NACCHO #IWD2017 Aboriginal Women’s #justjustice :Indigenous, disabled, imprisoned – the forgotten women of #IWD2017

 

” Merri’s story is not uncommon. Studies show that women with physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychosocial disabilities (mental health conditions) experience higher rates of domestic and sexual violence and abuse than other women.

More than 70 per cent of women with disabilities in Australia have experienced sexual violence, and they are 40 per cent more likely to face domestic violence than other women.

Indigenous women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic violence than non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women who have a disability face intersecting forms of discrimination because of their gender, disability, and ethnicity that leave them at even greater risk of experiencing violence — and of being involved in violence and imprisoned

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

This is our last NACCHO post supporting  International Women’s Day

Further NACCHO reading

Women’s Health ( 275 articles )  or Just Justice  See campaign details below

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, this week  I think of ‘Merri’, one of the most formidable and resilient women I have ever met.

A 50-year-old Aboriginal woman with a mental health condition, Merri grew up in a remote community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. When I met her, Merri was in pre-trial detention in an Australian prison.

It was the first time she had been to prison and it was clear she was still reeling from trauma. But she was also defiant.

“Six months ago, I got sick of being bashed so I killed him,” she said. “I spent five years with him [my partner], being bashed. He gave me a freaking [sexually transmitted] disease. Now I have to suffer [in prison].”

I recently traveled through Western Australia, visiting prisons, and I heard story after story of Indigenous women with disabilities whose lives had been cycles of abuse and imprisonment, without effective help.

For many women who need help, support services are simply not available. They may be too far away, hard to find, or not culturally sensitive or accessible to women.

The result is that Australia’s prisons are disproportionately full of Indigenous women with disabilities, who are also more likely to be incarcerated for minor offenses.

For numerous women like Merri in many parts of the country, prisons have become a default accommodation and support option due to a dearth of appropriate community-based services. As with countless women with disabilities, Merri’s disability was not identified until she reached prison. She had not received any support services in the community.

Merri has single-handedly raised her children as well as her grandchildren, but without any support or access to mental health services, life in the community has been a struggle for her.

Strangely — and tragically — prison represented a respite for Merri. With eyes glistening with tears, she told me: “[Prison] is very stressful. But I’m finding it a break from a lot of stress outside.”

Today, on International Women’s Day, the Australian government should commit to making it a priority to meet the needs of women with disabilities who are at risk of violence and abuse.

In 2015, a Senate inquiry into the abuse people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings revealed the extensive and diverse forms of abuse they face both in institutions and the community. The inquiry recommended that the government set up a Royal Commission to conduct a more comprehensive investigation into the neglect, violence, and abuse faced by people with disabilities across Australia.

The government has been unwilling to do so, citing the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguard Framework as adequate.

While the framework is an important step forward, it would only reach people who are enrolled under the NDIS. Its complaints mechanism would not provide a comprehensive look at the diversity and scale of the violence people with disabilities experience, let alone at the ways in which various intersecting forms of discrimination affect people with disabilities.

The creation of a Royal Commission, on the other hand, could give voice to survivors of violence inside and outside the NDIS. It could direct a commission’s resources at a thorough investigation into the violence people with disabilities face in institutional and residential settings, as well as in the community.

The government urgently needs to hear directly from women like Merri about the challenges they face, and how the government can do better at helping them. Whether or not there is a Royal Commission, the government should consult women with disabilities, including Indigenous women, and their representative organizations to learn how to strengthen support services.

Government services that are gender and culturally appropriate, and accessible to women across the country, can curtail abuse and allow women with disabilities to live safe, independent lives in the community.

Kriti Sharma is a disability rights researcher for Human Rights Watch

 

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How you can support #JustJustice

• Download, read and share the 2nd edition – HERE.

Buy a hard copy from Gleebooks in Sydney (ask them to order more copies if they run out of stock).

• Send copies of the book to politicians, policy makers and other opinion leaders.

• Encourage journals and other relevant publications to review #JustJustice.

• Encourage your local library to order a copy, whether the free e-version or a hard copy from Gleebooks.

• Follow Guardian Australia’s project, Breaking the Cycle.

Readers may also be interested in these articles:

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

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

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

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

Read 17 Articles about FASD

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

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

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

The package incorporates FASD education modules targeting five key groups:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

As reported by Russell Skelton ABC

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

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

Key points:

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

The facts about FASD

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

A major issue in recent months:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A ‘national tragedy’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

NACCHO Programs ” What Works ” Aboriginal Health : #FASD , Ear and Hearing , #Safeeyes and #Qumax

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 ” The package of FASD Prevention and Health Promotion resources also include data system resources to facilitate routine screening and monitoring for alcohol and tobacco use in pregnancy, and screening of non-pregnant women of childbearing age, at risk of having a prenatal alcohol exposed pregnancy.”

NACCHO Report 1 below

 “The Safe Eyes trial program relies on the effective facilitation of engagement, ownership and leadership within each community to address hygiene and environmental health factors that lead to the spread of trachoma and other communicable disease.

The Safe Eyes program has been developed and implemented by each community with the success of each program evaluated and owned by those communities.”

NACCHO Report 2 Below

 ” The Ear and Hearing Health Skill Set Training was conducted over a two-week period and provided a pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to specialise in the provision of ear and hearing health.

NACCHO coordinated 100 Aboriginal Health Worker Ear and Hearing Training which were delivered in Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Cairns, Perth, Dubbo, Sydney, Kalgoorlie, Albany and Adelaide.”

NACCHO Report 3 Below

 ” The QUMAX Program aims to improve health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who attend participating Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) in major cities, inner and outer regional areas.

QUMAX achieves this through the allocation of funding to participating ACCHOs to reduce barriers experienced by their clients to Quality Use of Medicines.”

NACCHO Report 4 below

Articles are from Page 5,18,19,20 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download

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

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

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

FASD is an umbrella term used to describe the range of effects that can occur in individuals whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, developmental, and or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention and Health Promotion Resources (FPHPR) were developed for the 85 New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services (NDMBS) across Australia. These resources primarily focused on prevention of FASD, but also provide information about sexual and reproductive health, smoking and substance abuse.

The FASD project was announced by Senator the Hon Fiona Nash in June 2014 and forms part of the National FASD Action Plan to address the harmful impact of FASD on children and families.

The FPHPR Project seeks to achieve the following broad outcomes by 30 June 2017:

  • Reduced alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
  • Reduced tobacco smoking and substance misuse during pregnancy.
  • Reduced unplanned pregnancies.

The Project Partnership and Research team developed and implemented a flexible, modular package of health promotion resources and interventions based on the key components of the approach developed by the Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Services.

This includes a set of discrete FASD education and awareness modules targeting key New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services (NDMBS) client groups, including:

Pregnant women using NDMBS antenatal and other services, including  their partners and families.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of childbearing age.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander grandmothers.
  • NDMBS staff (including but not limited to administrative and clinical staff).
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

The package of FASD Prevention and Health Promotion resources also include data system resources to facilitate routine screening and monitoring for alcohol and tobacco use in pregnancy, and screening of non-pregnant women of childbearing age, at risk of having a prenatal alcohol exposed pregnancy.

Participating NDMBS use this system to evaluate the impact of the FPHPR on target groups of pregnant women using NDMB antenatal and other services, including their partners and families and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

The FPHPR Project team facilitated FASD train-the-trainer workshops with participants from NBMBS in each State and Territory.

