NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Eye health sector missing First Nations voice

feature tile text ' Australia's world class eye health sector is missing the voice of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples' image side view of Aboriginal youth's face looking through eye testing equipment

Eye health missing First Nations voice

The recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC) 2021 — The Gap and Beyond, had a welcome and critical focus on community-led eye care, according to Simone Kenmore, the newly appointed Country Manager of the Indigenous Australia Program at The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Kenmore emphasised the importance of listening to family and community leaders to drive two-way learning approaches in eye care and the urgent need to grow an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health workforce, as well as to invest in Aboriginal community controlled health services, saying “the eye health sector in Australia has a role and responsibility to strengthen the eye health knowledge of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The clinical expertise in the eye health sector in Australia is world class, but critically we are missing the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.”

To view the article in full click here.

Simone Kenmore & 3 of her Aunties in Alice Springs standing together against rendered wall

Simone Kenmore with her Aunties in Alice Springs. Image source: Croakey. Image in feature tile from ANZSOG.

Community control success at WAMS

Reducing the COVID-19 risk to community members was a big focus through the pandemic for the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS), which also stepped up to address a range of related challenges, including big concerns about food security for the NSW community.

WAMS CEO Christine Corby OAM said her service took many approaches to reduce the risk of local people getting COVID-19, especially vulnerable Elders and people with multiple health issues. Initiatives included a hand washing song which was taught in schools and used in the mobile children’s service; addressing complicated food supply issues; accessing personal protective equipment, developing and distributing care packs; and delivering scripts.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

desk with contents of a WAMS cCOVID-19 are package, information brochures, hat, shampoo, colouring books, stress balls, water bottle, rope

Items from the WAMS care package distributed to community members during the pandemic. Image source: Croakey.

Eating disorder stereotypes plague treatment

Indigenous Australians are just as likely to experience eating disorders as others within the wider community but a perception the illness is only prevalent among white girls is hampering diagnosis and treatment. The Butterfly Foundation, the national charity for eating disorders, has found one in 10 Indigenous Australians will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime and 30% of Indigenous young people are concerned about body image. These figures mirror the trends of non-Indigenous Australians.

Butterfly Foundation marketing coordinator Camilla Becket said its EveryBODY is Deadly campaign was trying to raise awareness about eating disorders among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “We wanted to address this pervasive stigma that eating disorders only affect privileged young white women,” Ms Becket said. To view the article in full click here.

Garra Mundine with black boots, white dress & 3/4 length light brown coat leaning against a tree trunk in native woodland

Garra Mundine said no one recognised that she had an eating disorder because of the perception it was for “privileged white girls”. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Budget opportunity to create a fairer future

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today called on the Morrison Government to use tomorrow’s Budget as an opportunity to create a fairer future by supporting priorities outlined by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “This Federal Budget provides an opportunity for investment that not only drives economic recovery but also reduces disadvantage and inequality. ACTCOSS calls on the Australian Government to prioritise investment that will create a fairer future for all Australians.”

ACTCOSS’s top three priorities for the ACT in the Federal Budget are: investment in the community service sector to generate jobs while supporting those facing disadvantage; significantly increased investment in social housing; and better support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to achieve self-determination.

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal man sitting inside corrugated iron humpy in Utopia, no facial features visible as face is in shade

Scene from John Pilger documentary, Utopia. Image source: newmatilda.com.

RHD the silent killer

Katherine’s Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Chair Anne Marie Less claims the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health will never be closed until the deadliest of diseases is approached differently. “I have been a Senior Aboriginal Health Practitioner for over 14 years and I am acutely aware of the impact of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) on our communities in the NT. Under the guidance of NT Cardiac, Menzies School of Health and Top End Health Service I have been learning to perform echocardiograms on young people in remote communities across the Top End and sadly in every community we detect 5-10% of the young population with previously undiagnosed RHD – some with the damage to their heart valves so advanced that it requires immediate surgery.

“Mostly it goes undetected and the only way we find out that someone has had rheumatic heart disease is when they drop dead on the playing field from a heart attack or die when they are pregnant. For most, they and their families never knew they had RHD. “Sadly, the only way to detect the presence of RHD is to listen for a heart murmur caused by leaking heart valves. The common practice is to listen for this using a stethoscope which unfortunately misses 40% or more of cases. The only true way to detect RHD is through an echocardiogram which uses a device no larger than a shaver to perform an ultrasound on the heart and clearly shows whether a heart valve is leaking or not.”

To view Sunrise Health Service’s media release in full click here.

RHD patient, Trey (young Aboriginal boy) lying on examination bed receives a handheld echo scan

Rheumatic Heart Disease patient, Trey, receives a handheld echo scan in Manigrida. Image source: Katherine Times.

United opposition to NT legislation

All 14 Australian and NZ Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (ANZCCG) have united in opposing new legislation introduced by the NT Government, which proposes to alter the NT’s Youth Justice Act and Bail Act. The commissioners and guardians wrote to NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner in March expressing their concerns about the legislation and asking him to reconsider his approach. Their letter said the proposed changes are “regressive” and “signal a shift away from evidence-based policy approaches and directly unwind the implementation of key recommendations from the 2017 Royal Commission”. National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds said, “All the evidence tells us the best way to prevent youth offending is to divert young people away from the justice system and into alternative programs that offer the support they need.

To view the ANZCCG and Australian Human Rights Commission media release in full click here.

view of tower of Don Dale youth detention centre

Don Dale youth detention centre. Photo: Jane Bardon. Image source: ABC News website.

Federal Senator Malarndirri McCarthy has also voiced concern about controversial changes to the NT’s youth bail laws, calling on her local Labor colleagues to rethink the plan to fast-track the reforms. The government wants its changes passed through NT Parliament less than a week after the bill was made public and despite questions from legal groups about apparent problems with the draft legislation.

Labor has the backing of NT Police and the police union for measures it says will cut youth crime, but has faced widespread criticism for reversing changes made after the youth detention royal commission. On Monday, Ms McCarthy told ABC Alice Springs she had requested a briefing and raised concerns with the NT government. “I do think the issues being raised by stakeholders in the Northern Territory and indeed nationally about being careful about the incarceration of children and in particular First Nations children is something that the government needs to look closely at,” she said.

To view the article click here.

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy torso in red dress standing against moreton bay fig

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy says she has raised her concerns with the NT government.
Photo: Mitch Woolnough. Image source: ABC News website.

Impact of racism on oral health

Interpersonal racism has had a profound impact on Indigenous populations globally, manifesting as negative experiences and discrimination at an individual, institutional and systemic level. Interpersonal racism has been shown to negatively influence a range of health outcomes but has received limited attention in the context of oral health.

A recent study has examined the effects of experiences of interpersonal racism on oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) among Indigenous South Australians. Identifying this link adds weight to the importance of addressing OHRQoL among South Australian’s Indigenous population by implementing culturally-sensitive strategies to address interpersonal racism.

For further details about the study click here.

teenage Aboriginal girl in dental chair with mouth open smiling, gloves hands with instruments, masked dental professional, yellow tones

Image source: Remote Area Health Corps.

Smoking cessation during pregnancy study

Strong and healthy futures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people requires engagement in meaningful decision making which is supported by evidence-based approaches. While a significant number of research publications state the research is co-designed, few describe the research process in relation to Indigenous ethical values. Improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies is crucial to the continuation of the oldest living culture in the world.

Developing meaningful supports to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers to quit smoking during pregnancy is paramount to addressing a range of health and wellbeing outcomes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have called for non-pharmacological approaches to smoking cessation during pregnancy. A recent project Building an Indigenous-Led Evidence Base for Smoking Cessation Care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women during Pregnancy and Beyond: Research Protocol for the Which Way? has used a culturally responsive research protocol, co-designed by and co-owned with urban and regional Aboriginal communities in NSW.

For further details about the study click here.

Aboriginal painting of silhouette of pregnant Aboriginal woman throwing away cigarettes, baby visible in womb, & sign Quit for New Life

Image source: South Western Sydney Local Health District webpage.

ACT – Canberra – Australian Medical Association

Policy Advisor (Indigenous Health) x 1 FT – Canberra

Advance your career with the AMA and be part of the team advocating improvements to Australia’s health system and achieving positive change on behalf of its member doctors and the wider community.

