Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health #WorldHepatitisDay News Alerts : #LetsTalkHep editorial contributions from @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills, Dr Jason Agostino , Dr Mark Wenitong , Troy Combo : Plus link todays @HepAus event

“We are so proud of the work done by our members and affiliates in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but we cannot lose sight of the need to reduce our viral hepatitis rates.

We are concerned about the harm caused to our communities from the spread of Hepatitis B and C and I encourage our people to get vaccinated and continue ongoing treatments.

Keep in touch with your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.”

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is spreading the message to all Australians that while the rates of hepatitis in Australia are declining, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are being left behind.

Read / Download full NACCHO World Hepatitis Day press releases HERE .

“Great work has been done in improving immunisation rates against Hepatitis B and on treatment for Hepatitis C, yet the prevalence of viral hepatitis and subsequent liver damage remains high amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

What is particularly concerning are rates of viral hepatitis in remote and very remote communities are five times higher compared to metropolitan areas.

In the COVID-19 environment, we want to urge everyone to continue their regular health care. This involves getting childhood immunisations and for those on treatment for Hepatitis, don’t change or stop treatments unless advised to do so by your treating doctor.”

NACCHO Medical Adviser, Dr Jason Agostino

“At Apunipima we provide screenings for Hepatitis in our clinics and work closely with prison screening programs to help control the disease being transmitted within communities when prisoners are released.

Hepatitis in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a preventable disease, but with both short-term and potentially chronic implications, Hepatitis has a significant impact on our mob’s health.

We need to work together to ensure we practice prevention in our communities, but also that we get tested, detect the disease early and have access to best practice treatment and management.”

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO), Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Mark Wenitong

” In recognition of the inequitable burden of hepatitis C amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, EC Australia has developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Strategy (The Strategy) that will inform and guide the activities of EC Australia.

The Strategy will cut across the four key components of EC Australia: health promotion, workforce development and health services delivery, implementation research and evaluation and surveillance.

This will ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach to accessible and culturally appropriate hepatitis C care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Troy Combo EC Australia as the Program Manager for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan see Part 1 below

 ” Leading organisations unite to discuss COVID-19 impact on hepatitis C elimination in Australia on World Hepatitis Day

Australia’s leading drug and infectious disease organisations will join forces to call for a re-engagement in elimination of hepatitis C in an online event on World Hepatitis Day, Tuesday, 28 July 2020. “

See Part 2 Below for link todays event 

Part 1 EC Australia, Partnering to Eliminate Hepatitis C

Firstly, I would like to introduce myself, Troy Combo, I have a joint appointment with the Burnet Institute and am employed and based at University of Queensland, School of Public Health and have recently been appointed as the Aboriginal Program Manager for EC Australia.

I have worked in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector since completing my Diploma in Aboriginal Health at Redfern AMS in 1994. I have held positions with local AMS’s, State Affiliates (AH&MRC & QAIHC) and I have also worked for NACCHO (2013-2014). More recently I was employed at Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (2015-2020).

Australia can be one of the first countries to achieve the World Health Organization’s target of eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.

In 2016 an estimated 188,951 Australians were living with the hepatitis C virus resulting in up to 630 deaths from liver cancer and liver failure each year. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a disproportionate burden of hepatitis C and account for 10% of all people living with the virus in Australia.

As a priority population in our own right, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also overrepresented amongst people in custodial settings, people who currently inject drugs or previously injected drugs and people accessing drug treatment programs; all of which increases a person’s risk of contracting hepatitis C.

In 2017 notification rates for hepatitis C were 4.4 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians (168.1 per 100 000 vs 38.4 per 100 00) and the rates for newly acquired (evidence of acquisition in the prior 24 months) hepatitis C was 13.7 times that of non-Indigenous Australians (24.6 v 1.8 per 100 00 respectively).

In 2016, direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medication was made available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to most people living with hepatitis C, regardless of disease stage. DAAs have revolutionised hepatitis C care making elimination of hepatitis C possible; they are highly effective with efficacy rates over 95%, have minimal side effects, and require only 8-12 weeks of once-daily tablets. While initial uptake of DAAs was positive, by 2018 the number of people commencing treatment started to fall. If Australia is to achieve its elimination targets, it is crucial that testing remains high and that DAA treatments are provided to people with hepatitis C to cure people of hepatitis C and prevent further transmission.

Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia

Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia (EC Australia) is a nationwide, multidisciplinary project with the aim to achieve a coordinated response to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030. The project brings together researchers and implementation scientists, government, health services and community organisations, peak and other non-government organisations to increase hepatitis C testing and treatment in community clinics.

The specific goals of EC Australia are to:

  • Ensure that 15,000 Australians with chronic hepatitis C are treated and cured
  • Ensure that people identified with cirrhosis related to hepatitis C infection are treated and cured, and regularly reviewed to monitor for liver
  • Establish a national collaborative framework to facilitate a coordinated response to the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health threat from

In recognition of the inequitable burden of hepatitis C amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, EC Australia has developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Strategy (The Strategy) that will inform and guide the activities of EC Australia. The Strategy will cut across the four key components of EC Australia: health promotion, workforce development and health services delivery, implementation research and evaluation and surveillance. This will ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach to accessible and culturally appropriate hepatitis C care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

My experience working within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector has shown how the model of care provided by these services is well suited to take up the challenge of the EC Australia goals. At EC Australia, we believe the “test and treat” model required to increase treatment uptake for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is an achievable goal at a local service delivery level.

We will be convening an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Leadership Group in late 2020 that will provide expert advice and cultural governance for all EC activities as part of the Strategy. Our aim is to build strong networks and work closely with the viral hepatitis and the Aboriginal Community Control Health sectors. We seek to build on successful models of care and workforce development programs within these sectors, to expand and inform other areas.

Over the coming weeks we will be contacting organisations to participate in a mapping of current and/or past hepatitis C health promotion, workforce development and service delivery activities.

If your organisation would like to participate or learn more about the EC Australia Partnership and Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples Strategy you can contact Troy Combo at t.combo@uq.edu.au or by phone on (07) 3346 4617.

