Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 85 : June 30 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob COVID-19 puts extra strain on wellbeing of Indigenous Australians : Download A National COVID-19 Pandemic Issues Paper on Mental Health and Wellbeing for our mob

“COVID-19 has put many more Indigenous Australians at risk of severe psychological distress,” Professor Dudgeon said.

Prior to the pandemic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people already faced health and mental health disadvantages and inadequate and inequitable access to mental health care.

Now modelling shows that a severe increase in suicide rates could be expected, and Indigenous people are already over-represented in suicide rates in Australia, especially youth.

It is important for the government to respond to the clear findings in the report with equitable investment to support Indigenous-led initiatives to protect health and wellbeing.

Culturally safe, trauma-informed, lived-experience solutions that respond to the health and wellbeing needs have been established, but are under-resourced,” 

The national pandemic response for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and communities must be a priority, led, developed and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and people.”

Professor Pat Dudgeon Director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing  and from UWA’s School of Indigenous Studies, who led the working group, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were already more than twice as likely as other Australians to die by suicide.

Indigenous communities must be empowered to address the social and emotional wellbeing needs of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, with COVID-19 putting an additional strain on mental health, a national consensus report led by The University of Western Australia has revealed.

The National COVID-19 Pandemic Issues Paper on Mental Health and Wellbeing For Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples summarises the perspectives of a working group of more than 30 Indigenous leaders Australia-wide.

It lists five priorities to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the psychological wellbeing of Indigenous people as restrictions ease.

These include the right to self-determination, health and mental health of the workforce, social and cultural determinants of health, digital and telehealth inclusion with immediate attention to an Indigenous helpline and evaluation that includes Indigenous data sovereignty.

Within each key recommendation, several key actions are outlined.

Key Issues.

  • Prior to COVID-19, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples already faced health and mental health disadvantages and inadequate and inequitable access to mental health
  • Globally, Indigenous peoples are disproportionately impacted by The Australian Government’s COVID-19 mental health response must address the existing social inequities that make Indigenous peoples more vulnerable to and heavily impacted by pandemics.
  • Suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait people are double those of other An increase in suicide rates is now predicted. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and health response on mental health will be devastating if not managed appropriately.
  • In response to COVID-19, the Government has provided extra investment in mental health support. Yet, despite known risks, funding has been largely directed to mainstream services that will not meet the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities alone.
  • Culturally safe, trauma-informed, lived-experience solutions that respond to the health and wellbeing needs and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities have been established, but are chronically under-resourced.
  • The national pandemic response for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities must be a priority and led, developed, and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities, and

Key Recommendations.

1.Self-determination – Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and organisations to lead the pandemic mental health responses for their peoples and communities. This calls for direct funding to Indigenous organisations to fund Indigenous-led actions which will best meet the needs of Indigenous peoples, families and

2. Health and Mental Health Workforce – Improve the accessibility of culturally safe care that meets the needs of families and communities. It is critical to support and appropriately utilise the existing local workforce, and to create and grow a longer-term, place-based, multidisciplinary Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB)

3.Social and Cultural Determinants – Implement the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023 to enable culturally safe and sustainable approaches to improved mental health. Social determinants of health must be addressed and SEWB programs that are designed, delivered and culturally informed by Indigenous peoples must be supported.

4.Digital and Telehealth – Provide accessible and affordable Internet access and ensure digital and tele-health services to Indigenous communities are culturally safe and trauma-informed. An Indigenous-led helpline to be made available immediately.

5.Evaluation – Implement a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative national research and evaluation program that covers urban, regional, and remote communities, promotes accountability of funding models, and enables Indigenous data

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. The responses to this pandemic will shape our future. Government actions taken now will determine the severity of the mental health impacts and subsequent recovery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have already been disadvantaged by historical and intergenerational trauma, economic inequity, and inadequate access to health services and a culturally safe and responsive workforce.

This disadvantage results in higher risk of trauma, mental illness, economic injury, and burnout during the fourth wave of a pandemic (pictured above ).

Structural change is needed. The current pandemic mental health plan and system is not sufficient5,6 to prevent the worst-case scenario for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the predicted new mental health7 and suicide8 epidemic. Immediate action is needed to ensure culturally safe services9 are accessible and sufficiently resourced to support the psychosocial recovery from lockdown, restricted practices, and the inevitable economic recession to follow.

At the time of writing, under 60 cases of COVID-19 have been notified among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, representing 0.8% of all Australian cases.

Our communities have been kept physically safe through a highly successful COVID-19 health response due to the innovation, leadership, and management of the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector (ACCHO), led by National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and peak organisations that:

  • were prepared to respond independently and early in the pandemic,
  • united diverse sectors (health, education, land councils, government agencies),
  • protected and prepared communities for lockdown, and
  • developed effective local communication

These Indigenous-led actions have demonstrated the importance and impact of self-determination in promoting the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples in contemporary Australia11.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 84 : June 26 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : Dr Mark Wenitong and Summer May Findlay : ” Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations are taking a leading role in COVID‐19 health communication”

ACCHOs, as comprehensive healthcare services whose core business is population‐level health, have the skills, expertise and knowledge to create and execute appropriate COVID‐19 prevention messages.

Part of their success has been the trust that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people place in them primarily because they deliver culturally appropriate service. In a time of crisis, they are best placed to deliver health promotion and crisis communication to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ACCHOs and their peak bodies, therefore, need to be resourced appropriately to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the best possible information to reduce the risk to themselves, their families and their communities. ” 

Dr Mark Wenitong and Summer May Findlay : Originally published HERE

For research references or Download

ACCHO COVID19 communications

Noting all images and videos below added by NACCHO

Health communication during a health crisis, such as the COVID‐19 pandemic, is vital to reduce the impact on populations. To ensure the communication is effective, audience segmentation is required with specific resources that have been developed for each segment.

In addition, the messages need to be clear, mutual trust between the communicator and the audience needs to be developed and maintained, and resources should focus on cultural values.

The evidence around effective crisis communication indicates that it needs to be timely, clear, concise and appropriate to the target audience. Communication is particularly important for those at higher risk during the crisis, such as people who are immunocompromised, the elderly, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk from COVID‐19 due to a range of factors associated with higher rates of non‐communicable diseases and a lack of access to health services in remote communities.

Additionally, there are socio‐cultural factors that put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at risk, such as high mobility for family or cultural reasons.

Despite the increased risk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from COVID‐19, there has been little specific communication tailored for them from governments since the pandemic commenced.

