NACCHO Aboriginal Health supports the @Lungfoundation first ever Australia-wide #Indigenous Lung Health Checklist

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 ” Lung Foundation Australia in collaboration with the Queensland Government’s Indigenous Respiratory Outreach Care Program (IROC) have developed the Checklist specifically for the Indigenous community.

It only takes a few minutes to answer 8 questions that could save your or a loved one’s life.

It can be completed on a mobile phone, tablet or computer.

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The Indigenous Lung Health Checklist is narrated by the Lung Foundation’s Ambassador and Olympic Legend Cathy Freeman.

Read or Download the PDF Brochure

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Please go to the site as Indigenous peoples are almost twice as likely to die from a lung-related condition than non-Indigenous Australians.

# Indigenous Lung Health Checklist at

http://indigenouslungscheck.lungfoundation.com.au/.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Obesity #junkfood : 47 point plan to control weight problem that costs $56 billion per year

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 ” JUNK food would be banned from schools and sports venues, and a sugar drink tax introduced, under a new blueprint to trim the nation’s waistline.

The 47-point blueprint also includes a crackdown on using junk food vouchers as rewards for sporting performance and for fundraising.

State governments would be compelled to improve the healthiness of foods in settings controlled by them like hospitals, workplaces and government events.

And they would have to change urban planning rules to restrict unhealthy food venues and make more space for healthy food outlets. “

Originally published as Move to ban junk food in schools

Updated Feb 21 with press release from Health Minister Greg Hunt See below

The Australian Government is taking action to tackle the challenge of obesity and encourage all Australians to live healthy lives

“In my view, we should be starting to tax sugary drinks as a first step. Nearly every week there’s a new study citing the benefits of a sugary drinks tax and and nearly every month another country adopts it as a policy. It’s quickly being seen as an appropriate thing to do to address the obesity epidemic.”

A health economist at the Grattan Institute, Stephen Duckett, said the researchers had put together a careful and strong study and set of tax and subsidy suggestions.see article 2 below  

One hundred nutrition experts from 53 organisations working with state and federal bureaucrats have drawn up the obesity action plan to control the nation’s weight problem that is costing the nation $56 billion a year.

The review of state and federal food labelling, advertising and health policies found huge variation across the country and experts want it corrected by a National Nutrition Policy.

The nation is in the grip of an obesity crisis with almost two out of three (63 per cent) Australian adults, and one in four (25 per cent) Australian children overweight or obese.

Obesity is also one of the lead causes of disease and death including cancer.

More than 1.4 million Australians have Type 2 diabetes and new cases are being diagnosed at the rate of 280 per day.

Stomach, bowel, kidney, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, oesophagus, endometrium, ovary, prostate cancer and breast cancer in postmenopausal women have all been linked to obesity.

Half of all Australians are exceeding World Health Organisation’s recommendations they consume less than 13 teaspoons or sugar a day with most of the white stuff hidden in drinks and processed food, the Australian Bureau of Statistics Health Survey shows.

Teenage boys are the worst offenders consuming 38 teaspoons of sugar a day which makes up a quarter of their entire calorie intake.

Dr Gary Sacks from Deakin University whose research underpins the obesity control plan says it’s time for politicians to put the interests of ordinary people and their health above the food industry lobbyists

“It’s a good start to have policies for restricting junk foods in school canteens, but if kids are then inundated with unhealthy foods at sports venues, and they see relentless junk food ads on prime-time TV, it doesn’t make it easy for them to eat well,” he said.

That’s why the experts want a co-ordinated national strategy that increases the price of unhealthy food using taxes and regulations to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising.

The comprehensive examination of state and federal food policies found Australia is meeting best practice in some areas including the Health Star Rating food labelling scheme, no GST on basic foods and surveys of population body weight.

While all States and Territories have policies for healthy school food provision they are not all monitored and supported, the experts say.

Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition and a partner in the research, said a piecemeal approach would not work to turn the tide of obesity in Australia.

“When nearly two-thirds of Australians are overweight or obese, we

know that it’s not just about individuals choosing too many of the wrong foods, there are strong environmental factors at play – such as the all pervasive marketing of junk food particularly to children,” she said.

The new policy comes as a leading obesity experts says a tax on sugary drinks in Australia would be just as logical as existing mandatory controls on alcohol and tobacco

Professor Stephen Colagiuri from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre claims a ‘sugar tax’ help individuals moderate their sugary beverage intake, in much the same way as current alcohol, tobacco, and road safety measures like seat belts and speed restrictions preventing harmful behaviours.

The UK will introduce a sugar tax next year and in Mexico a sugar tax introduced in 2014 has already reduced consumption of sugary drinks by 12 per cent and increased the consumption of water.

Australian politicians have repeatedly dismissed a sugar tax on the grounds it interferes with individual rights.

However, Professor Colagiuri says “individual rights can be equally violated if governments fail to take effective and proportionate measures to remove health threats from the environment in the cause of improving population health.”

Originally published as Move to ban junk food in schools

ARTICLE 2 Australia would save $3.4bn if junk food taxed and fresh food subsidised, says study 

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O as published in the Guardian

Australian researchers say subsidising fresh fruit and vegetables would ensure the impact of food taxes on the household budget would be negligible. Photograph: Dave and Les Jacobs/Getty Images/Blend Images

Health experts have developed a package of food taxes and subsidies that would save Australia $3.4bn in healthcare costs without affecting household food budgets.

Linda Cobiac, a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s school of public health, led the research published on Wednesday in the journal Plos Medicine.

Cobiac and her team used international data from countries that already have food and beverage taxes such as Denmark, but tweaked the rate of taxation and also included a subsidy for fresh fruit and vegetables so the total change to the household budget would be negligible.

They then modelled the potential impact on the Australian population of introducing taxes on saturated fat, salt, sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages, and a subsidy on fruits and vegetables. Their simulations found the combination of the taxes and subsidy could result in 1.2 additional years of healthy life per 100 people alive in 2010, at a net cost-saving of $3.4bn to the health sector.

“Few other public health interventions could deliver such health gains on average across the whole population,” Cobiac said.

The sugar tax produced the biggest gains in health, followed by the salt tax, the saturated fat tax and the sugar-sweetened beverage tax.

The fruit and vegetable subsidy, while cost-effective when added to the package of taxes, did not lead to a net health benefit on its own, the researchers found.