Based in Canberra, the Policy Adviser will be a member of the Public Health team and:

  • manage the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health portfolio and support AMA’s ongoing advocacy towards Closing the Gap and ensuring better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • provide Secretariat leadership to the AMA Taskforce on Indigenous Health, as well as in campaigns advocating related improvements to the health care system
  • provide support in AMA’s policy and advocacy work to improve Australia’s mental health system, including reviewing reports, government engagement, and providing support to the AMA Mental Health Committee
  • draft accurate and well-written policy positions, statements, submissions media responses and campaign material
  • oversee the management of the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship and coordination of support for scholarship recipients

To view the position description and to apply click here. You should submit your application within the next couple of weeks.

AMA logo, Aboriginal hands holding torso of Aboriginal baby no clothes

Image source: NITV website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 lessons must not be lost

feature tile text 'AMA calls for measures to ensure health systems are resilient & effective - COVID-19 pandemic lessons must not be lost' image of Aboriginal youth with cardboard face mask painted with Aboriginal flag, blurred image of another Aboriginal person in the background wearing same mask

COVID-19 lessons must not be lost

As Australia finds its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lessons learned about our health systems must not be lost. The Australian Government must use next week’s Federal Budget to commit to measures that ensure our health systems are resilient and effective now and beyond COVID-19. “We know areas of our health system are failing Australians, and we cannot continue the business as usual approach to funding,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today.

“There continues to be unmet need for health services in the community, and the ongoing need for further investment in our health care system to ensure services are accessible and affordable for patients is only going to increase.” The AMA has identified key areas that need immediate funding commitments in the upcoming Budget – permanent telehealth; public hospitals; aged care; general practice; private health insurance; and Indigenous health. Dr Khorshid continued, “The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how crucial our front line health workers and health services are, and how vital it is for them to be properly resourced and supported.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Dr Simon Quilty with stethoscope to Aboriginal woman's chest

Dr Simon Quilty has specialist skills in a range of fields so he can treat patients with complex conditions. Photo: Stephanie Zillman. Image source ABC News.

Your Health 2030 project

What would need to happen for all Australians to enjoy good health by 2030?

A team of public health experts across the country have put together a project answering this question, in collaboration with VicHealth, and they have published the results in a supplement in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Ray Lovett, Aboriginal epidemiologist at ANU and director of the Mayi Kuwayu Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing spoke with Hilary Harper on ABC Radio National Life Matters about how culture is key in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To listen to the interview click here.

photo of Ray Lovett in grey suit blue shirt no tie standing against large tiled wall & black handrail, overlaid with text 'ABC Health Report' & ABC RN logo 'ABC symbol RN' superimposed on pink orange voice bubble

COVID-19 side effects fact sheet

The Australian Government Department of Health has released a COVID-19 vaccination – Fact sheet – Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples). This easy-to-read fact sheet outlines the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and what to do if you feel them.

You can download the Fact sheet here.  front page of Aust Govt COVID-19 vaccine side effects fact sheet

Miscarriage care reform needed

Globally, an estimated 23 million miscarriages occur every year. Despite the personal toll involved, many miscarriages are managed in relative isolation. Private grief and misconceptions can lead to women and their partners feeling at fault or managing alone.

Similarly, in the health-care system and broader society, the continuing conviction that miscarriages are unavoidable and the requirement, enshrined in many national guidelines, that women must have recurrent miscarriages before they are eligible for investigation or intervention has created a pervasive attitude of acceptance of miscarriage, urging women to “just try again”.

For too long miscarriage has been minimised and often dismissed. The lack of medical progress should be shocking. Instead, there is a pervasive acceptance. Not all miscarriages could be avoided, but the insidious implication that miscarriage, like other women’s reproductive health issues, including menstrual pain and menopause, should be managed with minimal medical intervention is ideological, not evidence based. Miscarriage should be a major focus for the medical research community, for service providers, and for policy makers. The era of telling women to “just try again” is over.

To view the full article in The Lancet click here.

miniature baby beanie held in a woman's hands

Image source: Time magazine.

Dalang Project supports oral health

The early closure of the Voluntary Dental Graduate Year Program and the Oral Health Therapy Graduate Year Program by the Australian Government adversely impacted NSW Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). This led to the co-design of a small-scale oral health therapy graduate year program for ACCHOs known as the Dalang Project. This project has enabled oral health therapists to engage with local Aboriginal communities and implement culturally competent, practical and evidence-based oral health promotion activities.

For an overview of the Dalang Project and its evaluation click here.

close up shot of face of young Aboriginal girl with a blue toothbrush in her mouth

Image source: The Conversation.

New 715 Health Check resources

A range of community resources, including flyers, posters, animation, podcasts, social tiles, video stories, templates and more have been developed to support organisation promoting 715 Health Checks.

You can view the range of resources here.

slide from 715 Health Check - Awabakal Case Study YouTube video, purple Aboriginal art overlaid with text 'Your Health is in Your Hands. Have you had your 715 health check?'

Youth need support, not prison

Amnesty International Australia and Balunu Healing Foundation have called on the NT government to give kids a chance at breaking the cycle of disadvantage and crime by diverting them into culturally appropriate programs that address the underlying intergenerational trauma which too often leads to crime, instead of condemning them to the quicksand of the youth justice system.

Amendments to the youth justice act due to be debated this week in Parliament will prevent kids from accessing Indigenous-led diversion programs which are highly effective in addressing recidivism. The NT’s own statistics show that more than 70% of children who complete a diversion program do not reoffend within 12 months of completion.

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release in full click here.

8 male youths playing basketball in Don Dale prison Darwin faces blurred

Children in the Don Dale juvenile detention centre in Darwin. Photo: Helen Davidson. Image source: The Guardian.

World Hand Hygiene Day 2021

ThemSAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands global campaign was launched in 2009 and is celebrated annually on 5 May (World Hand Hygiene Day). The campaign aims to maintain global promotion, visibility and sustainability of hand hygiene in health care and to ‘bring people together’ in support of hand hygiene improvement around the world.

For World Hand Hygiene Day 2021, WHO calls on health care workers and facilities to achieve effective hand hygiene action at the point of care. The point of care refers to the place where three elements come together: the patient, the health care worker, and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings.

To be effective and prevent transmission of infectious microorganisms during health care delivery, hand hygiene should be performed when it is needed (at 5 specific moments) and in the most effective way (by using the right technique with readily available products) at the point of care. This can be achieved by using the WHO multimodal hand hygiene improvement strategy. banner for World Hand Hygiene Day,text seconds save lives clean your hands!' vector of tap attached to stopwatch overlay with hands washing

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Intergenerational trauma must be addressed

The Healing Foundation recommends the impacts of intergenerational trauma be recognised & addressed across all parts of the health system, Aboriginal baby's hand in adults hand

Intergenerational trauma must be addressed

In its latest submission to the National Preventive Health Taskforce in response to the Draft National Preventive Health Strategy, The Healing Foundation is recommending that the impacts of intergenerational trauma be recognised and addressed across all parts of the health system. It is one of six key recommendations that underpin The Healing Foundation’s view that strategies that support those impacted by intergenerational trauma – conservatively, a third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – can inform all strategies for First Nations peoples and lead to better outcomes for all. The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said that the continuing impact of trauma requires genuine steps to be undertaken to address trauma as an underlying cause of poor health.

To view The Healing Foundation’s media release click here.

red brown Aboriginal dot painting of outline of adult holding hand of a child

Image source: AbSec website. Image in the feature tile is from The Conversation.

NDIS IBSF grant applications close SOON

Attention NACCHO members! NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grant applications are CLOSING SOON!

IBSF offers funding to eligible ACCHOs to help address:

  • basic establishment costs, and/or
  • business and technical challenges in registering and delivering services under the NDIS

Grants of $20,000 are available for up to 100 member ACCHOs.

ACCHOs have been contacted via email with information about the grants and how to apply. Applications close on Friday 14 May 2021.

Please contact the NDIS Ready team ndisready@naccho.org.au if you have any questions.tile text 'NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding Applications Closing Soon' Aboriginal art symbols yellow, teal, orange, navy

More GPs in rural areas

Increasing numbers of doctors are training to become GPs in regional, rural and remote areas, which will deliver significant benefits to patients and communities in the bush. The Australian Government’s 2021 Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program selection process has seen the largest number of acceptances – 1,434 doctors – in several years, more than 100 additional doctors than last year’s intake. Of these, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine is allocated 150 training places, and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is allocated 1,350. Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said almost 700 of these doctors will undertake their training in regional, rural and remote locations across the country.

To view the media release click here.

outback road with yellow road sign with words CLINIC100km

Image source: RACGP newsGP website.