Approximately 100 NDMBS staff – a diverse combination of clinical service providers and administrative staff, actively participated.

Workshops included information on FASD and its prevention by content experts; orientation to the FPHPR package; interactive training and rehearsal in the use of each component of the FPHPR package developed for each key NDMBS target groups; networking opportunities and strengthening links with other relevant service providers within each jurisdiction to reduce the impact of FASD.

NACCHO 2 Report : Australian Trachoma Alliance – Safe Eyes Program

In 2014 the Australian Trachoma Alliance (ATA) assembled a forum of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations ACCHOs) to develop an Aboriginal led, community owned action plan to address hygiene and environmental health factors to reduce the incidence of trachoma and other communicable diseases.

In 2015 three trial community sites were selected with guidance through the NACCHO Board of Directors in agreement with the relevant ACCHO:

  1. Yalata (South Australia) – services provided by Tullawon Health Services Inc.
  2. Kiwirrkurra (Western Australia) – services provided by Ngaanyatjarra Health Service
  3. Utju (Areyonga, Northern Territory) – services provided by Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

The criteria for the selection of each site included trachoma prevalence rate, population and available facilities (e.g. school, health service and sporting activities).

The Model: Engagement, Ownership and Leadership

The Safe Eyes trial program relies on the effective facilitation of engagement, ownership and leadership within each community to address hygiene and environmental health factors that lead to the spread of trachoma and other communicable disease.

The Safe Eyes program has been developed and implemented by each community with the success of each program evaluated and owned by those communities.

Moving from ownership of the problem to leading the development of a solution, empowers each community to drive the change process. Furthermore, owning the problem as well as understanding the benefits of addressing it are both necessary elements to embed behaviour change processes within families, organisations and whole communities.

The Safe Eyes program model continues to require a methodical and principled approach to its ongoing implementation.

The following three program stages demonstrate the programs continuing commitment to community engagement, ownership and enabling Aboriginal Leadership.

  1. The three trial community program sites were selected with the direct guidance of the national Aboriginal health leadership through the NACCHO Board of Directors and then through following the direction and agreement of the relevant Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO).
  2. Following the site selection phase, each trial community program has been developed through the engagement, ownership and leadership from the relevant ACCHO and other key community organisations.
  3. All three trial community sites are developing their own Safe Eyes Action Plan to address the elimination of trachoma and other hygiene-related disease. These action plans will also include locally-developed, owned and led program indicators to ensure each community will measure its own success.

The three trial communities are currently at different stages of the planning process and implementation of their action plans. However, establishing and maintaining engagement with each of the trial communities continues to require a flexible and responsive approach.

Initially, formal and informal meetings occurred across each community to discuss the objective of Safe Eyes and to facilitate discussions about issues relating to hygiene and environmental health factors.

This has led to a broader group discussion about the health benefits to the community in addressing factors to stop the spread of germs and possibilities to address the issues identified.

From this starting point, these discussions developed into action plans in each of the three trial communities which provided answers relating to necessary actions, outcome measures, required resources and identifying those needed to be responsible for the actions.

The key elements of this approach undertaken by the Safe Eyes facilitators involve:

  • Demonstrating an ongoing commitment to reinforce community ownership of the action planning.
  • Respecting traditional knowledge and values.
  • Supporting rather than directing the change process.
  • Allowing time for change to occur.

The Safe Eyes program assumes that each community’s attempt to lead and own the elimination of trachoma and other communicable disease through hygiene and environmental health actions is based on the following principles:

  • Long term investment in, and commitment to change in public health behaviours at the individual, family (home) and broader community levels.
  • Community-led and owned solutions are sustainable because they are embedded in the community itself, since these solutions have actively valued and included local context within their development.

Evaluation

An external consultant has been engaged to evaluate the Safe Eyes model of Aboriginal leadership, community engagement and ownership within the three trial community sites.

This evaluation is essential to understanding and articulating how such a model of engagement, ownership and leadership may be applied and replicated within the 140+ trachoma-at-risk communities throughout remote and regional Australia.[1] The evaluation will document and assess the significant contextual factors at each of the three trial sites that have contributed to the successful development of community engagement, ownership and Aboriginal leadership in regard to the Safe Eyes program.[2]

[1] Australian Trachoma Surveillance Report 2013. Kirby Institute. University of New South Wales: p.10.

[2] The external evaluation of the ATA’s model of engagement, ownership and leadership will be completely distinct from the identification and development of measures of success undertaken within each trial community’s action plan.

NACCHO Report 3 of 4 . Ear and Hearing Health Project

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience some of the highest levels of ear disease and hearing loss in the world, with rates up to 10 times more than those for non-Indigenous Australians.

Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to ear infections. The most common ear disease among Aboriginal Children is otitis media (OM), which is inflammation or infection of the middle ear, typically caused by bacterial and viralpathogens.

Ear infections are responsible for the bulk of hearing problems with lifelong consequences, many of which are preventable and treatable if diagnosed early.

Overview

NACCHOs Ear and Hearing Project, aimed to coordinate the development and delivery of Ear and Hearing Health Skill Set Training for up to 115 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers.

The Project was funded under the Commonwealth Governments ‘Improving Eye and Ear Health Services for Indigenous Australians for Better Education and Employment Outcomes’ – a COAG measure, which also supported its implementation. The overall measure aimed to improve the early detection and treatment of eye and ear health conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, leading to improved education and employment outcomes.

NACCHO received funding for five phases of the project by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Section of the Department of Health.

Selecting Registered Training Organisations

Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) were selected through a rigorous selection panel process with representatives from NACCHO, Department of Health and Hearing Services Australia.

The selection process was strict and services had to meet the following criteria:

  • Be a registered training provided – preference was be given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).
  • Have the capacity and scope to deliver the Ear and Hearing Skill Set for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care training.
  • Provide qualified trainer and assessors to deliver Ear and Hearing Skill Set training.
  • Deliver the training within the required timeframe – April – October 2015.
  • Provide confirmation of training dates.
  • Be willing to take on bursary scheme participant/s as part of the delivery of training.
  • Take on eligible students to complete the training (list supplied by NACCHO).
  • Deliver training within the allocated budget.
  • Supply RTO details and provider number.
  • Lodgement of proposal by the closing date.

Outcomes

Four Registered Training Organistations rated as suitable to deliver training on behalf of NACCHO.

The successful organisations were:

  1. Central Australian Remote Health Development Service Ltd, Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
  2. Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia.
  3. The Aboriginal Health College, Sydney, New South Wales.
  4. Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc.

Ear and Hearing Health Training

The Ear and Hearing Health Skill Set Training was conducted over a two-week period and provided a pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to specialise in the provision of ear and hearing health. Additionally, the skill set units provide credit towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care qualifications at the Certificate IV level or higher.

NACCHO coordinated 100 Aboriginal Health Worker Ear and Hearing Training which were delivered in Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Cairns, Perth, Dubbo, Sydney, Kalgoorlie, Albany and Adelaide.

Due to Sorry Business, minimal trainees participated in Darwin with training in Katherine cancelled all together.

NACCHO Report 4 of 4 Quality use of Medicines Maximised for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

The Quality Use of Medicines Maximised for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (QUMAX) program is a collaboration between NACCHO and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGoA) with funding provided by the Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) under the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA). Through the 6CPA, the QUMAX program received 12 months funding.

