NACCHO Aboriginal Health #disability and @NDIS : Your Top 10 Questions answered about the National Disability Insurance Scheme

What is the NDIS?

Will the NDIS mean more or less support?

Is the NDIS diagnosis based or needs based?

Am I eligible for the NDIS?

Where is the NDIS available now?

What supports does the NDIS cover?

How does the NDIS process work?

I have an NDIS plan. What’s next?

When will the NDIS be here for all Australians?

Where can we get more help

Full details below or download Help Guide Here :

NDIS your Questions answered Download

By any measure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities are some of the most disadvantaged Australians, often facing multiple barriers to their meaningful participation within their own communities and the wider community.

The prevalence of disability amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is significantly higher than the general population. The Productivity Commission’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report released mid- November 2014, highlighted that almost half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population have some form of disability or long term health condition, twice the prevalence of disability experienced by other Australians.

The First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) welcomes the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and recognises its huge potential to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people greater access to disability support “

Damian Griffis is the CEO of the First Peoples Disability Network, an national organisation of and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities with lived experience of disability.

Ten-point plan for the implementation of the NDIS in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities HERE

See full article here or 2 below

  ” The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is the most significant policy reform for people with a disability since the Disability Services Act 1986 (DSA). The NDIS has proven potential to enable people with disabilities to live good lives.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) reports that around 5% of NDIS participants are of Indigenous heritage.

The NDIA has branded the new scheme as a way of expanding individual and family choice in the services and supports people with disabilities can access. As we have noted previously, individual ‘choice’ requires ‘opportunities’ to exist in local communities. The more remote or rural a community the fewer opportunities available. As such, limited ‘opportunities’ in communities lead to limited ‘choice’ for Indigenous people with disability on NDIS plans who live in rural or remote communities.”

Dr John Gilroy and Associate Professor Jennifer Smith-Merry’s 

Originally published in Croakey  see full article 1 below

Dr John Gilroy is a Koori man from the Yuin Nation, and a doctor of sociology in Indigenous health, specialising in disability studies.

Every Australian Counts

NDIS: Your Questions Answered

The NDIS was launched in trial sites on 1 July 2013. The Scheme is being progressively rolled out over the next few years across Australia. In each State or Territory, the roll out will be staged to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible. Everyone who needs the NDIS will have access by 2020.

Download the Every Australian Counts NDIS: Your Questions Answered

NDIS your Questions answered Download

Endeavour Foundation Discover. This guide has been developed for individuals, families and people with an intellectual disability who are about to navigate the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).Note not an NDIS publication

NDIS 168 Page

What is the NDIS?

The existing disability system throughout Australia is inefficient, fragmented, unfair, underfunded and leaves most people with disability without the support they need. Plus, people with disability and their families don’t get enough say in the type of supports they receive.

The NDIS stands for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It’s a new government policy that aims to transform the way Australia supports people with permanent and significant disability.

The foundations of the NDIS are built on two key pillars:

It’s a universal system. The NDIS is a national program similar to Medicare. It will provide supports to all eligible Australians ensuring people with disability and their families get the support they need when they need it.

It’s about more choice and control. The NDIS is based on the idea that people with disability and their families should be empowered to set their own goals and choose their own supports. This is achieved by giving them control over their own support budget.

Will the NDIS mean more or less support?

Under the existing disability system around 220,000 Australians receive funded disability supports. Under the NDIS approximately 460,000 people will receive funded supports, and the average support package will almost double from $18,000 to $35,000.

The NDIS is about making sure you have the right support in the right place at the right time to help you participate in the community and economy. If your needs change over time, you can have your plan reviewed and level of support adjusted. You will have complete choice and control over what’s in your plan and who provides your supports so you can make the most of your package.

Is the NDIS diagnosis based or needs based?

Needs based. The NDIS does not have a list of conditions that automatically include or exclude you from support. It’s based on what you need to live a full life, and how much your disability affects your ability to carry out everyday activities. In the case of children, it’s about whether a disability is likely to be permanent or result in a developmental delay.

This is a big change from the existing system where children without a diagnosis often miss out on funding or their parents are forced to lie about their disability to get support.

Am I eligible for the NDIS?

To access the NDIS you must:

have a significant and permanent disability – this includes people with psychosocial disability

be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen on a Protected Special Category Visa

enter the Scheme before you turn 65.

If you’re unsure whether you meet the above criteria, a good yardstick is if you’re currently receiving funded support, you can expect to be eligible for the NDIS. For individuals who may benefit from early intervention, the eligibility criteria to access the NDIS is more flexible.

Where is the NDIS available now?

The NDIS is being introduced in stages throughout Australia. Existing service users and new participants will enter the scheme progressively. Full scheme transition began in July 2016 in many parts of Australia. There’s still a few more years until it will be here for everyone. The best way to find out when the NDIS is coming to you is by visiting the government’s website: www.ndis.gov.au

As the NDIS rolls out, local offices will open. Here are the current office locations:

Australian Capital Territory

Offices in:

Belconnen, Braddon, Tuggeranong and Woden

New South Wales

Offices in:

Bankstown, Batemans Bay, Bega, Blacktown, Campbelltown, Charlestown, Chatswood, Gosford, Katoomba, Liverpool, Maitland, Moree, Newcastle, Parramatta, Penrith, Tamworth, Taree and Windsor.

Northern Territory

Office in:

Tennant Creek

Queensland

Charters Towers, Palm Island and Townsville

South Australia

Offices in:

Elizabeth, Modbury, Murray Bridge, Noarlunga, Port Adelaide and St Marys

Tasmania

Offices in:

Devonport, Hobart and Launceston

Victoria

Offices in:

Colac, Corio, Darebin, Geelong and Greensborough

Western Australia

Midland

What supports does the NDIS cover?

The types of supports you might get include therapies such as physiotherapy, mobility and technological aids and home modifications.

And it’s not just about covering the ‘essentials’ – your plan could include things such as recreational activities, developing skills like shopping or cooking and help with finding a job. No two people are exactly the same, so neither are the supports in their plan. The NDIS is about you living the life you want – not just getting by.

Some of the supports the NDIS will cover include:

Transport assistance

Therapies

Guide & assistance dogs

Case management

Crisis/emergency support

Personal care

Support for community inclusion

Respite

Specialist employment services

Specialist housing support

Domestic assistance

Aids, equipment, home & vehicle modifications

How does the NDIS process work?

Step one to accessing the NDIS is to find out if you are eligible. Remember, under the new system more people with disability will receive funded supports than ever before. If you are already using disability services and supports you will be contacted by the NDIS or a representative when it’s time to transition. Others may need to present proof of disability such as a statement from your doctor explaining your disability and how it affects your life. The Access checklist on the NDIS website is a good place to start; http://www.myplace.ndis.gov.au/ndisstorefront/ndis-access-checklist

Step two is to start the planning process by talking to the NDIS or one of their representatives. The idea is to talk through your support needs and goals together and come up with the best ways that are reasonable and necessary to meet these goals. And you don’t have to do it alone – you can invite a family member or friend or support worker to come along too. Together with the planner you will develop a support package.

Every Australian Counts tip: Think about your planning meeting as the chance to get the most out of your NDIS support package – the more time you spend preparing, the better your plan will be. So before your meeting, think about what you’ll need to live the life you want. It can also be helpful to chat to your family and carers about what’s missing in your current supports, activities and plans.

I have an NDIS plan. What’s next?

At your NDIS planning meetings you will come up with how to put your plan into action. Most importantly, that means coming up with the supports and services you need to live your life to the full.

This means that for the first time ever, you can decide exactly where your supports come from. This can be through the service providers you’re using now, finding completely new ones, or even self-managing your supports – it’s completely up to you!

If you disagree with an NDIS assessment or are unhappy with your support package, you have the right to ask for a review from the NDIS. You also have the right to get an advocate, friend or independent representative to help you out in this process.

Every Australian Counts tip: The NDIS was set up to give you the power to choose your own supports and service providers. You can do your own research or get help from advice and advocacy organisations. It can also be useful to talk to other people with disability, family members or carers about what works or doesn’t work for them. Remember, your plan is not a one-off decision. If or when your needs change, so can your plan.

When will the NDIS be here for all Australians?

The NDIS will be here for all Australians who need it (460,000 people) no later than 30 June 2019. Rollout information and timetables can be found online: www.ndis.gov.au

Ten ways the NDIS will benefit all Australians.

It’s a national system. If you, or someone you love, is born with a disability or acquires one later in life, you all no longer run the risk of falling through holes in Australia’s safety net based on what state or territory you live in.

People with a disability and their families and carers can participate in the social, economic, and cultural life of the nation with the supports and programs they choose.

Families will be able to access support and services for assistance in meeting the needs of their family member with a disability, reducing physical, emotional and financial stress.

The NDIS is based on equality. You will be able to equally access existing services regardless of when and where your disability was acquired.

There will no longer be an expectation of unpaid care as the norm.

As a Medicare-type system, the NDIS will provide people with a disability and their families and carers with the regular care, support, therapy and equipment they need from a secure and consistent pool of funds for these services and support.

It focuses on early intervention and delivering supports which produce the best long term outcomes, maximising opportunities for independence, participation and productivity.

Each NDIS plan is individualised and person-centred. Support is based on the choices of the person with a disability and their family.

The NDIS is fiscally responsible. It is not welfare but an investment in individual capacity leading to more positive results for people with a disability, their families and carers.

All Australians benefit from the NDIS because disability can affect anyone, anytime. Everyone will benefit from a more inclusive, more diverse community. Every Australian Counts will keep you up to date with all the NDIS news, information, stories and experience on our website; everyaustraliancounts.com.au

Where can I find out more?

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

http://fpdn.org.au/

For everybody

www.everyaustraliancounts.com.au

The Every Australian Counts website is an online hub for the disability community that’s packed with useful information, videos and news.

www.ndis.gov.au

The official NDIS website includes an access checklist, factsheets and information to help prepare you for the NDIS.

For people with disability

www.afdo.org.au

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) represents people with disability. They can connect you with advocacy support.

For carers

www.carersaustralia.com.au

Carers Australia is the national peak body representing carers. Through their website you can access carer support and services.

For disability support workers

www.ndp.org.au

Proposed Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation NDIS Network

Localised, community-based services from John Gilroy article

Research shows that Aboriginal community controlled organisations are an essential component of addressing the health and social needs of Indigenous communities. In a recent review of existing community-based mental health services, Jen Smith-Merry found that the services offered for Indigenous people were most successful when developed by local communities or ‘localised’ and adapted carefully (and genuinely) to community needs.