The researchers suggest introducing a tax of $1.37 for every 100 grams of saturated fat in those foods with a saturated fat content of more than 2.3%, excluding milk; a salt tax of 30 cents for one gram of sodium above Australian maximum recommended levels; a sugar-sweetened beverage tax of 47 cents a litre; a fruit and vegetable subsidy of 14 cents for every 100 grams; and a sugar tax of 94 cents for every 100ml in ice-cream with more than 10 grams of sugar per 100 grams; and 85 cents for every 100 grams in all other products.

The taxes exclude fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and many dairy products.

“You need to include both carrots and sticks to change consumer behaviour and to encourage new taxes,” Blakely said. “That’s where this paper is cutting edge internationally.

“We have worked out the whole package of taxes with minimal impact on the budget of the household, so you can see an overall gain for the government. The government would be less interested in the package if it was purely punitive, but this provides subsidies and savings to health spending that could be reinvested back into communities and services.”

He said taxing junk foods also prompted food manufacturers to change their products and make them healthier to avoid the taxes.

“For those who might say this is an example of nanny state measures, let’s consider that we don’t mind asbestos being taken out of buildings to prevent respiratory disease, and we’re happy for lead to be taken from petrol. We need to change the food system if we are going to tackle obesity and prevent disease.”

A health economist at the Grattan Institute, Stephen Duckett, said the researchers had put together a careful and strong study and set of tax and subsidy suggestions. “This is a very good paper,” he said.

“In my view, we should be starting to tax sugary drinks as a first step. Nearly every week there’s a new study citing the benefits of a sugary drinks tax and and nearly every month another country adopts it as a policy. It’s quickly being seen as an appropriate thing to do to address the obesity epidemic.”

A Grattan Institute report published in November found introducing an excise tax of 40 cents for every 100 grams of sugar in beverages as part of the fight against obesity would trigger a 15% drop in the consumption of sugary drinks. Australians and New Zealanders consume an average of 76 litres of sugary drinks per person every year.

In a piece for the Medical Journal of Australia published on Monday, the chair of the Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges, Prof Nicholas Talley, wrote that “the current lack of a coordinated national approach is not acceptable”.

More than one in four Australian children are now overweight or obese, as are more than two-thirds of all adults.

Talley proposed a six-point action plan, which included recognising obesity as a chronic disease with multiple causes. He also called for stronger legislation to reduce unhealthy food marketing to children and to reduce the consumption of high-sugar beverages, saying a sugar-sweetened beverage tax should be introduced.

“There is evidence that the food industry has been a major contributor to obesity globally,” he wrote. “The health of future generations should not be abandoned for short-term and short-sighted commercial interests.”

Press Release 21 February Greg Hunt Health Minister

The Australian Government is taking action to tackle the challenge of obesity and encourage all Australians to live healthy lives.

PDF printable version of Turnbull Government committed to tackling obesity – PDF 269 KB

The Turnbull Government is taking action to tackle the challenge of obesity and encourage all Australians to live healthy lives.

But unlike the Labor Party, we don’t believe increasing the family grocery bill at the supermarket is the answer to this challenge.

We already have programmes in place to educate, support and encourage Australians to adopt and maintain a healthy diet and to lead an active life – and there’s more to be done.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister flagged that the Government will soon be announcing a new focus on preventive health that will give people the right tools and information to live active and healthy lives. This will build on the significant work already underway.

Yesterday, we launched the second phase of the $7 million Girls Make Your Move campaign to increase physical activity for girls and young women. This is now being rolled out across Australia.

Our $160 million Sporting Schools program is getting kids involved in physical activity. Already around 6,000 schools across the country have been involved – with many more to come. This is a great programme that Labor wants to axe.

Our Health Star Rating system helps people to make healthier choices when choosing packaged foods at the supermarket and encourages the food industry to reformulate their products to be healthier.

The Healthy Weight Guide website provides useful advice including tips and tools to encourage physical activity and healthy eating to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

The Healthy Food Partnership with the food industry and public health groups is increasing people’s health knowledge and is supporting them to make healthier food and drink choices in order to achieve better health outcomes.

We acknowledge today’s report, but it does not take into account a number of the Government programs now underway.

Obesity and poor diets are complex public health issue with multiple contributing factors, requiring a community-wide approach as well as behaviour change by individuals. We do not support a new tax on sugar to address this issue.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are already effectively discounted as they do not have a GST applied.

Whereas the GST is added to the cost of items such as chips, lollies, sugary drinks, confectionery, snacks, ice-cream and biscuits.

We’re committed to tackling obesity, but increasing the family’s weekly shop at the supermarket isn’t the answer

NACCHO Invites all health practitioners and staff to a webinar : Working collaboratively to support the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal youth in crisis

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NACCHO invites all health practitioners and staff to the webinar: An all-Indigenous panel will explore youth suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The webinar is organised and produced by the Mental Health Professionals Network and will provide participants with the opportunity to identify:

  • Key principles in the early identification of youth experiencing psychological distress.
  • Appropriate referral pathways to prevent crises and provide early intervention.
  • Challenges, tips and strategies to implement a collaborative response to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis.

Join hundreds of doctors, nurses and mental health professionals around the nation for an interdisciplinary panel discussion. The panellists with a range of professional experience are:

  • Dr Louis Peachey (Qld Rural Generalist)
  • Dr Marshall Watson (SA Psychiatrist)
  • Dr Jeff Nelson (Qld Psychologist)
  • Facilitator: Dr Mary Emeleus (Qld GP and Psychotherapist)

Read more about the panellists.

Working collaboratively to support the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis.

Date:  Thursday 23rd February, 2017

Time: 7.15 – 8.30pm AEDT

REGISTER

No need to travel to benefit from this free PD opportunity. Simply register and log in anywhere you have a computer or tablet with high speed internet connection. CPD points awarded.

Learn more about the learning outcomes, other resources and register now.

For further information, contact MHPN on 1800 209 031 or email webinars@mhpn.org.au.

The Mental Health Professionals’ Network is a government-funded initiative that improves interdisciplinary collaborative mental health care practice in the primary health sector.  MHPN promotes interdisciplinary practice through two national platforms, local interdisciplinary networks and online professional development webinars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Cashless Welfare Card : NACCHO CEO Pat Turner questions lack of evidence

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“The cashless welfare card is unfair, a form of control and reminds Aboriginal people every day that they are treated as second- and third-class citizens in their own land,”

One of the key issues in many of the areas where the card operates, such as in remote areas of South Australia, is the difficulty of accessing fresh produce at reasonable prices.

Where is the evidence that this card increases this access and enables Aboriginal people to get the healthy food they need?