What is QUMAX?

The QUMAX Program aims to improve health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who attend participating Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) in major cities, inner and outer regional areas.

QUMAX achieves this through the allocation of funding to participating ACCHOs to reduce barriers experienced by their clients to Quality Use of Medicines. There are seven support categories specified under the 6CPA:

  1. a) Dose Administration Aids Agreements b) Flexible Funding
  2. Quality Use of Medicine Pharmacy Support
  3. Home Medicine Reviews (HMR) models of support
  4. Quality Use of Medicine Devices
  5. Quality Use of Medicine Education
  6. Cultural Education
  7. Transport

In 2015-2016, QUMAX engaged with over 50 per cent of NACCHO member organisations. This equated to 76 ACCHOs across each State and Territory participating in the program reaching 219,486 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.

Challenges

The 2015-2016 QUMAX cycle has been a particularly challenging. The delay in notification of the 6CPA caused significant delays to the time sensitive QUMAX program cycle, placing additional administrative burden on NACCHO from a National Coordination stand point; and also at the ACCHO grassroots service delivery level.

The QUMAX program team supported ACCHOs through the completion and submission of their work plans and reporting requirements for this period. Despite these challenges, all program deliverables were met.

NACCHOs, QUMAX Programme: Quality use of Medicines Maximised for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People report was published in March 2016 highlighting the value and effectiveness of QUMAX for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients of participating ACCHOs.

Funding for QUMAX is and remains capped at 11 million dollars for the five year (2010-2015) 5CPA agreement. Although funding has increased annually, it has not been sufficient in meeting the ongoing needs of patients requiring support through the program. Coupled with additional financial investment provided by ACCHOs across the 2013-2015 financial years, the report indicated that a higher level of funding is needed.

Key outcomes from the report:

  • 81 organisations participated in the QUMAX program from 2010 to 2015.
  • ACCHOs reported greater uptake of QUMAX supported activities for which funding has not kept pace.
  • Program participants are evenly distributed across major cities and inner and outer regional areas.
  • Across the seven support categories:
  • The highest proportion has been allocated to Dose Administration Aids for complex medications (50 per cent).
  • Asthma masks and spacers, nebulisers and peak flow meters are the most highly used device with over 22,500 being provided.
  • 21 per cent of funds have been used for transport assistance for clients to acquire medications. It was noted that 80 per cent of contracted pharmacies are located over one kilometre away from ACCHO clinics.
  • 508 community pharmacies participated as Dose Administration Aids contracted pharmacies.
  • Community Pharmacies actively participated in improving their own cultural awareness and support for client education on medications.

NACCHO continues to work towards ensuring the QUMAX Program, and quality use of medicine support to ACCHOs continues throughout the 6CPA.

The full report is available on the NACCHO website http://www.naccho.org.au/wp-content/uploads/QUMAX-Report-Final-2016-04-10-hiq.pdf

Learn more about these NACCHO programs  at the  NACCHO Members Conference in Melbourne

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1. NACCHO Interim 3 day Program has been released -Download
2. The dates are fast approaching – so register today
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NACCHO #coagvawsummit Aboriginal Health and Alcohol : Additional $25 million to tackle family violence in Indigenous communities

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“In 2008, when I arrived in Alice Springs, I was told that 15 women from the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council membership region had been killed as a result of domestic violence between 2000 and 2008. And in every case, the accused partner had been under the influence of alcohol.

Since 2009, another two women from the NPY region have been killed as a result of domestic violence. There are a lot of factors behind this but it is a figure worth mentioning.

In the Northern Territory over the past three years, 23 women have been killed by someone with whom they were in a domestic relationship. And all of these partners were heavily intoxicated with alcohol, they were at least three times over the legal driving limit of 0.05.”

Alcohol creates havoc in Indigenous communities : full story below

Andrea Mason is an Aboriginal woman who has devoted her career to promoting just and fair access for Indigenous people and provides support for families across the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Lands – the central tri-state region of the Northern Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia.

Minister Nigel Scullion press release

“ Indigenous women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised because of family violence than non-Indigenous women.

To address these shocking statistics, the issue of violence in Indigenous communities has been highlighted as a national priority under the Third Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

“The $25 million package of additional measures will help frontline services to intervene early to prevent violence from occurring, while also addressing the drivers of violence in Indigenous communities.”

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children had a devastating impact on communities and families.

The Coalition Government has today announced a further $25 million investment in a range of measures to reduce the violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.

Indigenous children are more than five times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be hospitalised for assault and eight times more likely to experience child abuse or neglect,” Minister Scullion said.

“The $25 million package of additional measures will help frontline services to intervene early to prevent violence from occurring, while also addressing the drivers of violence in Indigenous communities.”

The package includes:

  • trauma-informed therapeutic services for Indigenous children affected by family violence to break the cycle of intergenerational violence;
  • services for perpetrators to encourage behaviour change and prevent future offending;
  • intensive family-focused case management to address behaviours that lead to family violence; and
  • increasing the capacity of family violence prevention legal services to deliver holistic, case-managed crisis support to Indigenous women and children experiencing family violence.

“The Government has actively sought the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on how best to address family violence to inform the development of the Third Action Plan,” Minister Scullion said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities will be engaged to collaborate on these new initiatives. We will also be encouraging Indigenous community organisations to deliver services under the Third Action Plan as they are best placed to help those in need.”

Minister Scullion said that in addition to this, the Coalition Government had allocated more than $92.7 million over four years through to 30 June 2018 to ensure Indigenous Family Violence Prevention Legal Service (FVPLS) providers continued their important work.

“Under the Coalition, despite what Labor says, no Indigenous FVPLS has had funding cut under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy – and overall funding has in fact increased,” Minister Scullion said.

“Funding to 13 of the 14 FVPLS providers has been maintained through the IAS funding round – and the remaining provider has received additional funding to expand its services to another nine communities in the Top End.

“Today, I can announce that more than $9 million will be provided to nine of the FVPLS providers to deliver them certainty through to June 2018 so they can continue their critical work in supporting Indigenous victims of family violence.

“The remaining five FVPLS providers already had their funding confirmed – meaning all of the FVPLS providers now have the certainty to continue delivering their vital services.”

The Third Action Plan builds on existing work underway through the Women’s Safety Package which provided over $100 million for a range of activities to keep all women safe from violence, including $21 million for activities specifically targeting Indigenous families.

Alcohol creates havoc in Indigenous communities

Andrea Mason is an Aboriginal woman who has devoted her career to promoting just and fair access for Indigenous people and provides support for families across the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Lands – the central tri-state region of the Northern Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia.

She was recently named the 2016 Telstra Northern Territory Business Women of the Year and winner of the For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award.

The following is an edited extract of her speech at the Telstra Awards evening held in Darwin earlier this month.

Andrea  attended the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Summit on reducing violence against women and their children in Brisbane this week to further discuss these issues and advocate for change.


A low expectation accepts the worst elements of our two cultures, such as domestic violence, welfare dependency, financial abuse, excessive alcohol consumption, child neglect and child sexual abuse, and youth suicide.

From the non-Indigenous community, which makes up 97 per cent of the Australian population, Aboriginal people need your support to change the thinking from ‘me’ to ‘us’. To an ‘us’ that is inclusive of the cultural and economic prosperity of Aboriginal Australians.