John Gilroy’s research shows the important role of Indigenous community controlled organisations in forming relationships and referral pathways to disability services. These organisations function as the “social glue” between Indigenous communities, and disability and community organisations.

Expressions of Interest

Joe Archibald the NDIS Manager at Galambila ACCHO at Coffs Harbour is looking to establish a network of ACCHO NDIS health workers :

Express interest in this group EMAIL JOE HERE

Contact

NDIS must promote and support community-based programs to meet Indigenous people’s needs.

Dr John Gilroy and Dr Jennifer Smith-Merry write:

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is the most significant policy reform for people with a disability since the Disability Services Act 1986 (DSA). The NDIS has proven potential to enable people with disabilities to live good lives.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) reports that around 5% of NDIS participants are of Indigenous heritage.

The NDIA has branded the new scheme as a way of expanding individual and family choice in the services and supports people with disabilities can access. As we have noted previously, individual ‘choice’ requires ‘opportunities’ to exist in local communities. The more remote or rural a community the fewer opportunities available. As such, limited ‘opportunities’ in communities lead to limited ‘choice’ for Indigenous people with disability on NDIS plans who live in rural or remote communities.

Services, supports and capacity building

The original inquiry into the NDIS identified the importance of a balance between an individualised support system and the block-funding of services and programs to ensure efficient and effective roll-out of the NDIS. The work that we have been involved in supports this view, arguing that Indigenous people should be able to utilise services at their own pace that meet their cultural and personal needs rather than being pushed through a government imposed time-frame.

The government has released the policy framework for NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC), and the subsequent Commissioning Framework. The ILC, formally Tier 2 of the NDIS, provides funding for the development of programs to help connect people with the disability, health and social supports, and services that are appropriate for them. It also supports capacity building for communities, organisations and individuals, that is not tied to a person’s individualised funding package. In doing this, it aims to also offer support for those who are not eligible for individualised funding packages.

Ensuring equal access and resourcing

There is growing concern that services for the most disadvantaged of the population of people with disabilities may become under-resourced or absent in light of the NDIS roll-out. There is much evidence that this disadvantage is heightened by geographic location, such as very remote communities. The ILC has been designed to provide the opportunity for the needs of these groups to be better met, but only if there is a proactive prioritisation of their needs.

Informed by several of our existing research and community projects, below we present some recommendations for the government, regarding the types of block-funded programs and services needed in local Indigenous communities to ensure that they benefit from the NDIS roll-out.

We preface these recommendations with the observation that there is a big problem with the implementation of the ILC, as the funding has been severely curtailed in its first stages. Bruce Bonyhady, former chair of the NDIS, warns that the current funding for community inclusion programs is: “not sufficient and means that one of the key foundations on which the NDIS is being built is weak”. This funding gap needs to be addressed immediately as there will be significant benefit to indigenous communities if the funding targets appropriate areas.

Crisis Intervention Services

Disability services providers have reported that many Indigenous people engage in the formal services system only when the quality or quantity of family and kinship care is depleted. As such, a large proportion of Indigenous people engage in the disability services sector when in a crisis situation.

Crisis services should be made more disability inclusive, and should act as a channel for encouraging the utilisation of appropriate individualised funding package supports. Targeted capacity building programs are also needed, to enable families and kinship groups to provide support. Such programs should be individualised and culturally and contextually appropriate. Block-funded models enable organisations that have established rapport with communities, to deliver such services in a culturally appropriate manner.

Transition support services

While many Indigenous people only engage with services at times of crisis, the impact of the services provided during crises can be sustained as the crisis abates. The most effective way of doing this is by supporting individualised transition support services which help people to re-establish their lives. This could involve connecting people with appropriate individualised support packages or funding of ‘peer support’ or community buddy programs.

Case Management and advocacy services.

Some bureaucrats wrongly use the terms “case management” and “advocacy” synonymously. The major difference between these two service types is that formal advocates are called upon when a person feels that their human rights have been violated. In comparison, case managers are typically called upon to assist people to join up services and supports by navigating the complex bureaucracy of the formal service systems, including health and disability.

It is pivotal to have a balance of these two service types under the NDIS to enable people with disabilities access to supports that foster the protection of their human rights and enable them to navigate the NDIS bureaucracy.

Early Childhood Intervention

There is limited research focused on the needs of Indigenous children with disability. A recent study found that young children with cognitive impairment are at risk of social exclusion, and need interventions to promote inclusion in family and cultural events as they age.

The government has identified early childhood intervention (ECI) as an area for block-funding investment, in recognition that the market-based principles of the NDIS could not work for this service type. ILC block funding can be used for early intervention and allows novel or creative community-based solutions to develop. This will allow the development of services which may meet local needs but are not ‘standard’ service types. Evidence-based practice is great if the evidence is there, but it should not be a straight-jacket, limiting what is possible.

Localised, community-based services

Research shows that Aboriginal community controlled organisations are an essential component of addressing the health and social needs of Indigenous communities. In a recent review of existing community-based mental health services, Jen Smith-Merry found that the services offered for Indigenous people were most successful when developed by local communities or ‘localised’ and adapted carefully (and genuinely) to community needs.

John Gilroy’s research shows the important role of Indigenous community controlled organisations in forming relationships and referral pathways to disability services. These organisations function as the “social glue” between Indigenous communities, and disability and community organisations.

Workforce Training and Development

The efficiency and effectiveness of the NDIS requires a healthy, vibrant workforce. There are many reports examining what the disability services workforce looks like. However, the roll out of the NDIS will completely reshape the workforce.

National Disability Services are managing a workforce development fund to explore ways to build a workforce that can sustain the NDIS. NDS will need to explore ways to build the number and proportion of Indigenous people working in the sector and also explore successful ways to build a workforce that is culturally competent in supporting Indigenous people and their families.

The CEO of First Peoples Disability Network, Damian Griffis, told ABC Lateline in 2015 that Indigenous people are already working as informal disability workers, stating “There are a lot of Indigenous people that by any other definition would be called support workers today, but they need to be valued and respected for that work and they are already in existence.”

Research shows that over 10% of Indigenous people have provided unpaid assistance to a person with a disability. Agencies could pilot approaches to recruit and train family members that balance people’s human rights with individual duty-of-care in the context of the NDIS.

Translation and Interpreter Services

There are many regions of Australia where the English is a second or third language. Notwithstanding that, there are many Indigenous peoples who require hearing or communication supports. Interpreter and translation services are under-resourced and in high need across the country. It would be discriminatory for NDIS users to have to use their packages to access these service types as this would deplete the funding available for other services in comparison with other NDIS participants. These services should instead be funded at a community level either through the ILC or a specialised program.

Foster Social and Cultural Capital Building

There exists plethora of research showing the important role played by Indigenous community controlled organisations in the health and community services sector. Such organisations provide the opportunities needed to bring together Indigenous people with disability to have their voices heard as a collective. For example, the many NDIS specific gatherings around Australia have brought together Indigenous people with disability to share their stories and experiences. This knowledge should be valued and harnessed. One way that this could take place is through ILC funding of community-based peer-support programs.

The roll out of the NDIS has enabled Indigenous community controlled organisations and services to continue working in local communities. Such organisations and services are being supported to provide services and supports under the NDIS in NSW. Block-funding will enable Aboriginal community controlled organisations to continue their role in representing their communities whilst supporting NDIS participants.

Interagency Networks and Engagement

Jen Smith-Merry’s Research to Action Guide produced for the Centre for Applied Disability Research showed that interagency forums do help with linking across organisations and sectors, but that this is most effective when it happens organically and collaboratively rather than being mandated. Through sharing stories and good practice, interagency forums help disparate actors to understand the different practices and knowledges operating in sectors outside of their own.

 There is evidence of a conflict at the interface of the formal service system and Indigenous communities in how disability is defined and conceptualised. A recent report concluded that many Indigenous people find the definition of disability to be stigmatising. Rather than trying to ascertain how Indigenous peoples define disability, the focus of scholarly exploration should be on ways to bridge the cultural interface in how disability is defined and embodied as a social construct.

Great work has been undertaken by National Disability Services, to foster relationship building between the disability services sector and local Indigenous programs, by implementing the principles of interagency commissioning. Sadly, the government did not extend the funding for these networks to continue. This is a significant problem that won’t be immediately fixed by an underfunded ILC.

A healthy balance

The NDIS is a huge win for the disability rights movement. The new scheme provides an opportunity to address the equality and equity gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with disabilities. However, there needs to be a balance between block-funding and the individualised packages provided by the NDIS, so that the scheme can meet its full potential. The examples given here provide some ideas for how ILC funding might work, but only dialogue with consumers and communities will point us truly in the right direction.

*Dr John Gilroy is a Koori man from the Yuin Nation, and a doctor of sociology in Indigenous health, specialising in disability studies. He is a Senior Lecturer and Indigenous Stream Lead at the Centre for Disability Research and Policy, University of Sydney

*Associate Professor Jennifer Smith-Merry’s research focuses on the implementation of policy in service settings, and consumer experiences of this. She is Mental Health Stream Lead at the Centre for Disability Research and Policy, The University of Sydney.

Ten-point plan for the implementation of the NDIS in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities

Introduction

By any measure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are amongst some of the most disadvantaged Australians; often facing multiple barriers to meaningful participation within their own communities and the wider community.

The prevalence of disability amongst Aboriginal and Torres Islander people is significantly higher than of the general population. Until recently, the prevalence of disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has only been anecdotally reported. However, a report by the Commonwealth Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision made the following conclusions:

The proportion of the indigenous population 15 years and over, reporting a disability or long-term health condition was 37 per cent (102 900 people). The proportions were similar in remote and non-remote areas. This measure of disability does not specifically include people with a psychological disability. [note 1]

The high prevalence of disability, approximately twice that of the non-indigenous population, occurs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for a range of social reasons, including poor health care, poor nutrition, exposure to violence and psychological trauma (e.g. arising from removal from family and community) and substance abuse, as well as the breakdown of traditional community structures in some areas. Aboriginal people with disability are significantly over-represented on a population group basis among homeless people, in the criminal and juvenile justice systems[note 2], and in the care and protection system (both as parents and children).[note 3]

The advent of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) presents an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities to engage – many for the first time – with the disability service system in a substantive way. Currently, most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities remain at the periphery of the disability service system. This continues to occur for a range of reasons some of which are well established. However, one factor that remains little understood is the reluctance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities to identify as people with disability. This preference to not identify presents a fundamental barrier for the successful implementation of the NDIS. The First Peoples Disability Network (Australia) (FPDN) argues that it has a central role in addressing not only this fundamental barrier but also in facilitating the roll out of the NDIS more broadly into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

FPDN argues passionately that for positive change to happen in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, the change must be driven by community itself. It cannot be imposed, implied, intervened or developed with well-meaning intention from an external service system that the vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities have little or no experience of in the first place.