Unique program key to rural GP recruitment

A unique national GP training program that enables doctors to gain their specialist qualification in General Practice – while living and working as a doctor in a First Nations, rural or remote community – has assisted the recruitment of an additional much-needed doctor for St George in Queensland.

Additional funding is enabling a key element of the program to be expanded to recruit more doctors to communities with significant medical workforce shortages. Funded by the Australian Government, Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) delivers General Practice and Rural Generalist training for medical practitioners in First Nations, rural and remote communities throughout Australia.

To view the RVTS media release click here.

torso of doctor in white coat hand on stethoscope around neck

Image source: Armidale Express.

NT youth justice reforms condemned

Today paediatricians, clinicians, lawyers and human rights experts have joined forces to condemn the NT Government’s plans to introduce some of the most punitive youth justice laws in the country and to re-open parts of Don Dale that were shut down after the Royal Commission. The NT Government’s proposal to make it harder for children to get bail, reduce access to diversion and impose electronic monitoring on young people prior to conviction has been condemned by medical and legal experts as dangerous and ineffective. The changes actively take a significant step back, bringing the Northern Territory back to the pre-Royal Commission days. John Paterson, CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT: “Continuing to detain children in Don Dale, a decommissioned adult prison that the Royal Commission recommended be shut, is a disgrace. It is inhumane, expensive and ineffective.”

To view the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) , Change The Record, AMSANT and Danila Dilba Health Service joint media release click here.

youth in jail, torso and legs only all dark because photo taken in the shade

Image source: ABC News.

CATSINaM focus on racism in healthcare

As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives gathered on Kaurna country in Adelaide this week, the focus was firmly on the importance of addressing racism in healthcare. It was the third event in the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) national conference series.

Gamilaroi man Dr Chris Bourke, Strategic Programs Director of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, presented the work he led (together with Professor Adrian Marrie), auditing SA’s Local Health Networks for institutional racism. This important work, done on behalf of the Health Performance Council, demonstrated high levels of institutional racism across South Australian state health services. Nine out of ten local health networks showed very high levels of institutional racism based on publicly available information.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

six paper dolls, 3 white, one dark brown, one tan hands joined in acircle on wooden surface

Image source: AMA website.

Monitoring cultural safety in health care

A new release from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: The Cultural safety in health care for Indigenous Australians: monitoring framework brings together available data to assess progress in achieving cultural safety in the health system for Indigenous Australians. The framework includes measures on culturally respectful health care services; Indigenous patient experience of health care; and access to health care services. The data are presented at the national, state and regional levels.

For further details click here.

5 Aboriginal people on country at dusk overlaid with text 'cultural safety' white font

Image source: SNAICC website.

Domestic & Family Violence Prevention Month

In Australia, violence perpetrated by an intimate partner is the cause of more illness, disability and death than any other factor for women aged 25–44 (AIHW, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018). Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month is an annual event held each May to raise community awareness of the social and personal impacts of domestic and family violence and the support available to those affected. The key aims of the month are to:
  • raise community awareness of domestic and family violence and its impacts;
  • promote a clear message of no tolerance of domestic and family violence in Queensland communities;
  • ensure those who are experiencing domestic and family violence know how to access help and support;
  • encourage people who use abuse and/or violence to take responsibility for their abusive behaviour and seek support to change.

For more information about Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month click here.

banner orange with purple arch divided into squares purple, lavender, orange, yellow, text 'we all play out part Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month 2021; #endDFV #notnownotevertogether #DFVPM2021

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Woolworths dumps Dan Murphy’s mega store plan

feature tile text 'Woolworths dumps plan for dan murphy's mega store after 5-YEAR battle with Aboriginal & health groups' & logo, vector drawing of Dan Murphy & text 'Dan Murphy's' with red cross through image

Woolworths dumps Dan Murphy’s mega store plan

Supermarket giant Woolworths has scrapped its long-running push to open a large-scale Dan Murphy’s outlet near Darwin’s airport, but has not ruled out a development at another location. The company said a review found Woolworths had not done enough to engage with Aboriginal groups concerned the store would worsen the region’s already high rates of alcohol-related harm. The outlet was to be built on airport land in Darwin’s northern suburbs, close to three dry Aboriginal communities.

The announcement was welcomed by Darwin’s Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, which had launched a legal challenge to the development, calling on the Woolworths board to abandon the project. Chief executive Olga Havnen said she commended the company on its decision. “We think that’s the right thing to do and it was certainly more than just the lack of appropriate consultation. It actually goes to the question of public health issues, the public health concerns that we raised consistently and the potential for increased harm as a result of alcohol.”

Noelene Swanson, NT director of Save the Children, also welcomed Woolworths’ decision, saying it was the best outcome possible for children and their families in the territory. “It made zero sense to open a Dan Murphy’s megastore in the NT, especially so close to dry communities′ Ms Swanson said. “This shows the power of community advocacy and I’m very relieved that Woolies has listened to the people.”

You can read the ABC News article here; a related article in the Financial Review here. and a Joint Statement from the Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education (FARE), Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), Danila Dilba Health Service and the Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) here.

Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen in blue Danila Dilba logo shirt stanind inside an office building near a very large glass window

Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen. Image source: ABC News website.

RHD cases continue to grow

A report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has shown that the burden of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) continues to grow in Australia. RHD is rare in most high-income countries yet in Australia it persists in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, causing grief and heartache for many families and communities.

RHD is a consequence of ARF, stemming from an abnormal immune reaction to untreated Group A streptococcal (Strep A) infection in the throat or on the skin. The report shows that the rate of definite or probable ARF notifications from health services increased from 67/100,000 in 2015 to 81/100,000 in 2019. The data for the report, drawn from Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and New South Wales from 2015 to 2019, also highlights that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounted for 81%, or 4,337, of all RHD diagnoses during that same time.

To view the RHDAustralia and Menzies School or Health Research media release click here, and to view a summary and analysis of the April 2021 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report into rates of ARF and RHD in Australia click here.

small Aboriginal boy pretending to listen to heart of adult woman with Aboriginal girl & rack of dress-ups in the background

Image source: Menzies School of Health Research website.

Top 3 COVID-19 vaccine questions

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) have released a video of Professor Alison McMillan answering the top 3 questions asked on the DoH’s social accounts. You can view the video here.YouTube title page text 'Your top 3 questions answered Chief Nuring and Midwifery Officer, Professor Alison McMilan' with photo of Prof McMilan in checked blazer, blue background with COVID-19 virus cell

Deaths in custody deserves multifaceted response

Both the Federal Government and the Opposition have announced funding regarding Indigenous deaths in custody, spurring hope for a multifaceted national response which addresses the impact of the criminal justice system on First Nations people. Last week the Morrison Government announced an investment of $2.4 million across three years to create a new Custody Notification System (CNS) in SA as of July 1 this year and a funding increase of over $724,000 for the NT and Victorian services.

The CNS is a 24/7 phone line that is mandatory for police to use when a First Nations person is taken into custody. It provides access to health and welfare checks and access to legal services. “With contemporary knowledge of police processes and experience in providing crisis support, Custody Notification Services delivered by Aboriginal Legal Services are a proven way to reduce the risk of a death occurring in custody,” said Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.

To view the article Indigenous deaths in custody deserves multifaceted response in the National Indigenous Times click here.

protest march female & male wearing covid-19 maskes with banner in background of Aboriginal flay overlaid with words 'stop Aboriginal Deaths in Custody'

Image source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers website.

Ask a Pharmacist Sessions

NPS MedicineWise is running a series of ‘Ask a Pharmacist’ sessions on the topic of Opioids. These use existing NPS MedicineWise platforms and are being promoted on the NPS MedicineWise Facebook page. The ‘Ask a Pharmacist’ sessions provide an opportunity for consumers to ask their medicines questions via Facebook, for these to be answered by specialist pharmacists. Responses may include links to relevant online resources, suggestions to call the NPS MedicineWise telephone line services, or referral to another appropriate health service provider.

The pharmacists provide evidence-based information about opioids, their safety profile, side effects and interactions with other medicines and health conditions. Responses provided as part of these sessions aim to inform consumers about medicines, offer reassurance where appropriate and direct consumers to trusted sources of information including the NPS MedicineWise Medicine Line and AME Line telephone service.