A person’s dignity can also be lost when having to use such a card which can also have detrimental impacts on both their mental and physical health and wellbeing.”

Pat Turner, the chief executive of NACCHO  national peak body on Aboriginal health

From Melissa Davey The Guardian

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The welfare card was “unfair” and “a form of control”, Turner said in response to a Guardian Australia report from the South Australian town of Ceduna which found welfare recipients on the card felt disempowered and dictated to.

But Turner, who before being appointed to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (Naccho) was the longest-serving chief executive of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and spent 18 months as Monash Chair of Australian Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, questioned the evidence from the government’s report

The trial of the card, known as the indue card, began in Ceduna in March and in the Western Australian towns of Kununurra and Wyndham in April. Welfare recipients in those towns now receive 80% of their welfare payments into the indue card, which cannot be used to withdraw cash or buy alcohol or gambling products. The remaining 20% can be withdrawn as cash.

The government, including the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the human services minister, Alan Tudge, say the card has so far been a success.

In a report released six months into the card’s trial, anecdotal evidence and early data found poker machine revenue in the Ceduna region between April and August last year was 15.1% lower than for the equivalent period in 2015.

There had also been a strong uptake of financial counselling, the report said, with 300 people seeking counselling since the trial began. Anecdotally, there had been a significant decline in people requesting basic supplies like milk and sugar from the Koonibba Community Shopfront in Ceduna, the report also said.

Most people on welfare in the trial towns are Aboriginal.

Guardian Australia has contacted the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.

The strength of data used in the government’s cashless welfare card progress report has been questioned by Aboriginal elders, health economists and the Greens senator, Rachel Siewert.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Smoking :Facebook could help lower Indigenous smoking rates,health researchers say

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“Facebook is a more effective way of reaching Indigenous Australians than traditional forms of communication; what we need to figure out is how to harness that message,”

Marita Hefler from the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin.

“On Facebook I have seen some of my friends quitting smoking, using Facebook as a diary, and they’ve been very successful. I’m hoping that sharing my experiences will also help me quit,”

After suffering a heart attack on her 50th birthday, Chuna Lowah is trying to quit smoking, and is hopeful Facebook can help.

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Articles are from Page 8  NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download

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

Indigenous people have the highest rates of smoking in the country, but researchers in the Top End believe Facebook could be the most effective way of helping them quit.

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As reported the ABC

Aboriginal people living in remote communities smoke at three times the rate of other Australians, according to research fellow Marita Hefler from the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin.

Preliminary research into the role of Facebook in helping smokers to quit has found that although the living situations of Indigenous Australians differs widely across the Northern Territory, even those who lack food or clothing may still own a smartphone.

“We know that Aboriginal people use social media at very high rates; it’s been taken up even in remote communities, particularly where people have limited communication through other means,” Ms Hefler said.

Researchers believe Indigenous people use Facebook at higher rates than the overall population, making it one of the most effective ways to reach out.

“Facebook is a more effective way of reaching Indigenous Australians than traditional forms of communication; what we need to figure out is how to harness that message,” Ms Hefler said.

Early findings show that when friends and family talk about quitting smoking on social media, it has a greater effect than traditional hardline anti-smoking ads.

“The people in your Facebook networks influence you the most,” Ms Hefler said.

“In the past, anti-smoking advertising has relied heavily on having a captive audience; we know that smokers don’t like the content they are seeing, but they can’t get away. Now with the advent of Facebook, all you have to do is swipe and the message is gone.”

Cigarettes more popular than fruit in outback stores

Customers in remote Australia spent roughly four and a half times more on cigarettes than fruit and vegetables in 2015-16, said Stephen Bradley, chairman of Outback Stores, a government-owned company which manages 37 businesses in some of the remotest parts of the country.

An incentive program run by Outback Stores to improve community health has resulted in a 0.5 per cent drop in soft drink sales and a five per cent increase in fruit and vegetable sales, but Mr. Bradley admits more needs to be done.

“We remain convinced that a significant dietary change will take many years and our support programs need to operate for the longer term to be effective,” he said.

The Federal Government is aiming to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy within a generation.

Indigenous deaths caused by heart disease and strokes have been dropping but on average Indigenous people are still dying 10 years younger than non-Indigenous Australians.

“Smoking in Aboriginal communities looks quite different to what it does in the rest of Australia,” Ms Hefler said.

“There’s historical reasons why the smoking rate is higher: it’s tied up in inter-generational trauma, and we also know the stolen generations are more likely to smoke.”

Using Facebook to quit

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After suffering a heart attack on her 50th birthday, Chuna Lowah is trying to quit smoking, and is hopeful Facebook can help.

Ms Lowah has been a smoker for more than half her life and agrees the tough traditional anti-smoking ads are too easy to ignore.

“On Facebook I have seen some of my friends quitting smoking, using Facebook as a diary, and they’ve been very successful. I’m hoping that sharing my experiences will also help me quit,” she said.

The preliminary research findings from Menzies have been welcomed by NT Territory Labor MP Chansey Paech, whose central Australian electorate of Namatjira has a high Indigenous population.

“Both the Territory and Federal Governments have made significant contributions over the last several years to reduce the rates of smoking, so I’m looking forward to reading the report and seeing what the recommendations are, and hopefully reducing the smoking rate in the Northern Territory, which we know is too high,” he said.

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health ” What Works Part 9 ” ; Hon Linda Burney’s Menzies Research Oration ” Community led programs “

 

Shadow Minister for Human Services Linda Burney makes her maiden speech in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

” Paternalism is symptomatic of a view of Aboriginal Australia which sees Indigenous people purely as the problem.

It speaks to that old lie – that Aboriginal people have inflicted this deprivation on themselves, and that governments must save them from themselves.

Despite my pessimism about the current direction of government approaches to the Aboriginal community I do see some cause for optimism.

The communities which are doing best are those which have found ways to support their own initiatives despite failing Government approaches.

I take heart from organisations like Tharawal in Sydney’s South-Western Suburbs – an Indigenous health services ( and NACCHO Member  ) which does not just focus on treating illness when it occurs.

They target what Sir Michael Marmot calls “the social determinants of health” and what the Menzies School of Health Research has worked so hard to identify. Stable housing, early education and social support.

And they are seeing excellent results. You know it is about providing this information to the organisations that already work in communities – it is not a lack of ideas, we know the programs that work and they are community led. ”

Hon Linda Burney MP : ” Truth telling and generosity – Healing the Heart of the nation  : Oration Menzies School of Health Research Darwin 18 Nov 2016

Photo above : the first elected Aboriginal woman in the House of Representatives Shadow Minister for Human Services Linda Burney makes her maiden speech at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

I open by acknowledging the Larrakia people on whose land we meet today.