For more information please visit the below link:

https://www.burnet.edu.au/projects/410_eliminate_hepatitis_c_australia_partnership_ec_australia

 Part 2 Leading organisations unite to discuss COVID-19 impact on hepatitis C elimination in Australia on World Hepatitis Day

Australia’s leading drug and infectious disease organisations will join forces to call for a re-engagement in elimination of hepatitis C in an online event on World Hepatitis Day, Tuesday, 28 July 2020.

Australia is on track to become one of the first countries to eliminate hepatitis C, which is part of the global goal from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic and related social isolation has impacted drug use, drug and hepatitis C treatment services, and the health of people who use drugs. This puts an increased risk on new hepatitis transmission, access to treatment, and the elimination goals for 2030.

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL), Hepatitis Australia, the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol & other Drugs (APSAD), the Kirby Institute and National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney, have partnered to address what COVID-19 will mean for hepatitis C elimination in Australia.

CEO of Hepatitis Australia, Carrie Fowlie said, “Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus and people who inject drugs are a crucial priority population.”

“Not only is there a risk that the WHO 2030 elimination goal could be set back, but more immediate negative impacts could be experienced by people at risk of contracting hepatitis or seeking hepatitis treatment in Australia due to current and future social, health, and policy changes.”

CEO of AIVL, Melanie Walker said some of the new regulations and social requirements are impossible for people who use drugs to abide by.

“People who use drugs need to attend needle and syringe programs (NSPs) and be able to have ongoing access to the full range of harm reduction, pharmacotherapy and other drug and hepatitis treatments,” said Ms Walker.

“If people who use drugs cannot access these services, we could see an increase in sharing of injecting equipment, which could lead to increased cases of hepatitis C and compound the negative health outcomes already experienced by this group.”

In the newly released National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019, illicit drug use was responsible for 75 percent of Australia’s acute hepatitis C burden of disease.

Professor Greg Dore, Head of Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, said there had been encouraging recent data from the Australian Needle Syringe Program Survey on prevalence of active hepatitis C infection in people who inject drugs which had declined from 51 percent to 18 percent between 2015 and 2019.

“However, despite these declines in number of people with hepatitis C, continued declines in numbers being treated through 2019 and into 2020 compromises the achievement of WHO elimination goals,” said Professor Dore.

“More strategies are needed to raise awareness of the need for testing and availability of new hepatitis C treatments to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030.”

In a new NDARC study of 702 people who used drugs during COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown, it was found only 24 percent were able to avoid sharing drug injecting equipment.

Professor Michael Farrell, Director of NDARC, UNSW Sydney, said the research shows that people who use drugs want to limit their risk of contracting viral diseases like COVID-19 and hepatitis C, but this can be challenging due to a range of factors.

“We need to continue to find solutions that support people who use drugs to ensure hepatitis C elimination remains a priority.”

About the online event

Facilitated by health reporter Dr Norman Swan, this event brings together affected communities, doctors, scientists, health and community workers, researchers and the public to discuss the immense challenges COVID-19 brings to hepatitis C elimination and the health of people who use drugs, and to discuss strategies to ensure Australia stays on track to become one of the first countries in the world to eliminate hepatitis C.

Date: Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Time: 12:30pm – 2:30pm

Book here.

Speakers

  • Jude Byrne, National Project Coordinator, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
  • Sione Crawford, Chief Executive Officer, Harm Reduction Victoria
  • Greg Dore, Head, Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
  • Carrie Fowlie, Chief Executive Officer, Hepatitis Australia
  • Jules Kim, Chief Executive Officer, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association
  • Andrew Lloyd, Head, Viral Immunology Systems Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
  • Stuart Manoj-Margison, Director, BBV, STI and Torres Strait Health Policy Section, Australian Government Department of Health
  • Amy Peacock, Senior Research Fellow, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
  • Melanie Walker, CEO, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
  • Michael Farrell, Director, The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), UNSW Sydney

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alerts : Download @AIHW Report Indigenous primary health care results : Our ACCHO’s play a critical role in helping to improve the health of our mob

 ” Comprehensive and culturally appropriate primary health care services play a key role in improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians through prevention, early intervention, health education, and the timely identification and management of physical and psychological issues. “

Download the 77 Page AIHW Report HERE

Indigenous-primary-health-care-results-from-the-OSR-and-nKPI-collections

Primary health care organisations play a critical role in helping to improve the health of Indigenous Australians.

In 2018–19:

To this end, the Australian Government provides funding through the IAHP to organisations delivering Indigenous-specific primary health care services (referred to hereafter as organisations).

These organisations, designed to be accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, are administered and run by:

  • Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations (ACCHOs)
  • state/territory/local health services
  • non-government organisations (NGOs), such as women’s health services (a small proportion of services).

They vary in size, location, governance structure, length of time in operation, workforce composition, sources of funding, the services they offer, the ways in which they operate (for example, stand-alone or part of a consortium), and the needs of their clients.

What they all share in common is a holistic approach to meeting the needs of their Indigenous clients, which often involves addressing a complex mix of health conditions.

Each organisation provides contextual information about their organisation to the OSR once each financial year (covering the period July–June). The OSR includes all activities of the funded organisations, regardless of the percentage of those activities funded by IAHP.

This chapter presents a profile of organisations delivering Indigenous-specific primary health care services, including staffing levels, client numbers, client contacts, episodes of care and services provided. It excludes data from organisations that received funding only for maternal and child health services.

Trends over time are presented where possible, noting that the organisations providing data can vary over time which may limit comparability for some purposes (see Technical notes and Glossary for more information). Also, in 2018–19, the OSR collection underwent significant change and was scaled back to include only ‘core’ items. Plans are underway to reintroduce key items in a staged approach over the next few years.

The following boxes show key results for organisations providing Indigenous-specific primary health care in 2018–19.

Clicking HERE will go to more information on the selected topic.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 59 : May 12 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : Adrian Carson CEO @IUIH_ @DeadlyChoices The importance of health promotion and prevention during the #covid-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights more than ever, the need for a robust, agile and culturally relevant health promotion and prevention strategy, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

While traditional public health promotion[1] has delivered important messaging and education to mainstream Australians, it has failed to reach and have meaning to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  This is due to a range of factors including: use of language and terminology that is foreign, lower health literacy, and stigmatisation through ‘failure’ to change lifestyle choices.[2]

The dispersed geographic spread of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities also presents a challenge in ensuring that key health promotion and prevention messages are delivered through a range of appropriate channels and multi-media formats.