Upcoming sessions will be active for one week starting:

  • Session 4: 3 May 2021
  • Session 5: 24 May 2021
  • Session 6: 14 June2021

The theme for Session 4 starting on Monday 3 May will be Reducing the risk of harms associated with opioids. Themes for other sessions will be advised at a later date.banner man with tie, white shirt grey pullover jumper, black belt, grey pants, text 'Ask a Pharmacist about Opioids - NPS MedicineWise'

Racism declares a serious health threat

The United States’ leading public health agency, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, has recently declared racism to be a “serious public health threat” that must be a critical focus of its work. In here article United States public health agency declares racism a serious health threat. Meanwhile, in Australia… Marie McInerney says this declaration contrasts with continuing muted responses from the Australian Government. Instead, ‘the Australian health system’s Black Lives Matter moment is best characterised as indifferent; a ‘business as usual’ approach that we know from experience betokens failure’.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

drawing of multiple head silhouettes in different colours white, drawn brown, brown, peach overlaying each other superimposed with th transparent thick white cross

Image source: TED Recommends website.

Telehealth needs to stay

The Government’s decision to extend Medicare-funded telehealth for GPs and non-GP specialists until the end of the year is welcome but is a missed opportunity to enshrine telehealth as a permanent feature of the Australian health system in a form which has greatest benefit for our vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today.

“The existing COVID telehealth items were designed specifically to respond to the pandemic, which, as the recent lockdown in Perth illustrates, is far from over,” Dr Khorshid said.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

vector image laptop with white coated doctor reaching through the screen writing on a clipboard, either side of laptop is stethoscope, pill bottle, pen holder, thermometer & mobile phone

Image source: Musculoskeletal Australia website.

Cultural supervision research scholarship

The University of Sydney is offering a $20,000 postgraduate research scholarship in cultural supervision. The scholarship is to support Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander PhD students at the Faculty of Medicine and Health. For further information, including how to apply for the scholarship click here.Sydney University logo vector image of lion against red rectangle & blue cross with yellow star on each cross end with open book in the middle inside yellow outline of a shield, text 'THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY' & photo of sandstone uni building seen from arched sandstone walkway

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors

feature tile text 'pandemic health restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors' slide from The Healing Foundation video, black line drawing of Aboriginal person holding a pink cracked heart

Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma

New research released by The Healing Foundation shows that the strong and necessary public health restrictions introduced to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia since early 2020 retriggered trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors. The research data suggests an increased and heightened sense of vulnerability; significant disconnection from family, community, and country; and significant impacts on mental health and wellbeing among an already vulnerable cohort of people.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the research results will assist governments and authorities in future pandemic planning to build on Australia’s world-leading public health efforts to ensure the most vulnerable in the community are protected. “The excellent work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 – as part of national efforts guided by the National Cabinet – ensured that infection rates were very low in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations,” Ms Cornforth said.

To view The Healing Foundation’s media release click here,

black & white collage of 40 portrait shots of Stolen Generations survivors

Image source: Creative Spirits.

ACCHO program reduces recidivism

Tyrone Walter says the Ngudjoong Billa program has put him on a better path. He’s recently completed the 20-week program and said it has helped him get his white card and feel a greater connection to his Aboriginal culture. And now his eyes are set on joining the Army. During its demonstration phase, the program has helped 73 young Aboriginal people reintegrate and transition out of the juvenile justice system. All of those who completed the 20 week program did not re-offend during that time.

Started in 2017, and delivered in partnership between the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC) and the Department of Communities and Justice, the program provides a consistent support network for Aboriginal children exiting custody on the South Coast.

Jordan said Tyrone had gained a lot of confidence from the program which had helped him with his mental health. Jordan said Tyrone was lacking motivation at the start of the program because of his lifestyle choices with drugs and alcohol. But through a slow and intensive approach with a particular focus on strengthening Tyrone’s cultural identity and building his connections to family, community and country, Tyrone is now off drugs and has been for a while.

To view the full article click here.

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward. Image source: South Coast Register.

Facts about COVID-19

In a short video Dr Mark Wenitong, a GP in Indigenous health for 25 years, reminds us to get information about COVID-19 vaccines from trusted sources. You can access the video including a transcript here.

slide from YouTube clip, Dr Mark Wenitong, text 'Dr Mark Wenitong - Find out the facts about COVID-19 vaccines, Hi, it's Dr Mark here. Dr Mark Wenitong Aboriginal GP and Public Health MO

Suicide prevention roadmap

Suicide is the most common cause of death in Australians aged 15–44 years – more common than deaths from motor vehicle accidents or skin cancer (Aleman & Denys 2014). Over 2,500 people die from suicide in Australia each year and more than 65,000 make an attempt.

The Final Advice of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, announced today, paves the way for a clear roadmap for reform. In particular, the recommendation to establish a National Suicide Prevention Office has the potential to create a significant enhancement of suicide prevention and in turn, save lives. Suicide Prevention Australia, the national peak body for suicide prevention, is urging Governments across Australia to use the findings of the report to drive down suicide rates. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said, “the Final Report of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser has the potential to be a game changer for suicide prevention in Australia. Immediate uptake of the key recommendations is critical to enable real reform that will save lives.”

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia’s media release in full click here.

painting of grey puzzle pieces, missing piece in the centre shows blue sky & white clouds

Image source: Australian Psychological Society website.

Child protection & adolescent self-harm

A history of child maltreatment is known to elevate the risk of self-harm in adolescence. However, until a recent study this link had not been investigated for Aboriginal children who experience a greater burden of both. This study Patterns of child protection service involvement by Aboriginal children associated with a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence: A retrospective population cohort study using linked administrative data confirms a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence is associated with child maltreatment, especially in middle childhood and concludes that addressing the intergenerational trauma in Aboriginal families is crucial to preventing child maltreatment and informing reforms to child protection responses that can better identify and address the culturally-specific unmet needs of Aboriginal families.

To read the research paper click here.

back of child leaning against outside of railing arms outstretched on the railing over-looking a riven, image in black & grey

Image source: ABC News website.

Cultural training in health services survey ENDS SOON

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has developed a short survey to gain an understanding of the type and level of cultural safety training currently being undertaken by health service organisations. The Commission is committed to ongoing and evolving culturally safe practices, which are developed in consultation with, and determined by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The NSQHS Standards define six actions that specifically meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. One of the six actions states: “The health service organisation has strategies to improve the cultural awareness and cultural competency of the workforce to meet the needs of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.” The Commission is calling on feedback to assist in the development of resources to strengthen cultural safety training and support services in implementing this action.

Click here to complete the survey for your organisation. The survey is open until Friday, 23 April 2021, and takes up to 10 minutes to complete.

You can read more about the survey here.

torso of healthcare professional with blue scrubs & stethoscope with hands over patient's hand

Image source: NursingCE.com website.

Stop it at the Start campaign

The Stop it at the Start campaign encourages adults to positively influence the attitudes and behaviours of young people aged 10–17 by role modelling positive behaviour, calling out disrespect and starting conversations about respect. It aims to unite the community around positive actions everyone can take to break the cycle of disrespect, and ultimately, violence against women.

Community influencers and campaign supporters Kristy Masella, Andy Saunders, Renee Thomson, and Sean Choolburra share a common message—even the simplest, smallest actions can make a big difference for young people, and for our community.

To access a range of Stop it at the Start resources released earlier this week click here. Please note, in this document the link for the Sean Choolburra & his daughter Tyra – Tips on how to speak up when you see disrespect video does not work, this link does.

To view the Australian government’s Unmute yourself – speaking up to end violence against women media release in full click here. and to access an editorial from Darumbal woman Kristy Masella, campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign click here.

Kristy Masella campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign, leaning against a brick wall smiling at the camera, blurred background of city street, text 'when it comes to talking to my daughters about respecct, I often draw on personal examples of things I've experienced or reflected on myself. I talk abou the disrespectful behaviours that I accepted at times in my life or thought were normal. Violence against women Let's Stop It at the start. For tools and resources visit respect.gov.au

Sexual wellbeing – what we do well

A recent research project, Fostering the sexual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people by building on social, cultural and personal strengths and resources has looked at how urban Aboriginal young people foster sexual health and wellbeing for themselves and others. The project purposely sought to adopt a strengths-based approach by identifying the resources and capacities of Aboriginal young people to minimise harm and promote health.

More specifically, the project aimed to explore the community resources that Aboriginal young people access to help them make positive sexual choices, inform their understandings of sexual health and relationships, manage their sexual wellbeing, and engage with health promotion and health care services. The research will provide health services and policymakers with insightful new knowledge to better support young urban Aboriginal people and their communities.