This is despite the overwhelming evidence that health promotion messages need to be tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To fill the gap, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) have demonstrated their capacity to deliver scientifically valid, evidence‐based and culturally translated COVID‐19 prevention messages.

The ACCHO sectors’ understanding of population health has led to a strong history of culturally centred health promotion and social marketing materials.

Even before the World Health Assembly declared COVID‐19 a global pandemic (11 March ACCHOs and their peak bodies had developed messages for their communities.

The ACCHO sectors’ communications on COVID‐19 have been produced in addition to their usual service delivery and using existing funding.

NACCHO first communique January 28 : Since then 84 COVID-19 Alerts 

Read over 84 NACCHO COVID-19 News Alert January to June 2020

Effective social marketing campaigns segment a target audience and develop resources that are culturally appropriate. Culturally appropriate resources include target specific language choices, imagery and an understanding of culturally specific behaviour change motivations.

Four examples of ACCHOs that have delivered tailored resources include the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC), Apunipima Cape York Health Council (Apunipima), Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).

See NACCHO COVID-19 updates and infomation

Each of the examples provided resources that were tailored specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by including Aboriginal vernacular, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and some included Indigenous languages.

Additionally, the material reflected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s kinship structures by promoting self‐isolation and good hygiene as a way of taking care of family and community.

AHMRC Website 

The AH&MRC, the NSW ACCHO peak body, has disseminated existing and new resources promoting COVID‐19 prevention online via their website, Facebook Twitter YouTube and Instagram

Additionally, they created the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service Pandemic Response Tool Kit. The materials were either resources developed by their member services (ACCHOs) or mainstream materials that have been repurposed and contextualised for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Apunipima ACCHO Website

Apunipima, a Cape York ACCHO in Queensland has also been communicating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about how to protect themselves from COVID‐19 via Facebook and TikTok, and by distributing printed resources.

The first Facebook post (6 March 2020) used simple, evidenced‐based prevention messages about handwashing. Subsequently, they produced infographics and short localised video updates.

 

AHCWA Website

AHCWA, the Western Australian ACCHO peak body, has also developed infographics promoting prevention measures such as hand washing and COVID‐19 symptoms.

AHCWA resources and updates have been published on their website.

 

NACCHO, the national ACCHO peak body has been amplifying communications from ACCHOs and the jurisdictional affiliates, such as the AH&MRC and AHCWA.

They have shared these resources via their website, the NACCHO communique, their Facebook page and Twitter.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 83 : June 23 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob A free Digital Health Security Awareness course designed for people who work in our ACCHO’s and variety of healthcare settings and roles. 

“ Now, more than ever, it’s important to ensure people who work in healthcare are equipped to recognise and manage security risks.

Social distancing requirements introduced in response to COVID-19 have resulted in an increased use of digital solutions to deliver healthcare.

At the same time, malicious attackers have launched new attacks, many of which are related to COVID-19 “

The Federal Government Digital Health team  are pleased to announce that a new eLearning course is now available on the Agency’s training platform, training.digitalhealth.gov.au.

This free Digital Health Security Awareness course is designed for people who work in a variety of healthcare settings and roles.

It includes examples that relate cyber security concepts to people’s work in healthcare organisations.

The course has been developed by the Agency’s cyber security team, in consultation with representatives from a range of healthcare settings and disciplines, including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, practice management and allied health.

The Digital Health Security Awareness eLearning course includes five modules:

  1. Introduction to security awareness
  2. Think before you click
  3. Passwords
  4. Network and device security
  5. Report. Protect Privacy.

After completing the course, learners will be able to:

  • Describe common cyber security risks and recognise that they are continually evolving
  • Adopt positive security behaviours to protect sensitive information
  • Identify ways to reduce the likelihood of being impacted by cyber security threats
  • Outline what to do in the case of a cyber security incident
  • Identify key legislation and data breach reporting requirements

You are invited to complete this free online course to increase your awareness of security.

You may also wish to encourage other people working in healthcare to access this new Digital Health Security Awareness resource.

 

 

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 82 : June 22 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : John Paterson CEO AMSANT Because we are still seeing major breakouts in places like Victoria and New South Wales, we had hoped the border controls would remain in place

1.Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in remote communities

2.Remote Framework

3.Physical distancing

4.Good hygiene

5.Stay home if you are unwell and get tested

6.Download the COVIDSafe App

7.COVIDSafe Australia

1.Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in remote communities

Coronavirus has spread across the world and made many people sick. The good news is Australia has been very successful in both ‘flattening the curve’ and keeping the virus out of our remote communities.

The number of new coronavirus cases in Australia each day is very low except for Victoria ( see below )

Some areas are now beginning to take careful steps to ease some of the restrictions that have helped stop the spread of the virus.

In other areas we need to keep these measures going a little longer to protect our mob, our Elders and our culture from this virus.

NACCHO Update 22 June 

The peak body for Aboriginal-controlled health services in the Northern Territory says the NT Government’s decision to reopen borders is a “major risk” and it is now “very likely” infected people will be arriving in the NT.

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) said it was disappointed it had not been consulted about the Government’s decision to end mandatory quarantine for new arrivals in the NT on July 17.

“Because we are still seeing major breakouts in places like Victoria and New South Wales, we had hoped the border controls would remain in place until there was no more coronavirus in Australia or there was a vaccine,” AMSANT chief executive John Paterson said.

Above front page of the Australian June 22

“The borders opening is a major risk, and we are disappointed we weren’t consulted about the decision to open the borders.

“We are concerned that we are very likely to again have infected people coming into the NT.”

Read full story HERE

Watch SkyNews Coverage 

2.Remote Framework : Updated 19 June 

Governments and community leaders were worried about what would happen if there was a coronavirus outbreak in a remote community

Restrictions were put in place on travelling to some remote communities. This meant people couldn’t enter these designated areas without first self-isolating.

This was done to stop people including tourists from bringing the virus into communities, and so far this has worked.

If coronavirus gets into our remote communities, it will be hard to get rid of. It will hurt our people and could make our people very sick.

The government with leaders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health have designed a framework to help governments and communities make decisions about when to lift restrictions in remote areas. The focus is keeping everyone safe.

You can find the remote framework on the health.gov.au website under ‘Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote communities’.

The restrictions will stay in place until 18 September, unless communities and governments agree to lift them earlier. Some communities are working with governments to lift the restrictions while keeping communities safe.

Get the latest updates 

3.Physical distancing

One of the best ways to protect ourselves from coronavirus is to stay at least two big steps away from people whenever and wherever we can. If there are too many people at places like the shops, it makes it very difficult to keep your distance. Come back when it is not as busy or see if you can order the items online.