We also need the 97 per cent to be generous patrons and leaders to create a safer and more secure society. Particularly when many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people struggle to create this for themselves.

One area where a ‘me’ entitlement has created havoc in communities is that of alcohol-fuelled violence, often at the very serious end of the scale – or indeed the most serious.

In 2008, when I arrived in Alice Springs, I was told that 15 women from the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council membership region had been killed as a result of domestic violence between 2000 and 2008. And in every case, the accused partner had been under the influence of alcohol.

Since 2009, another two women from the NPY region have been killed as a result of domestic violence. There are a lot of factors behind this but it is a figure worth mentioning.

In the Northern Territory over the past three years, 23 women have been killed by someone with whom they were in a domestic relationship. And all of these partners were heavily intoxicated with alcohol, they were at least three times over the legal driving limit of 0.05.

At NPY Women’s Council, we know that alcohol isn’t the only trigger for violence, but it does escalate that violence. If we are to stop these domestic partner deaths, the excessive drinking in our community must be curbed. It’s estimated that if drinking were to be reduced to a level equivalent to the national average, there would be a 50 per cent drop in violence across the Northern Territory.

As a strategic business leader, I believe it would be an absolute tragedy if in 2020 the number of women killed by their partner as a result of alcohol-fuelled violence were to continue on this trajectory, which would see 51 women killed in seven years in the Northern Territory. This would be shocking and a disgrace, so change must happen today.

In regard to this, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Northern Territory Government for the leadership it is taking on this issue.

When I talk about a shared responsibility, reducing the number of women killed due to alcohol-fuelled violent attacks is one of many areas. Reducing Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is another. Reducing suicide is a third.

All these major health concerns will be significantly improved by addressing alcohol with evidence-based policies that we know will work.

At NPY Women’s Council, we have worked with victims of domestic violence since 1994. Today, we are also working to gather a critical mass of men who in time will become leaders, to advocate to others to change their violent behaviours and to seek better lives for themselves and their families.

It is of interest to me that even though NPY started its domestic violence service in 1994, the NPY region’s men cross-border program, set up to work with men to change their behaviour as part of the sentencing process, only began in 2007. Why haven’t we seen a community wide men’s initiative in the NPY Lands to stop the violence and – more importantly – what if a such a men’s movement to stop domestic violence had started in 1994? Women have had no choice but to lead the way for their own safety.

Our Aboriginal women, and now men, are doing their part. It is time for the whole Australian community to implement key policies on alcohol that will benefit everyone but especially the most marginalised people in our community.

It is Aboriginal people who suffer disproportionally because mainstream Australia cannot accept the need to turn down the tap a little for the benefit of everyone.

NACCHO #NTRC Aboriginal Children’s Health : Update this weeks community consultations Royal Commission #DonDaleKids

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Indigenous infants were still suffering damage to brain growth from the impact on parenting on the colonial frontier with “trans-generational psychic trauma” disabling normal pathways of neurological maturation and effecting the capacity to manage stress.

A back of the envelope extrapolation on the figures of keeping children in detention or out-of-home care was also in the tens of millions,”

Paediatrician and Emeritus Professor at the University of Newcastle, John Boulton

Picture above : The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory was told by several speakers at a public meeting in Darwin that the Department of Families and Children was “broken” and should be shut. Photo: Glenn Campbell Reported by SMH

Next weeks Community Consultations

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Eighty per cent of boys at the controversial Don Dale Youth Detention Centre had been sexually abused prior to their incarceration.

This was one of the bewildering claims made at a public meeting in Darwin where speaker after speaker attacked NT governments for cutting funds to child protection and allowing generations of public servants to take Indigenous children away from families reports by SMH Damien Murphy          

Many said the Department of Families and Children was “broken” and should be shut.

Most demanded that care of Indigenous children be the sole preserve of kin and were highly critical of favouritism given to white foster families who they claimed were not subjected to the same checks and balances by a public service culture that existed to perpetuate itself.

“You want to know why our kids end up in Don Dale? This is a new generation of stolen children,” a woman who said she had been subjected to undue red tape when applying to take a relative into care.

Stuart Davidson, the first deputy superintendent of Don Dale, said 80 per cent of teenagers under his care at the centre had been sexually abused prior to their incarceration.

“The system just didn’t recognise the trauma it is dealing with. And gradually those charged with looking after the boys started to reflect the lack of care of the management and, ultimately, the politicians.”

Welfare worker Lindsay Ah Mat said political parties courted the black vote when it suited them: “But soon as they get it they piss all over us.”

The meeting on Friday at Darwin’s Marrara Sports Complex was called by the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory as part of its community consultation program. It followed three days of public hearings this week.

The royal commission came in the wake of a July Four Corners program with footage showing teenagers at the Don Dale being tear gassed and one in a spit hood handcuffed to a chair.

One of the whistleblowers behind the Four Corners report, Darwin lawyer John Lawrence, told Fairfax Media the royal commission was on track to succeed where scores of other government inquiries on child protection had failed.

“This royal commission exists due to the failure of those in authority in the Territory to stand up for what is right,” he said.

“We’re all guilty. Lawyers, judges, politicians … We’re supposed to protect society. How did we get to a place where a spit hood is an appropriate way to treat a child? Years of complacency gave way to complicity and now process and budgets have usurped principles and ethics.”

The elite of the NT legal fraternity on Tuesday gathered in the NT Parliament just hours after the royal commission sat for the first time in the neighbouring Supreme Court building. One of the few Indigenous people present, James Parfitt, gave a welcome to country and then the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Marilyn Warren, delivered an oration honouring Austin Asche, a doyen of the Darwin legal establishment, on the topic of young people offending in which she tip-toed around the royal commission.

Down the road in Mitchell Street, an Irish pub and restaurants Thailicious, Hunaman and Monsoon chased tourist dollars while Indigenous men and women sat on footpaths begging, singing and playing clapsticks, their songs drowned out by Neil Diamond and Dire Straits on sound systems.

Life went on in Darwin as if the royal commission was some unwanted outsider. Local media carried the stories but not prominently. One witness, Lowitja Institute chairwoman, Pat Anderson, suggested to the commission the dearth of local interest was shown by the fact that a crocodile story was on the morning’s NT News front page. A desultory process was staged the first day outside the Supreme Court.

The first three days of hearings saw bureaucrats and health professionals give evidence of the plethora of reports carried out on child protection for NT governments. Many were shelved or not acted upon. Meanwhile, funds to child welfare agencies continued to be cut by the federal governments and the Darwin administration failed to step in.

Commissioners were also told of the role that hearing loss and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder had come to play in the lives of teenagers in detention in the NT.

Paediatrician and Emeritus Professor at the University of Newcastle, John Boulton, cited research he conducted in the Kimberley on foetal alcohol spectrum disorder saying communities were breaking down, especially since the 1980s when women started drinking.

“A back of the envelope extrapolation on the figures of keeping children in detention or out-of-home care was also in the tens of millions,” Professor Boulton said.

He said Indigenous infants were still suffering damage to brain growth from the impact on parenting on the colonial frontier with “trans-generational psychic trauma” disabling normal pathways of neurological maturation and effecting the capacity to manage stress.

Commissioners also heard 94 per cent of Indigenous prisoners suffered impaired hearing and research found six out of 10 boys at the notorious Don Dale Detention Centre had hearing difficulties.