Adrian Carson has over 28 years’ experience in the Indigenous Health sector, working within government and non-government organisations.

As CEO of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Ltd, he leads the development and integration of health and wellbeing services to Australia’s largest and fastest growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in South East Queensland.

He has served as Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council and on numerous other Aboriginal health organisations.

Originally published HERE 

While many Australians may believe that the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders live in remote and very remote regions, the majority (79%) in fact live in urban areas. [3]

South East Queensland has recorded the largest and equal fastest growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the country.[4]  It is estimated that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population will grow to 133,000 by 2031. [5]

To address the growing population and demand for health services in the region, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) was established in 2009 to assist the four member Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) with regional planning, development and delivery of comprehensive primary health care services.

Deadly Choices was established as the flagship preventative health and community engagement brand of IUIH.  “Deadly” meaning good to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Deadly Choices is a strengths-based approach that uses cultural identity to define what it means to make healthy choices and reinforces our people as leaders and health promoters.[6]

Deadly Choices is considered one of Australia’s most recognizable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brands, with over 30 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations ACCHOS and 16 NRL and AFL clubs nationally already delivering Deadly Choices licensed activities across the country.

Behind the brand is a suite of health education, behaviour change programs and social marketing that have increased the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders taking control of their health by accessing their local health services, completing regular Health Checks, and engaging in physical activity, nutrition, quit smoking and other healthy lifestyle programs – all critical determinants of better health outcomes.

Since 2010-11, Deadly Choices has contributed to:

  • 762% increase in health checks completed in SEQ[7]
  • 33,000 new patients reached
  • 576% increase in GP Management Plans

In 2018-19 alone, there were 38,000 active clients in SEQ and over 23,000 health checks completed.[8]

An external evaluation of Deadly Choices multimedia campaign[9] found very strong campaign recognition (73%), call to action was very high (85% indicated starting some health change after seeing the campaign) and exceptional Net Promoter Score[10] – 59 compared to best industry score of 27.

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and increasing restrictions on group assembly and social distancing necessitated a rethinking of the structure and delivery of Deadly Choices programs and activities.

Building on the recognition and experience with highly engaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on social media[11]Deadly Choices dramatically increased our offerings.

Important COVID-19 awareness, education and prevention messaging was developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences.  Social media platforms (FacebookInstagramTwitter, and TikTok) continued to carry these new messages along with existing physical activity, nutrition, quit smoking and competitions.

During the first week of trialing the increased online presence, Deadly Choices achieved a massive 31,683 reach and 876 reactions to our Facebook post on “We Can Control the Spread of Coronavirus – it’s up to us.”  Similarly, the “Deadly Guide to social distancing” reached 16,293 with 244 reactions.

Live streaming of our DCFit physical activity program and Good Quick Tukka (GQT) cooking program commenced in week two.  Current engagement of the first series sits at over 4,300 views of the DCFit session and over 5,400 views of the GQT program.  In week three, the second series of DCFit sits at over 4,000 views and GQT sits at over 1,800 within one hour of live streaming.

VIEW HERE 

There is appetite within our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for health promotion, prevention and education that is a cultural fit and engages with our people in a positive way.

Deadly Choices is well positioned to ensure that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are informed and up to date, not just about healthy lifestyles, but also prevention and recognition of COVID-19 symptoms.

The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a rapid opportunity to rethink our traditional messaging and methods of health promotion.  This is something which can be shared with mainstream public health promotion.

Further investment and flexibility of funding to allow such innovation by ACCHSs is needed.  This will ensure that appropriate and timely health promotion and prevention messages reach our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

References:

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia – Stories from the Census, 2016; Cat No. 20171.0

Deadly Choices 2020, Deadly Choices ROI & statistics, Deadly Choices website: https://deadlychoices.com.au/licensees/roi-and-statistics/

Hefler, M; Kerrigan, V; Henryks, J; Freeman, B & D. Thomas 2018, ‘Social media and health information sharing among Australian Indigenous people’ in Health Promotion International, 2019; 34; 706-715.

IUIH 2019, IUIH Annual Report 2018-19, IUIH, Brisbane.

Markham, F & N. Biddle 2017, Indigenous Population Change in the 2016 Census, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), Australian National University (ANU), Canberra.

McPhail-Bell, K (2014), Deadly Choices: better ways of doing health promotion, downloaded 8 April 2020, accessible at https://eprints.qut.edu.au/76238/

McPhail-Bell, K; Appo, N; Haymes, A; Bond, C; Brough, M & B. Fredericks (2018), ‘Deadly Choices empowering Indigenous Australians through social networking sites’, in Health Promotion International, 2018; 33; pp 770-780.

Pollinate 2019, Evaluation of Deadly Choices Statewide Campaign, Pollinate, Melbourne.

World Health Organisation 1986, Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, First International Conference on Health Promotion, Ottawa, 21 November 1986


[1] The Ottawa Charter (WHO 1986) defines health promotion as ‘the process of enabling people to increase control over the determinants of health and thereby improve their health’.

[2] McPhail-Bell 2014, Deadly Choices: better ways of doing health promotion, QUT, Brisbane.

[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia – Stories from the Census, 2016; Cat No. 20171.0

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia – Stories from the Census, 2016; Cat No. 20171.0

[5] Markham & Biddle 2017, Indigenous Population Change in the 2016 Census, CAEPR, ANU.

[6] McPhail-Bell, K; Appo, N; Haymes, A; Bond, C; Brough, M & B. Fredericks (2018), ‘Deadly Choices empowering Indigenous Australians through social networking sites’, in Health Promotion International, 2018; 33; pp 770-780.

[7] Deadly Choices 2020, Deadly Choices ROI & statistics, Deadly Choices website: https://deadlychoices.com.au/licensees/roi-and-statistics/

[8] IUIH 2019, IUIH Annual Report, IUIH, Brisbane.

[9] Pollinate 2019, Evaluation of Deadly Choices Statewide Campaign, Pollinate, Melbourne.