4.Good hygiene

Good hygiene helps stop the spread of many illness, including the coronavirus. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after going to the toilet and before preparing food. Make sure to wash for 20 seconds at least. Don’t touch your face as this is where the virus enters your body, and remember to cough and sneeze into your elbow instead of your hand.

5.Stay home if you are unwell and get tested

It is important you stay home if you have cold or flu like symptoms. If you have a fever, cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath, make sure you get tested for coronavirus.

The COVID-19 Point of Care Testing (POCT) program is being put into place in regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

This allows people including health care workers, to remain in community while in isolation and waiting for test results. The goal of the program is that health care services are no more than 2-3 hours drive away from a testing location.

6.Download the COVIDSafe App

Make sure you download the COVIDSafe app. The app allows public health workers to know when a person who has the virus has been around other people, and who those people are.

Public health workers can then contact people to let them know they have been close to a person with the virus, and what they need to do next.

The app does not trace your location or movement, or tell police or other officials where you have been or what you are doing.

7.COVIDSafe Australia

Our success depends on us making new behaviours such as physical distancing, extra hand washing and coughing into our elbow, part of our daily lives. Whenever you leave home, think about how you’re going to keep yourself, family and friends safe from coronavirus. Make good choices about what you do and when you do it.

Make sure you stay up to date with the latest information at Australia.gov.au which also has links to state and territory websites.

Visit niaa.gov.au for further information about which remote community biosecurity restrictions are place.

You can also call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 81 : June 19 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : Helen Milroy : COVID-19: Equity and ethics in a pandemic: #Indigenous perspectives

” During decades of relative stability and prosperity for Australia as a nation, we could not close the gap in life expectancy, health and mental health outcomes and other markers of disadvantage for Indigenous Australians.

How then, is this going to change over the course of a pandemic, especially if resources become scarce and access to high-quality intensive medical services is limited?

Numerous reports outline the ongoing inequity in health and mental health outcomes as well as the additional burden of disadvantage and discrimination experienced by Indigenous Australians.

In combination, this places Indigenous communities in a state of heightened vulnerability exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of the pandemic, the associated measures such as physical isolation needed to ‘flatten the curve’ will also increase the risk for negative outcomes for Indigenous communities.

Helen Milroy highlights the impact of COVID-19 and the efforts to contain it in Indigenous communities, how it exacerbates existing vulnerabilities and disadvantages, and how we can ensure Indigenous perspectives are integrated in equitable decision-making frameworks going forward. See CV at end of article 

Originally published HERE

The pandemic raises a number of significant issues relating to equity, equality and ethical decision making with many valuable lessons to be learnt along the way.

We have already witnessed the quick action of many of our Indigenous organisations to support, educate and protect our Indigenous communities. Imagine what could be achieved if these issues of equity, ethical decision making, power sharing and funding were shared equally along with support for self-determination for Indigenous communities.

There have been a number of calls from around the world to support and protect Indigenous communities during the pandemic, many outlining their high vulnerability as well as the ongoing historical legacies of past traumas. Shino Konishi (in this Briefings edition) describes the scale and lessons of the 1789 smallpox epidemic upon Indigenous populations across south-eastern Australia.

The Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues released a message [PDF, 0.1MB] urging countries to ensure Indigenous peoples are informed, protected and prioritised, and exercise their right to self-determination during the pandemic.

The message also highlighted the additional concerns related to Indigenous Elders due to their highly valued roles as ‘keepers of history, traditions, and cultures’.

In Western Australia, the Department of Health called for the consideration of Indigenous communities during the pandemic due to their heightened vulnerability through the publication of the Aboriginal Ethical Position Statement [PDF, 0.89MB].

The Statement also calls for health service providers to ensure the provision of equitable and culturally acceptable healthcare and for the inclusion of cultural considerations across all areas of pandemic planning.

While it is difficult to predict what the mortality would be for Indigenous communities if the virus were to take hold, health commentators have stated it could be catastrophic. The only way to prevent this is through isolation until a vaccine is available, which could still take many months or years to develop and disseminate.

Many concerns have been expressed over how to keep our communities, and particularly our Elders, safe during this time. We have the oldest living culture in the world here in Australia, and our Indigenous Elders are considered as the keepers of our cultures, languages and knowledge systems.

They also have an increased vulnerability due to age, chronic health conditions and the impact of disadvantage.

For many rural and remote communities, the only solution currently has been to isolate families, close borders or shift to outstations within homelands. Many Indigenous people have been encouraged – if not coerced – to return home only to find difficulties with overcrowding, food insecurity and few health and community resources.

View above newsletter HERE

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar recently wrote for the ABC about returning to her homelands near Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in order to assist her community to live out bush.

She points out the stark contrast between decades of policy to close down remote communities and now being told it is safer to live out bush. Commissioner Oscar points out that the chronic underinvestment and poor conditions of the remote homelands continue to place people at risk.

Although moving to live in the remote communities is part of the right to self-determination, this must now be supported wholeheartedly with a new approach that assists Indigenous communities to not merely live and subsist but rather to thrive in their homelands.

As remote communities closed, much of the mobile workforce also disappeared due to travel restrictions, leaving some communities in a further state of disadvantage. Although the rapid expansion of tele/video health has filled the gap in services in some areas, the coverage outside major regional areas is patchy at best. In some remote locations, communication is reliant on radio transmitters.

Again, this brings into sharp focus the lack of investment in infrastructure, capacity building and workforce development in communities.

Access to health services is already limited, particularly in remote locations. Under these pandemic circumstances, the capacity for medical evacuations is complicated and the availability of intensive medical care is limited in regional and remote Australia. Recent experiences of racism and discrimination in health services have already been reported in the media.

In larger regional or urban centres, there are concerns as to whether Indigenous people would receive the equitable and culturally appropriate care called for in the Aboriginal Ethical Position Statement if resources become scarce.

In the G08 COVID-19 Roadmap to Recovery Report, it was estimated the health needs for Indigenous Australians is 2.3 times higher than for other Australians and called for needs-based funding. Is this possible during a pandemic when this issue has not been adequately addressed for the decades prior?

At this point in time, we have been extremely fortunate to have controlled the spread of the virus in our Indigenous communities but the journey is far from over. With the easing of restrictions and the possibility of a second wave, are our communities safe?

We will need to weigh up the risk of returning to the new normal versus the possibility of staying in isolation for prolonged periods of time. We will also need additional resources to manage the unintended consequences of isolation such as the potential worsening of other health and mental health conditions.