I pay my respects to their elders past and present. I also take this opportunity to acknowledge their long struggle for equality, for land rights and for self determination.

I pay tribute to the Larrakia peoples’ determination in the face of denial and I mourn with them the loss of so many elders before their 23 year struggle for land rights could be resolved.

In acknowledging country I do not just pay tribute and respect –

I am acknowledging the fundamental truth that this land has played host to thousands of years of lived human experience.

Cultures evolving and changing since the first sunrise.

I want to thank the school for hosting me today. The world class socio-medical research published by the Menzies School of Health Research will lead to very real improvement in the standard of living for many Aboriginal people.

I also acknowledge today the special guests in the audience;

 Commissioner Mick Gooda, of the Royal Commission in into Juvenile Detention

 Tony McAvoy SC, the first Aboriginal Senior Council

And of course my colleagues;

 Senator Malarndirri McCarthy

 Luke Gosling MP

 Various Northern Territory administrator and MPs.

It is an honour to be invited to deliver the Menzies’ School of Health Research Oration for 2016.

If I can I’d like to offer my thoughts on 4 things –

  1. Truth telling and forgiveness, as I did for the Lingiari Oration in 2007 I want to remind you all of the importance of narrative and the need for truth as the bedrock of our reconciliation process;
  2. Recognition of First Peoples in our constitution – our next great project in truth telling and the one to which we must turn our attention to now;
  3. The perilous state of our Governments’ Indigenous Affairs policy today. and;
  4. The way, as I see it, forward from here.

But I want to start by appealing to your optimism – the facts of our condition can be dispiriting but I am reminded of the lessons taught to me by the late Faith Bandler.

I had the extraordinary honour of being invited by Faith’s daughter, Lilon, to speak at her memorial service in the Great Hall at Sydney University.

Faith more than anyone understood that we are playing the long game – it require understanding and devotion but most of all it requires patience.

The memory of Faith is an appropriate one – it was the work of Faith, along with so many others like Jessie Street and Alan Duncan that convinced the Menzies and Holt Government to hold the 1967 Referendum.

That 10 year campaign saw the revitalisation of the fight for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and began the journey of truth telling.

In my first speech to the Australian Parliament I told the story of an older non- Aboriginal woman making her way to the voting booth late on Election Day.

It was cold and dark and her daughter urged her just to give up and go home as she slowly made her way across the park to the local public school– but she insisted.

She said that her opportunity to vote for an Aboriginal woman “was history”. She saw that she had a stake in that election that transcended “bread and butter political issues”, she didn’t need to be an Aboriginal person to understand that.

She knew that the election of an Aboriginal woman was not just a victory for Aboriginal people; it was a part of our shared national history.

Not so long ago that would not have been the case – we had two distinct historical narratives.

A white one and a black one.

“White” Australia (as it was then) had no interest in Indigenous history, and “Black” Australia had no stake in engaging with a “White” future.

That old woman proved to me that we are changing this.

For the 1988 bicentenary campaign our signature poster was “white Australia has a black history.” –

That campaign, led by Kevin Cooke and Reverend Harris (with a young Linda Burney too) sums up the feeling.

I can think of few venues in which it is be more appropriate to discuss the reconciliation movement –

A school of health research; which, along with education, is one of the greatest areas of need for Aboriginal people and,

One named for our 12th Prime Minister; who governed in an era which saw the revitalisation and renewed push for equality and self-determination for our people.

His reign marked a turning point – the beginning of the end for the Australia which was nestled firmly in the bosom of the British Empire.

It was a time of national coming of age.

I am no political fan of Menzies but I think it is true to say that without him there could have been no Whitlam or Keating or Hawke.

Their fiercely independent and inclusive model of Australian identity was born of a rebellion against the era of Menzies.

So in this sense we owe him a debt of sorts.

When I was only 4 years old in 1961, Sir Robert Menzies hosted a delegation of Aboriginal people from mainland states.

They had already been fighting for years to see a referendum held which would grant Aboriginal people equal rights.

There was considerable excitement amongst the attendees, a meeting with Prime Minister was in itself a victory for a community almost completely excluded from the political process at that point.

Menzies served his guests alcoholic drinks.

Our Prime Minister was shocked when informed by one of the attendees that that act was illegal under state law.

Such was the denial of truth and the refusal to see discrimination in our country at that time – the sitting prime minister was, himself, unaware of this discrimination.

It was paternalism in its worst form.

Menzies resigned when I was 9 years old – he had been a constant on the radio and on TV for those who had them, for much longer than that.

This explains to some extent the reverence with which so many look back on this time. To them it was stable and prosperous.

But even looking back through the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia – we cannot help but catch glimpses of the rampant discrimination of that era in the corners of our eyes.

Forced removal; captured so hauntingly in Archie Roaches’ “Took the Children Away, Government or church run reserves dictating the terms on which Aboriginal people could live, and; Government decrees which saw indigenous languages banned or even outlawed.

This was an era in which the Indigenous people of this continent were still considered biologically inferior, in which the White Australia policy still enjoyed bipartisan support.

It was a time in which the voices of women, non-white Australians and marginalised groups were systematically silenced.

So, while I pay my respects to Robert Menzies I cannot deny this truth. Nostalgia and reverence aside, this was an age of acute racism and a total denial of history.

We still considered ourselves an outpost of the British Empire, the millennia of Aboriginal history on this continent not only ignored, it was actively being hidden and destroyed.

I don’t know what Sir Robert Menzies would think of me delivering an oration named for him;

A woman;

An Aboriginal person, and;

A Labor member of Parliament.

Things have certainly changed.

If he didn’t accuse me of being a communist first, he might ask whether we had any political views in common and he might be surprised to hear where things stand today.

The fact is, regardless of political stripe, Menzies and I share some core political beliefs.

Sir Robert Menzies believed that government intervention could be a tool for good; he believed that the role of government was to empower the “forgotten” Australians and; He did saw economic growth as a means to an end not an end unto itself.

In his 1961 election address he noted that “a growing nation must be a healthy one”, and while it would be up to Whitlam to introduce a nationwide health scheme,

Menzies invested significantly in the area.

He was amongst the first leaders in Australia to recognise that the health of the community was a valuable measure of its prosperity.