Throughout many communities across the country, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are supported and accepted as members of their communities. However, many communities lack the resources to adequately support people with disability. Furthermore, the service system tends to operate from a ‘doing for’ as opposed to ‘doing with’ approach, which only further disenfranchises communities because they simply do not feel that they can self-direct their future. The NDIS does have the potential to address some of these concerns by giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability the opportunity to self-direct their funding, for instance. The challenge in this area will be that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have had little or no experience in self-managing funds.

It must be remembered that in many ways the social movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability is starting from an absolute baseline position. This is reflected, for example, by the fact that few Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have an understanding of the language of the disability service system. It is the view of FPDN that the application of the NDIS in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will need to have a different look and approach to what is advocated for with regard the rest of the Australian population. It may be that the application of the NDIS in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities takes a longer process. But the FPDN argues that it is critical to get it right as it is the experience of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that they are usually the first to be blamed when new programs are not taken up by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

FPDN has developed a 10-point plan for the implementation of the NDIS in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities. The development of this 10 point plan is based upon extensive consultation as well as drawing upon the decade long experience of the FPDN in advocating for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people with disabilities.

The plan was launched in May 2013 at Parliament House, Canberra.

Ten-point plan

  • Recognise that the starting point is the vast majority of Aboriginal people with disability do not self-identify as people with disability. This occurs for a range of reasons including the fact that in traditional languages there are no comparable words for disability. Also, many Aboriginal people with disability are reluctant to take on the label of disability; particularly when they already experience discrimination based on their Aboriginality. In many ways disability is a new conversation in many communities. In these instances the NDIS is starting from a baseline position. As a consequence change in this area is likely to happen on a different timeline to that of the mainstream NDIS.
  • Awareness raising via a concerted outreach approach informing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, their families and communities about their rights and entitlements, and informing Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities about the NDIS itself and how to work this new system effectively. There is no better way to raise awareness then by direct face-to-face consultation. Brochures and pamphlets will not be appropriate as this is a new conversation in many communities.
  • Establish the NDIS Expert Working Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with disability and the NDIS. In recognition of the fact that there is a stand-alone building block for the NDIS focused upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, FPDN views it not only as critical but logical that a specific Expert Working Group be established to focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. The new working group would operate in the same way the four current working groups do, that is it would be chaired by two members of the National People with Disability and Carers Council. To ensure its effectiveness but also critically to influence prominent Aboriginal leaders as well as the disability sector, members would be drawn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in community leadership positions, as well as involving prominent disability leaders. The FPDN believes such an approach is warranted not only because of the degree of unmet need that is well established but also because this has the potential to be a very practical and meaningful partnership between government, the non-government sector, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Build the capacity of the non-Indigenous disability service system to meet the needs of Aboriginal people with disability in a culturally appropriate way. Legislate an additional standard into the Disability Services Act focused upon culturally appropriate service delivery and require disability services to demonstrate their cultural competencies.
  • Conduct research on the prevalence of disability and a range other relevant matters. Critically, this work must be undertaken in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability to ensure a culturally appropriate methodology. There remains very little reference material about disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This needs to be rectified to ensure that we are getting a true picture of the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.
  • Recognise that  a workforce already exists in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that does important work, often informally. This work needs to valued and recognised, with the potential for employment opportunities in some communities.
  • Recognise that it’s not always about services. Many communities just need more resources so that they can continue to meet the needs of their own people with disabilities. There may be perfectly appropriate ways of supporting people already in place, however what is often lacking is access to current technologies or appropriate technical aids or sufficient training for family and community members to provide the optimum level of support.
  • Recruitment of more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the disability service sector.
  • Build the capacity of the social movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with disability by supporting existing networks and building new ones in addition to fostering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders with disability. These networks play a critical role in breaking down stigma that may exist in some communities but are also the conduits for change, and will be integral to the successful implementation of the NDIS in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ‘Launch’ sites focused upon remote, very remote, regional and urban settings. It is critical that this major reform be done right. Therefore it is appropriate to effectively trial its implementation. To this end, FPDN can readily identify key communities that would be appropriate as trial sites.

 

 

Aboriginal Health Events / Workshops #SaveADate : #NDIS ,#Disability #Leadership, #Rural, #Kidneys , #RHD, #Ears

save-a-date

February – May   : NEW : Get NDIS Ready with a Roadshow NSW Launched

2 March  : Disability research within Aboriginal communities : Alice Springs

3 March: AMSANT: APONT Innovating to Succeed Forum – Alice Springs

3 March : The National Indigenous Youth Parliament (NIYP) applications close

5 March: Kidney Health Week Starts

14 March : Western Sydney : Aboriginal Health Services Community Forum –  Rooty Hill NSW

16 March: National Close the Gap Day

16 March Close the Gap Day VISION 2020

22 March: 2017 Indigenous Ear Health Workshop  Adelaide

29 March: RHD Australia Education Workshop Adelaide SA

26- 29 April The 14 th National Rural Health Conference Cairns

29 April:14th World Rural Health Conference Cairns

10 May: National Indigenous Human Rights Awards

26 May :National Sorry day 2017

2-9 July NAIDOC WEEK

If you have a Conference, Workshop or event and wish to share and promote contact

Colin Cowell NACCHO Media Mobile 0401 331 251

Send to NACCHO Media mailto:nacchonews@naccho.org.au

save-a-date

February – May   : Get NDIS Ready with a Roadshow NSW Launched

ndis

The Every Australian Counts team will be hitting the road from March – May presenting NDIS information forums in the NSW regional areas where the NDIS will be rolling out from July.

We’ll be covering topics including:

  • What the NDIS is, why we need it and what it means for you
  • The changes that the NDIS brings and how they will benefit you
  • How to access the NDIS and get the most out of it

These free forums are designed for people with disability, their families and carers, people working in the disability sector and anyone else interested in all things NDIS.

Please register for tickets and notify the team about any access requirements you need assistance with. All the venues are wheelchair accessible and Auslan interpreters can be available if required. Please specify any special requests at the time of booking.

Find the team in the following locations: 

Click on a link above to register online now! 

Every Australian Counts is the campaign that brought about the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Now it is a reality, the team are focused on engaging and educating the disability sector and wider Australian community about the benefits of the NDIS and the options and possibilities that it brings.

 2 March  : Disability research within Aboriginal communities : Alice Springs

Dr John Gilroy, a Koori man from the Yuin Nation of the the South Coast of New South Wales, will be presenting a seminar on disability research in Aboriginal communities in the Rubuntja Building, at the Alice Springs Hospital, Northern Territory (NT), on Thursday 2 March 2017 from 12pm – 1pm.

John, a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney (USYD) and a member of the Poche research family will present his journey from being a client of disability services to becoming one of the leading scholars in disability research within Aboriginal communities. His discussion will touch on disability research and scholarship undertaken with Aboriginal people and its implications for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, including the current disability research projects underway with the Anangu of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) lands

There are limited seats and registration is required, so book by email using contact below.

Contacts

Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Well-being
Ph: (08) 8951 9601
Email:

3 March : The National Indigenous Youth Parliament (NIYP) applications close

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Is your chance to come to Canberra, meet Australia’s leaders, learn about democracy and have your say on important issues. Fifty young Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people will be selected, six from each state and territory and two from the Torres Strait, to come to Canberra for the week-long program

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 to 25 years who are willing to stand up and speak about important issues, work as part of a team, travel to new places, meet new people and learn.

How do I apply?

Complete and submit the online application form below. Applications close Friday 3 March 2017.

Please contact us if you do not receive an email confirmation of your application within 3 days. The AEC accepts no responsibility for lost, damaged or late applications.

All information you provide in your application is managed and stored appropriately in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.

Letter of support

All applications must include a letter of support from your teacher or tutor, employer, coach, youth worker, community leader, family friend or other referee. The letter of support should support the claims made in your application and explain why you are suitable for the NIYP.

Tips for completing this form

  • Write your answers on a document saved to your computer first in case your connection is lost.
  • Have a scanned copy of your letter of support ready to upload with your application.
  • Contact us if you don’t receive an email confirmation within 3 days of submitting this form to make sure we received it.
Apply online now

3 March: AMSANT: APONT Innovating to Succeed Forum – Alice Springs

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Following our successful 2015 AGMP Forum we are pleased to announce the second AGMP Forum will be held at the Alice Springs Convention Centre on 3 March from 9 am to 5 pm. The forum is a free catered event open to senior managers and board members of all Aboriginal organisations across the NT.

Download the Program

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Come along to hear from NT Aboriginal organisations about innovative approaches to strengthen your activities and businesses, be more sustainable and self-determine your success. The forum will be opened by the Chief Minister and there will be opportunities for Q&A discussions with Commonwealth and Northern Territory government representatives.

To register to attend please complete the online registration form, or contact Wes Miller on 8944 6626, Kate Muir on 8959 4623, or email info@agmp.org.au.

5 March: Kidney Health week

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is nearly here! Learn how you can get involved this 5-11 March, and order your free event pack:

14 March : Western Sydney : Aboriginal Health Services Community Forum –  Rooty Hill NSW

WACHS invites Aboriginal community representatives from Western Sydney and the Nepean Blue Mountains region to meet to discuss future directions for Aboriginal health.

Topics will include:

  • Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS)
    – History and background
    – Service support
    – Service programs
  • Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains Project: Service Delivery
    – Funding agreement
    – Structure and staffing
    – Financial and risk management
  • Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains Project: Service Support
    – Community engagement and consultation
    – Infrastructure
    – Identity and recognition

pdfDownload flyer

More information: Anthony Carter, anthonyc@wachs.net.au

Forum transport registration: Rita McKenzie, rita.mckenzie@swahs.com.au

Source

Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service
Aboriginal Health Services Community Forum
14 March 2017, 10.00am–1.00pm
Novotel Hotel, 33 Railway St, Rooty Hill

Cost: Free

16 March Close the Gap Day

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples die 10-17 years younger than other Australians and it’s even worse in some parts of Australia. Register now and hold an activity of your choice in support of health equality across Australia.

Resources

Resource packs will be sent out from 1 February 2017.

We will also have a range of free downloadable resources available on our website

www.oxfam.org.au/closethegapday.

It is still important to register as this contributes to the overall success of the event.