People are less likely to seek out health services or have reduced access during this pandemic period. Routine screening or treatment for other conditions will diminish, resulting in the worsening of many health and mental health conditions over time.

Mental health experts predict a significant increase in mental health challenges and suicide as the full impact of the pandemic and the associated measures are experienced across the country. In the 2018 AIHW report [PDF, 0.56MB]on Australia’s Health, 30% of Indigenous people reported high or very high levels of psychological distress compared to 11% for the non-Indigenous population. The levels of psychological distress and associated mental health challenges will worsen with the associated anxiety and aftermath related to the pandemic. Currently, there are limited available, accessible and culturally safe mental health services for Indigenous communities, especially in remote locations where there are very few trained staff available. This is even more critical given the shortage of mental health services for Indigenous children and youth, with the potential for long-lasting effects well into adult life.

There have been many ethical challenges associated with the pandemic with difficult decisions made in order to safeguard the community. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the many gaps that still exist and the tenuous nature of some services reliant on a mobile workforce without the infrastructure and capacity to sustain services once borders are closed. Given the continuing impact of our historical legacy, any ethical framework for decision making during this pandemic must consider equity and the plights of Indigenous communities during such difficult and life-threatening circumstances.

What we have also seen, however, is a population that can act swiftly, mobilise resources and change models of care to maintain the health and wellbeing of the nation.

We have also seen the great strengths of Indigenous organisations and communities coming together and acting quickly to protect their families. If we can do all of this, then surely we can solve the long-standing health crisis and disadvantage that impacts on our Indigenous Australians to ensure the future wellbeing of all our families.

Helen Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia but was born and educated in Perth. Currently Helen is the Stan Perron Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Perth Children’s Hospital and The University of Western Australia. Helen has been on state and national mental health and research advisory committees and boards with a particular focus on Indigenous mental health as well as the wellbeing of children. From 2013 to 2017 Helen was a Commissioner for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #BlackLivesMatter : #Racism is killing us: Statement by Pat Anderson AO, Chairperson @LowitjaInstitut and Marching for truth and justice CEO Dr Janine Mohamed,

“ The Black Lives Matters protests, here in Australia and across the world, are sounding cries of anguish and anger about the unrelenting impact of racism on our lives.

Reflecting on this, I was struck by an important comment from leading Aboriginal psychologist and academic Professor Pat Dudgeon.

There are very few Aboriginal people who wouldn’t have suffered racism, going on to talk about a growing body of evidence showing that racism is detrimental to the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Statement by Pat Anderson AO, Chairperson, Lowitja Institute : See Part 1 below

” Given that this is an international gathering I wanted to just briefly set the Australian context and then talk about similarities. In Australia, Indigenous people make up just three per cent of the Australian population.

In my opinion we have only begun to publicly name and discuss racism in the 2010’s as a national issue. Concepts of critical race theory such as power, fragility, privilege, dominant culture and systemic racism are off the table and these sorts of discussions are met with resistance and cognitive dissonance.

But we have experienced the brunt of police brutality, coroners’ reports and overincarceration – in fact, our Aboriginal children make up 100 percent of those in juvenile justice in the Northern Territory.

And we experience the brunt of deaths in custody – since colonisation began, just over 200 years ago. And it’s not just been about police brutality.

It’s also about failure of police to act, including when our children have gone missing, as we saw with the deaths of three Aboriginal children in the small town of Bowraville in the 1990s, for their families who waited decades for justice.

We know this is the experience of many Indigenous peoples and People of Colour worldwide ”

Narrunga Kaurna woman, Dr Janine Mohamed, Chief Executive Officer at the Lowitja Institute, who urged civil society, including powerful sectors like the health and medical fields, to engage with historical and contemporary truth telling and the work of anti-racism.

Originally published in Croakey See Part 2 below in full

Part 1 : Racism is killing us: Statement by Pat Anderson AO, Chairperson :

See previous NACCHO Pat Anderson post read approx 100,000 times online

Pat Dudgeon’s  words echo strongly in the work of the Lowitja Institute, the national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research.

Our work shows us that racism is widespread and it makes us suffer. It makes us sick.

We saw its scope and impact in key research that we funded many years ago, which documented very high levels of racism experienced by Aboriginal Victorians, and high levels of distress because of it.

Almost every person (97 per cent) of the 755 surveyed in 2011 in four Victorian communities had experienced at least one racist incident in the previous 12 months, with more than 70 per cent experiencing eight or more incidents a year.

Some of it included being called racist names, teased or stereotyped (92 per cent), being sworn at, verbally abused or subjected to offensive gestures because of their race (84 per cent), or being spat at, hit or threatened because of their race (67 per cent). More than half (54 per cent) reported having their property vandalised because of race.

This is not just abhorrent and an infringement of our rights. This causes life-long harm.

Studies here and from around the world tell us that racism is associated with causing psychological distress, depression, poor quality of life, and substance misuse. Prolonged, it can have significant physical health effects, such as on the immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.

Worryingly, our study showed that 40 per cent of participants indicated that they had experienced racism within the justice system and 30 per cent within health care systems.

We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will not seek out health care and will not work in health services if we do not feel culturally safe.

And we know from the families who took their heartbreak to the streets the last two weekends that racism in the justice system can be brutal and fatal.

Have things changed since the Lowitja Institute commissioned that landmark research?

Not according to new ANU research which showed that three out of four Australians who tested for unconscious bias hold a “negative implicit or unconscious bias against Indigenous Australians”.

And not according to the everyday experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people.

Yet instead of taking urgent action, our government criticises us for our protests. Instead of working to address historic injustice, our Prime Minister diminished it, declaring we should not be “importing the things that are happening overseas to Australia” and that “there was no slavery in Australia”. How can the leader of our country not know our history?

So, as the cries of #BlackLivesMatter continue to ring out across the globe, where do we go from here in Australia?

We need to acknowledge that racism is deeply entrenched in Australia and is a public health emergency for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

That terrible reality is there to be read clearly in the current National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, which identifies racism as a key driver of ill-health.

It is there to be read in the Uluru Statement to the Heart. In the critiques of the Closing the Gap strategy.

It is in the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody which has at their heart, as Professor Megan Davis said last week, the need to address “the structural powerlessness that renders Indigenous voices silent” in our nation.

It is time to end that silence. And it is time for governments to hear us.

Part 2 :  Marching for truth and justice

Last weekend, we acknowledged that shared pain, and once more we as Indigenous Peoples led the call for justice in Australia.

When we saw the treatment of George – we connected with those images and trauma on many levels and wanted to show solidarity and shared lived experience.

