting about #JustJustice from @WePublicHealth.

Croakey warmly thanks all who have contributed to the #JustJustice project, including the authors, tweeters, donors and supporters.

They also thank a number of organisations that have supported our launch, including the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses (CATSINaM), Amnesty International, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Indigenous Allied Health Australia, the Healing Foundation, the Close the Gap secretariat, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia, the Australian Science Media Centre, the University of Canberra, Western Sydney University, and Curtin University.

Thanks to journalist Amy McQuire for covering the book on radio at Let’s Talk, and hope other media outlets will also engage with the issues raised in the book.

Statement by Amnesty International

The Federal Government must make good on its promise to listen to, and work with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including engaging with the solutions put forward in the forthcoming #JustJustice essay collection.

The book includes more than 90 articles on solutions to protect the rights of Australia’s First Peoples. These include pieces by Amnesty’s Indigenous Rights Campaigners Roxanne Moore and Julian Cleary, who offer solutions to the stark overrepresentation of Indigenous children in detention.

‘Lock-em-up’ punitive approach has failed

In the book, Noongar woman Roxanne Moore decries the solitary confinement, teargassing and use of dogs against children in the Don Dale Detention Centre. She lays out how Australia has breached international human rights law by detaining Indigenous children at astronomical rates, and through the harsh treatment and conditions endured by children in detention.

#JustJustice articles by Julian Cleary also condemn the detention centre, and call for funding to be shifted into youth services and programs to keep kids out of detention in the first place. He writes that the ‘lock-em-up’ punitive approach has failed to heal trauma in Indigenous people in detention, and argues that Indigenous kids respond best to Indigenous role models.

He acknowledges the vital work of Indigenous people and organisations around the country – from rapper Briggs in NSW, to the Darwin-based Larrakia Night Patrol and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

Amnesty International research has found that Governments’ best chance to reduce offending and lower Indigenous incarceration rates is to fund prevention and diversion programs led by Indigenous communities. Indigenous-led, therapeutic programs best connect with Indigenous people, helping them to heal their trauma and deal with the life problems that lead to offending in the first place.

Listen, understand

In a statement last week, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to “genuine partnership” with First Peoples. He stated the Government’s determination “to listen and to understand to ensure we get it right.”

“This #JustJustice collection represents one opportunity for the Federal Government to listen and to understand,” said Roxanne Moore.

“Across the country we’re seeing unacceptable rates of Indigenous children being separated from their families and locked up. At the same time, Indigenous people also experience violence at far higher rates than the non-Indigenous population. This is not just a Northern Territory injustice – it is nationwide and Prime Minister Turnbull must seek national solutions.

“We call on Mr Turnbull to work with all States and Territories in developing a national plan to address the twin issues of high rates of Indigenous incarceration and experience of violence. We hope to see positive outcomes from the COAG meeting next month, where Mr Turnbull has pledged to put Indigenous incarceration on the agenda.”

See the statement here.

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 ” In-prison programs fail to address the disadvantage that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners face, such as addiction, intergenerational and historical traumas, grief and loss. Programs have long waiting lists, and exclude those who spend many months on remand or serve short sentences – as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often do.

Instead, evidence shows that prison worsens mental health and wellbeing, damages relationships and families, and generates stigma which reduces employment and housing opportunities .

To prevent post-release deaths, diversion from prison to alcohol and drug rehabilitation is recommended, which has proven more cost-effective and beneficial than prison , International evidence also recommends preparing families for the post-prison release phase. ‘

Dying to be free: Where is the focus on the deaths occurring post-prison release? Article 1 Below

Article from Page 17 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download

naccho-newspaper-nov-2016 PDF file size 9 MB

 “Readers of this NACCHO communique and newspaper are invited to attend the launch in Sydney on November 27 of #JustJustice, a book profiling solutions to the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Professor Tom Calma AO, a social justice champion and Chancellor of the University of Canberra, will launch the book, which will also be freely available as an e-book via Croakey.org.

The launch comes amid mounting pressure on federal, state and territory governments to address over-incarceration, which the #JustJustice book makes clear is a public health emergency.

Just Justice Prevention and Healing needed Article 2 and Invite Below

Amid calls for a new federal inquiry into the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to result in concrete actions), a more profound concern has rated barely a mention.