And while his view of the 1967 Referendum was in some ways conflicted (Menzies himself having campaigned against some proposals) he also oversaw the passage of the 1963 Commonwealth Electoral Act which granted universal suffrage to Aboriginal people regardless of the state in which they were born.

Like the story of all governments when it comes to First Peoples’, Menzies legacy is mixed.

Menzies to some extent defined his generation but he was still a captive of the more exclusionary views of his day.

Truth Telling and Reconciliation

When it comes to the reconciliation process to date, truth telling is important.

Truth telling has been a theme of my public life to date.

In my view the path to reconciliation must be grounded in a fundamental commitment to truthfulness – it is one of the cornerstones of reconciliation.

As Dr Alex Boraine, deputy chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, noted at the Melbourne Reconciliation convention in 1997;

“Reconciliation… must be grounded in reality. There are 3 anchors which can keep us on the ground…. The first of these anchors is the experience of truth… of telling, of coming to terms with the truth of our past and the truth understood in this way transcends lies… it rejects denial to come clean in order to build, to heal.”

I told you earlier how surprised Menzies was to hear that the law prohibited serving his Aboriginal guests alcohol.

If not deliberately, then subconsciously, he had chosen not to see this discrimination.

As has much of the Australian community for the majority of our post-colonial history.

We cannot afford to do that.

In the last 30 years we have started to lay the anchor of truth –

We have a curriculum which teaches the truth of our history, we have a political system which now includes a record number of First Peoples and we have almost reached a national consensus about the imperative for action on closing the gap.

This kind of truth telling is not purely symbolic.

Children in our schools now understand that the history of Australia, or at least the

Australian continent, extends far beyond 228 years of colonisation.

And that is important. We won’t really be able to treat the malaise which afflicts

Aboriginal communities until the broader community understands the impact of generational disadvantage and cyclical poverty.

When Kevin Rudd delivered the apology to the stolen generation in the federal parliament he undertook a momentous act of truth-telling.

When that speech concluded two older Aboriginal women handed the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader a coolomon – it was an astounding act of generosity.

For that generosity we owe considerable gratitude, but it also demonstrates in part why the apology was so important.

That act of truth telling opened the door to forgiveness – and without it we cannot see old enmities consigned to the past.

After The Apology, as I walked into the marble foyer of the parliament I ran into Aunty May Robinson, an elder from South Western Sydney.

She held in her hands a black and white photo – and her only words to me when we saw each other were;

“Linda! I bought mum.”

We fell into each other’s arms crying.

Recognition

It is my hope that the Recognition of First Peoples in our constitution will be another of these great moments of truth telling, and that it will pave the way for a greater depth of understanding.

As it stands we have a Constitution which tells the story of western democracy; the Westminster system of government and a thousand years of its development.

But it says nothing of the more than 40,000 years of lived experience on this continent that preceded European arrival.

Our Constitution, the document on which the Parliament I sit in is founded, does not tell the truth. It is a fundamental failing and one that we cannot continue to ignore.

This is a part of the reconciliation process that Dr Boraine talked about almost 20 years ago and it is a fundamental part of our nation building project.

The symbolism of recognition belies powerful consequences.

I saw the feeling of relief on the faces of those old women in the Parliament after the apology and felt the relief of the broader Australian community at finally having acknowledged the truth.

More than anything else Recognition will add another thread to the tapestry of our national identity – a history and a story that we can all share.

I do not concede to any argument that suggests this act will be divisive. The true act of division would be a continued denial of the truth of settlement and invasion.

Recognition and Paternalism

I am also hopeful that Recognition will pave the way to a more consistent and effective approach to Government policy in the area.

For all the talk of “Prime Ministers for Indigenous Affairs” and a bipartisan commitment to closing the gap, we are yet to see the progress we need.

Life expectancy for First Australians is almost 10 years shorter than the rest of the community – the number blows out considerably further for those in rural or remote communities.

Our young people are locked up at ever increasing rates – almost 48% of those in the juvenile justice system are Aboriginal.

Our birthweights are consistently lower, as are our educational outcomes and our average earnings.

We are making slow progress – but it is not enough.

For every year that passes without dramatic improvement in our condition we draw closer to a point at which we will have failed yet another generation.

In the last week of Parliament I attended the launch of a report on the National Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Strategy.

How can it be that for Aboriginal people attending the funerals of young people is so commonplace?

One of the women who attended, Norma Ashwin, a mother who has lost her child, summed up the feeling of her community –

“We have nothing. Our kids have no hope, nothing, just a sense of no belonging… [we have] Lost everything…”

It is easy to see how in the face of this despair, Governments can turn to lazy policy options and to the comfort of the past.

Perhaps in frustration at slow progress Conservatives have done what they usually insist they will not – let the government pick and choose winning initiatives while ignoring community voices.

Conservative forces have continued to drive us back towards the paternalism of the past – from the “10 point plan” on native title and the destruction of ATSIC in the late 1990s — through to the very recent cuts to legal services, defunding of advocacy organisations and of course the denial of support for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

Half a billion dollars has been pulled out of the Indigenous affairs budget.

The trend is clear.

A concerted effort to silence the voices of Aboriginal leaders and a refusal to accept what we already know to be true —- solutions to our problems need to be found with communities, not imposed upon them.

Don Dale provides a perfect example – the Koori media had reported this story months before any mainstream news agency did and members of the local community will tell you – they had raised these issues before.

Indeed we know now that the both the Federal and State Governments’ were well aware of the issue.

But the story received scant political attention. Key advocacy organisation which could have raised the issues more loudly, either didn’t have the resources or didn’t exist anymore.

Paternalism isn’t just a failed policy approach because it pacifies communities and because it deprives individuals of their rights to self-determination –

It necessarily makes communication one way, from top to bottom.

Inflicting policy decisions on Aboriginal communities and then arriving later for a photo op and twitter post is not a substitute for consultation.

In the 1886 Corranderk petition to the Victorian government William Barak wrote on behalf of his people;

“Could we get our freedom back…to come home when we wish and also to go for our good health when we need it…”

It troubles me that today that I am increasingly asked by our community those same questions today – “can WE offer a solution?”… “can WE provide the services?” … “can WE our own choices?”

Command and control policy from Canberra will not help – at best it might make politicians and public servants in Canberra feel better at not having to hear cries for help

Paternalism is symptomatic of a view of Aboriginal Australia which sees Indigenous people purely as the problem.

It speaks to that old lie – that Aboriginal people have inflicted this deprivation on themselves, and that governments must save them from themselves.