For further information on the project click here.

rear view of two Aboriginal youth walking down a road in Redfern, derelict terrace houses & entire wall painted with Aboriginal flag & graffiti

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Healing Foundation CEO – National Press Club

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth will be addressing the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday 2 June 2021. Fiona will be releasing The Healing Foundation’s “Make Healing Happen: It’s time to act” report. The report sets out a plan with recommendations to achieve real and lasting healing for Stolen Generations Survivors and to promote intergenerational healing. The address will be televised live on ABC TV.

The details of the event are here.

banner for National Press Club of Australia event Fiona Cornforth CEO of the Healing Foundation "Make Healing Happen: It's Time to Act"' & portrait shot of Fiona Cornforth

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Embedding cultural determinants of health in policy

feature tile text ' Lowitja Institute report offers blueprint for embedding cultural determinants of health in policy & practice

Embedding cultural determinants in health policy

A new report published by Lowitja Institute provides a blueprint for placing culture at the core of policies affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, showing how the cultural determinants of health can be implemented into policy and practice.

Lowitja institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said the report Culture is key: towards cultural determinants-driven health policy outlines how culture is a protective factor for health and wellbeing and needs to be integrated and valued within health policy frameworks and programs, and also in broader government policies. “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the cultural determinants are an essential part of our identity and are protective factors of health and wellbeing, anchored in ways of knowing, doing and being that have continued for tens of thousands of years,” she said. “However, this holistic concept of health is often neglected in government approaches to our health and wellbeing because it does not align with dominant culture or western perspectives and is not understood or fully appreciated by policymakers,” she said.

Dr Mohamed said the new Closing the Gap National Agreement and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan refresh offer a unique window of opportunity for the government to invest in cultural determinant-driven whole-of-government policy.

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release in full click here.

Lowitja Institute is hosting a webinar on Thursday 29 April 2021 to support the release of the report. For more details or to register for the webinar, click here. For more information about the report or to arrange an interview with Dr Janine Mohamed, please contact Amy Hofman on 0405 114 930.

young Aboriginal girl Allorah Saunders with face paint, wearing t-shirt with Aboriginal flag, hanging from a bar, head half concealed by her arm

Allorah Saunders, whose health care is provided by the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service in western Sydney. Photo: Steven Siewert. Image source: Oxfam Australia.

Mental health & suicide prevention interim report

The House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (the Select Committee) has released its interim report. The Committee’s interim report includes an update on the Committee’s activities to date, and emerging themes identified through recent reports into Australia’s mental health system and engagement with the Productivity Commission, National Mental Health Commission and Department of Health.

Chair of the Committee, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The interim report provides a snapshot of the breadth of work underway on mental health and suicide prevention. It also identifies some areas that the Committee feels need further examination as the inquiry progresses. These areas include the divide between public and private mental healthcare, coordination and funding of mental health services, affordability, the growth of telehealth and digital services in response to COVID-19, and the role of professional bodies in advocating for, regulating and supporting the workforce.’

To view the media release in full click here.

drawing of a bust sliced into 7 sections, inside of slices is red, outside of slices are white, reflected on black surface, dark grey background

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health & Suicide Prevention delivered a speech at the Suicide Prevention Australia Symposium 2021 earlier today in which he released the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s final advice.

pile of 4 lots of paper with dog clips on desk, potted plant blurred in background

Image source: The Mandarin.

Change makers create future they want

“We can all be superheroes, we can save the world, we’ve just got to care enough to do it,” says JK-47, the 23-year-old rising star of Australian rap on what he is trying to communicate through his music. He is one of the passionate change makers who answered the call the ABC put out for young people to tell them how they are coping with a world that is increasingly scary.

It is hard not to feel disempowered in the face of stories about climate change, racism, new wars, and now global pandemics — particularly when you are young. However, the teenagers and 20-somethings featured in the article have discovered a way to create the future they want to grow into.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

black & white photo of rapper JK-47's face with white paint lines, fingers raised to face against trunk of a gum tree

JK-47’s debut album Made For This features lyrics about the daily injustices First Nation people face. Photo: Kiarney Mulyono. Image source: ABC News website.

Healthy sexual relationships campaign

WA’s new HealthySexual campaign is all about preventing, testing, treating and talking to minimise the personal and social impact of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). With outbreaks of infectious syphilis occurring in metropolitan, regional and remote parts of the state and notifications rising over the past five years, it’s a timely reminder to be aware of and talk about sexual health.

In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in WA were 26% higher than the previous year. The Department of Health’s Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program Manager, Lisa Bastian said outbreaks of STIs over much of the state had placed populations at risk and prompted a more mainstream prevention campaign for the general community. She said an outbreak that started in the Kimberley region in June 2014 had spread to the Pilbara in February 2018 and the Goldfields in January 2019.

To view the Government of WA Department of Health’s media release click here.

banners from WA Healthy Sexual Campaign text 'anyone can be a Healthy Sexual, Talk, Test, Protect, When you look after yourself, you look after all of us' talk has a photo of a girl with glasses & very broad smile, test has a photo of a man with eyeshadow with hands holding rainbow coloured braces, protect has bald man with goaty beard & hawaiian shirt, last slide has a young smiling woman with long wavy golden hair

Image source: Government of WA Department of Health.

Deaths in custody, every family has a story

A detective visited the parents of a young Aboriginal man; a warrant had been issued for their son’s arrect. ‘We’re going to get your son; he’s going to be locked up,’ the detective told them. ‘But if you get him to come around now, I can guarantee you that the arrest will be a non-eventful process. He won’t be harmed; we’ll put him into custody, he’ll serve his time and then he can get on with his life.’

The request went against their instincts, but the parents agreed. When their son arrived, however, the promise fell through. ‘They grabbed him, ruffed him up and smashed him into the fence, causing a head injury,’ Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, told newsGP. ‘That young man then went into the system. Approximately one week later, he died.’

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Aboriginal flag billowing in the wind

On average, one Aboriginal life is lost in custody every three weeks. Image source: newsGP.

Stan Grant has written an in-depth analysis of the reasons for Aboriginal deaths in custody in his article Aboriginal deaths in custody reflect the poor health of Australia’s democracy. His article begins with some frightening statistics ‘3% of the population comprise nearly 30% of those behind bars. Look closely and it becomes even more alarming. In WA, 40% of prisoners are Indigenous. In the NT, it is more than 80%. Among youth it is even worse. Half of all children in detention nationally are Indigenous. In the NT, more than 90% of all juveniles detained are black.’

‘Despite the recommendations of the royal commission, we are going backwards. The number of Indigenous people imprisoned has increased 100% in the past three decades. Since 1991, more than 400 Indigenous people have died in custody. Thirty years after the royal commission, things are worse.’

To read Stan Grant’s article click here.

white banner with text in red '30th anniversary' text in black 'roayl commission into Aboriginal deaths in cutody' red text '1991:99 lives; 1991-2021: 500 lives' yeallow text on black separate placard ' Australia is a crime scene under the crown'

Banners at the black deaths in custody Photo: Mitch Abram. Image source: ABC News website.

Young people staying away from jail

Corrie Bell didn’t think he’d make it to his 28th birthday. He’d been taken away from his parents at the age of 15 and didn’t have a lot of hope. “All my life I’ve been living in prison… mentally and emotionally, you know feeling caged in and trapped,” he said. Corie’s a Ngunnawal Kamilaroi man from Campbelltown in south-west Sydney. He told Triple J Hack he had a really rough childhood. “Drugs, alcohol, crime, domestic violence… was very frequent within my family home,” Corie said.

Corie says what he really needed as a kid to keep him out of trouble was stability and guidance from positive role models. Instead he had cops following him, dealers for mates and a bunch of trauma he was trying to drown out. By 18, Corie was sent to jail for robbery and reckless wounding. He says he was so drunk he didn’t even realise where he was.

To view the Triple J HACK article What do young people need to stay away from jail? in full click here.

Uncle Glen from The Glen Centre with white face paint standing in front of 9 men, 8 with faces & chests painted with white paint & one with a black t-shirt & white paint on his forehead

Uncle Glenn (front) says ‘The Glen Centre’ adopts a holistic approach to rehabilitation, with a focus on integrating Indigenous culture and spirituality. Image source: ABC News website.

In a related story, Amnesty International Australia have expressed disappointment that the Committee charged with investigating the proposed youth justice amendments in Queensland has recommended the amendments pass, despite its own report being full of evidence that they will do nothing to address youth crime. The youth justice amendments seek to take a punitive approach to young children who often have complex needs the justice system is ill equipped to address, and which ultimately condemn these kids to life in the quagmire of the criminal justice system. Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner Maggie Munn gave evidence at the committee hearings.