A deaf Indigenous community consultant, Jodie Barney, slammed the use of spit hoods and handcuffs on young offenders shown on Four Corners.

“I have had a few young people who have had a spit hood and they have also been bound. So therefore their form of communication is lost in every sense of the word,” she said.

The commission continues with community consultation meetings next week and will conduct further hearings next month.

How you can share  stories about Aboriginal Community Controlled Health issues ? Closing this week

  • newspaper-promoEditorial OpportunitiesWe 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.Maximum 600 words (word file only) with image

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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 #FASDAwarenessDay Aboriginal Health : AMA calls for #FASD to be recognised as a disability

FASD

” FASD has a significant impact on education, criminal justice, and child protection services in Australia, and yet has not been included by the Government on the list of recognised disabilities.

“FASD is associated with a range of birth defects including hyperactivity, lack of focus and poor concentration, delayed development, heart and kidney problems, and below average height and weight development,”

“The average life expectancy of a patient with FASD is just 34 years. FASD is extremely costly to our health, education, and justice systems, yet is potentially preventable.

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon

FASD 3

“High rates of alcohol consumption have been reported in both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal population.

Aboriginal women are more likely than non-Aboriginal women to consume alcohol in pregnancy at harmful levels. Australian research indicates that maternal alcohol use is a significant risk factor for stillbirths, infant mortality and intellectual disability in children, particularly in the Aboriginal population.”

NACCHO Newspaper Report

The AMA is calling for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) to be included on the list of recognised disabilities, so that families can have access to much-needed support services.

Ahead of World Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day on 9 September, the AMA today released its new Position Statement on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – (FASD) 2016.

FASD is a diagnostic term used to describe the range of permanent, severe neurodevelopmental impairments that may occur as a result of maternal alcohol consumption.

Globally, FASD is thought to be the leading cause of preventable birth defects and intellectual disability. World FASD Awareness Day aims to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and the plight of individuals and families who struggle with FASD.

“The AMA welcomes the efforts of the Government, particularly the Commonwealth Action Plan, through which the Australian Guide to the Diagnosis of FASD was developed, but more must be done.

“The current Commonwealth Action Plan expires in 2017 and the lack of recognition of FASD on the Department of Social Services disability list leaves families without access to much-needed disability support services.

“The AMA urges the Government to continue to provide support for the important preventive and aftercare work being undertaken, and to include FASD on the list of recognised disabilities.”

Dr Gannon said that no safe level of fetal alcohol exposure to alcohol has been identified.

“The AMA believes that the safest option for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy is to completely abstain from alcohol consumption,” Dr Gannon said.

“The message is simple and safe – no alcohol during pregnancy.

“The AMA encourages partners, friends, and loved ones to support pregnant women in their choice not to drink,” Dr Gannon said.

The AMA Position Statement on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – (FASD)

2016 is available at https://ama.com.au/position-statement/fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorder-fasd-2016.

Background

  • We do not currently know the true extent of FASD in the Australian community, largely due to the complexity of the diagnostic process.
  • Data from comparable countries suggests FASD may affect roughly between 2 per cent and 5 per cent of the population.
  • Overseas research suggests that individuals with FASD are 19 times more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system than their peers.
  • In Canada, this is estimated to cost the Juvenile Justice System $17.5 million CND and the adult custodial system $356.2 million CND annually
  • No safe level of fetal alcohol exposure has been identified.
  • The safest option for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy is to completely abstain from alcohol consumption.
  • FASD2                                    More Info www.nofasd.org.au

NACCHO Aboriginal Health 27 key Save a dates like #marmotoz #FASDAwarenessDay and #NACCHOAGM2016

Save

Qand a

Sir Michael Marmot will be on tonight 29 August  QandA talking social determinants

Background

As the generators and implementers of policies that underpin improved population health outcomes (Marmot and Bell, 2012).

NACCHO encourages the Commonwealth to recognise that the social determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their ensuing health inequities are significantly influenced by broad social factors outside the health system.

NACCHO asserts that the Commonwealth is well positioned to identify those factors and act upon them through policy decisions that improve health – supported by current evidence – in housing, law & justice and mining & resource tax redistribution, for example.

1. Closing dates 15 October for next edition 16 November

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper

To be distributed at the NACCHO AGM and Members meeting 2016

AGM 2016

Editorial and advertising opportunities

front Page - Copy

Editorial Proposals 15 October 2016
Final Ads artwork 31 October 2016
Publication date 16 November 2016

More Info HERE

2.Celebrate #IndigenousDads Registrations now open

ONLY a few Weeks to go / Limited numbers

Aboriginal Male Health National -NACCHO OCHRE DAY

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This year NACCHO is pleased to announce the annual NACCHO Ochre Day will be held in Perth during September 2016. This year the activities will be run by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in partnership with both the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) and Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Inc.

Beginning in 2013, Ochre Day is an important NACCHO Aboriginal male health initiative. As Aboriginal males have arguably the worst health outcomes of any population group in Australia.

NACCHO has long recognised the importance of addressing Aboriginal male health as part of Close the Gap by 2030.

  • There is no registration cost to attend the NACCHO Ochre Day (Day One or Two)
  • There is no cost to attend the NACCHO Ochre Day Jaydon Adams Memorial Oration Dinner, (If you wish to bring your Partner to this Dinner then please indicate when you register below)
  • All Delegates will be provided breakfast & lunch on Day One and morning & afternoon tea as well as lunch on Day Two.
  • All Delegates are responsible for paying for and organising your own travel and accommodation.

For further information please contact Mark Saunders;

REGISTRATION / CONTACT PAGE

2. CATSINAM International Indigenous Workforce Meeting

Cat

More info HERE

3. NACCHO Members Conference AGM: Save a date  : 6-8 December 2016  Melbourne Further details

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The NACCHO AGM conference provides a forum for the Aboriginal community controlled health services workforce, bureaucrats, educators, suppliers and consumers to:

  • Present on innovative local economic development solutions to issues that can be applied to address similar issues nationally and across disciplines
  • Have input and influence from the ‘grassroots’ into national and state health policy and service delivery
  • Demonstrate leadership in workforce and service delivery innovation
  • Promote continuing education and professional development activities essential to the Aboriginal community controlled health services in urban, rural and remote Australia
  • Promote Aboriginal health research by professionals who practice in these areas and the presentation of research findings
  • Develop supportive networks
  • Promote good health and well-being through the delivery of health services to and by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people throughout Australia
  • INFO CONTACT REGISTER

FASD                         More info www.nofasd.org.au

5.National Stroke week kits are now available for ACCHO’s

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Registrations are open
National Stroke Week is the Stroke Foundation’s annual awareness campaign taking place from September 12 – 18. Taking part in Stroke Week is a great chance to engage in a fun and educational way with your workplace, friends, sporting or community group.
SPEED SAVES
This Stroke Week we want all Australians to know the signs of stroke and act FAST to get to treatment.
Time has a huge impact on stroke and we need your help to spread this message. A speedy reaction not only influences the treatment available to a person having a stroke but also their recovery. Most treatments for stroke are time sensitive so it is important we Think F.A.S.T. and Act FAST!
Get your Stroke Week kit NOW
Whether you are an office, hospital, community group or support group, there are lots of ways you can be involved in Stroke Week 2016 like:
• Organise an awareness activity
• Fundraise for the Stroke Foundation
• Host a health check
There’s no cost for your Stroke Week kit which includes posters, a campaign booklet and resources as well as social media kit and PR support.
Act FAST and register NOW at: 

6.Call for applications research project

Research

Details here

7.National Conference: Closing the Prison Gap: Building Cultural Resilience

WHEN: 10-11 October 2016

WHERE: Mantra on Salt Beach, Gunnamatta Avenue, Kingscliff, NSW

WHO TO CONTACT: Meg Perkins mperkinsnsw@gmail.com Mobile 0417 614 135

The Closing the Gap: Building Cultural Resilience national conference will look closely at issues around changing the Australian criminal justice system while celebrating grassroots, community-led and unfunded activities being undertaken by First Nations People.