Many people may not realise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to die in the days and weeks after release from prison than they are in custody, according to University of Melbourne researchers

Where non-Indigenous people are more likely be at risk of post-release death from accidental overdose, and preventative opioid substitution therapy is reasonably available to them, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to die from alcohol-related harm preventable health conditions and suicide

The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison have been there before, often multiple times. High rates of re-incarceration and post-release death signal that they do not receive enough assistance under current programs and policies.

Jack Bulman, CEO of the well-recognised health promotion charity, Mibbinbah, recently collaborated on the design of health promotion program Be the Best You Can Be which accompanies the film Mad Bastards. He has worked with many men post-prison release and says “many get out of prison with very little support, money, plans, or hope.”

In-prison programs fail to address the disadvantage that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners face, such as addiction, intergenerational and historical traumas, grief and loss. Programs have long waiting lists, and exclude those who spend many months on remand or serve short sentences – as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often do.

Instead, evidence shows that prison worsens mental health and wellbeing, damages relationships and families, and generates stigma which reduces employment and housing opportunities .

Some European countries, however, have achieved a dramatic reduction in prisoner numbers and harms.

To prevent post-release deaths, diversion from prison to alcohol and drug rehabilitation is recommended, which has proven more cost-effective and beneficial than prison International evidence also recommends preparing families for the post-prison release phase.

Mibbinbah’s work also shows that men’s groups are a low-cost measure for prison-to-community continuity of care, and Elder engagement in prison programs has received overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Locally, evaluation of three Returning Home post-prison release pilot programs delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations found that intensive, coordinated care in the first hours, days, and weeks after release is required, along with strategies to better identify newly-released prisoners in clinical and program settings, to provide them with appropriate care

However, for these improvements to occur, better integration between prisons and community-based services is required.

International human rights instruments assert that people in prison have the right to the same care in prison as they do in the community.

Prisons should be places where public health and criminal justice policies meet, particularly given that the overwhelming majority of people in prisons have addiction and mental health issues.

But because prisoners have no right to Medicare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison have reduced access to the types of comprehensive primary healthcare available in the community, including health assessments, care plans and social and emotional wellbeing programs.

Instead, providing such healthcare in prisons comes at an additional cost to community organisations, if it is done at all.

The Public Health Association of Australia and the Australian Medical Association have called on the Australian Government for prisoners to retain their right to Medicare.

Renewed attention to bring about this change will enable continuity of care between prison and the community, which is vital for preventing post-release deaths.

Waiting until after prison is too late.

Further reading: The Change the Record Coalition calls for the Australian Law Reform Commission to develop the terms of reference for its inquiry into over-imprisonment in close consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bodies.

https://changetherecord.org.au/blog/news/australian-law-reform-commission-inquiry-into-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-imprisonment-must-focus-on-solutions

Just Justice Prevention and Healing needed

Megan Williams writes: Readers of this newspaper are invited to attend the launch in Sydney on November 27 of #JustJustice, a book profiling solutions to the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Professor Tom Calma AO, a social justice champion and Chancellor of the University of Canberra, will launch the book, which will also be freely available as an e-book via Croakey.org.

The launch comes amid mounting pressure on federal, state and territory governments to address over-incarceration, which the #JustJustice book makes clear is a public health emergency.

The book – which resulted from a crowd-funding campaign – profiles the breadth and depth of work by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to address incarceration and related issues.

The inaugural Closing the Prison Gap: Cultural Resilience Conference, recently held in northern NSW, also heard about many such initiatives.

Prevention and healing needed

The first conference theme explored prevention and early intervention with Professor Muriel Bamblett, Yorta Yorta woman and CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency discussing Alternatives to Child Removal including leadership, healing and diversionary programs.

The second conference theme focussed on court, prison and post-release programs. Compelling information about the over-representation of people with disabilities in the criminal justice system was provided, including concerns about fitness to stand trial and under-assessment of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Mervyn Eades, Nyoongar man and Eddie Mabo Social Justice Award winner explained the trusting relationships developed with ex-prisoners through the Ngalla Maya program, and their contribution to supporting prisoners in employment post-prison release.

The third conference theme of healing reviewed the work by Gamarada Healing the Life Training, the well-evaluated Kids Caring for Country and Learning our Way Program from Murwillumbah, and web-based resources of the Lateral Peace Project.

Plans for the Mount Tabor Station Healing and Rehabilitation Centre in central Queensland were unveiled by Keelen Mailman, Bidjara woman, author of The Power of Bones and Mother of the Year winner, developed in partnership with Keith Hamburger, ex-Director of the Queensland Corrective Services Commission.