More information and Register your event

16 March Close the Gap Day VISION 2020

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Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne would like to invite people to a two-day national conference on Indigenous eye health and the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision in March 2017. The conference will provide opportunity for discussion and planning for what needs to be done to Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 and is supported by their partners National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Optometry Australia, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists and Vision 2020 Australia.

Collectively, significant progress has been made to improve Indigenous eye health particularly over the past five years and this is an opportunity to reflect on the progress made. The recent National Eye Health Survey found the gap for blindness has been reduced but is still three times higher. The conference will allow people to share the learning from these experiences and plan future activities.

The conference is designed for those working in all aspects of Indigenous eye care: from health workers and practitioners, to regional and jurisdictional organisations. It will include ACCHOs, NGOs, professional bodies and government departments.

The topics to be discussed will include:

  • regional approaches to eye care
  • planning and performance monitoring
  • initiatives and system reforms that address vision loss
  • health promotion and education.

Contacts

Indigenous Eye Health – Minum Barreng
Level 5, 207-221 Bouverie Street
Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
The University of Melbourne
Carlton Vic 3010
Ph: (03) 8344 9320
Email:

Links

22 March2017 Indigenous Ear Health Workshop  in Adelaide

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The 2017 Indigenous Ear Health Workshop to be held in Adelaide in March will focus on Otitis Media (middle ear disease), hearing loss, and its significant impact on the lives of Indigenous children, the community and Indigenous culture in Australia.

The workshop will take place on 22 March 2017 at the Adelaide Convention Centre in Adelaide, South Australia.

The program features keynote addresses by invited speakers who will give presentations aligned with the workshop’s main objectives:

  • To identify and promote methods to strengthen primary prevention and care of Otitis Media (OM).
  • To engage and coordinate all stakeholders in OM management.
  • To summarise current and future research into OM pathogenesis (the manner in which it develops) and management.
  • To present the case for consistent and integrated funding for OM management.

Invited speakers will include paediatricians, public health physicians, ear nose and throat surgeons, Aboriginal health workers, Education Department and a psychologist, with OM and hearing updates from medical, audiological and medical science researchers.

The program will culminate in an address emphasising the need for funding that will provide a consistent and coordinated nationwide approach to managing Indigenous ear health in Australia.

Those interested in attending may include: ENT surgeons, ENT nurses, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, audiologists, rural and regional general surgeons and general practitioners, speech pathologists, teachers, researchers, state and federal government representatives and bureaucrats; in fact anyone interested in Otitis Media.

The workshop is organised by the Australian Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (ASOHNS) and is held just before its Annual Scientific Meeting (23 -26 March 2017). The first IEH workshop was held in Adelaide in 2012 and subsequent workshops were held in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney.

For more information go to the ASOHNS 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting Pre-Meeting Workshops section at http://asm.asohns.org.au/workshops

Or contact:

Mrs Lorna Watson, Chief Executive Officer, ASOHNS Ltd

T: +61 2 9954 5856   or  E info@asohns.org.au

29 March: RHDAustralia Education Workshop Adelaide SA

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Download the PDF brochure sa-workshop-flyer

More information and registrations HERE

26- 29 April The 14 th National Rural Health Conference Cairns c42bfukvcaam3h9

INFO Register

29 April : 14th World Rural Health Conference Cairns

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The conference program features streams based on themes most relevant to all rural and remote health practitioners. These include Social and environmental determinants of health; Leadership, Education and Workforce; Social Accountability and Social Capital, and Rural Clinical Practices: people and services.

Download the program here : rural-health-conference-program-no-spreads

The program includes plenary/keynote sessions, concurrent sessions and poster presentations. The program will also include clinical sessions to provide skill development and ongoing professional development opportunities :

Information Registrations HERE

10 May: National Indigenous Human Rights Awards

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” The National Indigenous Human Rights Awards recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons who have made significant contribution to the advancement of human rights and social justice for their people.”

To nominate someone for one of the three awards, please go to https://shaoquett.wufoo.com/forms/z4qw7zc1i3yvw6/
 
For further information, please also check out the Awards Guide at https://www.scribd.com/document/336434563/2017-National-Indigenous-Human-Rights-Awards-Guide
26 May :National Sorry day 2017
 
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The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998 – one year after the tabling of the report Bringing them Home, May 1997. The report was the result of an inquiry by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission into the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.
2-9 July NAIDOC WEEK
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The importance, resilience and richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages will be the focus of national celebrations marking NAIDOC Week 2017.

The 2017 theme – Our Languages Matter – aims to emphasise and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.

More info about events

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Disability support : Ombudsman publishes report on Accessibility of Disability Support Pension for remote Indigenous Australians

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 ” This report focuses on the experiences of one particular vulnerable group—Indigenous people living in remote areas. Remote Indigenous Australians face significant disadvantage and unique cultural barriers in accessing a range of government services, including DSP.

The qualification criteria for DSP set a high bar and the claim process is rigorous. Even those applicants who are familiar with the income support and health systems say they find the DSP claim process complex, lengthy and confusing.

Complaints made to our office, along with the anecdotal feedback provided by peak bodies, advocates and community organisations, show that Indigenous people living in rural and remote Australia experience particular difficulty in preparing applications for DSP and meeting the high standard of evidence. “

Download the report here :

accessibility-of-dsp-for-remote-indigenous-australians_final-report

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 ” FPDN’s vision is a just and inclusive society, in which First Peoples living with disability are respected and valued for their culture, history and contribution to contemporary life, and in which their human rights are recognised, respected, protected and fulfilled.

First Peoples Disability Network is governed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with disability. FPDN is a member of the Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO) alliance.”

Check out FPDN website

Press Release

Commonwealth Ombudsman, Colin Neave AM, released his report today into the accessibility of Disability Support Pension (DSP) for remote Indigenous Australians.

The Ombudsman’s inquiry responded to complaints from Indigenous Australians living in remote areas who were experiencing issues claiming DSP and with the assessment processes used by the Department of Human Services (DHS).

“We found remote Indigenous Australians face several barriers when claiming DSP. It is harder to access medical services, get appropriate medical evidence to support their claims and engage with DHS’s job capacity and medical assessment processes,” Mr Neave said.

The Ombudsman has made a number of recommendations which seek to address these issues.

From Page 31

5.1 Indigenous Australians living in remote areas face significant barriers in accessing DSP, including:

  •  difficulties in accessing appropriate health care
  •  problems obtaining medical evidence from treating doctors and specialists to support their claims
  •  being disadvantaged by not having face-to-face JCAs and DMAs
  •  a differing concept of ‘disability’
  •  difficulties discussing conditions and their functional impact with health professionals in a meaningful way, due to language and cultural barriers.

5.2 The recommendations made in this report are intended to address some of the most significant challenges we consider remote Indigenous Australians face in:

  •  collecting evidence
  •  preparing applications
  •  accessing, and participating in, JCAs and DMAs
  •  anticipating the need for and accessing a program of support where required

“We have recommended ways to improve administration and reduce accessibility barriers facing remote Indigenous DSP claimants. These include recommendations about the way assessments are carried out, the information sought from and given to treating health professionals and better information about DSP eligibility requirements.”

Overall, DHS and the Department of Social Services (DSS), which is responsible for the relevant legislation and policy, responded positively to the investigation, agreeing to all recommendations.

“DHS is taking steps to improve its DSP assessment processes for remote Indigenous Australians, but more needs to be done,” Mr Neave said.

The assistance received from DHS throughout the investigation and report drafting process was also acknowledged by the Ombudsman.

Mr Neave said the Ombudsman’s office would continue to work closely with DHS to monitor the implementation of the recommendations in this report

Executive summary

Over the past twelve months the Ombudsman’s office has investigated a number of cases in which Indigenous people and their advocates have complained about decisions to refuse Disability Support Pension (DSP) claims. We do not usually investigate where, as in most of those cases, a complainant has a right of review. However, the focus of these complaints was the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) assessment process.

The complainants argued that their medical impairments were not properly or appropriately assessed. We decided to investigate their circumstances and examine DHS’s approach.

Over recent years the qualification criteria for the DSP has been significantly revised and tightened. While it is not the role of the Ombudsman’s office to comment on the merits of government policy, it is appropriate that we are alert to situations where the practical application of a policy has unintended consequences.

This includes the potential to create inequitable access or outcomes that are inconsistent with legislative intent and do not reflect the principles of good administrative decision making.

We acknowledge that DHS assesses over 100,000 DSP claims per year. The majority of these are processed without significant cause for complaint by claimants.

However, the experience of the majority should not necessarily be taken as an indication that the process is working for the most vulnerable in the community.

This report focuses on the experiences of one particular vulnerable group—Indigenous people living in remote areas. Remote Indigenous Australians face significant disadvantage and unique cultural barriers in accessing a range of government services, including DSP.

The qualification criteria for DSP set a high bar and the claim process is rigorous. Even those applicants who are familiar with the income support and health systems say they find the DSP claim process complex, lengthy and confusing.

Complaints made to our office, along with the anecdotal feedback provided by peak bodies, advocates and community organisations, show that Indigenous people living in rural and remote Australia experience particular difficulty in preparing applications for DSP and meeting the high standard of evidence required by social security law.

This report centres on complaints about the DSP claim process and uses them to illustrate some of the common challenges Indigenous people living in remote areas of Australia face when making DSP claims. The report provides a snapshot of areas where the DSP assessment process has fallen short.

Although the number of complaints we receive about DSP is small compared to the total number of DSP claims, the challenges faced by remote Indigenous Australians in navigating the DSP claim process are real and the impact of these challenges can be disproportionately large, given the claimants’ particular vulnerabilities.

We acknowledge the initiatives DHS has implemented to improve access to DSP for remote Indigenous Australians. Despite these efforts, we continue to receive similar complaints at the time of publishing this report. The complaints suggest there remains a gap between DHS’s service delivery commitments and the reality experienced by Indigenous people in remote areas.

The report makes recommendations about the job capacity and medical assessment processes, including the way the assessments are carried out and the information given to Commonwealth Ombudsman—Department of Human Services: Accessibility of Disability Support Pension for remote Indigenous Australians and sought from medical professionals providing reports for DSP claims.

We have recommended steps to increase awareness of the eligibility requirements for DSP, including the need for some applicants to have participated in a ‘program of support’. Given the recent changes to the DSP claim process and the programs of continuous improvement which DHS has outlined in response to our investigation, we have also recommended that the department establishes an implementation, monitoring and evaluation framework to assess the effectiveness of those changes.