Australia has a long history of over-incarceration of First Nations peoples, beginning with the first Aboriginal Protection Act in Victoria in 1869, and culminating in the abuses at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre in the Northern Territory in 2016.

It is obvious that we need to make changes in the Australian criminal justice system – studies on risk and protective factors have shown that cultural resilience is a major factor involved in protecting new generations from the trauma and disadvantage of the past.

Cultural resilience was first mentioned in the literature by Native American educators who noticed that their students on the reservation succeeded, in spite of poverty and exposure to substance abuse and lateral violence, when they were supported by traditional tribal structures, spirituality and cultural practices.

The theory of cultural resilience suggests that the practice of culture creates a psychological sense of belonging and a positive

8. Biennial National Forum from 29 Nov – 1 Dec 2016 Canberra ACT

IAHA

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), a national not for profit, member based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health organisation, is holding its biennial National Forum from 29 Nov – 1 Dec 2016 at the Rex Hotel in Canberra.

The 2016 IAHA National Forum will host  a diverse range of interactive Professional Development workshops and the 2016 IAHA National Indigenous Allied Health Awards and Gala Dinner.

The fourth IAHA Health Fusion Team Challenge, a unique event specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health students, will precede the Forum.

Collectively, these events will present unique opportunities to:

  • Contribute to achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality
  • Be part of creating strengths based solutions
  • Build connections – work together and support each other
  • Enhance professional and personal journeys
  • Celebrate the successes of those contributing to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

All workshop participants will receive a Certificate of Attendance, detailing the duration, aims and learning outcomes of the workshop, which can be included in your Continuous Professional Development (CPD) personal portfolio.

Register HERE

9. NATSIHWA  6th & 7th of October 2016

NATSIHWA-Eventbrite

On the 6th & 7th of October 2016 NATSIHWA is holding the bi-annual National Conference at the Pullman Hotel in Brisbane. The conference is the largest event for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health practitioners.

The theme for this year’s conference is “my story, my knowledge, our future”

my story – health workers and health practitioners sharing their stories about why they came into this profession, what they do in their professional capacity and what inspires them.

my knowledge – being able to gain new knowledge and passing knowledge onto others by sharing and networking.

our future – using stories and knowledge to shape their future and the future of their communities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health practitioners are our valuable frontline primary health care workers and are a vital part of Australia’s health care profession. This conference will bring together health workers and health practitioners from across the country.

Register now and get the early bird special. Each registration includes a ticket to the awards dinner.

Register Now     Book Accomodation

 10. VACCA Cultural Awareness Training – Book Now!

Looking to deepen your cultural journey?

VACCA’s Training and Development Unit offers a range of programs to external organisations working in the field of child and family welfare, to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal organisations, families and communities.

VACCA delivers cultural awareness training throughout the year for people interested in developing cultural competency.

Registrations are now open for August.

See the flyer for all details and how to register for these sessions.

Microsoft Word - VACCA Training - Cultural Awareness Flyer web.d

All enquiries can be emailed to: trainingevents@vacca.org

 

11. HealthinfoNET Conferences, workshops and events

Upcoming conferences and events.

Conferences, workshops and events

  • 17th International Mental Health Conference – Gold Coast, Qld – Wednesday 10 to Friday 12 August 2016 – this conference will provide a platform for health professionals such as, clinical practitioners, academics, service providers and mental health experts, to discuss mental health issues confronting Australia and New Zealand.
  • 2016 National Stolen Generations Conference – Gold Coast, Qld – Wednesday 24 to Friday 26 August 2016 – this conference aims to provide an educational platform to the wider community and endeavours to assist in a sensitive and culturally appropriate way with healing the spirit, mind and body of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Working with Children and Young People through Adversity – Parramatta, NSW – Friday 29 August 2016 – this one-day workshop equips participants with a framework for working therapeutically with children and young people who are experiencing personal diversity. The key focus of this workshop is working with children and young people with a diagnosis of serious illness.
  • Quality Assurance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services (QAAMS) – The workshop program will include full training for people undertaking competency certification for the first time and competency update for those previously trained. The workshop program will also allow for interactive group sessions, presentations from services and education about diabetes care. Darwin, NT – Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 September 2016
  • RHD
  • Acute Rheumatic Fever & Rheumatic Heart Disease Education Workshop – The workshop is designed for key health staff involved in the diagnosis and management of people with acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in the NT. Darwin, Northern Territory (NT) – Thursday 20 October and Friday 21 October 2016.
    Workshop – Acute Rheumatic Fever& Rheumatic Heart Disease Education Workshop (16 CME/CPD hours)
    Date: 20-21 October 2016
    Time: 08:00 – 16:30 (each day)
    Location: John Matthews Building (Building 58) Menzies, Royal Darwin Hospital Campus, Darwin
    Course overview: The rheumatic heart disease workshop is designed for key health staff involved in the diagnosis and management of people with acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in the Northern Territory. This workshop will engage participants with a combination of objective driven information sessions, and consolidate that knowledge with a series of targeted clinical and practical case studies.
  • Hurting, helping and healing workshop – This workshop aims to bring attention to the mental health and wellbeing of individuals suffering from ‘at risk’ mental states. Perth, WA – Wednesday 23 November 2016.
  • Mental Health Assessment of Aboriginal Clients – This workshop aims to improve the cultural competencies of participants. The workshop will be delivered across Australia. Please refer to the link for the locations and dates.
  • National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation member’s conference 2016 – This conference is planned to take place in Melbourne,

The CheckUP Forum
2 September, Brisbane
The health system is on notice – transform or be transformed. The forces for change are driving innovation from within and disruption from outside the system. #health2020 represents a new health economy in which value and outcomes, not volumes, matter and where an engaged, informed health consumer is the major driver of value and activity. Find out more here.

Health Law Seminar: Improving patient outcomes
8 September, Sydney
Book your place now for the FREE Health Law Seminar: Improving Patient Outcomes jointly presented by AHHA, the Australian College of Health Service Management (ACHSM) and Holman Webb. A number of expert speakers will present and discuss health law issues in relation to improving patient outcomes. Find out more here.

Mid North Coast Local Health District Rural Innovation and Research Symposium
15-16 September, Coffs Harbour
The Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) Rural Innovation and Research Symposium will showcase how innovation and research is embedded into MNCLHD’s everyday work practices. MNCLHD’s focus is on creating a connected health environment – One Health System For You. The Symposium will showcase innovation, research and programs that support integrated care, communication, connectivity and access to services across the health spectrum. The Early Bird registration special closes at midnight on Sunday 14 August. Find out more here.