The final conference session focussed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions to addressing underlying factors for incarceration, which Professor Harry Blagg from the University of WA argued are an extension of colonial dispossession. Chris Lee from the University of Southern Queensland and Gerry Georgatos from the Institute for Social Justice and Human Rights in WA described tangible strategies for improving in-prison and post-release education and training, citing some excellent results from their programs.

NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Tauto Sansbury reflected on his own life journey and how his understanding of the need for a Treaty developed over time. He envisions a Treaty as an opportunity for new relationships and accountabilities in law, which will promote self-determination and reduce incarceration rates.

But the question remains: Why won’t Australian leaders embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander solutions to the criminal justice crisis? Perhaps this will be the theme of the 2017 Closing the Prison Gap gathering? The organising committee is looking for contributions for next year’s event and program.

This is an abbreviated version of an article that first appeared at Croakey.org. Dr Megan Williams is a member of the #JustJustice team, a Senior Research Fellow in the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Research team at Western Sydney University, and a Wiradjuri descendant through her father’s family. Other #JustJustice team members are Summer May Finlay, Marie McInerney, Melissa Sweet and Mitchell Ward

Why won’t Australian leaders embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander solutions to the criminal justice crisis?

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert : Coalition Government launches #ATSISPEP Community-led solutions for Indigenous suicide prevention

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The ATSISPEP report was commissioned by the Coalition Government to look into what is working and what is not working in the services we fund to help prevent suicide in Indigenous communities,” Minister Scullion said.

“It breaks my heart that almost every one of the communities I have visited has been touched by suicide. We know that Indigenous suicide rates are double that of non-Indigenous people, five times higher for young Indigenous Australians and the rate in the Kimberley is one of the highest nationally.

“This report is a critical first step in helping to understand what works in Indigenous communities to tackle what has become an epidemic in some places.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion

The report was released at a ceremony in Parliament House attended by members of the project team, key stakeholders, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, Minister for Health and Aged Care, Sussan Ley, and Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt.

Picture above At launch at Parliament House with politicians from all parties and special guests the family of Norma from Leonora who lost a son not long ago and Lena from Fitzroy Crossings who lost a daughter.

Coalition Press Release

The Coalition Government today released the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) report,

Solutions that Work: What the Evidence and Our People Tell Us.

Download

atispep-report-final-web-pdf-nov-10

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The report sets out a new blueprint to improve suicide-prevention services and programmes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on the principle of prioritising community led, culturally-appropriate services.

Minister Scullion said the Government welcomed the report, but did so with a very heavy-heart.

“It builds on the Coalition Government’s commitment to do things with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. To this end, we recently attended a roundtable in the Kimberley to work with the local community on the report’s findings and how to trial some of the approaches it recommends.”

Minister Ley said the Government had worked closely with the report’s authors to ensure recommendations could be quickly implemented on the ground.

“The Coalition Government has committed to trialling the community-led approaches recommended in the report,” Minister Ley said.

“This is reflected in our election commitment to invest $192 million in mental health and suicide prevention, which includes the establishment of 12 suicide-prevention trial sites, including one in the Kimberley.

“The Government is also establishing a Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention to continue to build the evidence base of what works to ensure we are continuously learning and adapting to what is working on the ground.

“The report’s findings will also inform future funding decisions for suicide prevention and mental health programmes and how best to deliver them for Indigenous communities.” Assistant Minister Wyatt thanked the University of Western Australia’s School of Indigenous Studies for its work on the project.

“Your report shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians want to have their health needs met in ways that are tailored to their circumstances and that recognise their unique needs, including their cultural needs,” Assistant Minister Wyatt said.

ATSISPEP is one of several Indigenous-specific suicide prevention initiatives supported by the Coalition Government. Others include the Critical Response Project which is addressing suiciderelated trauma in Western Australia and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid training which is being rolled out in more than 60 remote locations across Austra lia.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : #ATSISPEP report and the hope of a new era in Indigenous suicide prevention

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 ” The many years of community-generated work in suicide prevention is something that Indigenous Australia, as a collective, should take great pride in.

However, we have to acknowledge also that this alone has not been enough to stop Indigenous suicide rates overall getting higher recently, and that some communities remain at particularly high risk.