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release click here.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

Youth detained in a Darwin prison. Image source: ABC News website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration

feature tile text 'Joint Council agrees to accelerate collective efforts to reduce overincarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' & photo of an Aboriginal man's hands through prison bars

Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today and acknowledged the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and agreed that joined up work between all governments in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives is critical to reducing the rate at which Indigenous people are incarcerated, and thereby reduce deaths in custody. Given the urgency and enduring nature of this issue Joint Council agreed to the high priority of accelerating the critical work to establish a Policy Partnership on Justice with the aim of reducing youth and adult incarceration.

Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks said “It’s vital that governments, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, are taking urgent and decisive steps to address the overincarceration of our peoples. For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives will be at the table with Ministers, Attorneys’-General, government officials, corrections, policing, housing and health under a formal shared decision making arrangement.”

To view the Coalition of Peaks media release click here.

protest march with placard of Aboriginal flag overlaid with text 'most incarcerated people on earth'

Photo: Getty. Image source: BBC News website.

Aboriginal people still dying in custody

Aboriginal man David Dungay Jr died in a Sydney prison cell in 2015 after officers restrained him to stop him eating biscuits. During the struggle, he was pinned face-down by guards and jabbed with a sedative. Video later shown at his inquest captured his final moments: his laboured breathing and muffled screams under the pack of guards. “I can’t breathe,” he yelled repeatedly.

His case has parallels to that of African-American man George Floyd, whose death triggered global protests against racism and policing in the US. The Black Lives Matter movement also threw a spotlight on Australia’s own incarceration of indigenous people and their deaths in custody.

This week marks 30 years since a landmark inquiry into Aboriginal deaths in custody. The royal commission made hundreds of recommendations to address the crisis. But three decades on, the situation has worsened. Central to the problem is overrepresentation. Indigenous people are about 12 times more likely to be in custody than non-indigenous Australians.

That reality, a product of systemic problems and disadvantage faced by Aboriginal people, has prompted fresh anger over a lack of action. “The system is continuing to kill us and no one’s doing anything about it,” Paul Silva, the nephew of David Dungay Jr, said at a rally this week.

To view the BBC article in full click here.

2 young Aboriginal women BLM protestors, one with t-shirt Always Was Always Will Be holding up hands covered in red paint to indicate blood, other woman holding Aboriginal flag behind her with raised arms, t-shirt with text black' and Aboriginal flag broken into 4 horizontal rectangular segments

Photo: Getty: Image source: BBC News website.

Deaths in custody & intergenerational healing

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth spoke with Dan Bourchier, ABC Radio 666 Canberra ‘Afternoons’ yesterday about the 30-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and intergenerational healing.

Fiona Cornforth said “it is an important time to do that reflecting. Though it’s something we carry every day, I think, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Unfortunately, we’re at a point now where we’ve lost hope in recommendations being fully implemented, despite all our voices being in these reports over time and people being generous and courageous to put forward their stories, time and time again. Where the solutions are in community, the solutions are given up as important by those with lived experience. But the powers that be and the complex system, the incarceration system, and all the service providers, the big web just can’t seem to get these recommendations out of the too hard basket.”

You can view a transcript of the interview here.

Aboriginal adult hand with small Aboriginal child's hand holding one of the fingers

Image source: Parks Australia website.

NDIS independent assessments on hold

The Morrison government has decided to delay introducing mandatory independent assessments (IAs) for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), in a move strongly welcomed by disability groups.

New NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said earlier this week that she would not be making any decisions around in IAs legislation until an IA trial was finished and the government could examine the feedback. While people currently need to get reports from multiple health providers of their choosing to assess their NDIS eligibility, the new mandatory assessments will be conducted by NDIS-appointed healthcare professionals using standardised tools.

The decision to introduce IAs has been met with overwhelming opposition from disability advocates, who say the process does not adequately capture the complexity of a person’s support needs and will lead to unfair outcomes for people with disability. Reynolds acknowledged the “significant feedback” IAs have already received, and said she would be consulting across the country with as many stakeholders as she could. Disability groups – who feared people would disengage from the scheme entirely because of their unwillingness to engage with IAs – strongly welcomed the minister’s comments.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article in full click here.

rear view of seat and wheel of a wheelchai

Image source: Pro Bono Australia News website.

The more that have the vaccine, the safer we’ll be

NACCHO CEO and lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner and NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey received their first AstraZeneca vaccines at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services last week. “The more people have the vaccinations, the safer we will be,” said Pat. “We’ve managed to keep our community free of any deaths from COVID-19 to date and we want to continue that outstanding record.”

Contact your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation or GP to find out when you can receive your vaccine and to ask any questions you may have. To view the  Pat Turner’s video click here.

photo of Pat Turner receiving vaccine, text 'NACCHO CEO & Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks PAT TURNER'

Review of kidney transplant wait-listing

Research has confirmed poor access to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians from the NT. The study found causes of delays to wait-listing included: failure to attend appointments due to competing priorities and communication barriers, access and navigating complex pathways to specialist services, transport, co-morbidities requiring multiple tests and multiple specialty services, and pressures on dialysis and hospital bed capacity.

The study concluded that barriers to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are complex and can be addressed by redesigning healthcare provision, including increasing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to provide education and patient navigation of the healthcare system and improve communication, streamlining investigations and coordinating specialist services.

To view the full research paper here.

health professional in green gown, green rubber gloves holding white box with red text ' HUMAN ORGAN FOR TRANSPLANT' against surgical theatre background

Image source: Renal and Urology News.

Lessons from subsidised spectacles scheme

A study has been undertaken to determine what lessons can be learned from the Victorian Aboriginal Spectacles Subsidy Scheme (VASSS). The VASSS, which started in July 2010 and has operated continually since, aims to improve access to visual aids and eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians.

An estimated 10,853 VASSS cofunded visual aids were delivered over the first 6 years of the scheme. During that time the mean annual number of comprehensive eye examinations provided within services using VASSS grew 4.6-fold faster compared with the 4 years preceding the VASSS. VASSS achievements were attained through collaborations, flexibility, trust and communication between organisations, all facilitated by funding resulting from evidence-based advocacy.

Access to visual aids and eye examinations by Aboriginal Victorians has improved during the operation of the VASSS, with associated direct and indirect benefits to Aboriginal health, productivity and quality of life. The success of the VASSS may be replicable in other jurisdictions and provides lessons that may be applicable in other fields.

To view the full research paper click here.

Aboriginal man wearing eye test equipment spectacles

Image source: Optometry Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 30 years on, deaths in custody a national shame

feature tile text '30 years on from Royal Commission report Aboriginal deaths in custody a national shame' transparent Aboriginal flay overlaying Aboriginal hands holding jail bars

30 years on, deaths in custody a national shame

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) and numerous stakeholder organisations have released statements condemning the continued failure of governments to implement all of the report’s recommendations.

The Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH) said it stands in solidarity with the grieving families and communities of loved ones who have died in custody due to a failure of governments to effectively implement the clear and comprehensive recommendations outlined in the RCIADIC report. The P4JH said all levels of government must reflect on the loss and grief that could have been prevented had they acted on the recommendations as a matter of priority in 1991 and in the years since. “We are sending our strength to those families and friends whose grief and trauma is compounded by that continued failure of Australian governments to act with resolve and commitment,” said the P4JH co-chairs Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute and Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP). To view P4JH’s media release click here.P4JH logo

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) released a statement acknowledging the deep loss and grief of families and friends whose loved ones have passed away while in custody, both before and since the RCIADIC report. IAHA said ‘we are at our best when we go beyond empathy and act to reduce the causes of that grief and loss. We must do that now.’ IAHA called for the full implementation of the RCIADIC report’s recommendations. To view the IAHA’s media release click here.IAHA logoThe Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) said that ‘Aboriginal deaths in custody continue to occur to this day – and the over-representation of our people in custody – is a national travesty. This is an abject failure of Australian governments. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer unacceptably high levels of physical illness, mental illness and suicide. There is ample evidence that grief, stress and trauma make us sick and incidents such as ongoing deaths and over-representation – further add to the burden of health and disadvantage. Racism and unconscious bias – institutional, systemic and individual – is an unacceptable fact of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Culturally safe services can support service providers to confront and understand cultural difference and deliver effective and safe services to our people.’ AIDA called on all governments to accept, and to address racism and unconscious biases that are embedded in police, prison, legal and health systems. To view AIDA’s media release click here.AIDA logoThe National Native Title Council (NNTC) similarly said that three decades on from the RCIADIC report the rate of Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody continues to be one of our country’s greatest shames. The NNTC referred to research from The Guardian that found Indigenous peoples who died in custody were “more likely to not have been charged with any crime” and were “three times more likely to not receive all required medical care, when compared to non-Indigenous people”. The Royal Commission made 339 recommendations, of which more than one hundred have not been implemented. To view the NNTC’s media release click here.National Native Title Council logo