Optimism and a Way Forward

Despite my pessimism about the current direction of government approaches to the Aboriginal community I do see some cause for optimism.

The communities which are doing best are those which have found ways to support their own initiatives despite failing Government approaches.

I take heart from organisations like Tharawal in Sydney’s South-Western Suburbs – an Indigenous health services which does not just focus on treating illness when it occurs.

They target what Sir Michael Marmot calls “the social determinants of health” and what the Menzies School of Health Research has worked so hard to identify. Stable housing, early education and social support.

And they are seeing excellent results.

I also see innovative new approaches, like the University of Melbourne’s first thousand days campaign – recognising that supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in that vital period bears real long term fruit.

Increasing birthweight, providing drug and alcohol support for expectant and new mothers – along with a whole range of other early interventions.

I am optimistic because we know that many of the solutions we need already exist – they are not prohibitively expensive or impossible to institute.

Here at the Menzies School of Health Research for example, you’ve done the research.

You know it is about providing this information to the organisations that already work in communities – it is not a lack of ideas, we know the programs that work and they are community led.

They just require political bravery – and with a record number of First Australians inside our parliament and an increasingly active and determined community outside it, I am confident we can find that will.

I am confident that you can find it on my side of the chamber – I have never had more faith in my party’s commitment to Indigenous Affairs.

I am optimistic because for the first time since colonisation we have a parliament that is beginning to represent the community and we will soon have a constitution that tells the truth.

I talked earlier about Faith Bandler and her long game.

She saw better than most that the campaign for the 1967 referendum was much longer than 10 years – it was a starting point for the project we are still running today.

Martin Luther King Jr said that “The arc of the moral universe [was] long but [that it] bends towards justice”

I think Faith agreed, I know I do.

But Faith more than most saw that it was up to us to shape that arc – and I am confident that we can.

We will have set backs, and we’ve taken some steps backwards but those aberrations do not define the trend.

This is a process of national healing, it is a long journey and it does take time.

To do it we need to tell the truth; and we are starting to do that.

We need generosity; and believe that the First Peoples have that in spades.

And most of all we need to accept that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are a part of the solution not just the problem.

Most of all I take my optimism from the determination of Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal communities across Australia.

In her first speech to the Federal Parliament not so long ago your Senator for the Northern Territory Malarndirri McCarthy said in reference to her people’s struggle for land rights;

“[We are] battle fatigued, perhaps we are better to acquiesce? But we are here still, and we are not going away.”

I think the sentiment applies far more broadly – now more than ever I believe in our communities’ commitment to addressing these issues.

We are not going anywhere.

NACCHO Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage #Smoking and Healthy Lives report : Cigarettes favoured over fruit in Outback stores

 

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” Between 2001 and 2014-15, the crude daily smoking rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults declined from 50.7 to 41.4 per cent (table 8A.4.1).

  A similar decline in non-Indigenous smoking rates meant that the gap in (age-adjusted) daily smoking rates remained relatively constant at around 26 percentage points between 2001 and 2014-15 (table 8A.4.7).

There is no published robust evaluation of an intervention resulting in a decrease in the prevalence of tobacco smoking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Minichiello et al 2016). “

The Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report measures the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Download Chapter 8 or see below

naccho-download-nov-2016-chapter8-healthy-lives

Read 90 NACCHO articles about Tackling Indigenous Smokes

Or Articles page 8 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download

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

” Tobacco turnover had remained “consistently high” with 8.34 million sticks sold over the year and tobacco accounting for 19 per cent of all food and grocery sales.

Customers spent 4.4 times more on cigarettes than fruit and vegetables in 2015/16.”

Chairman Stephen Bradley revealed in the annual report of Outback Stores Pty Ltd, the government-owned company which manages 37 businesses in some of the remotest parts of Australia.

Lung cancer is the highest-ranked cancer type among Indigenous people, but the fourth-ranked for non-indigenous Australians.

An incentive program to improve community health has resulted in a 0.5 per cent drop in soft drink sales and a five per cent increase in fruit and vegetable sales.

 Location of Outback stores across Australia.

Location of Outback stores across Australia.

But the company admitted more needed to be done.

“We remain convinced that a significant dietary change will take many years and our support programs need to operate for the longer term to be effective,” Mr Bradley wrote.

The government is aiming to close the gap between Indigenous and non-indigenous life expectancy within a generation, halving the gap in mortality rates for under-fives within a decade and halving the gap in employment outcomes.

The company reported 297 Indigenous staff were employed in Outback Stores businesses, which turned over $82.5 million in 2015/16.

Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2016

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–>The Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report measures the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Chapter 8.4

Tobacco consumption and harm[1]

Things that work

There is no published robust evaluation of an intervention resulting in a decrease in the prevalence of tobacco smoking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Minichiello et al 2016).

A systematic review of 73 interventions in indigenous communities globally found that there was no single intervention that was more likely to result in a reduction in tobacco use, but rather that more successful programs:

  • use a comprehensive approach inclusive of multiple activities
  • centre Aboriginal leadership
  • make long-term community investments
  • provide culturally appropriate health materials and activities to produce desired changes (Minichiello et al. 2016).

Research from the national Talking About The Smokes project also highlighted the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to tobacco control, reporting that a broad range of factors were associated (positively and negatively) with the desire by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers to quit (Nicholson et. al 2015).

Box 8.4.1      Key messages
·      Between 2001 and 2014-15, the crude daily smoking rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults declined from 50.7 to 41.4 per cent (table 8A.4.1).

·      A similar decline in non-Indigenous smoking rates meant that the gap in (age-adjusted) daily smoking rates remained relatively constant at around 26 percentage points between 2001 and 2014-15 (table 8A.4.7).

 

Box 8.4.2      Measures of tobacco consumption and harm
There is one main measure for this indicator (aligned with the associated NIRA indicator), rates of current daily smokers, measured by the proportion of people aged 18 years and over who are current daily smokers (all jurisdictions; remoteness; age; sex).

Smoking rate data are available from the ABS Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS)/National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), with the most recent data available from the 2014‑15 NATSISS. Data for the non‑Indigenous population are sourced from the ABS Australian Health Survey (AHS)/National Health Survey (NHS), with the most recent data available from the 2014-15 NHS.

Previous editions of this report included a supplementary measure on tobacco-related hospitalisations. This is no longer included as the measure only related to conditions directly attributable to tobacco — not most conditions, where tobacco may be a contributing factor but the link is not immediate. Data are also difficult to interpret as they represent less than one per cent of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalisations and are therefore highly volatile over time.

