NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention : #ATSISPC18 #refreshtheCTGRefresh Pat Turner CEO NACCHO Setting the scene panel : Health led solutions through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health #Leadership

” It is well established that Aboriginal led solutions deliver better outcomes.

Aboriginal community-controlled health services should be funded based on need and so that they can develop comprehensive suicide prevention initiatives with the communities they service. 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project identifies successful Indigenous community led health led responses including providing positive health messages and mental health support underpinned by a cultural framework and tackling harmful drug and alcohol use.

These initiatives can be delivered by properly funded and supported Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

I also believe in regular full health checks for at risk people so that critical issues that can impact on a persons wellbeing, like poor hearing, can be picked up and addressed early. 

We also know that mainstream mental health service provision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country is inadequate and inappropriate.

Many people feel unsafe accessing the care they need.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations should be priortised for funding to support our own people.” 

Pat Turner AM CEO NACCHO who is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies across Australia to ask COAG for a seat at the table on the Closing the Gap Refresh: so that we get that policy right : Part 1 Below

Picture above @CroakeyNews : Prof Pat Dudgeon kicks off the keynote panel session: “Setting the scene”. #ATSISPC18. Prof Tom Calma, Prof Helen Milroy, and our CEO Pat Turner

See the #RefreshtheCTGRefresh Campaign post HERE

Read over 120 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention articles published over last 6 years 

Suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is regularly in the media and public conversations. Often the focus is on an individual completed or attempted suicide or the negative statistics.

The second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference, to be held in Perth on November 20-21, will shift the focus to solutions identified by Indigenous people themselves. The program consists of only Indigenous people from Australia and internationally.

Our voices are important because it is our mob who understand what is going on in our communities best. We live and breathe it, with many of us either having considered taking our own lives, making an attempt or having had family members who have.

This is why the program includes a focus on community-based solutions. “

Summer May Finlay writes Part 2 below for Croakey 

Part 1 : Why an urgent need for action

  • Our people are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than other Australians.
  • Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are the most at risk of suicide in Australia.
  • Those in remote area are more disproportionately affected
  • Suicide and self-inflicted injuries was the greatest burden of disease for our young people in 2011.
  • If, Western Australia’s Kimberley region was a country, it would have the worst suicide rate in the world, according to World Health Organisation statistics.
  • Rate of suicide for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley is seven times the rest of Australia.
  • This is not news to us: but it is unacceptable and it is why we are here today.

Aboriginal control

  • At the heart of suicide is a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness.
  • Our people feel this powerlessness at multiple levels, across multiple domains of our lives.
  • It is why we have the Uluru Statement from the Heart: a cry from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the nation to have a say over matters that impact on us.
  • At the national level, it means a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament and a full partnership between Indigenous people and governments on the Closing the Gap Refresh with COAG.
  • At the regional level, it is about the formation of partnerships – like in the Kimberley one on suicide prevention – working together and advocating as a region.
  • At the local level, it is about Aboriginal people being in control of the design and delivery of programs to their own people.
  • The importance of Aboriginal control or Indigenous led is highlighted consistently as a way to achieve better outcomes for our people.
  • This is also reinforced at the Kimberley Roundtable and in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project.
  • Community-led actions are the most effective suicide prevention measure for our people. This fundamental point cannot be ignored if the situation is to change.

Healing

  • Aboriginal suicide rates have been accelerating since 1980.
  • Aboriginal people did not have a word for “suicide” before colonisation.
  • To go forward, we must go back and identify and draw on those aspects of our culture that gives us strength and identity.
  • We also must heal by acknowledging and addressing the effects of intergenerational trauma.
  • Part of healing must include challenging the continuing impacts of colonisation on Indigenous peoples’ contemporary lives.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project identifies the success of Elder-driven, on-country healing for youth which has the dual effect of strengthening intergenerational ties as well as increasing cultural connection.
  • Red Dust Healing is another example of cultural reconnection achieving positive outcomes with people at risk.
  • The Healing Foundation also achieves similar outcomes with the same principles of empowerment and connection to culture.