I am proud that tens of thousands of Australians joined #BlackLivesMatter marches around the country. Despite the Prime Minister and public health officials warning people not to attend. Despite the threat of fines and arrests. Despite an effort to ban the Sydney protest.

My husband, and my family joined the marches as did many other Indigenous Peoples and community members.

As we marched, I thought of the legacy of our patient ancestors, and of the 437 Indigenous people who have died in custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was held in the early 1990s. No one has ever been charged.

I thought of the good police officers and wondered if our stance would privilege their voices?

I thought of the many different peoples of colour who come to our shores and are surprised by the ‘casual ‘racism they experience.

I thought also of the nexus between punitive health and justice systems, and the stories of Ms DhuMs Naomi WilliamsMs Tanya Day and David Dungay Junior who died painful and /or violent and preventable deaths.

So many of our people have been hurt and harmed by traumatising systems. Yet it took the death of an African American man in the US to bring so many non-Indigenous Australians out on to the streets.

And even when we called out our heartbreak on the weekend, walking past big department stores in Melbourne, we heard them advising customers over their Public Announcement systems – “they had locked the front doors – for our safety”.

I wondered if this was a common occurrence for marches in Victoria or just black justice marches?

Systemic racism

They were reinforcing the racist profiling and stereotypes that we are violent. Placing the problem with us – rather than calling for action on police and state violence.

It was the same from much of the mainstream media – reflecting the systemic racism within all mainstream systems.

Journalists were putting the hard questions to Indigenous people (asking individuals to speak on behalf of our whole community) about why we were marching. Not putting the hard questions to governments about their failures.

And the day after the march, a prominent TV program held a panel of all-white journalists discussing Black Lives Matter! We have so many Indigenous journalists who are challenging the mainstream narratives.

But the media of course reflects the broader system.

By and large our governments have not responded to #BlackLivesMatter as they should have.

They have denied it’s an Australian issue, trivialised, undermined, vilified, and made #BlackLivesMatter the problem. Even one of our leading health officials told us – weaponised – #AllLivesMatter.

Of course, all lives would matter if Black lives did.

Truth telling matters

Our Prime Minister today said Black Lives Matter protesters should be charged if they attend further marches. He also said, “there was no slavery in Australia”.

As some of our leading academics politely put it, this statement is “at odds with the historical record!”

Our children were removed from families and put to service as domestic labour. Aboriginal pastoral workers were bought and sold in chains. Thousands of Aboriginal families were unable to benefit from economic equity with their wages being withheld well into the 70s and still to this day have not been compensated for their loss.

In some communities people were paid via rations of the worst nutritional kind – feeding Aboriginal people white flour, tobacco, refined sugar and alcohol. This resulted in third world health status in a first world county – disability, chronic illness and physical distress.

Tens of thousands of Pacific Islanders brought to Australia and enslaved to work in sugar plantations – what we call “blackbirding”.

In conclusion, international solidarity is key. And we must always start with self-examination and opportunities to be anti-racists, then we can focus on the structures we work within and influence.

I would like to see the Atlantic Fellowship issue a strong statement about historical and contemporary truth telling, and long term planned action with specific calls to governments, media, powerful sectors like the health and medical sector, businesses, universities and wider civil society.

Thank you for your bravery and solidarity brothers and sisters.

  • Dr Janine Mohamed is CEO of the Lowitja Institute and Chair of Croakey Health Media

PostScript: Prime Minister Scott Morrison today apologised for his incorrect comments on slavery.

 

 

 

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 80 : June 12 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : Message update from our NACCHO CEO Pat Turner on COVID-19 advice for #BlackLivesMatter protesters

“Mass gatherings where people are close together are high-risk for spreading COVID-19 ”

Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

Download full press release here

“It has been recognised that COVID-19 poses a serious risk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people due to higher levels of chronic conditions especially those aged 50 years and older.

“The specific advice of all health authorities is that while COVID-19 remains in Australia that everyone should take precautions including the social distancing and hygiene practices,” she said.

“People with coronavirus can spread the virus for at least 48 hours before showing symptoms. Those who attended the rally should take every precaution they can in terms of practical measures to protect themselves and their families.

“It is important you continue with social distancing, regular hand washing and cough hygiene. If you can, avoid contact with Elders and with people with chronic medical conditions as these people are at much higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness if they get infected.

If you develop even the mildest of symptoms, stay home and get a COVID-19 test. The symptoms that warrant a COVID-19 test include a sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, chills, night sweats or a temperature over 37.5°C.

“As per government’s health advice, people who marched don’t need to isolate unless they felt sick, in which case, they should get tested. The earlier we pick up infections, the quicker we can move to prevent further spread.”

Aboriginal Health and #BlackLivesMatter News Alerts : Aboriginal deaths in custody with commentary from Pat Turner , Helen Milroy , Marcia Langton , @KenWyattMP @David_Speers @GayaaDhuwi @pat_dudgeon @SenatorDodson

1.1 NACCHO COVID-19 advice to Black Lives Matter protesters.

1.2 VACCHO press release responding to a Black Lives Matter protester testing COVID-19 positive.

1.3 Aboriginal Deaths in custody : Black Lives Matter referred to 432 deaths : its now 437 !

2.Listen to Pat Turner podcast canvassing both causes and solutions, advocating major changes to the justice system.

3.Minister Ken Wyatt press release: Indigenous incarceration rates

4. Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia welcomes reports of Australian governments adopting Indigenous incarceration Closing the Gap targets.

5. View Senator Patrick Dodson speech plus download Senate debate Black lives Matter.

6.Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and hearing loss.

7. Watch Professor Marcia Langton AO and Black Lives Matter video.

8. ABC’s David Speers Black Lives Matter and slavery

1.1 NACCHO COVID-19 advice to Black Lives Matter protesters.

Click here for advice

1.2 VACCHO press release responding to a Black Lives Matter protester testing COVID-19 positive.

Last week, VACCHO supported a harm minimisation approach to the peaceful protests. We recognised that large crowds were likely to congregate in Melbourne’s CBD regardless of any discouragement.  We wanted to ensure those deciding to attend, could do this as safely as possible.

Our messaging to those who decided to go to the rally was loud and clear; say home if unwell or vulnerable, have chronic conditions, or care for anyone who does; be sensible and wear face masks, bring sanitisers and wash your hands; and maintain safe distance of 1.5 meters apart.

Today, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, announced that a non-Aboriginal man in his thirties who attended the BLM rally held in Melbourne, has tested positive to COVID-19. Victoria reported another 7 cases overnight. These 7 cases are not linked or traced back to the rally.