Health Planning and Evaluation Course
10-11 October, Brisbane
QUT Health is delivering a new course for individuals seeking to develop skills and knowledge in the planning of health services and the translation of health policy into practice. Delivered over two block periods, each block consisting of two days, this new course has been developed and will be delivered by experts in health planning, policy and evaluation. AHHA members are entitled to a 15% discount on the course fees. Read more.

RACMA – Harm Free Health Care Conference
10-11 October, Brisbane
The theme for the Royal Australasian College of Medial Administrators conference this year is “Harm Free Health Care”. This conference is designed to challenge and debate whether health care can be Harm Free and what practical approaches can be considered. As one of their flagship events, the RACMA Annual Scientific Meeting is expected to attract around 250 delegates to Brisbane who will be a mixture of senior managers, clinical specialists with management roles, researchers, educators, policy makers, and health ministry and health provider executives. This year they have an international keynote speaker, Samuel Shem M.D who is also a renowned author sharing his experience at the conference. Find out more here.

Sidney Sax Medal Dinner
19 October, Brisbane
The Sidney Sax Medal is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the development and improvement of the Australian healthcare system in the field of health services policy, organisation, delivery and research. Join us celebrate the awarding of the 2016 Sidney Sax Medal at a networking dinner following the AHHA AGM. The dinner will also feature Sean Parnell, Health Editor at The Australian as the guest speaker. Find out more here.

Stepped Care Models for Mental Health Workshop
28 October, Sydney
Primary Health Networks have been funded by the Commonwealth to facilitate implementation of stepped care models in  Australian mental health services. Effective implementation will require partnerships, resources, new and redefined models and services. With no clear national guideline or agreement on what stepped care models should look like, and the need for a strong coalition across jurisdictions and providers to drive implementation, PHNs do not have a clear road map. This workshop will bring together key players to understand what has been learned to date in the development and implementation of stepped care models and the way forward to effective implementation in the Australian health care system. Find out more here.

Connect with NACCHO

Improving NACCHO communications to members and stakeholders

To reduce the number of NACCHO Communiques we now  send out on Mondays  an executive summary -Save the date on important events /Conferences/training , members news, awards, funding opportunities :

Register and promote your event , send to

NACCHO Grog Wars : To hell and back — how June Oscar battles to dry out Fitzroy Crossing

June

“Evidence from Indigenous health workers of “sly grogging” and “grog runs” is being used to argue alcohol restrictions should be eased in the Fitzroy Valley, where children suffer among the world’s highest rates of brain damage caused by maternal drinking.

Kids are being left hungry as parents spend all their money buying in alcohol as residents, mostly Centrelink recipients, were paying $150 a carton for beer.

“The ban, which still allows full-strength liquor in hotels, was ­extended to Halls Creek in 2009 amid an outcry over alcohol-­fuelled violence, suicide and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Witness statements  tendered by lawyers for hoteliers in the central Kimberley who are lobbying the West Australian ­Director of Liquor Licensing to ease the grog rules.

From the Australian 24 August full text Story 2 Below

Read previous FASD Articles NACCHO NEWS ALERTS

“After attending 50 funerals in 18 months, including a spate of 22 self-harm deaths over 13 months, many alcohol-related and 13 of them suicides, leaders from the Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource Centre (MFWRC) stepped up to fight for their futures.

Over a coffee, she explains that to stem the horrific effects of family violence, child abuse and suicide, they first had to stem the flow of alcohol. As CEO, Oscar led her corporation’s application to the State Government for alcohol restrictions.

“We had to stand up and say enough is enough,” she says. “Alcohol was destroying our community and it was affecting every aspect of life. It was being consumed to a level where everyone’s quality of life in Fitzroy Crossing was shocking. We had to stand up and fight for our future — our children’s future.

It was an Australian first — never before had alcohol been restricted to an entire community on such a scale. The women’s hardline stance was supported by a core group of men, but it also attracted criticism and fierce opposition. Members of their own families, some local councillors and the liquor companies felt the restrictions were too pervasive and too drastic.”

To hell and back — how June Oscar dried out Fitzroy Crossing

DRAPED in a splash of Kimberley colour, proud Bunuba woman June Oscar takes to the stage with some of WA’s big thinkers.

To her right is Chief Justice Wayne Martin and next to him is Perth-born polio-eradication campaigner Michael Sheldrick, a director of New York-based The Global Poverty Project. The rest of the line-up is impressive too, and Oscar, the only woman on the panel, admits she’s a little starstruck because the man asking the questions is academic, writer and TV host Waleed Aly.

“I’m pinching myself,” she says. “I can’t believe I’m here with you blokes. It’s a privilege, and it’s been so great to meet you Waleed. You’re one of my heroes.”

But Oscar, a social activist and community leader from the Fitzroy Valley in the state’s remote north, more than deserves her spot on the panel. She’s at the Disrupted Festival of Ideas in Northbridge — a gathering of mavericks for change — where Oscar has been invited to speak because for the past decade she’s been a lightning rod for sweeping social change in her home town of Fitzroy Crossing.

In May she was presented with the Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowship Award by former governor-general Quentin Bryce, the same award won by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Her acceptance speech received a standing ovation.

After she steps off the stage, a stream of people waits to give her a hug or warmly grab her hand.

Oscar’s long fight to stamp out the ravages of excessive alcohol consumption in her community in the southern Kimberley has won her a swag of awards and a legion of supporters.

In July 2007 she spearheaded a female-led campaign to restrict the sale of full-strength takeaway alcohol across the Fitzroy Valley.

They are among 29 statements, including 10 by local indigenous people including health workers and child carers, to support claims that “sly grogging” and “grog runs” to other towns have thrived since a ban on the sale of full-strength and mid-strength takeaway alcohol in Fitzroy Crossing in 2007.

“There are some people who still don’t agree with the restrictions, but we had to take a stand,” she says. “Alcohol was playing a big part in the level of domestic violence, and it was tearing families apart.

“We could not tackle educating people about their violent behaviours and their emotional triggers until we had restricted their access to alcohol.”

Within six months, the results of the restrictions were undeniable — alcohol-related injuries in hospital presentations had fallen from 85 per cent down to below 20 per cent and alcohol-fuelled domestic violence incidents also fell by 43 per cent.

Children were going to school more often and doctors at the local hospital were staying for longer than three months to help the community rebuild its health and its future. Police reported that rapes, bashings and street drinking were also on the decline.

For Oscar, the fight was very personal. Among the 13 reported suicides in 2006 — which led to a coronial inquiry in 2008 — was her 39-year-old younger brother. Her grief, and the grief of those around her, pushed her to fight the grog head-on.

And then there was Hudson, the little boy from her extended family who was displaying developmental and intellectual deficits. They suspected it was a result of his mother drinking heavily right throughout her pregnancy.

“Everything I’m engaged in comes from a place of personal experience and lived reality,” Oscar says.

“There’s a really personal story for me in all of these issues, and it’s the same for most of the women in Fitzroy Crossing.”

Fitzroy Crossing where June Oscar decided to take action against the “rivers of grog”.

Hudson, and children like him, had facial irregularities, behavioural issues and learning problems. So the Marninwarntikura women held a bush meeting in 2008 and invited health researchers into the community to investigate.