Change the Record says it is a national shame that in the three decades since the RCIADIC report, state, territory and Commonwealth governments have failed to implement the majority of the report’s recommendations – and as a result ‘our people are still dying at horrendous rates.’ To view the Change the Record’s media release click here.Change the Record logo

Human Rights Watch agreed that the Australian government’s continued failure to address Indigenous deaths in custody tarnishes the country’s rights record and global standing. To view the Human Rights Watch article click here.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said: “Today is a historic and shameful day for our nation. Thirty years ago, the landmark report of the RCIADIC revealed the full extent of the danger that our justice system presents to First Peoples, and laid out the path we needed to take to make things right. Thirty years on, and things are much worse – with incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more than doubling in relative terms. Our leaders have been missing in action on this issue. They have failed to implement many of the report’s 334 recommendations, and they have failed to show care and compassion for First Peoples by changing an unfair and unjust system.” To view Oxfam Australia’s media release click here.OXFAM Australia logo

Thirty years ago Robert Tickner AO, the Aboriginal Affairs Minister in the Hawke government, presented the RCIADIC report to the national Parliament. Now as the Chair of the Justice Reform Initiative he said “It is to our great shame that 30 years later, we have progressed so little. We cannot wait another 30 years for real change.” The report made 339 recommendations, including that imprisonment should only occur as a last resort. This recommendation was adopted by all Australian Governments including by every State and Territory Government from all political persuasions. This support was given on the back of incontestable evidence that jailing was failing Aboriginal people. To view the media release click here. Justice Reform Initiative logo

Cairns ACCHO gives students a strong start

Commencing on 22 April, six students in Year 11 from Bentley Park College and Trinity Bay State High School, will start a school-based traineeship at Wuchopperen Health Service (Wuchopperen) to kickstart their health career with 100% Indigenous owned and operated Group Training Organisation, Australian Training Works Group (ATW), leading the recruitment drive.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traineeship Program, ‘Strong Start’, will give Indigenous youth a head start, achieving a nationally recognised qualification and on the job training while completing year 11 and 12. “By allowing students to gain work skills while completing school, they’re able to work towards a goal, whether that be higher education or transition to work,” says Rachael Ham, Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen. To view the media release in full click here.

photo L–R: Tony Marten (owner & Managing Director at ATW), Wendy Burke (Director of Health Services at Wuchopperen), Rachael Ham (Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen) standing in front of Wuchopperen banner

L–R: Tony Marten (owner & Managing Director at Australian Training Works), Wendy Burke (Director of Health Services at Wuchopperen), Rachael Ham (Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen).

Health sector’s role in deaths in custody

As Australia marks the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC)  the health sector has been urged to reflect on whether it is part of the problem or offering solutions. Associate Professor Megan Williams, Wiradjuri justice health researcher and educator, has identified multiple areas where the sector has failed to address the health needs of prisoners.

Professor Williams says ‘justice is essential for health, for all people in Australia. How we disregard the Royal Commission recommendations is as sick as how we treat First Peoples. $40 million, three years of testimony and evidence about 99 Aboriginal deaths in custody in the 1991 final report and 339 recommendations. But what about deaths since? More than 474. Barely a family have not been affected by Aboriginal deaths in custody, police brutality, poverty or racism. It’s time to make a list of all the government frameworks that overlook, minimise, forget, ignore, exclude, tokenistically mention or silence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison, and all people in prison.’

To view the full Croakey article click here.

End Black Deaths In Dustody rally in Naarm Melbourne to mark 30th anniversary of the Roayl Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody - crowd carrying photos, signs, placards

End Black Deaths In Custody rally in Naarm Melbourne to mark 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Photo by Marie McInerney. Image source: Croakey.

Raising criminal responsibility age urged

National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollonds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO have urged all Australian governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility as a matter of priority. A report commissioned by a meeting of Attorneys-General in July last year recommended that all jurisdictions raise the age and ensure younger teenagers are not held in detention. Recent reports have suggested that Australian Attorneys-General are considering raising the age from 10 to 12. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14-years-old as a minimum. As we mark 30 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its report, it’s important to acknowledge that Indigenous children account for 58% of young people being held on remand and 48% of young people in sentenced detention.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release in full click here.

spray painted image of an Aboriginal child on a brick wall overlaid with white chalk lines representing jail bars

Image: Chris Devers, Flickr. Image source: newmatilda.com.

Mega prison raises fears for prisoner health

Governments often hail the economic benefits that new or expanded prisons bring to regional communities. But what are their health and social impacts? These issues are investigated as part of Croakey’s new Rural Health Justice series. In the feature article launching the series, journalist Linda Doherty explores how Australia’s newest mega jail, the Clarence Correctional Centre (CCC), near Grafton, NSW is affecting the health and wellbeing of prisoners, their families and the local community.

Around 60% of the 155 women prisoners in CCC have dependent children and one-third are Aboriginal women, according to SHINE for Kids which advocates for the human rights of children with a parent in prison, transports children to jail visits, runs evidence-based parenting, cultural and education courses in 27 jails in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, ACT and WA, and funds tutors for primary school children.

Like many of the 339 recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody that have been ignored by governments, recommendation 168 resonates for the parents in the new CCC facility. It says: “…where possible, an Aboriginal prisoner should be placed in an institution as close as possible to the place of residence of his or her family.”

To view the full article in Croakey click here.

photo of Storytime book called 'Tracks my Country' created by parents in prison for their children

One of the Storytime books created by parents in prison for their children. Image source: SHINE for Kids.

Increasing vaccine take-up in remote NT

In East Arnhem Land, the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation said only 129 of about 5,600 eligible people had received the AstraZeneca vaccine since the rollout began in the region at the start of April. Chief executive Eddie Mulholland told the ABC he expected that number to be higher, but people were now becoming even more reluctant because people are hearing reports of rare blood clotting among recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The NT’s peak Aboriginal health service is working on a plan to improve the take-up of COVID-19 vaccines after reports of growing reluctance in remote areas. A spokeswoman for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT said details will be released early next week.

To view the article in full click here.

photo of 9 Aboriginal adults, one holding a baby around table at Miwatj Health indicating they have had a COVID-19 vaccine

All adults in remote communities are eligible for vaccination under phase 1b of the rollout. Photo supplied by: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News website.

COVID-19 radio ads in language

The Australian Government Department of Health has produced a collection of translations of the radio ad, ‘Living the new normal’, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. To access the collection click here.DoH banner text 'Keep Our Mob Safe' Coronavirus (COVID-19) Help Stop the Spread and Stay Healthy' against Aboriginal dot art painting in black, gold, pink, light blue, tan

Health system needs to learn from patient experience

The health system in Australia would benefit significantly by paying more attention to the lessons learned from patient experience, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) says. This is a key message from the latest edition of the Health Voices ejournal which covers the recent Shifting Gears Australasian summit conference of the CHF.

“The value of learning from experience was given fresh power at the inaugural Australasian summit last month,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said. “As the conference heard more than once, health consumers, particularly those with chronic conditions are more likely to have deeper knowledge of their overall care than any one health professional dealing with a single aspect of their care. There is much to learn, including from such community-centred programs as the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation success in countering COVID-19.”

To view the Consumes Health Forum of Australia media release click here.

5 stacked wooden blocks, top two & bottom two with black arrows to left, middle with red arrow to the right

Image source: Australian College of Nursing.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs stay the course on vaccine rollout

feature tile text ' ACCHOs are staying the course on vaccine rollout despite challenges' photo of Dr Dawn Casey receiving COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga

ACCHOs stay the course on vaccine rollout

In 2020, ACCHOs played a key role in keeping Indigenous communities safe and informed about coronavirus. Now, more than 100 of these organisations are helping to vaccinate their communities. But the changed advice around the AstraZeneca vaccine is throwing up challenges and in the Torres Strait and Cape York in Queensland, the rollout has been paused.

NACCHO’s Deputy CEO and co-chair of the COVID-19 Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Dr Dawn Casey. Dr Lorraine Anderson, Medical Director of Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and Dr Tony Brown, Executive Director of Medical Services for the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service spoke on ABC Radio National Life Matters with Michael Mackenzie earlier this morning.