Brett Sutton also advised that this man, who wore a mask at the rally, showed no symptoms Saturday. Mr Sutton reaffirmed that he was diagnosed 24 hours following the rally, meaning it was ‘highly unlikely’ that he caught the virus there.

Normally people show symptoms 4-6 days after being exposed to the virus. Currently, 179 of the 1,699 cases of COVID-19 are linked to cases of community transmission in Victoria which are unable to be traced back to a known source.

Read full Press Release HERE

1.3 Aboriginal Deaths in custody : Black Lives Matter referred to 432 deaths : its now 437 !

Last weekend, Black Lives Matter protests brought thousands on to the streets campaigning for an end to Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Many signs at rallies referred to the 432 deaths that are known to have happened since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody delivered its final report in 1991.

That figure is based on Guardian Australia’s findings from a two-year long project to monitor Aboriginal deaths in custody, Deaths Inside.

We updated the database and published new results on Saturday. We found the number had risen to 434.

But by Saturday morning even that number was already out of date. Just before marches began in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and towns around the country, the department of corrective services in Western Australia confirmed that a 40-year-old Aboriginal man had died in custody at Acacia prison, near Perth.

Read full article HERE

2.Listen to Pat Turner podcast canvassing both causes and solutions, advocating major changes to the justice system

Pat Turner, for decades a strong Aboriginal voice, is the lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, which brings together about 50 Indigenous community peak organisations. In this role she is part of the negotiations for a new agreement on Closing the Gap targets.

Unlike the original Rudd government targets, the refreshed Closing the Gap agreement, soon to be finalised, will set out targets for progress on justice and housing.

But the issue is, how much progress should be the aim?

Read this Pat Turner interview HERE

“We want to push the percentages of achievement much higher, but we are in a consensus decision-making process with governments … what the targets will reflect is what the governments themselves are prepared to commit to,” Turner says.

The Australian Black Lives Matter marches have focused attention on the very high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal people, often for trivial matters.

In this podcast Turner canvasses both causes and solutions, advocating major changes to the justice system.

She points to “huge issues with drug and alcohol abuse”, with inadequate resourcing to deal with these problems.

She urges reform for sentencing arrangements for those charged with minor offences, criticising a system which imprisons people who cannot pay fines, or post bail. “It would be less expensive overall for the jurisdictions, and it would more beneficial to the community [if those people weren’t in prison]”. And she identifies the “the over-incarceration of women [as] a major concern.”

Among the changes needed, she says, is better training of police.

“Now I’m not saying that all the police behave badly – we have got outstanding examples of how the police work with our communities.” But “we just can’t wait for ad hoc ‘good guys’ to come out of the system and engage properly – we need wholesale reform of the police departments.”

Listen Here

3.Minister Ken Wyatt press release: Indigenous incarceration rates

” The Federal  Government is progressing with the Closing the Gap refresh in partnership with the Coalition of Peaks, and while we’re still in final negotiations, it has been agreed that there will be justice targets contained within that agreement that focus on incarceration rates.

What’s important is that this Agreement has been developed in Partnership with Indigenous Australians and so we’re all working towards better outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I will keep on working to empower Indigenous Australians – improve health, education and employment outcomes – and reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in custody.

Minister Ken Wyatt Press Release:

Every death in custody is a tragedy.

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution and no single answer.

Through all the work I do as Minister for Indigenous Australian we’re working to address the factors that contribute to high incarceration rates – these include health, education and employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

If we want to reduce the number of deaths in custody we need to look very closely at what’s happening here in Australia – the factors contributing to incarceration rates and the way in which our systems are handling these incidents – this requires a co-operative approach between government and with communities, particularly when States and Territories hold the policies and levers relating to policing and justice matters.

The relationship between Indigenous Australians and the police, both the good and the bad, in respective jurisdictions must also be examined.

The Morrison Government, through the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), is playing a key role in ensuring that there are additional protections in place for individuals when they are taken into custody through the Custody Notification System (CNS).

But we also need to remember that reducing the number of Indigenous people in contact with the justice system, through addressing the underlying factors that lead to offending, is just as key in addressing the number of deaths in custody.

So we should be looking at these things every day – that’s why we fund a range of activities to complement State and Territories to improve justice and community safety outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

It takes more than money – it takes commitment – it takes listening and understanding, and it takes us working together.

4. Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia welcomes reports of Australian governments adopting Indigenous incarceration Closing the Gap targets.

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia welcomed today’s reports of Australian governments adopting Indigenous incarceration Closing the Gap targets.

Noting that Indigenous Australians are almost ten times proportionally overrepresented in prison, Professor Tom Calma AO, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Patron, said:

The 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was a response to too many Indigenous Australians being in jail, and dying in jail and in police custody. That this crisis is worse, not better, in 2020 is a scandal.

The legacies of colonisation: structural racism, poverty and social exclusion are at the root of the high rates of imprisonment we suffer. All these must be addressed along with policing and sentencing reform as set out in the Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2018 Pathways to Justice Report.

But in the shorter term, we must also address the pathways to prison that the resulting untreated trauma, mental health and alcohol and drug problems create for our people.

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Chair Professor Helen Milroy continued:

We know that high rates of trauma, mental health issues and alcohol use are reported in Indigenous prisoners at the time of their offending, but also that – for many – prison is the first time they get any kind of mental health or other support. Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia calls on Australian governments to work together with us to develop a comprehensive mental health focused, justice reinvestment based strategic response to reducing Indigenous imprisonment rates.

This would feature integrated communitybased mental health, AOD and diversionary programs, continuing mental health support in prison, and – upon release – continuity of care to prevent recidivism and to support the reintegration of our people back into our families and communities.

Professor Pat Dudgeon, National Director of the Centre of Best Practice in Indigenous Suicide Prevention and Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia director, added:

Black lives do matter. And in addition to other causes of death in custody, we know that both the stress of pending court cases and the challenges of post-release life contributes to suicides among us, something often forgotten by policy makers. It is critical that diversionary programs and Indigenous prisoner mental health support are also considered within integrated approaches to suicide prevention among us.

Professor Calma closed by stating:

Over a decade ago as Social Justice Commissioner, I called for the development of Closing the Gap targets to reduce our incarceration rates, and for a justice reinvestment approach to doing so.

I repeat these calls today. Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia aims to implement the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration’s Vision of Indigenous leadership delivering the best possible mental health system and standard of mental health to Indigenous Australians.

The organisation stands ready to lead and partner with stakeholders and Australian governments to develop a comprehensive mental health based strategic response to help close the imprisonment rate gap.