Tobacco consumption is a subsidiary performance measure for COAG’s target of ‘closing the life expectancy gap (between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians) within a generation’ (COAG 2012).

In Australia, up to two-thirds of deaths in current smokers can be attributed to smoking (AHMAC 2015). Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, tobacco use is the leading risk factor contributing to disease and death (Vos et al. 2007). Studies have found that smoking tobacco increases the risk of developing numerous cancers, heart and vascular diseases, and depression (AHMAC 2012; Cunningham et al. 2008; Pasco et al. 2008). Smoking in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth (Graham et al. 2007). Section 6.2 includes information on women reporting smoking during pregnancy.

Compared to non-Indigenous people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who smoke generally commence at an earlier age and smoke for longer (CEITC 2010, 2014). Recent research (Knott et al. 2016) suggests also there may be fundamental differences in the determinants of smoking and the reasons for quitting, between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women.

Research has found that the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who want to quit smoking and those who have made a quit attempt in the past year, are similar to the general population. However fewer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have made a sustained quit attempt for at least a month and a lower proportion agree that social norms disapprove of smoking, compared to the general population (Thomas et. al 2015).

Tobacco use is often associated with other lifestyle related health risk factors, such as excessive alcohol consumption and poor diet. Long term risky/high risk drinkers (both males and females) were more likely to be current smokers than those who drank at a low risk level (ABS 2006). Section 11.1 examines alcohol consumption and harm.

In Australia and many other countries smoking behaviour is inversely related to socioeconomic status, with those in disadvantaged groups in the population more likely to start and continue smoking. In addition to long-term health risks, low income groups (such as some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities) are affected by the financial strain associated with tobacco use (Greenhalgh 2015). A recent study in NSW found that more disadvantaged areas were significantly more likely to have higher tobacco outlet densities, with this density significantly and positively associated with smoking status (Marashi-Pour 2015).

Tobacco consumption

Current daily smokers are people who smoked one or more cigarettes (or pipes or cigars) per day at the time of survey interview.

The COAG performance measure and the data presented in this section focus on the proportion of people aged 18 years and over who are current daily smokers. However, as noted, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians tend to start smoking at an earlier age than non‑Indigenous people — for 2014-15, in non-remote areas around one in six (16.2 per cent) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 15 to 17 year olds were current daily smokers, compared with one in thirty (3.3 per cent) non‑Indigenous 15 to 17 year olds (table 8A.4.12).

Nationally in 2014-15, the crude daily smoking rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults was 41.4 per cent, a decline from 50.7 per cent in 2001 (table 8A.4.1). Rates varied across states and territories in 2014-15, from 38.8 per cent in SA to 46.2 per cent in the NT (table 8A.4.1). Smoking rates were higher in remote and very remote areas (49.3 per cent and 48.9 per cent) than in major cities (36.3 per cent) (table 8A.4.2). In non-remote areas in 2014-15, smoking was most prevalent among those aged 25–54 years (between 45.4 and 46.5 per cent), with smoking rates much lower for older people (31.3 per cent for those aged 55 years and over). A similar pattern was observed for non‑Indigenous Australians, although the daily smoking rates were consistently lower across all age groups (table 8A.4.12).

After adjusting for different population age structures, in 2014-15 the current daily smoking rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians was 2.8 times the rate for non-Indigenous Australians (table 8A.4.7). The gap in smoking rates was widest in remote areas (table 8A.4.8).

 

Figure 8.4.1   Current daily smokers aged 18 years and over, 2001 to 2014-15a, b
a Error bars represent 95 per cent confidence intervals around each estimate. b Rates are age standardised.
Sources: ABS (unpublished) National Health Survey 2001; ABS (unpublished) National Health Survey and National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2004-05; ABS (unpublished) National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2008; ABS (unpublished) National Health Survey 2007-08; ABS (unpublished) Australian Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2012-13 (core component); ABS (unpublished) Australian Health Survey 2011–13 (2011-12 core component); ABS (unpublished) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15; ABS (unpublished) National Health Survey, 2014-15; table 8A.4.7.

Between 2001 and 2014-15, after adjusting for differences in population age structures, the daily smoking rate declined for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and non‑Indigenous adults, leaving the gap relatively unchanged at around 26 percentage points (figure 8.4.1).

Data for smoking rates reported by State and Territory are available by remoteness in tables 8A.4.2–6 and 8A.4.8−10 and by sex in tables 8A.4.11-12.

Research from the national Talking About The Smokes project also highlighted the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to tobacco control, reporting that a broad range of factors were associated (positively and negatively) with the desire by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers to quit (Nicholson et. al 2015).

[1]    The Steering Committee notes its appreciation to the National Health Leadership Forum, which reviewed a draft of this section of the report.

NACCHO Press Release : Self-determination needed to overcome Aboriginal disadvantage -NACCHO response to Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report

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“It’s good news that we’re having success in improving mortality rates for mothers and babies,  But we owe these children a better future than one where they’re at higher risk of dislocation from Country and culture, poor mental health, suicide, family violence, imprisonment and poverty.

We owe them the same future as every other Australian child.

Political will was needed to address disadvantage and make more inroads into closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in health and well-being and social advantage.”

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke naccho-press-release

NACCHO Aboriginal Health What Works Part 7 : Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2016 Productivity Commission Report shows some positive trends but…!

Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2016 Report

Download PDF and Word copies of report here

Aboriginal health services must be given a greater front line role in overcoming Aboriginal disadvantage, Australia’s peak Aboriginal health body said today.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chair Matthew Cooke said the Productivity Commission’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Report released today shows gains in some close the gap targets, but some areas of disadvantage are worse than the last report two years ago.

Mr Cooke said it was encouraging that child mortality rates have improved since 1998; more Aboriginal students are completing high school and university; and employment rates have increased.

However family violence rates, alcohol and substance use are unchanged; the mental health of Aboriginal communities is continuing to decline; and rates of juvenile incarceration have increased to 24 times the rate for non-Indigenous youth.

“Until governments show the political will to address all the determinants of health and well-being, we will not close these gaps,” he said.

“We’ve identified the disadvantage many, many times. The harder part is providing the services, the programs, and the changes to community attitudes that are need to overcome the disadvantage.

“It’s time to move beyond paper plans and strategies to action on the ground and that means real engagement with Aboriginal communities and empowering Aboriginal community controlled health services to take the lead.”