[10] Net Promotor Score (NPS) measures customer loyalty to brand

[11] Hefler, et al 2018 found that social media use is higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than the general Australian population.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #NovelCoronavirus Resources Fact Sheets Alert : @healthgovau Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (the #COVID19 Plan)

The Australian Government’s Chief Medical Officer held a national teleconference yesterday to provide details on the national response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Chief Medical Officer and state and territory Chief Medical Officers have been meeting and teleconferencing daily for several weeks since the outbreak in China.

They have agreed on the Response Plan to guide the health sector response within Australia.

The link to the Response Plan is:

Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (the COVID-19 Plan)

The Response Plan is a living document and will be updated as required.

In addition, the Australian Government Department of Health website Coronavirus (COVID-19) includes a collection of resources including fact sheets for the general public, health professionals and industry about COVID-19.

A collection of resources for health professionals, including pathology providers and healthcare managers, about coronavirus (COVID-19).

You are encouraged to subscribe to the page to remain informed and ensure you have the latest information.

The information is updated daily.

Any urgent enquiries can be directed to the Department of Health’s National Incident Room via health.ops@health.gov.au.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Diabetes: This health professional survey is designed to assist Dr Michael Mosley and Ray Kelly with a 3 part SBS series Australia’s Health Revolution.

” Australia’s Health Revolution is a new three-part documentary series for SBS TV that’ll be hosted by popular UK presenter and journalist Dr Michael Mosley and Australian Indigenous diabetes educator and exercise physiologist, Ray Kelly.

The series will feature people all over Australia, from all backgrounds aged between 18 and 70 who have been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes and selected to be  part of a 12 week program, following a very low energy diet designed to achieve fast weight loss and help stabilise blood sugar levels.

The documentary will explore the big picture of type 2 diabetes in Australia, and the exciting new science behind diet and lifestyle programs that are reversing type 2 diabetes – previously considered incurable.”

Hear interview with Ray Kelly

We can turn blood sugar levels within seven days. It is really a matter of days and weeks to really transform someone form going toward the massive complications that come with type 2 diabetes and heart disease and turning them to becoming much healthier,”

Ray Kelly has been running a health program across Australia around the same principles as Dr Michal Mosley in the UK with great success covering some of the toughest areas and working closely with our ACCHO’s /Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS).

Read over 160 Aboriginal Health and Diabetes articles published by NACCHO over past 8 years 

How can you be involved ? Complete this diabetes survey.

 ” This GENERAL POPULATION and HEALTH PROFESSIONAL SURVEY designed to help inform some of the themes in the series.

The survey has been devised with help from The Charles Perkins Centre (Sydney Uni). The aim of the survey is to get an understanding of the experience of certain health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, from the perspective of (i) Australians and (ii) specifically, health professional’s (those involved in diabetes care and prevention as well as those who aren’t ).

Complete the survey HERE 

What we’ve known for many years is that type 2 diabetes is both preventable and reversible.

While the solution followed in the series is pretty simple-short term calorie restriction and using fresh, wholefoods as ‘medicine’- presenters want to highlight that low calorie diet programs aren’t routinely offered by most GPs or funded by Medicare.

Ray Kelly says that the TV series cannot come soon enough as Type 2 Diabetes is the fastest growing condition in the Western world yet it is both preventable and reversible.

“What we’ve known for many years is that type 2 diabetes is both preventable and reversible.”

Across 3 episodes, Ray Kelly and Dr Mosley will also shed a light on confronting health disparities and complexities of diabetes risk and prevalence in Australia.

At times they’ll explore confronting issues asking why diabetes death and hospitalisation rates are twice as high in remote areas than in major cities and why Australians are losing a staggering 4400 limbs to diabetes-related amputations every year.

Ray Kelly encouraged families and individual from all backgrounds, especially of Indigenous ancestry, to participate in the program.

.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SugarTax #5Myths @ausoftheyear Dr James Muecke pushing for Scott Morrison’s government to enact a tax on sugary drinks : Money $ raised could be used to fund health promotion

” This year’s Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke, is an eye specialist with a clear vision.

He wants to change the way the world looks at sugar and the debilitating consequences of diabetes, which include blindness.

Muecke is pushing for Scott Morrison’s government to enact a tax on sugary drinks to help make that a reality.

Such a tax would increase the price of soft drinks, juices and other sugary drinks by around 20%. The money raised could be used to fund health promotion programs around the country.

The evidence backing his calls is strong. ” 

From the Conversation

” A study of intake of six remote Aboriginal communities, based on store turnover, found that intake of energy, fat and sugar was excessive, with fatty meats making the largest contribution to fat intake.

Compared with national data, intake of sweet and carbonated beverages and sugar was much higher in these communities, with the proportion of energy derived from refined sugars approximately four times the recommended intake.

Recent evidence from Mexico indicates that implementing health-related taxes on sugary drinks and on ‘junk’ food can decrease purchase of these foods and drinks.

A recent Australian study predicted that increasing the price of sugary drinks by 20% could reduce consumption by 12.6%.

Revenue raised by such a measure could be directed to an evaluation of effectiveness and in the longer term be used to subsidise and market healthy food choices as well as promotion of physical activity.

It is imperative that all of these interventions to promote healthy eating should have community-ownership and not undermine the cultural importance of family social events, the role of Elders, or traditional preferences for some food.

Food supply in Indigenous communities needs to ensure healthy, good quality foods are available at affordable prices.” 

Extract from NACCHO Network Submission to the Select Committee’s Obesity Epidemic in Australia Inquiry. 

Download the full 15 Page submission HERE

Obesity Epidemic in Australia – Network Submission – 6.7.18

Also Read over 40 Aboriginal Health and Sugar Tax articles published by NACCHO 


Taxes on sugary drinks work

Several governments around the world have adopted taxes on sugary drinks in recent years. The evidence is clear: they work.

Last year, a summary of 17 studies found health taxes on sugary drinks implemented in Berkeley and other places in the United States, Mexico, Chile, France and Spain reduced both purchases and consumption of sugary drinks.

Reliable evidence from around the world tells us a 10% tax reduces sugary drink intakes by around 10%.

The United Kingdom soft drink tax has also been making headlines recently. Since its introduction, the amount of sugar in drinks has decreased by almost 30%, and six out of ten leading drink companies have dropped the sugar content of more than 50% of their drinks.