5. View Senator Patrick Dodson speech plus download Senate debate Black Lives Matter

Download Senate debate Black lives Matter

Black lives matter debate in Senate

6.Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and hearing loss

Download Report HERE

Hearing Loss

Read previous other report HERE 

7. Watch Professor Marcia Langton AO and Black Lives Matter video.

8. ABC’s David Speers Black Lives Matter and slavery

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 79 : June 11 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : 1.#COVID19 advice for #BlackLivesMatter protestors 2. New $24.2 million @headspace_aus mental health services funding for young people aged 12–25

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lives Matter: Many thousands of people around the country gathered in public places to give that message loud and clear over the weekend.

This has been followed by some mixed messages about the risks of catching COVID-19 and who needs to be tested.

Through following the health messages below, we can continue to keep COVID-19 infections low amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all Australians.

1.People with coronavirus can spread the virus for at least 48 hours before showing symptoms. This is why it is important you continue with social distancing, regular hand washing and cough hygiene.If you can, avoid contact with Elders and with people with chronic medical conditions as these people are at much higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness if they get infected.

2.If you develop even the mildest of symptoms, stay home and get a COVID-19 test. The symptoms that warrant a COVID-19 test include a sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, chills, night sweats or a temperature over 37.5°C. The earlier we pick up infections, the quicker we can move to prevent further spread.

3.Testing is only recommended for people with symptoms.

Part 2 : Press Release : The Australian Government announced an additional $24 million in funding , to expand headspace services and reduce wait times for young people seeking mental health support.

The Federal Government is investing $24.2 million to reduce wait times – fast tracking access to mental health services for young people aged 12–25 seeking headspace appointments.

Mental health and suicide prevention remains one of our Government’s highest priorities.

One in four young Australians are affected by a mental health illness every year, and as we battle COVID-19 it’s more important than ever that we prioritise mental health.

The disruption to normal life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the required restrictions has had profound impacts on young Australians.

Funding will go to Primary Health Networks (PHNs) in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and headspace National.

Services provided through headspace centres are a safe place to turn to, somewhere young people can get professional help, peer support and feel comfortable enough to tackle their challenges in a way that is right for them.

headspace provides access to free or low cost youth-friendly, primary mental health services with a single entry point to holistic care in four key areas—mental health, related physical health, substance misuse, and social and vocational support.

Prior to the pandemic, headspace service centres were experiencing high demand across the country.

Our Government’s investment will ensure young Australians can get information, advice, understanding, counselling and treatment, when and where they need it.

Individual grants of up to $2 million will improve facilities, access and reduce waiting times at headspace services commissioned by PHNs.

The headspace Demand Management and Enhancement Program is an investment of $152 million over seven years from 2018-19 by the Morrison Government to reduce wait times at headspace services.

The headspace services which will receive funding through this grant opportunity are:

State/Territory headspace Service
New South Wales Bankstown, Bondi Junction, Camperdown, Dubbo, Griffith, Hurstville, Lismore, Lithgow, Liverpool, Maitland, Miranda, Nowra, Orange, Penrith, Port Macquarie, Queanbeyan, Tamworth, Tweed Heads, Wagga Wagga and Wollongong
Victoria Albury-Wodonga, Bairnsdale, Bendigo, Geelong, Greensborough, Shepparton, Werribee and Wonthaggi
Queensland Bundaberg, Capalaba, Hervey Bay, Inala, Maroochydore, Nundah, Rockhampton, Southport, Townsville and Warwick
South Australia Berri, Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge and Port Augusta
Tasmania Hobart and Launceston
ACT Canberra

Our Government continues to demonstrate its firm commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.

Children, young people and their families have been identified as a vulnerable population in the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan.

We know this group will experience the impact of the social and economic outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic the most.

Through record investments in mental health services and support, the Morrison Government will invest an estimated $5.2 billion this year alone.

Since the beginning of the year, our Government has provided $8 billion as part of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) National Health Plan, which is supporting primary care, aged care, hospitals, research and the national medical stockpile.

This includes an additional $500 million for mental health services and support, including $64 million for suicide prevention, $74 million for preventative mental health services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and $48 million to support the pandemic response plan.

Next COVID-19 Webinar

A reminder too that our next webinar on the COVID-19 response for mental health will be held on Wednesday 17 June, 11am – 11:30am AEST. We hope to see you then and, as always, you can catch up on all previous webinars on-demand.

COVID webinar survey

If you have also been one of the thousands of practitioners who have watched our COVID-19 webinars then we are especially grateful for your engagement. The questions and comments have helped shape the information we have been providing.

To make sure our communication activities continue to be useful as we enter the next phase of the pandemic response, we would like your feedback. Your responses will be anonymous, and should take less than 5 minutes to complete. We appreciate your time is extremely valuable.

This link will remain open until COB Tuesday 16 June.

Take survey HERE

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 78 : June 5 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : Top 10 #COVID19 News Alerts including download the NACCHO AHCWA submission to Senate hearing Governments response to COVID-19 response : And #BlackLivesMatter Support

1.Download the NACCHO submission to Senate hearing Governments response to COVID-19 response.

2.The “Unsung” Impacts of COVID-19 on the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in Western Australia. Download

3.Full transcript this weeks Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 – Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indigenous health.

4.Updated list of operational ACCHO GPRC’s as at June 4

5.Minister Ken Wyatt opens Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service’s Respiratory Clinic in Perth .

6. KAMS ACCHO rolls out first COVID-19 point of care testing site in Kimberley.

7.WA Journey to health and healing video.

8. Summary of national easing of restrictions plus roadmap to easing restrictions in Queensland remote communities.

9.Download the COVIDSafe app : What you need to know about the #COVIDSafe app and how the app will help protect our communities.

10. ACCHO’s support Black Lives Matter marches in Brisbane and Melbourne by providing masks and hand sanitiser

1.Download the NACCHO submission to Senate hearing Governments response to COVID-19 response.

The COVID-19 virus has exposed the vulnerability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to pandemics.

Generations of systemic and ongoing provision of inadequate housing and infrastructure, overcrowding, and social disadvantage, and the high prevalence of comorbidities among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people contribute to higher mortality in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Over 50% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have one or more chronic diseases which places them at high risk of serious COVID-19 infection.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, these factors make Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people one of the most vulnerable populations to the COVID-19 virus.

If COVID-19 gets into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the consequences could be catastrophic.