Our office will continue to work closely with DHS to monitor the implementation of the recommendations in this report

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #JustJustice – Accessing Justice for Aboriginal People with Disabilities

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“It’s clear we need to change to law to prevent indefinite detention, but we also need to make sure the supports are available on the ground. People with disabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system need to be connected to appropriate support,

 “This is especially the case for young people with disabilities in contact with the criminal justice system. We should be intervening as early as possible in a child’s life to identify and address disabilities, and support their parents to care for their child as much as possible.”

Professor Kerry Arabena, a chief investigator on the project Press Release 1 Below

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 “At the same time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are experiencing high rates of violence, being 34 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence related assault.

“We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates, and experience of violence, are strongly linked to social and economic disadvantage and so the inquiry must include a focus on early intervention, prevention and diversion programs”

Change the Record Coalition ( CTR ) Co-Chair Shane Duffy Press Release 2 Below

Laws that are meant to protect persons with disabilities in the criminal justice system can lead to detention without an end date.

This is particularly so for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Disabilities according to researchers at the University of Melbourne and University of New South Wales.

Researchers have collaborated with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency to deal with the support needs of accused persons with mental disabilities.

The Unfitness to Plead and Indefinite Detention of Persons with Cognitive Impairments project is about providing support to people with disabilities in the criminal justice system to prevent their indefinite detention.

The researchers recently gave evidence to a Senate Committee Inquiry into the Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive Impairment in Darwin last week.

The research team, which includes a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and advocates, have just concluded a six-month trial of supports for accused persons with disabilities when they reach the court system.

Professor Kerry Arabena, a chief investigator on the project, says Indigenous people with disabilities are clearly over-represented in the criminal justice system.

“It’s clear we need to change to law to prevent indefinite detention, but we also need to make sure the supports are available on the ground. People with disabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system need to be connected to appropriate support,” she said.

“This is especially the case for young people with disabilities in contact with the criminal justice system. We should be intervening as early as possible in a child’s life to identify and address disabilities, and support their parents to care for their child as much as possible.

It is a travesty that in 2016 we can have over representation in the criminal justice system because we haven¹t prevented or addressed early health, developmental vulnerabilities or intergenerational trauma in the first 2 years of life.  We do not need prison solutions for health issues.” Professor Arabena said.

In many places, the right support is unavailable. Jody Barney, one of the National Advisory Panel members for the project is a leading Aboriginal Disability consultant. She has assisted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities in the criminal justice system all over Australia.

“The Unfitness to Plead Project tries to make sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities not only have the right communication access and supports but the physical presence of an advocate and interpreter to assist their understanding of the justice system.”

“While the project doesn’t focus on young people, we have identified the unmet needs of the young people with disabilities during the course of the project. The work needs to be extended to include youth and reduce the recidivism of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in detention.” she said.

Another member of the advisory panel, Ms Elizabeth McEntyre, a criminal justice social worker has conducted research with Aboriginal communities in NSW and NT on Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disabilities in the criminal justice system.

”Better education and information are needed for police, teachers, lawyers, magistrates, health, corrections, disability and community service providers regarding understanding and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and men with cognitive impairment and complex support needs, ” she said.

The researchers call for a suite of reforms to ensure accused persons with disabilities get the support they need to access justice on an equal basis with others.

Mr Lenny Clarke, a First Persons Disability Network representative and one of the project’s advisors says that people with disabilities are often subject to prejudice, discrimination and exclusion.

“Most people don’t understand disability and or don’t feel affected – for them it is a case of  ‘That’s other peoples and families problems.’ “

The project team recommends that it should be mandatory for all sections of Law enforcement agencies and administrators of the judicial system to participate in extensive training and awareness programs on disability.

health-justice

Watch live link Here

Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment must focus on solutions

From

Change the Record (CTR) Coalition

A major national inquiry into the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must focus on identifying tangible solutions that address the underlying causes of imprisonment, says the Change the Record (CTR) Coalition.

In welcoming today’s announcement of an Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) inquiry into the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the coalition of peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, human rights and legal organisations has said it is essential that the inquiry focus on practical measures that invest in and strengthen communities.

CTR Co-Chair Shane Duffy said, “For a long time we have been calling for the Federal Government to take a leadership role on these issues, and so we welcome the Turnbull Government beginning to step up to the plate”.

“This year marks 25 years since the landmark Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC), but our people continue to experience imprisonment and violence at crisis rates.

The new ALRC inquiry offers an important opportunity to shine a comprehensive light on these issues at a national level, and identify tangible actions for all levels of government” said Mr Duffy. At the time the RCIADIC report was handed down Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were seven times more likely to be in prison, now in 2016 that figure has risen to 13 times.

At the same time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are experiencing high rates of violence, being 34 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence related assault.

“We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates, and experience of violence, are strongly linked to social and economic disadvantage and so the inquiry must include a focus on early intervention, prevention and diversion programs” said Mr Duffy.

Co-Chair Antoinette Braybrook said, “Whilst the announcement of an ALRC inquiry to examine the factors leading to the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is welcome, it is essential that the inquiry also consider issues relating to the prevention of family violence and reducing barriers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims/survivors of family violence to access quality, holistic, culturally safe legal services and supports.”

“It is also critical that the Terms of Reference for the inquiry are developed in close consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies, and those who are members of Change the Record. To ensure that the inquiry has a meaningful outcome, all levels of Government must commit to implementing the recommendations in full.”

“The Federal Government should also take immediate steps to highlight its commitment to improving justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including by setting meaningful national justice targets through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and committing to review the implementation of RCIADIC” said Ms Braybrook.

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1. Call to action to Present
at the 2016 Members Conference closing 8 November
See below or Download here

2.NACCHO Partnership Opportunities

3. NACCHO Interim 3 day Program has been released

4. The dates are fast approaching – so register today
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NACCHO #NTRC Royal Commission and Aboriginal Health : #FASD , Malnutrition, hearing and #mentalhealth are major factors

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 ” The profoundly damaging consequences of heavy drinking by pregnant women, malnutrition in early childhood and intergenerational “psychic trauma” are neither properly diagnosed nor treated in Aborigines coming into contact with the law, a royal commission has heard.

The effects of these conditions, which can stunt a child for life, meant affected youngsters were both more likely to become involved in criminal activity and less likely to benefit from punitive forms of rehabilitation.”

As reported in the Australian today

 ” Studies linked FAS-D to a “profound level of social morbidity in terms of violence, engagement in the justice system, depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide, very low chance of meaningful occupation and a very high risk of being in prison as adults requiring mental institution and support with drug addiction

Professor Boulton and NACCHO FASD Articles

 ” Most infants with FASD are irritable, have trouble eating and sleeping, are sensitive to sensory stimulation, and have a strong startle reflex. They may hyperextend their heads or limbs with hypertonia (too much muscle tone) or hypotonia (too little muscle tone) or both. Some infants may have heart defects or suffer anomalies of the ears, eyes, liver, or joints.

Adults with FASD have difficulty maintaining successful independence. They have trouble staying in school, keeping jobs, or sustaining healthy relationships. They require long-term support and some degree of supervision in order to succeed. “

Make FASD History  Image above a full story see below

 “Many boys caught up in the Northern Territory’s juvenile justice system suffer a “disease of disadvantage” that has crippled almost every aspect of their lives, the Northern Territory’s royal commission into youth detention and protection has heard.

Jody Barney, who works as a deaf indigenous community consultant, told the inquiry she has spoken to several young Aboriginal people with hearing impairments who have had their faces covered by spit hoods and bound behind bars.

News Report

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The Royal Commission website is available at https://www.childdetentionnt.royalcommission.gov.au.

Moreover they were perpetuating, meaning the effects could be passed through neurological and genetic means from generation to generation, the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT heard today.

The Commission looks likely to probe these effects more deeply, following depressing but insightful evidence given by University of Newcastle professor of pediatrics John Boulton, who clearly captured the commissioners’ interest.

“I think the Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder issue, together with the evidence that we have had this afternoon about deafness, throws such a complexion upon the participation of so many of these children in the criminal justice system, not to mention the child protection system, that we need to look at this carefully,” Commissioner Margaret White said.

“I think it’s fairly original inasmuch as the other many reports that we’ve been exposed to … have not had an opportunity to consider these areas of study.”

Professor Boulton told the Commission there was an urgent need for FAS-D and to be recognised under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. He said estimates in Canada of the lifelong cost of treating the condition reached into the millions of dollars.

“If there are one or two per cent of the total population of whom a fraction are severely affected with FASD, and therefore suffer the huge mental health and other subsequent complications and disabilities with FASD, then we are talking about an enormous burden to the overall Australian community in the tens of millions of dollars,” he said.

Studies linked FAS-D to a “profound level of social morbidity in terms of violence, engagement in the justice system, depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide, very low chance of meaningful occupation and a very high risk of being in prison as adults requiring mental institution and support with drug addiction” Professor Boulton continued.

He likened FAS-D to the thalidomide disaster, heavy metal poisoning or radiation sickness.

Professor Boulton said progress had been made through alcohol restrictions brought about in the Kimberley towns of Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing by local women. He said the restrictions had produced a “massive reduction in the amount of violence and of women seeking refuge”, and that there was evidence young children were growing better.

Earlier in the day the Commission was told many Aboriginal youngsters from the remotest areas suffered hearing problems related to ear infections in early life. In one example retold before the Commission, a boy before court had been crash tackled by a guard who thought he was trying to escape, when in fact the boy simply hadn’t heard an instruction.

Deafness holding NT’s indigenous kids back

Many boys caught up in the Northern Territory’s juvenile justice system suffer a “disease of disadvantage” that has crippled almost every aspect of their lives, the Northern Territory’s royal commission into youth detention and protection has heard.

Jody Barney, who works as a deaf indigenous community consultant, told the inquiry she has spoken to several young Aboriginal people with hearing impairments who have had their faces covered by spit hoods and bound behind bars.

“Taking away another sense from a person who already has a limited sense is frightening. And that fear stays forever… long after their sentence,” she said.

Footage of boys being tear gassed, shackled and put in spit hoods at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre was aired on national television in July, sparking the royal commission

Psychologist Damien Howard told the inquiry a chronic housing shortage is creating an “epidemic” of hearing loss in indigenous children that leads to learning difficulties, family breakdown and criminal involvement.

“It’s very much a disease of disadvantage,” Dr Howard told Darwin’s Supreme Court.

Crowded housing overwhelms a child’s capacity to maintain hygiene, allows infections to pass quickly, and increases exposure to cigarette smoke and loud noises, while the poverty limits nutrition.