Read more: Sugary drinks tax is working – now it’s time to target cakes, biscuits and snacks


In Australia, modelling studies have shown a 20% health tax on sugary drinks is likely to save almost A$2 billion in healthcare costs over the lifetime of the population by preventing diet-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and several cancers.

This is over and above the cost benefits of preventing dental health issues linked to consumption of sugary drinks.

Most of the health benefits (nearly 50%) would occur among those living in the lowest socioeconomic circumstances.

A 20% health tax on sugary drinks would also raise over A$600 million to invest back into the health of Australians.

After sugar taxes are introduced, people tend to switch from sugar drinks to other product lines, such as bottled water and artificially sweetened drinks. l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock

 

So what’s the problem?

The soft drink industry uses every trick in the book to try to convince politicians a tax on sugary drinks is bad policy.

Here are our responses to some common arguments against these taxes:

Myth 1: Sugary drink taxes unfairly disadvantage the poor

It’s true people on lower incomes would feel the pinch from higher prices on sugary drinks. A 20% tax on sugary drinks in Australia would cost people from low socioeconomic households about A$35 extra per year. But this is just A$4 higher than the cost to the wealthiest households.

Importantly, poorer households are likely to get the biggest health benefits and long-term health care savings.

What’s more, the money raised from the tax could be targeted towards reducing health inequalities.


Read more: Australian sugary drinks tax could prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes and save 1,600 lives


Myth 2: Sugary drink taxes would result in job losses

Multiple studies have shown no job losses resulted from taxes on sugar drinks in Mexico and the United States.

This is in contrast to some industry-sponsored studies that try to make the case otherwise.

In Australia, job losses from such a tax are likely to be minimal. The total demand for drinks by Australian manufacturers is unlikely to change substantially because consumers would likely switch from sugary drinks to other product lines, such as bottled water and artificially sweetened drinks.

A tax on sugary drinks is unlikely to cost jobs. Successo images/Shutterstock

 

Despite industry protestations, an Australian tax would have minimal impact on sugar farmers. This is because 80% of our locally grown sugar is exported. Only a small amount of Australian sugar goes to sugary drinks, and the expected 1% drop in demand would be traded elsewhere.

Myth 3: People don’t support health taxes on sugary drinks

There is widespread support for a tax on sugary drinks from major health and consumer groups in Australia.

In addition, a national survey conducted in 2017 showed 77% of Australians supported a tax on sugary drinks, if the proceeds were used to fund obesity prevention.

Myth 4: People will just swap to other unhealthy products, so a tax is useless

Taxes, or levies, can be designed to avoid substitution to unhealthy products by covering a broad range of sugary drink options, including soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks.

There is also evidence that shows people switch to water in response to sugary drinks taxes.


Read more: Sweet power: the politics of sugar, sugary drinks and poor nutrition in Australia


Myth 5: There’s no evidence sugary drink taxes reduce obesity or diabetes

Because of the multiple drivers of obesity, it’s difficult to isolate the impact of a single measure. Indeed, we need a comprehensive policy approach to address the problem. That’s why Dr Muecke is calling for a tax on sugary drinks alongside improved food labelling and marketing regulations.

Towards better food policies

The Morrison government has previously and repeatedly rejected pushes for a tax on sugary drinks.

But Australian governments are currently developing a National Obesity Strategy, making it the ideal time to revisit this issue.

We need to stop letting myths get in the way of evidence-backed health policies.

Let’s listen to Dr Muecke – he who knows all too well the devastating effects of products packed full of sugar.

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health #BacktoSchool : What our kids eat can affect not only their physical health but also their mood, mental health and learning

“When kids eat a healthy diet with a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in that diet, they actually perform better in the classroom.​     

They’re going to have better stamina with their work, and at the end of the day it means we’ll get better learning results which will impact on them in the long term.”

Marlborough Primary School principal

We know that fuelling children with the appropriate foods helps support their growth and development.

But there is a growing body of research showing that what children eat can affect not only their physical health but also their mood, mental health and learning.

The research suggests that eating a healthy and nutritious diet can improve mental health¹, enhance cognitive skills like concentration and memory²‚³ and improve academic performance⁴.

In fact, young people that have the unhealthiest diets are nearly 80% more likely to have depression than those with the healthiest diets

Continued Part 1 Below

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer increased risk of chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Eating healthy food and being physically active lowers your risk of getting kidney disease and type 2 diabetes, and of dying young from heart disease and some cancers.

Being a healthy weight can also makes it easier for you to keep up with your family and look after the kids, nieces, nephews and grandkids. “

Continued Part 2 Below

Part 1

Children should be eating plenty of nutritious, minimally processed foods from the five food groups:

  1. fruit
  2. vegetables and legumes/beans
  3. grains (cereal foods)
  4. lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
  5. milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives.

Consuming too many nutritionally-poor foods and drinks that are high in added fats, sugars and salt, such as lollies, chips and fried foods has been connected to emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents⁵.

In fact, young people that have the unhealthiest diets are nearly 80% more likely to have depression than those with the healthiest diets¹.

Children learn from their parents and carers. If you want your children to eat well, set a good example. If you help them form healthy eating habits early, they’re more likely to stick with them for life.

So here are some good habits to start them on the right path.

Eat with your kids, as a family, without the distraction of the television. Children benefit from routines, so try to eat meals at regular times.

Make sure your kids eat breakfast too – it’s a good source of energy and nutrients to help them start the day. Good choices are high-fibre, low-sugar cereals or wholegrain toast. It’s also a good idea to prepare healthy snacks in advance for them to eat in between meals.

Encourage children to drink water or milk rather than soft drinks, cordial, sports drinks or fruit juice drinks – don’t keep these in the fridge or pantry.

Children over the age of two years can be given reduced fat milk, but children under the age of two years should be given full cream milk.

Why are schools an important place to make changes?

Schools can play a key role in influencing healthy eating habits, as students can consume on average 37% of their energy intake for the day during school hours alone!6

A New South Wales survey found that up to 72% of primary school students purchase foods and drinks from the canteen at least once a week7. Also, in Victoria, while around three-quarters (77%) of children meet the guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit, only one in 25 (4%) meet the guidelines for recommended daily serves of vegetables8; and discretionary foods account for nearly 40 per cent of energy intake for Victorian children9.

It’s never too late to encourage healthier eating habits – childhood and adolescence is a key time to build lifelong habits and learn how to enjoy healthy eating.