Download the full submission and all recommendations HERE

The Australian Government, along with its counterparts in the States and Territories, has recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are highly vulnerable and that it would be catastrophic if the COVID-19 virus was to spread to communities. This same recognition did not occur with the 2009 H1N1 influenza epidemic, during which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples suffered a death rate of more than four times higher than non-indigenous Australians1,2.

The high level of collaboration by the National Cabinet has been instrumental in achieving the low number of COVID-19 cases among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, together with the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across our health sector and Ms Pat Turner’s leadership on negotiating a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

2.The “Unsung” Impacts of COVID-19 on the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in Western Australia. Download

Download full AHCWA COVID-19 submission HERE

COVID-19 AHCWA & WA ACCHS summary

3.Full transcript this weeks Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 – Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indigenous health.

Senator McCARTHY: Could I go to funding for mental health. The government has allocated $3 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people for mental health through PHNs. I want to understand the process in which the government provided funding for mental health and why it’s gone to PHNs.

Mr Matthews: First Assistant Secretary, Indigenous Health, Department of Health

We don’t have anyone here from our mental health area, but I think you’re referring to the recent announcement around mental health, which did include $3½ million for Indigenous mental health, which will flow through the Primary Health Networks. So that will be injected into there. A significant amount of the Indigenous mental health funding does run through the PHNs, so that is a strengthening of an existing framework; it injects further funding into that system. The details will be worked through with the PHNs for the PHNs to use flexibly in providing mental health support in the regions.

Senator McCARTHY: It’s going through the PHNs. Why is it that it didn’t it go through the ACCHOs?

Mr Matthews: As I said, that one is a decision—it’s just the way the funding has worked. A lot of the mental health funding does run through the PHNs currently. The mental health work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people does work through PHNs now, so it is an additional injection into that existing process, noting that, obviously, a lot of what the PHNs do is to make arrangements with ACCHOs and Aboriginal community controlled health services locally. Quite a reasonable proportion of the funding does go to ACCHOs. Obviously, the sector has—for some time, I think—been looking to ask questions around those arrangements. That discussion is ongoing with government. But, at the moment, that is an additional injection into the existing funding.

Senator McCARTHY: Did funding for mental health in response to the bushfires go to the ACCHOs or to NACCHO?

Mr Matthews: There was funding, in the bushfire context, that did go directly to the Aboriginal community controlled sector. That was to support a limited number of areas that were directly affected by the bushfires. At the time, going through those Aboriginal community controlled health services was seen as the fastest way to provide support into those areas.

Senator McCARTHY: So you’re saying that, on one hand, you’re strengthening the system by going through PHNs when, in actual fact, you already had a precedent set by sending the mental health funding directly to the ACCHOs, yet you’re not doing it in this situation where it’s even faster for ACCHOs to be dealing directly with First Nations people as opposed to PHNs.

Mr Matthews: I think that, obviously, the majority of the mental health funding does run through the PHN system at the moment. There was some funding, in the bushfire context, provided directly through to the ACCHOs, but, as I said, it was a decision of government for the $3½ million to go into and through the PHN network, noting that a large amount of the money does find a way through to the Aboriginal community controlled sector through the PHNs. As I said, there is an ongoing discussion where the community controlled sector is seeking to discuss those arrangements more broadly. I’m sure that discussion will continue with government.

Download the full 3 hour transcript 

Senate Hearing COVID19 and Indigenous Health

4.Updated list of operational ACCHO GPRC’s as at June 4

5. Minister Ken Wyatt opens Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service’s Respiratory Clinic in Perth .

The first Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Respiratory Clinic opened Tuesday in the Derbarl Maddington Clinic, as part of the Australian Government’s $2.4 billion health package response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Derbarl provides holistic and culturally responsive health care to more than 10,000 active Aboriginal patients in the Perth metropolitan area.

Respiratory disease accounts for 8% of the burden of disease, and is the third leading cause of death for Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people are more than five times more likely to be hospitalised for influenza-related illnesses than non-Aboriginal people, with the highest rate of hospitalisation in children less than five years of age. Derbarl treats more than 1,500 patients each year with chronic respiratory illnesses alone.

The opening of the respiratory clinic is therefore fundamental to meeting the health needs of Aboriginal people.

Chairperson of Derbarl Yerrigan, Ms Francine Eades said “Considering these alarming statistics, I am pleased that Derbarl responded to the opportunity to provide this vital service to our patients and the wider community.

We have joined the growing number of Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Services delivering GP-led respiratory clinics to our people.”

Download read full press release

DYHS Media Release – Maddington Respiratory Clinic Opening (1)

6.KAMS rolls out first COVID-19 point of care testing site in Kimberley.

KAMS CEO, Vicki O’Donnell, is excited to be the first service in the country to offer this testing capability.

“This will be a game changer for our communities. The fact that we will have an immediate test result will save us having to transport people to Broome, where they are separated from family and friends while they await their test result,” O’Donnell said.

“The new point of care tests will allow us to undertake contact tracing with that individual while they wait the 45 minutes for their test outcome.”

“If their result returns negative, they can be treated for the condition they presented at the clinic with and return home. If their result returns positive, we can make an immediate start on contacting anybody they have been in contact with.”

O’Donnell thanked the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Commonwealth Indigenous Health Division, with particular regard to Dr Lucas De Toca and his team. She also extended thanks to the Kirby Institute, whose support enabled the roll out of the point of care testing GeneXpert machines.

Read full article here 

7.WA Journey to health and wellbeing video.

8. Summary of national easing of restrictions plus roadmap to easing restrictions in Queensland remote communities.

Updated June 5 Western Australia will join the Northern Territory in lifting travel restrictions across remote communities on Friday, 5 June 2020.

The Australian Government has taken this action in response to a request by the Deputy
Premier and Minister for Health and Mental Health of Western Australia, The Hon. Roger
Cook MLA, to lift the restrictions currently in place through the Emergency Determination
under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

See Minister Ken Wyatt press release

WA

9.Download the COVIDSafe app : What you need to know about the #COVIDSafe app and how the app will help protect our communities.

10. ACCHO’s support Black Lives Matter marches in Brisbane and Melbourne by providing masks and hand sanitiser

Thanks to the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc, Victorian Aboriginal Health Service -VAHS Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council and The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health they able to support the BlacK Lives Matter march in  Melbourne and Brisbane by providing masks and hand sanitiser.
For all the mob in Melbourne VAHS will be present for tomorrow’s Black Lives Matter rally to hand out face masks and hand sanitisers to make sure we take a harm minimisation approach.

For the Melbourne mob : Come see VAHS Staff between 12pm to 2pm, next to Sir Doug Nicholls and Lady Nicholls statue in Parliament Gardens to receive free face masks