On average, non-Aboriginal kids experience middle ear disease for three months of their childhood while indigenous children can get fluctuating hearing loss for more than two years.

This can result in a permanent condition, which Dr Howard says is a “smoking gun” leading to over-representation in the criminal justice system.

Make FASD History

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are 100% preventable. If a woman doesn’t drink alcohol while she is pregnant, her child cannot have FASD.

There is a humanitarian crisis in the Fitzroy Valley region of remote North Western Australia, which has one of the highest Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the world.

The effects of alcohol on the fetal brain are a common cause of intellectual impairment in developed countries. Problems that may occur in babies exposed to alcohol before birth include low birth weight, distinctive facial features, heart defects, behavioural problems and intellectual disability.

Most infants with FASD are irritable, have trouble eating and sleeping, are sensitive to sensory stimulation, and have a strong startle reflex. They may hyperextend their heads or limbs with hypertonia (too much muscle tone) or hypotonia (too little muscle tone) or both. Some infants may have heart defects or suffer anomalies of the ears, eyes, liver, or joints.

Adults with FASD have difficulty maintaining successful independence. They have trouble staying in school, keeping jobs, or sustaining healthy relationships. They require long-term support and some degree of supervision in order to succeed.

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Bright Blue is very proud to partner with Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services to support the development and implementation of a comprehensive, evidence-based prevention and community capacity building programme, which aims to make FASD history.

The outcomes of this programme will work to:

  • Improve the health, quality of life and social and economic potential for the next generation of Fitzroy Valley children, and thus the fabric of the community itself;
  • Identify practical strategies that can be implemented elsewhere in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities to reduce and eliminate FASD;
  • Make WA a leader in FASD prevention;
  • Decrease costs associated with service provision, productivity, welfare and justice.

stacks_image_6848Led by Aboriginal community leaders Maureen Carter and June Oscar; and Paediatrician Dr James Fitzpatrick, it is important that the leadership of the Marulu strategy reflects the community ownership of the process.

Bright Blue needs your support to assist in prevention and capacity building, to develop an effective community – level support for women to abstain from drinking during pregnancy and child bearing years, so that all babies born in this community and across Australia have a full potential for a long and productive life.

Become a part of history. Together, let’s make FASD history.

The inquiry led by co-commissioners Margaret White and Mick Gooda continues.

NACCHO #HealthElection16 #TowardsRecovery Mental Health , NDIS , PHN’s and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health

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Current Commonwealth programs migrating to PHN’s

Indigenous ?

The mental health sector is in the midst of “a perfect storm” of change, as one speaker put it during the recent VICSERV #TowardsRecovery conference in Melbourne. This comes as the sector grapples with how to offer people with mental illness not just choices but control over their lives.

Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan told delegates that the system was in a period of “quite unprecedented change”, with the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the new role in mental health of Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and other reforms planned or underway in response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services.”

A delegate from an Aboriginal community controlled health organisation (ACCHO) raised issues for her sector, where Aboriginal communities are estimated to have twice the incidence of disability as non-Aboriginal communities but much less access to services, and agencies that are not specialists for disability support.

“If you focus most of the effort on transitioning current supports (to the NDIS), that will continue to leave Aboriginal communities under-supported,” she told the NDIS panellists.

She was told the NDIA had identified it needed to do a lot more work around Aboriginal disability, and would step up that engagement and transition work. Other culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities will also get a bigger focus.

Another ACCHO representative voiced fears that if Aboriginal people with disability transitioned to other services under the NDIS, only to find they were not culturally safe for them, that the ACCHO workforce might not still be there for them to return to.

Marie McInerney writes: Melissa Sweets edits in

Croakey New

While many of the major system changes underway, including the NDIS, are welcomed in the mental health sector, there is confusion over details and concern that many people with mental health issues could fall through new gaps in the system.

Some at the conference said the upheaval rivals the days of deinstitutionalisation, particularly in Victoria which has just emerged from much criticised recommissioning of mental health services and where there is also uncertainty about what of its mental health community support funds will be committed to the NDIS.

These concerns are only exacerbated by the uncertainty surrounding the policy outcomes likely to result from the July 2 federal election, and the marathon eight-week election campaign and caretaker period.

Despite all the planning for the NDIS, which on 1 July begins its full national rollout after three years of trials, the fate of some programs such as the Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) program is still not known.

(As a measure of ‘reform fatigue’, Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association CEO Sam Biondo told one session that when he started out in the 1970s, all he wanted was change; now all he wants is some stability).

“Some organisations don’t know what contracted services they’ll be offering on July 1,” Quinlan told Croakey in a follow-up interview yesterday. “That means uncertainty for their clients, people who rely on them, and also for their workforce who don’t know whether they will have employment in six weeks time.”

At the weekend Mental Health Australia released its election platform, saying the important reforms that are underway “cannot be forgotten during the current electoral cycle”. It is calling on political leaders for long-term commitment to:

  • reducing the national suicide rate
  • improving the physical health of people with a mental illness
  • increasing employment rates for people experiencing mental illness and their carers
  • increasing mental health consumer and carer participation and choice in national policy design and implementation
  • maintaining current overall levels of investment in mental health, with measures that support full reinvestment of cost efficiencies and savings.

Mental Health Australia will produce a ‘report card’ to be released prior to the election, outlining the major parties’ response on these issues.

Meanwhile, just a few days after the conference ended, one of its speakers, Professor Jane Burns, CEO of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, joined other mental health leaders in releasing details on suicide across 28 Federal electorates, calling on party leaders and candidates to spell out what they intend to do to address the rising toll of suicide and self-harm across Australia.

NDIS concerns

The mental health sector has welcomed the NDIS, saying a well funded and well run scheme will meet many needs.

But the numbers provide the context for some of the concerns raised at the conference: it is estimated that each year in Australia, there are around 600,000 people who experience severe mental illness, and 300,000 who experience severe mental illness with “complex inter-agency needs”.

By comparison, there are around 60,000 places in the NDIS for people with mental health issues.

VICSERV CEO Kim Koop said the conference message was: “The NDIS is a welcome addition to a contemporary mental health system but is not sufficient replacement for the current offering.”

She said Victorian community managed mental health services were “desperate for more information” about the NDIS.

But the State Government has an equal role to play, she said, pointing out that the bilateral agreement makes clear that the introduction of the NDIS is a shared responsibility between the States and the Commonwealth. “Both need to step up and provide information,” she said.

VICSERV has played a lead role in documenting the Victorian trial of the NDIS in the Barwon area, but is waiting to hear back on how its concerns will be addressed.

Koop said:

The NDIS is not a bad thing (for mental health).

The trouble is that the funding for the existing services is being transferred to the NDIS and that it is still very uncertain if the NDIS will offer a similar range of services.

At the moment it’s just really unclear. We’re waiting to hear from the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) around the review of supports for people with mental illness but until that comes out, we just don’t know what kind of supports, what price they will be at, what workforce (levels) there will be required.”

Delegates at one conference session peppered a panel that included senior managers in the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) about many details of the NDIS’s likely operation.

A delegate told the panel it had been great to have different trials conducted across Australia over the past three years but their different reports on different experiences have created “confusion and misinterpretation…trying to compare apples with oranges”.

Others expressed continuing concern about how people with episodic mental health issues would be included in a Scheme designed around permanent disability.

On markets and mental health

The session followed a keynote by UK philosopher Dr Simon Duffy raising issues such as citizenship and the need to focus on community rather than institutional and organisational interests. By contrast, the language of the NDIS discussions was all around markets, market failures, entrants and competition.

In an aside to me, one delegate questioned whether there is a “market” in people with mental illness.

Asked at another session whether there really was a “fair dinkum market’” for organisations to start competing in, National Mental Health Commissioner Rob Knowles said there wasn’t yet.

But he warned that one would develop as it has in other countries, and he was not sure people in the sector understood the significance of the changes that will occur.

When the UK went down this road, about 80 per cent of existing services were provided by not for profit organisations, the remainder by private providers. That was soon reversed, he said.

A mistake many not-for-profits made was to think “people stick with us”. Knowles said: “People are much more fickle than that. I think there are significant challenges for those operating in this: how they make themselves be a service provider of choice”.

What will PHNs offer mental health?

Another panel session focused on the news, announced last year, that funds will be reallocated from Canberra to primary health networks (PHNs) to commission — but not deliver — mental health services.

Again, the sector has welcomed the move, particularly as a bridge between States and Commonwealth, but with concerns about how it all might work in practice.

Quinlan gaps

The aim of the PHNs, to make sure they get local services on the ground where they are needed, was very welcome, Quinlan said. The concern is how to maintain national standards.

He said: “For example with eating disorders and suicide prevention, you can quickly see you wouldn’t want 31 PHNs across the country all inventing their own way of doing things. Addressing how we tackle some national issues while ensuring local suitability is a big challenge.”

The PHN session involved panelists Jason Trethowan – Chief Executive, Western Victoria PHN, Lyn Morgain – Chief Executive, cohealth, and Christopher Carter – Chief Executive, North Western Melbourne PHN. They outlined what PHNs would cover, and what they wouldn’t.

The questions they sought to answer in their session demonstrated the issues of concern for many of the delegates there:

  • How will planning be undertaken that ensures the range of demographic, clinical, aged related, cultural, socio-economic and comorbidity of people is properly planned for?
  • How will the flexible funding pool work – be prioritised – is it flexible for service models of care?
  • How will PHNs work with the State system, and with each other to ensure continuity – especially given the transient nature of some consumers?
  • What does this mean for existing youth primary mental health services? Youth with severe mental health?
  • How will we ensure that services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recognise the social determinants of health and cultural safety?
  • What are the potential approaches to reduce fragmentation (suicide prevention)?
  • What are the commissioning challenges and opportunities for rural communities?
  • There will likely be a gap with the move of specialist recovery based community mental health support services to the NDIS. Will PHN’s be able to fund recovery based CMH or will as suggested PHNs be limited to commissioning only “clinical primary MH” as has been suggested in some of the guidance documents?

PHNs not in scope

PHN perspectives

Croakey later asked panellist Chris Carter for his reflections on the session.

Q: What were the main messages you wanted to get across during the session on the role of PHNs within the context of national mental health reforms?

That the role of PHNs is developing – in the first phase this will be about development of a stepped care model that reflects regional needs, and is focussed around safe, quality mental health care.  There will be a number of stages and phases in the evolution of an integrated system given the high level of fragmentation in the healthcare system.

Q: What key concerns emerged from the session? What’s your response to them?