Get started today

You can start to improve students’ learning outcomes and mental wellbeing by promoting healthy eating throughout your school environment.

Some ideas to get you started:

This blog article was originally published on Healthy Eating Advisory Service . 

Part 2

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer increased risk of chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Eating healthy food and being physically active lowers your risk of getting kidney disease and type 2 diabetes, and of dying young from heart disease and some cancers.

Being a healthy weight can also makes it easier for you to keep up with your family and look after the kids, nieces, nephews and grandkids.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may find it useful to chose store foods that are most like traditional animal and plant bush foods – that is, low in saturated fat, added sugar and salt – and use traditional bush foods whenever possible.

The Healthy Weight Guide provides information about maintaining and achieving a healthy weight.

It tells you how to work out if you’re a healthy weight. It lets you know up-to-date information about what foods to eat and what foods to avoid and what and how much physical activity to do. It gives you tips on setting goalsmonitoring what you dogetting support and managing the challenges.

There are also tips on how to eat well if you live in rural and remote areas.

The national Live Longer! Local Community Campaigns Grants Program supports Indigenous communities to help their people to work towards and maintain healthy weights and lifestyles. For more information, see Live Longer!.

Part 3 Parents may not always realise that their children are not a healthy weight.

If you think your child is underweight, the following information will not apply to your situation and you should seek advice from a health professional for an assessment.

If you think your child is overweight you should see your health professional for an assessment. However, if you’re not sure whether your child is overweight, see if you recognise some of the signs below. If you are still not sure, see your health professional for advice.

Overweight children may experience some or all of the following:

  • Having to wear clothes that are too big for their age
  • Having rolls or skin folds around the waist
  • Snoring when they sleep
  • Saying they get teased about their weight
  • Difficulty participating in some physically active games and activities
  • Avoiding taking part in games at school
  • Avoiding going out with other children

Signs that a child is at risk of becoming overweight, if they are not already, include:

  • Eating lots of foods high in saturated fats such as pies, pasties, sausage rolls, hot chips, potato crisps and other snacks, and cakes, biscuits and high-sugar muesli bars
  • Eating take away or fast food meals more than once a week
  • Eating lots of foods high in added sugar such as cakes, biscuits, muffins, ice-cream and deserts
  • Drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks, sports drinks or cordials
  • Eating lots of snacks high in salt and fat such as hot chips, potato crisps and other similar snacks
  • Skipping meals, including breakfast, regularly
  • Watching TV and/or playing video games or on social networks for more than two hours each day
  • Not being physically active on a daily basis.

For more information:

References for Part 1

1 Jacka FN, et al. Associations between diet quality and depressed mood in adolescents: results from the Australian Healthy Neighbourhoods Study. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010 May;44(5):435-42. https://doi.org/10.3109/00048670903571598571598
2 Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: The effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(7), 568-578. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/
3 Bellisle, F. (2004). Effects of diet on behaviour and cognition in children. British Journal of Nutrition, 92(2), S227–S232
4 Burrows, T., Goldman, S., Pursey, K., Lim, R. (2017) Is there an association between dietary intake and academic achievement: a systematic review. J Hum Nutr Diet. 30, 117– 140 doi: 10.1111/jhn.12407. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/jhn.12407
5 Jacka FN, Kremer PJ, Berk M, de Silva-Sanigorski AM, Moodie M, Leslie ER, et al. (2011) A Prospective Study of Diet Quality and Mental Health in Adolescents. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24805. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0024805
6 Bell AC, Swinburn BA. What are the key food groups to target for preventing obesity and improving nutrition in schools? Eur J Clin Nutr2004;58:258–63
7 Hardy L, King L, Espinel P, et al. NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS) 2010: Full Report (pg 97). Sydney: NSW Ministry of Health, 2011
8 Department of Education and Training 2019, Child Health and Wellbeing Survey – Summary Findings 2017, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.
9 Department of Health and Human Services 2016, Victoria’s Health; the Chief Health Officer’s report 2014, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Nutrition News : @CAACongress and @Apunipima ACCHO’s partner with Queensland Uni @UQ_NEWs in 3 year study to fight food insecurity in our Indigenous communities

“We have high rates of iron deficiency anaemia in women and young children and we know this is caused by inadequate iron in the diet.

Iron-rich foods are very expensive in remote communities, and it is believed this is a key factor in causing the deficiency.

The study will enable key foods to be reduced in price and determine the impact this has on their consumption and subsequent health concerns. It will also enable the issue of food security to be more widely discussed.”

Congress chief executive Donna Ah Chee (And NACCHO board member ) said the organisation was pleased to be partnering with Apunipima Health Service and the UQ “in this really important study, the first of its kind in Central Australia”.

Download also Congress obesity submission 

Congress-Submission-to-the-National-Obesity-Strategy-Dec-2019

You can read all Aboriginal Health and Nutrition articles published by NACCHO 2012 to 2019 HERE

Working with communities to improve food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will be the focus of a significant University of Queensland study.

The three-year research project, designed in conjunction with the Apunipima Cape York Health Council and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, will be funded by a $2 million-plus National Health and Medical Research Council grant to UQ’s School of Public Health.

The study’s phase one will analyse how price discounts, offered via loyalty cards, impact on affordability of a healthy diet.

Phase two will capture participants’ experiences through photos, and use these to develop a framework of solutions that can be translated to health policy.

Dr Megan Ferguson said growing poverty and high food costs were key causes of food insecurity for 31 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities, although research suggests this may be as high as 62 per cent.

“Food insecurity leads to hunger, anxiety, poor health, including under-nutrition, obesity and disease, and inter-generational poverty,” Dr Ferguson said.

“We will be working with communities to identify effective mechanisms to improve food security and enable healthy diets in remote Australia.”

This would be done through a community-led framework and knowledge-sharing solutions.

“Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and carers of children aged under five, will be involved in the study in Central Australia and Cape York,” Dr Ferguson said.

“Improving food security for the whole family, especially women and children, will improve diet quality and health, and give children the best start in life for generations to come.”

Clare Brown, Apunipima’s Nutrition Advisor, said the organisation was pleased to co-lead “this important project”.

“It has come together through a very positive co-design process between researchers and Aboriginal community controlled health service providers,” Ms Brown said.