A public policy crisis

  • Almost all Aboriginal people who commit suicide are living below the poverty line.
  • Other common factors are:
    • Aboriginal people who have been incarcerated and come out of prison with little to no hope on the horizon.
    • Aboriginal people who are homeless.
    • Aboriginal people who have been recently evicted from their public housing rentals.
    • Aboriginal people who are exposed to violence and alcohol misuse and suffer domestic abuse.
    • Aboriginal people who have multiple underlying health and metal health issues.
    • Aboriginal people who are young; males; and those who live in remote areas.
  • This tells us that we need a comprehensive public policy response to address suicide rates in our people – that suicide in our people is linked to our status and situation more broadly in Australia.
  • It is therefore unacceptable that the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing has been allowed to lapse and no further investment has been agreed.
  • We must overturn and replace the Community Development Program that is leaving our young people completely disengaged.
  • We must also tackle the issues that lead to the greater incarceration of our peoples, with greater investment in ear health programs, employment and education.
  • It is why we must join the call for Newstart to be raised, so that our people who cannot find work, are not living in poverty.
  • And it is why myself and NACCHO are working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies across Australia to ask COAG for a seat at the table on the Closing the Gap Refresh: so that we get that policy right.
  • Whilst these matters can be overlooked in our efforts to respond to suicide in our people, and because it is difficult for governments, but they are fundamental drivers.

 .

Part 2 Follow #ATSISPC18 for news from National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference : From Croakey 

The second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference will take place in Perth this week.

Summer May Finlay, who will cover the discussions for the Croakey Conference News Servicetogether with Marie McInerney, writes below that the focus will be on community-based solutions, as well as listening to young people and LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys.

For news from the conference on Twitter, follow #ATSISPC18@SummerMayFinlay@mariemcinerney and @CroakeyNews.


 

Healing and support crew on hand should the be needed 

Summer May Finlay writes:

Suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is regularly in the media and public conversations. Often the focus is on an individual completed or attempted suicide or the negative statistics.

The second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference, to be held in Perth on November 20-21, will shift the focus to solutions identified by Indigenous people themselves. The program consists of only Indigenous people from Australia and internationally.

Our voices are important because it is our mob who understand what is going on in our communities best. We live and breathe it, with many of us either having considered taking our own lives, making an attempt or having had family members who have. This is why the program includes a focus on community-based solutions.

While the term “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander” is used as a collective term for the Indigenous nations in Australia, each community within each nation is unique – culturally, socially and historically. This means that solutions need to be tailored to each community. Again, this focus is reflected in the conference program.

That’s not to say everyone in each community has the same needs and concerns. Within communities there are sub-groups who also have distinct needs, such as young people and LGBTQI+ sister girls and brother boys.

Representation matters

Our young people and community of LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys experience disproportionate rates of suicide. Their voices on how to address the situation are important to hear, which is why these groups are well represented at the conference, with sessions where people will share their stories of ways forward.

Dion Tatow, a conference presenter, says the focus needs to be on ways forward because being “LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys isn’t the cause of suicide, it is the discrimination and exclusion that are the cause”.

He says: “The shame [and] secrecy. You have to hide it, so it’s not good for your own health and wellbeing.”

Tatow is an Iman and Wadja man from Central Queensland and South Sea Islander (Ambrym Island, Vanuatu) and chairperson of gar’ban’djee’lum, a Brisbane-based, independent, social and support network for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people with diverse genders, bodies, sexualities and relationships.

He believes that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations like Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and cisgender people and mainstream organisations have a role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys.

However, many health services “staff aren’t trained to deal with some LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys’ health concerns such as gender reassignment.” This can mean LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys can feel uncomfortable accessing a service.

Safe spaces needed

Tatow believes that ACCHOs need to step up and become “safe spaces” for LGBTIQ+ sister girls and brother boys. He says that there is a perception among LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys that ACCHOs may be unsafe, with concerns particularly around confidentiality.

According to Tatow, the program Safe and Deadly Spaces run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service in Brisbane (ATSICHS) is a great example of what ACCHOs can do to offer appropriate services to LGBTIQ+ sister girls and brother boys.

ATSICHS is “committed to being inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities and intersex variations to ensure every member our community feels safe, accepted and valued when they access our services and programs”.

Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people also have a strong presence at the conference.

Culture is Life, led by the Chief Executive Officer Belinda Duarte, has taken charge of the youth program. Culture is Life backs Aboriginal-led solutions that deepen connection and belonging to culture and country, and supports young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to thrive. This includes allowing young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to take on leadership roles.

Will Austin, 22, a Gunditjmara man, from South West Victoria who is the Community Relations manager for Culture is Life, was charged with leading development of the youth program. He believes that young people being part of the program was important because “Aboriginal leadership and expertise needs to be shared in a really inclusive way with young people through listening and reciprocity across the generations.”

Culture is key

Culture is Life, as the name implies, places culture at the centre of the work they do, and Austin sees culture as key to health and wellbeing for our young people, connecting to cultural practice in traditional and modern ways. He says:

Modern culture is marching down the street and finding the balances in different ways such as art, dance and contemporary dance, poems, song writing, music.

Our culture has been around for thousands of years and shared through our Elders. It will evolve. There is no better feeling than going out on country, dancing on country, feeling your feet on the earth your ancestors have walked on. Connecting to the ancient knowledge and using modern ways to communicate it.”

Katie Symes, Culture is Life General Manager – Marketing and Communications, also believes Culture is a key “protective factor” for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Will Austin and Katie Symes encourage young people at the conference to have their voices heard.

Austin said: “Don’t be shame. Make sure you step up. Make sure you contribute to the conversations…young Indigenous people are the heartbeat of the nation.”

Symes said: “It’s important for young people to be supported to cut their teeth in a really safe space.”

And the conference is designed to be just that, a safe space.

Listening with heart

Culture is Life is promoting the importance of “Listening with our hearts to the lived experiences of First Nations young people, their friends, families and communities” through its LOVE and HOPE campaign, which aims to aims to raise awareness through communicating the evidence, lived experiences and Aboriginal-led solutions. This aim is echoed through the conference.

You can watch the two campaign videos featuring young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Professor Pat Dudgeon, chair of the conference organising committee, here and here. Also follow the campaign on social media using the hashtags #loveandhope  #culturesquad  #cultureislife.

The conference showcases evidence from research and lived experience from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Indigenous brother and sisters from other countries. The uniqueness of the program will lend itself to a unique experience for attendees.

This conference follows the first conference held in Alice Springs in 2016 as part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project funded by the Commonwealth Government (see this Croakey report compiling coverage of the conference).

• If you or someone you know needs help or support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours-a-day), contact your local Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisation, call Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or call Q Life: 1800 184 527.

• Further reading: On World Suicide Prevention Day, calls for the Federal Government to invest in Indigenous suicide prevention.

• The feature image above is detail from an artwork on the conference website: Moortang Yoowarl Dandjoo Yaanginy: Families (Cultures) Coming Together for a Common Purpose (Sharing) Shifting SandsThe website says: “This artwork represents our people doing business on country that is recovering from colonisation; our lands taken over, our cultures decimated, and our families separated, causing hardship, despair, and loss of hope

Aboriginal Health Alcohol and Other Drugs : Minister @KenWyatt and John Havnen #NACCHO deliver #NIDAC18 keynotes : What is currently being done to reduce the high levels of alcohol and other drug use within Aboriginal communities? 

 ” All of us want to see better health for First Nations Australians. 

We know that the excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol is associated with health problems in all societies.

It has been linked to chronic conditions such as cancer and liver disease, the spread of hepatitis and HIV, injuries and deaths from motor vehicle accidents and assaults, increased encounters with the law, deaths in custody, suicides and family breakdown.

The reasons why First Nations’ people engage in high risk drug and alcohol consumption are indeed, complex.

When families, communities, local organisations and governments join hands, we are powerful together.

Alcohol and other drugs, tobacco, lifestyle risk factors and social determinants represent more than half of the quest for health and life equality.

It’s now been 10 years since the launch of the Closing the Gap initiative.

The agenda is being refreshed and it’s time to refresh our approach – including by acknowledging the complexity of the drug and alcohol challenge and making even greater efforts to address it.