They set up the Marulu: The Liliwan Project, working with researchers from the George Institute, the University of Sydney and the Telethon Kids Institute to study the incidence and prevalence of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Initial studies of children aged seven and eight who had been born in 2002 and 2003 revealed Fitzroy Crossing had the highest incidence of the disorder in the country, and probably the world.

“When the women learnt that their drinking was harming their babies, they started to change,” Oscar says. “Now we are seeing more and more women who are pregnant abstaining from drinking. Some are finding it very difficult. It’s an ongoing battle.”

Dr James Fitzpatrick, head of FASD research at the Telethon Kids Institute, says Oscar’s intuition about the problems facing Fitzroy Crossing in 2008 has led to a huge drop in the number of women drinking during pregnancy. The rates fell from 65 per cent in 2010 to 18 per cent in 2015.

“June is incredibly courageous in her approach,” Fitzpatrick says. “After a long moment of community sobriety after the restrictions, she approached us to say they were ready to learn about FASD. She knows what she’s talking about and she’s steadfast in navigating what she often calls ‘a road out of hell’.”

Born in the heart of Bunuba country in the southern Kimberley, Oscar was the second of six children, brought up by her mother and mentor, Mona, now 82, a straight-talking domestic worker.

Her father was a white pastoralist, but three weeks after June was born she and Mona were forced to take refuge at the nearby United Aborigines Mission.

“His wife was not happy that he had fathered another child to an Aboriginal woman, so we were driven to the local police station and taken to the mission, where we stayed until I was three,” she says.

“I met him once when I was 19 and that was it.”

Despite this, she’s in regular contact with nieces and nephews from her four half-siblings on her father’s side.

“I’m a Bunuba woman, but I’m also a woman of European heritage and I have family from both sides,” she says. “I see people, I don’t see colour, or creed or ethnicity and I believe we are all connected.”

Mona later took a job at Leopold Downs Station and when Oscar was seven she was sent to boarding school at the nearby mission. Her family visited once a week and she would return to Leopold Downs to be with Mona during the school holidays.

“I don’t see myself as a member of the Stolen Generation,” she says. “I was never taken away from my mother in that sense, but I have lived through the massive impact it had on our people.”

She was sent to high school in Perth, staying at a hostel near John Forrest High School. It was the first time she heard the terms “boong” and “Abo”.

“I was a capable student, and I think I could have done better if I didn’t have to fight racism and taunts most the time I was there,” she says.

But it wasn’t until Oscar worked with Aboriginal activist and Yawuru man Peter Yu at the Aboriginal Legal Service in Derby that she had her own political awakening.

“I was working as a relief legal secretary and receptionist, typing up affidavits for the solicitors and the courts, when it hit home that what I had seen and experienced growing up was unacceptable and discriminatory,” she recalls.

“I reflected on my own life and understood that I could take action and change things for my whole community. Education and information were crucial.”

She was 29 when then Aboriginal Affairs Minister Robert Tickner rang her to invite her on to the first full board of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. She even hung up on him the first time.

“I thought it was someone playing a prank — sometimes my mob did things like that, pretending to be someone important,” she says.

One of Oscar’s close allies in her work at Fitzroy Crossing is Emily Carter, another Bunuba leader and Oscar’s deputy at the MFWRC. The pair made a big impression on Kim Anderson, a former high school principal, who moved to Fitzroy Crossing five years ago after meeting them in Melbourne when they came to teach students about the languages of the Kimberley.

Anderson says that hearing of the pair’s efforts in teaching women about the effects of drinking during pregnancy impressed her and their “strong stance” in restricting the flow of alcohol was “phenomenal”.

Anderson has witnessed huge changes in the valley first-hand.

“I first went to Fitzroy Crossing in 2005, before the restrictions, and it was a very sad place,” she says. “When I went back in 2010 and the restrictions had been in place for some time — well, my goodness, what a difference. They never wavered in their decision to ban the sale of takeaway alcohol and that was incredibly courageous.”

Oscar and Carter are still working to promote the 28 surviving languages of the Kimberley region, signing up to a cross-cultural program with Melbourne’s Wesley College.

“Kids from Wesley come and stay with us and our kids visit them,” Oscar says. “It’s a chance for the Wesley students to be exposed to indigenous language and culture and issues.”

In 2009, the story of Fitzroy Crossing made it all the way to a commission on the status of indigenous women and children at the United Nations in New York. Oscar and Carter travelled with Labor MP Tanya Plibersek for the summit.

Their story struck such a chord when Yallijarra, a film about the Fitzroy Crossing and its children, aired, some delegates were in tears.

“Sometimes you have to get out of here to make a difference where it matters,” Oscar says. “I will go wherever I need to if it means that my community can grow and thrive from it.”

In the past two decades, Oscar has collected “many hats”, serving as a local councillor, language specialist and Bunuba Films director. She’s a member of the Lowitja Institute for Health Research and Bush Heritage Australia — and the list goes on. Three

Her quest to tell the stories of the valley have taken her all over the world, and she has lunched with the Queen and had drinks with Academy Award winners.

But Oscar is happiest by the Fitzroy River where the sights and smells of her childhood come flooding back.

“I love being ‘on country’,” she says. “Being down by the river just revives me. I love fishing in the spring with Mona. There’s a cave there, near the Geike Gorge, where we always retreat to. The Australian outback is the best part of the country and a big part of me.

“I suppose it’s true what they say,” she laughs. “You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.”

years ago she became an Officer of the Order of Australia.

To hell and back — how June Oscar dried out Fitzroy Crossing

Grog runs ‘leaving kids hungry’ in Indigenous communities

The ban, which still allows full-strength liquor in hotels, was ­extended to Halls Creek in 2009 amid an outcry over alcohol-­fuelled violence, suicide and fetal alcohol syndrome.

William Johnston, a night ­patrol worker in Halls Creek, says in the hoteliers’ written submission that “there is no less grog in town since the restrictions, maybe more”. “Every day someone is driving to another town like Kununurra to buy full-strength grog like beer and spirits,” he says.

Catherine Ridley, a registered carer with the Department for Child Protection, says in the submission that “kids are being left hungry” as parents spend all their money buying in alcohol.

One local health worker said in a statement that residents, mostly Centrelink recipients, were paying $150 a carton for beer.

Three businesses — Martin Peirson-Jones’s Kimberley Accommodation that owns the main Halls Creek hotel, the Leedal corporation that owns a Fitzroy Crossing pub and supermarket, and the Halls Creek Store — want permission to sell mid-strength takeaway beer.

They acknowledge in their submission, complied by law firm Dwyer Durack, that crime and alcohol-related hospital admissions in Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing have decreased since the ban. “While the situation has improved, an unintended consequence of the liquor restrictions is the thriving black market of full-strength liquor and the regular practice of grog runs,” it states, arguing a relaxation might deter this.

However, Fitzroy Crossing’s Women’s Resource Centre has applied to oppose any change. June Oscar, one of the indigenous women supported by West Australian Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan to secure the ban on full-strength takeaway alcohol, said the restrictions needed support and time rather than winding back.

When state coroner Alastair Hope examined the drug and alcohol-related deaths of 22 Aboriginal men and women in the region in 2007, he heard evidence that hungry children, neglected by alcoholic parents, had been sucking the teats of dogs.

JUNE 2

June Oscar, who helped to bring in an alcohol ban at her home of Fitzroy Crossing. Picture: Richard Hatherly