Not really concerns, but a genuine desire to participate in the conversation about reform – how PHNs will take into account the diversity of populations, families and individuals when considering future planning and investments in the mental health system.

Q: The Federal Opposition said recently: “The PHNs, as the critical commissioners under the new reform agenda, are stuck in an unenviable position, wedged between the enormous pressure to deliver the reforms with unreasonable demands and an information vacuum from the Department of Health and at the same time trying to manage an increasingly agitated mental health sector hungry for information and advice.” What’s your response to that?

Our role as PHNs is to help facilitate as much information sharing and participation in planning processes as is possible.  Some of the tension lies between acute and primary systems, as well as State and Commonwealth systems.  At a regional level, our job is to bring local intelligence / evidence and wisdom to try and meet the needs of consumers / citizens, whilst bringing along the sector – which we acknowledge is reform / change fatigued in Victoria.

Q: What do you want to see promised for mental health in the federal election? Has the campaign put major work on hold? What certainty is needed now?

I support Mental Health Australia’s call for a long-term strategy for mental health – and would add that we need to integrate State and Commonwealth responses at a regional level in order to target diverse populations and diverse needs.  The election campaign has not put our work on hold – we are on track to implement continuing and new arrangements ready for July 1 and beyond in partnership with stakeholders.

Some Twitter observations

PHNs twitterPHNs twitter2

Control, not choice

Another big theme at the conference was given a sharp focus by keynote speaker Simon Duffy – that the idea of ‘choice’ is not enough for people with disabilty.

Rather, he said, control is what’s vital. (See also Duffy’s views about the NDIS in this earlier Croakey story and in this interview on Radio National’s Life Matters).

In a similar vein, RMIT Associate Professor Paul Ramcharan told delegates about the It’s My Choice toolkit (DVD, discussion guide and booklets) developed with Inclusion Melbourne, a day service that supports people with intellectual disability. The project sought to inform people with disabilities, family, friends and others as well as service personnel about how to explore choices within complex lives and relationships. .

Ramcharan later told Croakey:

“Of the nine principles of choice (identified), one in particular challenges us to rethink the notion of choice. In this principle,  the important question is not whether people with disability have choice – given that no one really has a total choice in what happens in their lives and that choices are made within a complex of relationships, services and environments. The question should be whether the limitations placed on their choices are reasonable or not.

Organisations delivering services should be looking at discrimination and community norms and other barriers that get in the way of people expressing their choices not just about mundane matters like what to eat and wear (though important) but pervasive areas relating to health, education, work, family and intimacy.

Choice of services alone does not equate to personal choice. It’s the journey of life that counts, not formal academic indicators, but the rich fabric that enriches our lives day to day.”

(Note: this quote above was added to the original published story to give more context about the project).

See his slide below.

PRINCIPLE6
Conference perspectives

Quinlan view from front

Quinlan twitter

• Marie McInerney is covering the #TowardsRecovery conference for the Croakey Conference News Service. Bookmark this link to track the coverage.

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Opportunity to support a special edition #HealthElection16 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper PUBLISH DATE June 29

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    Opportunity to send your Aboriginal Health issue message to Canberra for

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DOWNLOAD THE A PDF COPY 24 Pages

Response to our NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper from our members, community, stakeholders and Government  has been nothing short of sensational over the past 3 years , with feedback from around the country suggesting we really kicked a few positive goals for Aboriginal health.

NACCHO is the national peak body for Aboriginal health. It is entrusted to represent the needs and interests of Aboriginal health on behalf of its members in the national arena.

NACCHO has and continues to be a living embodiment of the aspirations of Aboriginal people

10 good reasons to advertise in the NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper :

  1. Highly targeted health sector from CEO’s to all staff audience
  2. Quality production and guaranteed national distribution in partnership with the award-winning Koori Mail 14,000 printed copies
  3. Spend any surplus dollars before the end of the financial year
  4. Article space offered with ad bookings
  5. Newspaper also distributed at NACCHO events and workshops
  6. 1500 copies posted to the CEO’s of Australia’s top Aboriginal health organisations and NGO’s and Government departments
  7. Thank you ‘burst’ through NACCHO’s social media network naming all advertisers
  8. Over 100,000 audited readers
  9. Targeted at Aboriginal consumer / clients
  10. Support NACCHO vision to Close the Gap

Our media partner Koori Mail Turns 25 this week

The Koori Mail is an Australian media institution, 100% owned and controlled by Aboriginal people. The fortnightly newspaper circulates all states and covers the issues that matter the most to black Australians. 25 years since its first print, the Indigenous paper is still breaking ground for Indigenous journalism.

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Editorial Opportunities

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We are now looking to all our members, programs and sector stakeholders for advertising, compelling articles, eye-catching images and commentary for inclusion in our next edition.

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NEW VERSION A3poster_Aboriginal_2_nocropsExample full Page Ad April and June edition

This 24-page newspaper is produced and distributed as an insert in the Koori Mail, circulating 14,000 full-colour print copies nationally via newsagents and subscriptions.

Our audited readership (Audit Bureau of Circulations) is 100,000 readers!

Our target audience also includes over 1,500 NACCHO member and affiliate health organisations, relevant government departments, subsidiary indigenous health services and suppliers, as well as the end-users of Australian Indigenous health services nationally.

Your advertising support means we can build this newspaper to a cost-neutral endeavour, thereby guaranteeing its future.

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Note: the earlier you book your ad or submit an article for consideration, the better placement we can offer in the printed newspaper. All prices are GST inclusive. Discounts are available to not-for-profits, NACCHO member organisations and industry stakeholders. All prices include artwork if required.

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NACCHO Aboriginal #HealthElection16 : One Gateway proposed for over 30 phone and online mental health services in Australia,

carer_gateway_square

“We are undertaking this crucial reform because the Mental Health Commission and Expert Reference Group found there were over 30 phone and online mental health services in Australia, but no co-ordinated way to access them.

This means people with specific mental health needs may not have been aware of specialist services or were falling through the cracks altogether.

It also means many of these mental health phone services were being overburdened – or underutilised – because people were not aware of alternative services that may better suit their mental health needs.”

The Hon. Sussan Ley MP Minister for Health Mental Health Gateway to save lives Press Release May 15 : Picture above example of a Gateway

A re-elected Turnbull Coalition Government will continue delivering on our promise to develop a digital mental health gateway that will ensure Australians get the right help at the right time in a bid to stop people falling through the cracks and save lives.

Reports that some phone counselling services have had their funding ‘axed’ are therefore incorrect and misleading.

Our digital gateway is a key recommendation of the Mental Health Commission’s (MHC) landmark Report and is being implemented in line with the guidance provided by our independent Mental Health Expert Review Committee, who were tasked with taking the MHC’s findings from paper to policy.

In addition to our digital gateway being a first point of entry to mental health services across the country, Australians will have the option to call one single phone number to access the mental health phone and online services they need.

This single phone number will act as a triage service that will put them in touch with a specialist phone or online service that is best suited to their personal circumstances.

For example, the triage service may determine a person would be best serviced by a specialist counselling service addressing LGBTIQ mental health or eating disorders, rather than a general service.

The triage service is not designed to replace existing phone counselling services, but enhance access to them.

Australians will still be able to call their preferred phone counselling service directly if they believe this is the best service to help them.

We are undertaking this crucial reform because the Mental Health Commission and Expert Reference Group found there were over 30 phone and online mental health services in Australia, but no co-ordinated way to access them.

This means people with specific mental health needs may not have been aware of specialist services or were falling through the cracks altogether.

It also means many of these mental health phone services were being overburdened – or underutilised – because people were not aware of alternative services that may better suit their mental health needs.

Another key recommendation of the Mental Health Commission was that some – but not all – phone and online mental health services may be unnecessarily duplicating each other’s work and funding may be better targeted to ensure a high-quality mix of services to cover the varying mental health needs of Australians by filling service gaps.

The Coalition will therefore work with all phone and online mental services to transition to this new model of improving access to over-the-phone/online mental health services from 2017-18, including greater funding security. Until then, all services will continue to be funded at current levels.

I understand the importance of mental health organisations running fundraising drives, however it is important their campaigning methods do not end up hurting those who they are ultimately meant to help.

Labor treated mental health as a “second-term priority”. Only the Coalition is committed to delivering these brave and bold reforms aimed at ensuring Australians with mental health issues no longer fall through the cracks.

Recommendations from the Mental Health Commission’s Landmark Report

“Currently telephone helplines are not integrated, they do not have common standards and there are limited referral pathways. There are various levels of duplication of target client groups and potential to be accessing the ‘wrong door’ by users.”

“For telephone and online support services, the strategic direction is in creating a ‘joined-up’ model of crisis support helplines, with each helpline playing its part according to its expertise. This would reduce duplication, increase efficiency and enable collaborative work.”

“Create a coordinated, better integrated model of telephone and online support services, including crisis support and seamless pathways to online and offline information, education, biometric monitoring and clinical intervention.”

Improve access to services and support through innovative technologies

“Improve emergency access to the right telephone and internet-based forms of crisis support and link crisis support services to ongoing online and offline forms of information/education, monitoring and clinical intervention.”

“Implement cost-effective second and third generation e-mental health solutions that build sustained self-help, link to biometric monitoring and provide direct clinical support strategies or enhance the effectiveness of local services.” Volume 1, page 11

Recommendations from the Mental Health Expert Reference Group Implementation Report

“The ERG acknowledged the evidence that demonstrates telephone and e-mental health services can play a significant role in a stepped care model of mental health service delivery if there were triaging, clinical guidelines and targeting of their use. The ERG endorsed appropriate promotion of existing self-help and clinician moderated e-mental health services to consumers and clinicians as an important component.”

“The ERG noted the significant number of providers in this space, some of whom provide similar or competing services. A simpler structure and a secure funding base for these services is required. A single telephone line linked as appropriate to other telephone based services was proposed. Similarly, the ERG supported the consideration of how a single gateway for web-based services could be utilised to provide initial triage and to facilitate consumer access to the most appropriate services.

This would encourage and enable optimal use of the web-based services that are available, particularly in the context of better promoting the availability of self-help services to individuals who could benefit from them. The ERG recommended the Commonwealth work with the states and territories to streamline entry to all e-mental health services through one national gateway.”

“The Commonwealth should immediately:

Establish a single gateway and platform for initial access to existing web based services.

Similarly with phone based mental health support, a single phone access point should be established with the capacity to provide soft transfer to other phone services. Ensure a simple triage system is developed and offered through these new arrangements.”