ATSISPEP’s first challenge was to identify ‘what works:’ the success factors evident from the suicide prevention work already undertaken in our communities. The second challenge was to support the dissemination of ‘what works’ across all communities: to share knowledge, and ensure that all can benefit from this collective wisdom and experience.”

Professor Pat Dudgeon and Professor Tom Calma AO Website

Photo above  : Page 15 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper to be published 16 November

Read over 100 NACCHO articles here on suicide prevention

After almost two years of work, ATSISPEP released a final report in Canberra on the 10th of November 2016.

Download the final #ATSISPEP report here

atispep-report-final-web-pdf-nov-10

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The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) is a unique Indigenous-led research project to identify ‘what works’ to prevent suicide in our communities.

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At launch at Parliament House with politicians from all parties and special guests the family of Norma from Leonora who lost a son not long ago and Lena from Fitzroy Crossings who lost a daughter.

Our rates of suicide today are twice as high as other Australians and probably growing. Like the tip of an iceberg, high rates of suicide in a community can be a sign of deeper and complex community-wide problems, involving families and people caught in cycles of despair and a sense of hopelessness. Yet not all our communities, even those facing similar challenges, experience the same rates of suicide.

ATSISPEP was developed with the recognition that for many years Indigenous Elders, community leaders and healers in some of our worst-affected communities have been working tirelessly to prevent suicide.

Often volunteering, and with little or no financial support, they have generated community-specific and culturally-based ways of bringing people back from the edge of suicide and also supporting families who are bereaved by loss.

In some cases, they have worked with entire communities to address the underlying community-level issues that can contribute to a suicide, for example, unemployment, violence, and alcohol and drug use. In others, they have connected young people to their Indigenous identity and culture and the sense of worth this can bring.

Some good examples are presented in the Elders’ Report into Preventing Indigenous Self-harm & Youth Suicide (see: https://bepartofthehealing.org/EldersReport.pdf).

The many years of community-generated work in suicide prevention is something that Indigenous Australia, as a collective, should take great pride in.

However, we have to acknowledge also that this alone has not been enough to stop Indigenous suicide rates overall getting higher recently, and that some communities remain at particularly high risk.

ATSISPEP’s first challenge was to identify ‘what works:’ the success factors evident from the suicide prevention work already undertaken in our communities. The second challenge was to support the dissemination of ‘what works’ across all communities: to share knowledge, and ensure that all can benefit from this collective wisdom and experience.

The report includes an analysis of Indigenous suicide prevention program evaluations and previous research and consultations on Indigenous suicide prevention. It includes the input of ATSISPEP-held regional community roundtables, and roundtables on specific topics (for example, on Indigenous young people and suicide prevention, justice issues, and Indigenous LGBTQI and suicide prevention).

ATSISPEP also held a national conference in Alice Springs this May. It was an opportunity to test our work and gather even more information from the 370 attendees, most of whom were Indigenous.

A selection of some of the success factors identified in the report includes:

  • Community-specific programs to address the community-level contributing factors that can lead to suicide.
  • Community development and ownership of programs.
  • Access to culturally competent counsellors and mental health support for people at immediate risk of suicide.
  • The involvement of Elders in programs.
  • Cultural frameworks for programs, and cultural elements in them: for example, culturally-informed healing practices and connecting young people to country.
  • Alcohol and drug use-reduction as a part of an overall response.
  • Gatekeeper training, whereby community members are trained to identify people at risk of suicide and connect them to help.
  • For young people, peer to peer mentoring, and education and leadership on suicide prevention.
  • 24-hour, seven-day a week availability of support.

With ATSISPEP complete, the implementation of the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy (with almost $18 million pledged to it) through the Primary Health Networks, and the establishment of at least two Indigenous suicide prevention trial sites (that were recently announced by the Australian Government) can proceed on an evidence-based footing. ATSISPEP has also generated tools for both Indigenous communities and Primary Health Networks to use to develop and strengthen programs.

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Our NACCHO CEO Pat Turner as a contributor to the report attended the launch pictured here with Senator Patrick Dodson and co-author Prof. Pat Dudgeon

The hope of ATSISPEP is that its report will help bring about a new era in Indigenous suicide prevention in which many lives will be saved. It is now incumbent on Australian governments to ensure that our communities receive the support they need to help make this happen.

All of the ATSISPEP reports can be accessed at www.atsispep.sis.uwa.edu.au.

ATSISPEP was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health.

If you are looking for help please call one of the following national helplines:
Lifeline Counselling Service: 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 (cost of a local call)

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