Matthew Cooke will keynote speakers at the  NACCHO Members Conference in Melbourne

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1. NACCHO Interim 3 day Program has been released -Download
2. The dates are fast approaching – so register today

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research : Ministers Ley and Wyatt invest $10.6 million in Aboriginal health research

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We know there is much work to be done with Indigenous health outcomes. This government is committed to making long-term improvements in Indigenous health and providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers,

The announcement of $10.6 million investment supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research includes $2.5 million for a Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) to build Indigenous research capacity and to find solutions to alcohol-related health problems

 This funding is part of NHMRC’s commitment to expend at least five per cent of its budget to support research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Minister for Health Sussan Ley pictured here consulting this week at QAIHC with Matthew Cooke NACCHO chair /QAIHC CEO and board members

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“These ECFs have been awarded to help Australian health and medical researchers early in their careers to establish themselves as independent, self-directed researchers.

It is essential that we build a vibrant future for Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers who will play a crucial role in addressing Australia’s health issues,”

Assistant Minister for Health Ken Wyatt said the Government was committed to providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers. Pictured above opening a Yulu-Burri-Ba Clinic in Brisbane this week

“Indigenous Australians are eight times more likely to suffer death or illness as a result of alcohol use, yet there is a critical shortage of Indigenous researchers with expertise in this field.

The team will generate new knowledge, integrating efforts along the continuum of treatment and prevention for unhealthy alcohol use. The Centre is designed to ensure that evidence will be readily translated into practice and policy.

Professor Kate Conigrave at the University of Sydney Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) 

The Turnbull Government has announced a further $190 million in health and medical research,

Minister for Health Sussan Ley said these new grants—awarded through the National Health and Medical Research Council—would help Australia’s research community to make discoveries that improve the diagnosis, treatment and cure of illnesses that can affect Indigenous Australians.

sussan

The announcement includes $2.5 million for a Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) to build Indigenous research capacity and to find solutions to alcohol-related health problems.

The Centre, led by Professor Kate Conigrave at the University of Sydney, will build a strong network of Indigenous researchers with expertise in preventing and treating alcohol-related problems.

“The Centre will bring together senior Indigenous and non-Indigenous investigators at organisations including the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council South Australia and the Inala Indigenous Health Service,” Professor Conigrave said.

“Together, these investigators have an extensive track record in research, clinical work and policy development.”

Professor Conigrave brings significant experience working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to target substance misuse. She said this funding would provide a major pathway forward in research to reduce the harms from alcohol among Indigenous Australians.

“Indigenous Australians are eight times more likely to suffer death or illness as a result of alcohol use, yet there is a critical shortage of Indigenous researchers with expertise in this field.

“The team will generate new knowledge, integrating efforts along the continuum of treatment and prevention for unhealthy alcohol use. The Centre is designed to ensure that evidence will be readily translated into practice and policy.

“The CRE also offers a range of training and development opportunities to Indigenous research students and early-career researchers. It will provide pathways into postgraduate research study for Indigenous Australians, with comprehensive support and training at every step along the way,” Professor Conigrave explained.

Together with this CRE, NHMRC has committed to fund research targeting a range of other health issues for Indigenous Australians including:

  •  improving outcomes of Hepatitis B infection
  •  improving diet quality and food supply in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  •  implementing interventions to improve health and justice outcomes for Indigenous offenders
  •  addressing the high rates of depression amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Today’s announcement also includes three Early Career Fellowships (ECFs) for Indigenous researchers.

Assistant Minister for Health Ken Wyatt said the Government was committed to providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers.

“These ECFs have been awarded to help Australian health and medical researchers early in their careers to establish themselves as independent, self-directed researchers. It is essential that we build a vibrant future for Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers who will play a crucial role in addressing Australia’s health issues,” Mr Wyatt said.

Associate Professor James Ward from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute is one of the Indigenous researchers to receive an ECF. His research seeks to establish interventions to improve outcomes for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with sexually transmissible infections or blood borne viruses and for people using methamphetamines.

This funding is part of NHMRC’s commitment to expend at least five per cent of its budget to support research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

A total of $190 million across 320 grants funding health and medical research were announced today. This includes a $100 million investment in fostering career development and supporting leading health and medical researchers in full-time research. This comprises $58 million to support Research Fellowships and $38 million to fund ECFs.

Ms Ley reiterated these grants will play a vital role in funding new research for treatments of diseases that affect Australians.

“Health and medical research is a powerful investment and one that delivers immense benefits through better health and health care.

“The researchers we have funded are at the leading edge of health and medical research from which considerable benefits will flow.

“Congratulations to these grant recipients and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this work in improving the health and wellbeing of all Australians,” Ms Ley said.

More information on the grants is available on the NHMRC website.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health : CERA researchers win $750,000 to help end endemic eye disease in remote and regional communities

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94% of blindness or vision loss in Indigenous Australians is preventable or treatable and Vision at Home will bring testing to areas with poor access and benefit groups with great potential for sight-saving interventions, including children, the elderly and Indigenous Australians

The largest challenge to preventable eye disease is the lack of access to eye care services in primary healthcare settings, particularly in regional, remote and Indigenous communities. “

Professor Mingguang He, Principal Investigator at CERA

And congratulations to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation winning $250,000 as a finalist . ALNF aims to revolutionise the teaching and learning of literacy in indigenous communities across Australia.

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Researchers from the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) have won $750,000 after competing in today’s finals of the 2016 Google Impact Challenge held in Sydney.

The prize money will go towards research for the creation of Vision at Home, an evidence-based software algorithm that provides a method for patients to test their eyesight anywhere there is access to a webcam and the Internet.

“I am thrilled our proposal received such a positive response from the competition judges and the general public,” Professor Mingguang He, Principal Investigator at CERA and Professor of Ophthalmic Epidemiology at the University of Melbourne said.

“Our project is a simple hand-held solution for those who live far away from eye specialists and has the potential to help millions of people not only in Australia but worldwide.

“I also want to thank everyone who voted for our project and Google for their extraordinary generosity,” he said. CERA’s Project Lead and PhD candidate, Dr William Yan who presented the project to the Google judges and received the award said he was ‘absolutely stoked’ to win. “It is just sinking in,” he said immediately after hearing the results.

“Now the goal is to create the solution and help those who can’t easily get to treatment,” Dr Yan said.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates over 600,000 Australians live with vision impairment, a number projected to increase to 1 million by 2024.

CERA plans to first trial the technology with post-operative patients from the Eye and Ear Hospital, with elderly and disability patients across Victoria, and in schools across indigenous community

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