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Send your Aboriginal Health issue message to Canberra for

#HealthElection16

Advertising and editorial is invited from

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Contact for Advertising rate cards/bookings/editorial

 

NACCHO #HealthElection16 : AMA launches Key Health Issues / Aboriginal Health policy for 2016 Federal Elections

Brian

” The gap in health and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is still considerable, despite the commitment to closing the gap.

The AMA sees progress being made, particularly in reducing early childhood mortality rates, and in addressing major risk factors for chronic disease, such as smoking. However, to close the gap in Indigenous health, Government must commit to improving resourcing for culturally appropriate primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the health workforce.

Including increased investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health organisations. Such investment must support services to build their capacity and be sustainable over the long term;

Brian Owler AMA President pictured above Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO at recent NACCHO Event Parliament House Canberra : The Aboriginal Policy is part of a 16 Page AMA Health Issues Document  

“The Medicare freeze is not just a co-payment by stealth – it is a sneaky new tax that punishes every Australian family,”

Professor Owler said, with the elderly and chronically ill among those most affected see press release here AMA LAUNCHES NATIONAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE MEDICARE REBATE FREEZE (FED)

Putting Health First

Download the 16 Pages here AMA Key Health Issues Federal Election 2016

Health policy will be at the core of the 2016 Federal Election.

The AMA is non-partisan. It is our role during election campaigns, as it is throughout the terms of governments, to highlight the issues we think will be of greatest benefit to the health system, the medical profession, the community, and patients.

As is customary, the AMA will focus on the respective health policy platforms presented by the major parties in the coming weeks.

The next Government must invest significantly in the health of the Australian people.

Investment in health is the best investment that governments can make.

We must protect and support the fundamentals of the health system.

The two major pillars of the system that mean most to the Australian people are quality primary health care services, led by general practice, and well-resourced public hospitals.

The AMA has advocated strongly and tirelessly on these issues for the term of the current Government.

General practice and public hospitals are the priority health issues for this election.

The AMA is calling on the major parties to lift the freeze on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) patient rebate. The freeze was extended until 2020 in the recent Budget. The freeze means that patients will pay more for their health care. It also affects the viability of medical practices.

We also need substantial new funding for public hospitals. The Government provided $2.9 billion in new funding in the Budget, but this is well short of what is needed for the long term.

We must build capacity in our public hospitals. Funding must be better targeted, patient-focused, and clinician led.

The AMA is also calling for leadership and effective policy from the major parties on Indigenous health, medical workforce and training, chronic disease management, and a range of important public health measures.

The AMA will release a separate Rural Health Plan, responding to the unique health needs of people in rural and regional Australia, later in the election campaign.

Elections are about choices. The type of health system we want is one of those crucial decisions.

In this document, Key Health Issues for the 2016 Federal Election, the AMA offers wide-ranging policies that build on what works. We offer policies that come from the experience of doctors who are at the coalface of the system – the doctors who know how to make the system work best for patients.

The AMA urges all political parties to engage in a competitive and constructive health policy debate ahead of the election on 2 July.

Indigenous Health Policy Continued

Despite the recent health gains, progress remains frustratingly slow and much more needs to be done. A life expectancy gap of around 10 years remains between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, with recent data suggesting that Indigenous people experience stubbornly high levels of treatable and preventable conditions, high levels of chronic conditions at comparatively young ages, high levels of undetected and untreated chronic conditions, and higher rates of co-morbidity in chronic disease. This is completely unacceptable.

It is not credible that Australia, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, cannot address health and social justice issues affecting just three per cent of its citizens. The Government must deliver effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and develop and implement tangible strategies to address social inequalities and determinants of health.

Without this, the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians will remain wide and intractable.

The AMA calls on the major parties to commit to:

  • correct the under-funding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services;
  • establish new and strengthen existing programs to address preventable health conditions that are known to have a significant impact on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people such as cardiovascular diseases (including rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease), diabetes, kidney disease, and blindness;
  • increase investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health organisations. Such investment must support services to build their capacity and be sustainable over the long term;
  • develop systemic linkages between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health organisations and mainstream health services to ensure high quality and culturally safe continuity of care;
  • identify areas of poor health and inadequate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and direct funding according to need;
  • institute funded national training programs to support more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become health professionals to address the shortfall of Indigenous people in the health workforce;
  • implement measures to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s access to primary health care and medical specialist services;
  • adopt a justice reinvestment approach to health by funding services to divert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from prison, given the strong link between health and incarceration;
  • appropriately resource the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan to ensure that actions are met within specified timeframes; and
  • support for a Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre. Central Australia faces many unique and complex health issues that require specific research, training and clinical practice to properly manage and treat, and this type of collaborative medical and academic research, along with project delivery and working in remote communities, is desperately needed.

Australian Medical Association joins campaign against Medicare rebate freeze

AMA POSTER

Download the AMA Press Release

AMA LAUNCHES NATIONAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE MEDICARE REBATE FREEZE (FED)

Article below originally published here

Tens of thousands of specialist doctors are joining GPs’ war against the Turnbull government’s extended freeze on Medicare rebates, increasing pressure on the Coalition’s health record ahead of the federal election.

The Australian Medical Association has distributed posters to its members, warning patients that they will be out of pocket because the cost of running the medical practice will continue to rise as Medicare rebates stay frozen until 2020.

“You will pay a new or higher co-payment every time you visit your GP, every time you visit other medical specialists, every time you need a blood test, and every time you need an X-ray or other imaging,” it says, alongside a photo of a woman comforting a crying child.

It comes a week after the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners announced its 32,000 members would urge their patients to lobby local MPs against the move. The groups share about 8000 members, adding about 22,000 more specialist doctors to the campaign.

The AMA’s campaign similarly encourages patients to contact their local MPs and election candidates, but goes further to directly blame the Turnbull government for the extra cost: “The government has cut Medicare and wants you to pay for it.”

While pathologists on Friday agreed to retain bulk-billing rates in exchange for reduced regulatory pressure on rents under a deal with Health Minister Sussan Ley, the AMA maintains that they and diagnostic imaging services will remain under pressure to charge patients, with the government’s cuts to bulk-billing incentive payments deferred till later in the year.

The AMA’s president, Professor Brian Owler, said many doctors had absorbed costs but the extension “has pushed them over the edge”. They may charge patients a $30 co-payment to cover costs associated with moving to a private billing system, more than triple the Abbott government’s failed and deeply unpopular $7 GP co-payment, he said.

“The Medicare freeze is not just a co-payment by stealth – it is a sneaky new tax that punishes every Australian family,” Professor Owler said, with the elderly and chronically ill among those most affected.

While most specialists (about 70 per cent) already charged patients a co-payment, having had their rebates frozen for decades, the extended freeze could reduce the bulk-billing rate further, an AMA spokesman said.

Labor froze indexation for eight months in 2013, lifting it briefly for GPs in 2014-15. The Coalition extended it for four years in 2014, and this year extended it a further two years to 2020, to save $925.3 million.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor opposed the extended freeze at the leaders’ debate on Friday, but would not say whether it would commit to lifting it if elected.

Thirty per cent of 400 GPs surveyed by the College said they would stop all bulk-billing, including for concession card holders, due to the extended freeze. Another 18 per cent said the practice would start charging a co-payment, but cap annual out-of-pocket fees for concession card holders.

Thirty per cent said they would maintain a mixed billing policy, and 10 per cent would continue to bulk bill all patients. Twelve per cent said they were already privately billing all their patients.

The Turnbull government plans to cut bulk-billing incentives for pathology and diagnostic imaging services to save $650 million over four years. Pathology Australia, which had warned this would lead more doctors to charge patients for pap smears, blood and urine tests, has agreed to drop its public campaign against the cuts.

Ms Ley said: “The Coalition will increase Medicare investment to $26 billion per year by 2020-21, while introducing revolutionary reforms such as Health Care Homes that cement a GP’s role at the centre of patient care.”

While she appreciated many GPs’ efforts to keep costs down during the indexation freeze, she was disappointed that “there’s no reciprocal offer to assist taxpayers with the immediate financial challenges our budget faces while [Health Care Homes are] implemented”.

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NACCHO Aboriginal health #Stroke Stories : Written by the mob for the mob

Stroke 2

“It’s very important that it belongs to the local community.And the community chose the stories, artwork and analogies that would be best to make it work.

The river is compared to the blood flow through the body,” says Rachel. “If it’s dammed with silt and trees then nothing gets past, like when an artery gets blocked. Or if the river floods it kills the land it goes over, which can be like a bleed in the brain.”

Rachel Peake, Stroke Care Coordinator in from Hunter New England Health.

A book of personal stroke stories from Aboriginal community members is proving effective at getting authentic, relatable information across to others in the community and raising stroke awareness.

All the words in Stroke: Written by the Mob for the Mob come from the Aboriginal people of the Kamilaroi/Gomeroi/Gamilaraay/Gamilaroi nations. The booklet was published by the Hunter New England Local Health District of NSW.

Download Stroke: Written by the Mob for the Mob (PDF, 12 MB)

“It’s very important that it belongs to the local community,” says Rachel Peake, Stroke Care Coordinator in from Hunter New England Health. “And the community chose the stories, artwork and analogies that would be best to make it work.”

The stories were gathered through a series of yarning sessions, which let people direct the conversation themselves. This makes sure that nothing important is missed, and that the authentic voices of the participants come through.

The result is a relaxed mix of humour and art. This includes the painting on the booklet’s cover, a representation of stroke and the brain created by students from the Peel High School. This picture also demonstrates the analogy of the river, which is central to the booklet’s message.

“The river is compared to the blood flow through the body,” says Rachel. “If it’s dammed with silt and trees then nothing gets past, like when an artery gets blocked. Or if the river floods it kills the land it goes over, which can be like a bleed in the brain.”

Since its publication the booklet has taken on a life of its own, with hardly any copies left from the original print run of 2000. This is partly due to people’s pride in their own family members, demonstrating that the booklet is reaching the community it was created for.

As Rachel says, “This is the message the community wanted: if they’re given a voice, they can educate their own people.”

You can find the Stroke: Written by the Mob for the Mob booklet on enableme and InformMe, as well as a series of videos of respected community members telling their own stories.

Download Stroke: Written by the Mob for the Mob (PDF, 12 MB)

Declaration: Colin Cowell editor of NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts is stroke survivor and was recently elected to the board of Stroke Foundation as a Consumer director

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Aunty Pam’s story

Audrey’s story

Bill and Coral’s story

Delphine’s story

Tales from Toomelah

  Declaration of interest: Colin Cowell editor of NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts is stroke survivor and was recently elected to the board of Stroke Foundation as a Consumer director

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