To lister to the discussion click here.

Saibai Island (Torres Strait Islands) councillor Conwell Tabuai being vaccinated by nurse Sue Bowler

Saibai Island Councillor Conwell Tabuai being vaccinated by nurse Sue Bowler. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Wellington Aboriginal Health Service produces vaccine videos

Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS) has produced a number of videos featuring health professionals talking about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The first video (2:13 minutes) is of Dr Bijay, General Practitioner, WACHS.

screen shot from video of Dr Bijay Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service talking about the COVID-19 vaccine

Dr Bijay, GP Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service.

Pharmacist Alice Nugent has recorded the following three videos:

What are AstraZeneca and Pfizer? (17:47 minutes)

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work? (2 minutes)

What are Oxford AstraZeneca and Pfizer Biotech? (2 minutes)

screen shot from video of pharmacist Alice Nugent Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service & NACCHO Medicine Policy & Program team

Alice Nugent. Pharmacist – Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service & NACCHO Medicine Policy & Program team.

New resources based on latest AstraZeneca advice

The Department of Health as put together a kit for ACCHOS based on the new recommendations regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, to support their work with patients.

The resources include:

  • a video featuring Dr Lucas de Toca summarising the new information and recommendations that have arisen regarding AstraZeneca and the change in the vaccination rollout
  • social media content including two new social tiles that ACCHOs can use in promoting the new information to their followers/patients, as well as some suggested captions to use alongside them
  • a poster that can be printed and displayed in your clinics
  • information for ACCHOs – document answering new questions that may arise from patients about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    vaccine vial with words COVID-19 & text AstraZeneca

    Image source: BBC News.

EveryBODY is Deadly

Over 1 million Australians are living with an eating disorder. Less than a quarter of those receive treatment or support. Butterfly Foundation is a national charity organisation for all Australians impacted by eating disorders and body image issues, and for the families, friends and communities who support them.

Anybody, from any mob, can have eating or body concerns. Eating or body image concerns can weaken your mind, body and spirit. It’s not about your body size – and it’s different for different people. But reaching out to talk it out with friends, family or the free Butterfly Foundation Helpline can help. The helpline is a confidential safe space with qualified counsellors who have ongoing cultural competence training.

Butterfly Foundation talked to two mob about their experience with eating and body image concerns. From their highs and lows, to the way they are rising above, they learned that yarning can help.

Garigarra Mundine is from Dubbo, NSW. She is Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi on her mother’s side, and Bundjulung and Yuin on her father’s. Garra’s passion is to advocate and promote Indigenous culture through art and advocacy. She works for the Australian government in Canberra and uses her weaving skills passed down by elders to create art pieces. To view Garra’s story click here.

To access the Butterfly Foundation’s website click here.

Lives need to be valued & culture known 

Meena Singh, a Yorta Yorta and Indian woman, born and living on the land of the Kulin Nations, is the Legal Director of the Human Rights Law Centre and is currently undertaking her PhD at Melbourne Law School, looking at how the experiences of women of colour as lawyers can impact on legal practice and knowledge. Meena has written an article for IndigenousX examining what keeps us [Aboriginal people] safe, and what will stop more deaths in custody.

To view the IndigenousX article in full click here.

portrait shot of Meena Singh

Meena Singh. Image source: ABC Radio Melbourne.

Youth calls to bridge gap in health system

The challenges facing young people in the health system and potential remedies are aired by Youth Health Forum leaders in a new video released today. The video features two young health leaders, Jasmine Elliott and Roxxanne MacDonald, explaining the challenges for young people in transitioning from child-centred to adult services.

They say a key challenge for young people is that “the current system is not designed for us”.

The video is based on the Youth Health Forum-commissioned report on Life Transitions and Youth Pathways to Health Services which revealed the significant barriers to services facing many young people, particularly those with chronic health conditions.

The report identified six key challenges for young people in health care including trusting health services, transitioning to adult care, delivering digital services and building more equitable services.

To read the Consumers Health Forum of Australia Youth Health Forum media release in full click here.

6 hands reaching in air

Image source: HIMSS website.

NACCHO #MensHealthWeek Media Release : @NACCHOChair and Dr Mark Wenitong  “ Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health : Plus case study Ingkintja Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO in Alice Springs

The commitment of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to live longer, healthier lives by providing a wide range of preventative men’s programs that address critical social and emotional issues that our men face.

The overall aim is reduce the rate of hospitalisations, which is almost three times higher than for other Australian men and to reduce the number of Aboriginal men in prison who are imprisoned at 11 times the rate of the general male population.”

I would urge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to focus on their overall health after these two-three months of isolation and get a comprehensive annual 715 health check at their nearest ACCHO.  Annual health checks are crucial in picking up little things before they become worse, give peace of mind, and they are free.”

On the occasion of National Men’s Health Week, NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills

Download the NACCHO press release HERE

NACCHO Media Statement – Men’s Health Week v2.1 15 June

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has long recognised the importance of addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health as part of the Close the Gap initiatives.

Read over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men’s Health articles published by NACCHO over 8 Years

Read this article above 

The history of NACCHO OCHRE Day events 2013- 2019

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO has for many years been a national leader in Aboriginal health, not only through its male-only comprehensive primary health care service providing a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services, but through the emphasis that the service places on preventative health with annual 715 health check and weekly engagements, servicing over 1,000 men every year.

See case study part 1 below : Photo above : Left right Terry Braun , John Liddle Manager , David Galvin , Wayne Campbell , Ken Lichleitner

 

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO), Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Mark Wenitong, has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to improve their overall health and mental health.

His expertise and experience have led to his involvement in health reform with the Cape York Aboriginal communities with a dedicated team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male workers, who are getting great traction with their community men.

“The strength-based men’s programs delivered by Apunipima continue to see rise in participation rates and better outcomes for Cape York men. Though we still have a long way to go, more of the men are taking control and utilising our programs to support improving their mental health and overall wellbeing,” said Dr Wenitong.

Dr Mark Wenitong on what works in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s health

Part 1 Case Study Ingkintja Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO in Alice Springs 

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress that takes the lead in providing cultural activities and social and emotional wellbeing services for male health for many years.

The ACCHO delivers a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services with emphasis on preventative health with annual 715 health check, servicing over 1,000 men every year.

Ingkintja takes the lead in supporting men in cultural activities across central Australia by providing equipment and medical support when requested by community leaders.

Incorporated into the male-only service are washing facilities (showers and laundry facilities), a gym and ‘Men’s Shed’.

Congress’ decentralisation of social and emotional well-being services meant that a psychologist and Aboriginal care management worker are available through Ingkintja, allowing therapeutic care (counselling, violence interventions), brief interventions, cultural and social support to men.

Ingkintja has a history of hosting national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Heath events

male_health_summit_jun09

Ingkintja also delivers the Jaila Wanti prison to work program, which provides support to Aboriginal prisoners 90 days prior to release and also post release to reintegrate back into community through the coordination of health, wellbeing and social support services.

Male prison transitional care coordinators work with clients on health and wellbeing, and facilitate linkages with employment and training provider. Through the program, Ingkintja deliver regular visits to Aboriginal prisoners in the Alice Springs Correctional facility; conducting sessions with Aboriginal prisoners on their holistic health and wellbeing including health promotions with a focus on staying off the smokes and grog.

Sessions also focus on cultural roots and family connections to rebuild cultural identify and self-worth, and to reinforce positive behaviours while also reflecting on the consequences of impulsivity and violent behaviours.

The team establish trust and respect and assist in reconnecting the men with family and culture and to reintegrate into community.  Corrections staff have provided encouraging feedback on the positive impact that these visits have on the Aboriginal prisoners, noting changed attitudes and behaviours as the men reflect on the impact of their actions and ask for the next Ingkintja session.

The Inkintja men’s wash facilities were recently upgraded and continue to be a vital and highly accessed service, especially for men living rough. The facility gives men the obvious benefit of being able to wash and gain self-worth, and provides a critical engagement opportunity for the team to perform health checks, medical follow-up and other necessary referrals to services to improve their health and wellbeing.

The Ingkintja men’s shed and gym has regular sessions that enable males, both young and old, to come together and access valuable skills, such fitness, comradery and practical life skills.

Ingkintja have also been equipped with a men’s health truck, currently being fitted out with three consult rooms, which will increase the reach of the service’s holistic approach further to remote communities in a culturally responsive – and mobile – way.