“The project’s community-led focus supports our way of working respectfully with Cape York communities, and is reflected in the Food Security Position Statement of Apunipima’s board,” Ms Brown said.

Menzies School of Health Research, Monash University, James Cook University and Canada’s Dalhousie University are also involved in the study.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health and @TAPPCentre #ChildSafety : @Walgett_AMS #PoolDay Community-led solutions will improve Aboriginal child safety promote community-building, togetherness, health and wellbeing and health promotion activity

“A Prevention Centre project looking at Aboriginal child injury launched its first community event on Saturday 30 November at Walgett Swimming pool. Focusing on water safety, nearly 400 people gathered at the pool to swim, talk, play and focus on the wellbeing of their young people.

A Prevention Centre project promoting Aboriginal child injury prevention held its first community event on Saturday 30 November at Walgett Swimming Pool.

The Walgett Pool Day was led by local Aboriginal community-controlled organisations as a fun and positive day for families to be together and safely enjoy the pool.”

Originally published by the Prevention Centre HERE

Read over 370 Aboriginal Children’s Health articles published by NACCHO over past 7 Years 

NACCHO Announcement 2020

After 2,800 Aboriginal Health Alerts over 7 and half years from www.nacchocommunique.com NACCHO media will cease publishing from this site as from 31 December 2019 and resume mid January 2020 with posts from www.naccho.org.au

For historical and research purposes all posts 2012-2019 will remain on www.nacchocommunique.com

Your current email subscription will be automatically transferred to our new Aboriginal Health News Alerts Subscriber service that will offer you the options of Daily , Weekly or Monthly alerts

For further info contact Colin Cowell NACCHO Social Media Media Editor

Almost 400 people attended, with free entry to the pool for a day of yarning, talking about what Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS) Goonimoo Mobile Children’s Services will be delivering next year, barbecue, salad, fruit, iced water and the chance to win a family pool season pass.

Injury is the leading cause of death in Australian children. Programs targeting parents of young children offer an opportunity for engagement and improving health literacy around injury prevention throughout children’s lives.

Programs also need to target community-level factors that affect injuries like the physical environment and policies. Change at this level requires community buy-in; relationship-building and events like the pool day build good will and positive associations with the program.

“Parents are really keen to get involved to keep their kids safe. They have ideas about what can be done at a community level and they’re also keen to learn more about what they can do to prevent injuries.” Tara Smith, Goonimoo Child Injury Prevention Educator.

Community-led

Working closely with local community groups, the Child Injury Prevention Program (CHIPP) has been developed as a community-led project and will be delivered through the existing supported playgroup Goonimoo run by WAMS which works with other local children’s services. This leverages existing knowledge and expertise about local service delivery and the relationships with Walgett families attending this well-established organisation.

“We’ve been having lots of informal yarns with parents during playgroup about the sorts of activities they want to do. We also held some formal research yarning groups with Nellie and Mel from UNSW at Goonimoo, with WAMS health personnel and other local children’s services,” said Amy Townsend Manager of Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service’s Goonimoo Mobile Children’s Services.

“We asked parents what sorts of injury issues they are concerned about and the topics they’d be interested in covering next year,” said Amy.

Parent involvement key to child safety

The involvement of parents is key to the success of the program and research shows it’s an effective route to reducing child injury.

“Parents are really keen to get involved to keep their kids safe. They have ideas about what can be done at a community level and they’re also keen to learn more about what they can do to prevent injuries,” said Tara Smith, Goonimoo Child Injury Prevention Educator.

“They also want to learn first aid – things like CPR and first aid for choking and snake bites – because we’re often a long way from help out here. Snake bites are a big issue in our community, so this is a priority area. Parents are keen, and always encouraged to have a say about the sorts of activities they want to do at Goonimoo’s playgroup ,” said Tara.

Tara has been working with Goonimoo for several years as a qualified educator, prior to which she was an Aboriginal Health Worker at Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service. Tara’s focus in 2020 is on delivering and refining the CHIPP program. Tara is currently studying to become an Aboriginal Health Practitioner.

“I’m learning a lot about child injury. For example, I’ve just been to Sydney to start the Austswim Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety course so we can do ‘parents and bubs’ water familiarisation play sessions at the pool next year. Aboriginal families don’t really have access to these sort of water activities in Walgett at the moment,” said Tara.

Tara also co-presented about CHIPP with Dr Melanie Andersen at the Australasian Injury Prevention Network Conference in Brisbane in November.

Walgett Pool Day

Walgett is situated at the junction of the Barwon and Namoi rivers, and the community has a healthy respect for the importance of water safety. CHIPP’s focus on water safety in term one was the result of community consultation.

Walgett’s pool has always been a strong focus for the community to come together, exercise and get some welcome respite from its long, dry summers, particularly now that the rivers are very depleted due to the drought.

“The CHIPP team has yarned with parents about what they’d like from the program, and about injury prevention in general, over the past few months. The Walgett Pool Day was a great opportunity to reach families to promote Goonimoo and the CHIPP program. We also had a few good yarns with the pool manager about water safety, existing and previous swimming programs at Walgett and the pool-based playgroup next year” said Dr Melanie Andersen from UNSW,  a key investigator on the Prevention Centre project.

“The turnout was great and we think that was a result of a long period of promotion by Goonimoo and combining forces with Yuwaya Ngarra-li and Dharriwaa Elders Group so families had transport to and from the pool. The pool was packed with children and families having a ball and cooling down on the 38oC day. We spoke to many people about the program and we’re looking forward to seeing them at the parents and bubs swimming sessions in 2020,” said Dr Andersen.

Community organisations key to success

The success of the Walgett Pool Day is down to the strong local Aboriginal community-controlled organisations who collaborated to bring people together.

“Yuwaya Ngarra-li – the partnership between Walgett’s Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG) and UNSW, were doing their annual community data gathering day with children and young people. Because the CHIPP program was introduced to Walgett through the Yuwaya Ngarra-li partnership, we decided to combine our resources,” said Wendy Spencer, Project Manager with Dharriwaa Elders Group and Yuwaya Ngarra-li (Dharriwaa Elders Group’s formal research partnership with UNSW Sydney).

“WAMS, DEG, Yuwaya Ngarra-li and the CHIPP team all contributed resources including staff time, food, accommodation, transport, sun-safety giveaways like hats and sunscreen and other resources to make the day a success. We were also pleased that Mission Australia kindly ran the barbecue and the Police Citizens Youth Club provided the music. I was really pleased with the happy good vibe of the day where we had the opportunity to provide some good food, free entry and a fun family time at the pool to cap off a difficult year for everyone in Walgett,”said Wendy.

The day was such a success that Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service will hold two additional community pool days this summer to promote community-building, togetherness, health and wellbeing and as a forum for health promotion activity.

“CHIPP will begin again in earnest next year at Goonimoo, aiming to start off in term one at the pool with parents and bubs water play sessions. The program will focus around activity and play,” said Dr Mel Andersen.

“So, for example, while Goonimoo staff teach parents water familiarisation activities to do with their kids that build water skills, staff will also yarn about drowning prevention. Each school term will have a different injury prevention focus, including sport and physical activity, home safety and road safety.”

Walgett community tips for child water safety

  • Close and constant active adult supervision is the key, even in shallow water
  • Drowning is quick and silent
  • Teach swimming and water safety as early as possible
  • Talk to your children, explain the potential for danger but have fun

Read more

All images © 2019 Dharriwaa Elders Group

Story by Helen Loughlin, Senior Communications Officer

Published: 17 December 2019

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health Resources : Download report : Why we need to rethink Aboriginal childhood #obesity ? Q and A with @SaxInstitute @simonesherriff

 
“Rates of obesity are high among Aboriginal children, but there’s a lack of policies, guidelines and programs to tackle the issue. Now a new paper published this week in the December issue of Public Health Research & Practice is calling for more meaningful engagement with Aboriginal communities to better address childhood obesity.

Here, lead author Simone Sherriff, a Wotjobaluk woman, PhD student and project officer with the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH) at the Sax Institute talks about the paper and her take on the obesity challenges facing Aboriginal communities.

Download Copy of Paper 

ATSI Childhood Obesity

Read over 70 Aboriginal Health and Obesity articles published by NACCHO over the past 7 Years 

Q: Childhood obesity is a national concern, but as your paper points out, Aboriginal children are far more profoundly affected than non-Aboriginal children. What’s going on?

A: I think it’s complicated, but in order to better understand Aboriginal childhood obesity we need to look beyond general individual risk factors, and consider how colonisation has impacted and continues to impact on the health and wellbeing of our people and communities today.

For example, Aboriginal people were forced off Country, unable to access traditional foods and made to adopt unhealthy western diets whilst living on missions and reserves.

Another thing that should be considered is the exclusion of Aboriginal people in Australia from education, health, politics and all systems, so it’s no wonder we see a gap between our health and the rest of the Australian population and continue to see a lack of relevant policies and programs from state and national governments.

These bigger structural and systemic issues are like a waterfall flowing on to affect communities, families and individuals. And until these issues are addressed, it’s going to be very difficult to close the gap on childhood obesity.

Q: What’s currently being done to address childhood obesity among Aboriginal children?

A: There are many great healthy lifestyle programs for preventing childhood obesity within our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) sector, but generally there’s a lack of investment and funding into these services by government.

This is unfortunate because I think the rest of Australia could learn a lot from the model of healthcare that the ACCHS sector provides for our people. As Darryl Wright, the CEO of Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Corporation always says – our ACCHSs are like one-stop shops catering for all parts of a person’s health and wellbeing. So rather than looking at childhood obesity and thinking only about healthy eating and exercise, this kind of model considers a more holistic approach and the range of things that could be impacting on a person’s health and the community.

As mentioned in our paper, there are also a number of government and mainstream programs targeting healthy weight that have been culturally adapted for Aboriginal children and families. One example is the NSW Go4Fun program, which is designed for 7- to 13-year-olds who are above a healthy weight. When they did an evaluation of the mainstream Go4Fun program, they noticed that there were quite a few Aboriginal children who came into the program, but they had very low completion rates.

This evaluation led Go4Fun to consult with Aboriginal organisations and communities to understand how to improve the program to be more culturally appropriate. And as a result, organisers changed the way they were running the program and also set up Aboriginal advisory groups at local health districts. It’ll be interesting to see if this has positive impacts for the local participating communities.

Q: What are the biggest challenges for these existing programs?

A: There are a few, but the biggest challenge is that these programs are created and developed by non-Aboriginal people for Aboriginal children, meaning that they’re not always relevant, or they don’t consider the holistic approach that’s required to address childhood obesity.

Another important challenge is that some mainstream childhood obesity programs haven’t collected information on Aboriginal children separately, so even though there might be Aboriginal children participating in these programs, they tend not to report those separately.

We also need to consider the focus of these programs, which are currently targeting childhood obesity with healthy eating, education and physical activity. Although these are really important, lots of Aboriginal families are food insecure – which means they’re running out of food and can’t access food or afford to buy more. Recent data shows that 1 in 4 Aboriginal people are food insecure. I believe these rates are underestimated and the rates of Aboriginal families who are food insecure would actually be much higher than this data shows. This is compared with fewer than 1 in 20 people in the general population.

So how are programs that target healthy eating meant to be effective if people can’t even afford to buy food or can’t access it? Again, it’s going back to those bigger issues.

Q: How can Australia begin closing the gap on childhood obesity?

A: I think one thing that could be done is there needs to be more funding and resources put into the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service sector, as they’re run by their community for their community, so they’re best placed to design, implement and evaluate childhood obesity programs. And currently there are no specific policies for Aboriginal childhood obesity – we’re just mentioned as a target group within the general childhood obesity policies. That could be another good place to start.

The Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH) team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: Why is it so important to have locally-informed, culturally appropriate programs?

A: There is evidence that programs led and delivered by Aboriginal communities lead to better health outcomes for their community. I think it’s so important to have Aboriginal people in leadership and key decision-making roles with a proper seat at the table within all of these systems. And it’s also important to ensure that local Aboriginal voices are heard and they are leaders and drivers of local programs.

If not, I think it’s impossible for government and non-Aboriginal service providers to deliver programs and policies that are going to have a positive impact on the health of our mob. To see real gains, we need all government policies and programs to value self-determination, and these systems need to decolonise for all Australians to be able to have good health.

Find out more