This conference NIDAC18 will be an important part of that solution – and I look forward to hearing the outcomes. ” 

Minister Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt see full speech Part 2 below

Read over 200 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alcohol and Other Drugs articles we have published over past 6 years 

Part 1 NACCHO Keynote by John Havnen Senior Policy Officer 

The harmful use of alcohol is a problem for the Australian community as a whole – alcohol misuse and alcohol-related disease remains a recognised as a nationwide problem.

It is estimated that in 2011 alcohol misuse caused 5.1% of the total burden of disease in Australia.

Alcohol related harm has clear social and economic determinants and it is closely related to disadvantage.

As such Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, which as we all know rate disproportionately in all measures of disadvantage, experience higher rates of alcohol misuse and alcohol-related harm than non-indigenous Australians.

This discrepancy leads to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing significant health and social problems in a rate unequal to non-Indigenous Australians. But not all of us drink, in the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, Indigenous Australians aged 14 and over were more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol than non-Indigenous Australians.

This abstinence rate has been increasing over the last decade with more and more of us deciding not to drink.

So although there are proportionately more Indigenous people than non-Indigenous people who refrain from drinking, those of us who do drink are more likely to do so at high-risk levels.

In 2014-15 the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey found 19% of Indigenous Australians over the age of 15 exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines for alcohol consumption.

This is no more than 2 standard drinks per day on average or no more than 4 drinks per occasion.

Even though the rate of harmful drinking has declined in recent years, this has been mainly in non-remote areas, so there is still high rates of harmful drinking in remote areas and drinking at risky levels puts a person at risk of medical and social problems.

Due to these high levels of risky drinking, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders are more likely to be hospitalised for alcohol-related conditions and accidents than non-Indigenous Australians including acute intoxication, liver disease, injuries, suicide or self-harm and cancer.

There is big differences in the rates with Indigenous males over 9 times more likely to need hospitalisation and Indigenous females 13 times more than non-Indigenous Australians.

These drinking patterns highlight that it is possible that risky drinking and binge drinking has been normalised within some communities and this could potentially act as a barrier to seeking treatment when needed.

However, alcohol is not the only substance that presents a major concern for in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In 2014-15, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey stated that 30% of Indigenous Australians over the age of 15 years reported using an illicit substance in the previous 12-months.

This was an increase from 23% in 2008. The substances most commonly used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders were cannabis with 19% reporting, non-prescription analgesics and sedatives (such as painkillers, sleeping pills and tranquillisers) at 13%, and amphetamines or speed with a rate of 5%.

Smoking has overtime become common place in Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities and whilst tobacco smoking is declining in Australia, rates remain disproportionately high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Indigenous Australians more than twice as likely to be current daily smokers as non-Indigenous Australians.

Despite declines in rates of smoking in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the last 20 years there appears to have been no change to the gap in smoking prevalence between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian adult population.

Tobacco-related disease is responsible for between 1.5 and 8 times more deaths in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander community than in non-Indigenous Australians.

The harmful use of alcohol, in addition to tobacco and other drugs, are both the cause and effect of serious harm to physical health.

The health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is considerably lower than for non-Indigenous Australians with 71.0% of Indigenous Australians reporting having a long-term health condition compared with 55.3% of non-Indigenous Australians.

Those with long-term health conditions are also more likely to be a daily smoker or misuse alcohol and other drugs. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience multiple diagnoses are more likely to have more difficulty accessing treatment and have poorer outcomes when they do receive treatment than either a physical health condition or an alcohol or other drug disorder alone.

There is a well-known high rate of co-morbidity of substance use disorders with other mental health / social and emotional wellbeing issues, and medical conditions in particular chronic diseases.

These issues tend to cluster in individuals and communities along with other markers of social, economic and intergenerational disadvantage.

These high rates of comorbidity contribute to complexities in the treatment and causality of disorders and remains a significant challenge for the delivery of effective healthcare services for our people.

This is in part due to the complexity of the mental and physical health issues individuals display, and in part because of the burden of multiple disadvantages including; poverty and intergenerational disadvantage and this can reduce the capacity to engage consistently and meaningfully in treatment.

So, what is currently being done to reduce the high levels of alcohol and other drug use within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities?

Existing mainstream models of practice in the alcohol and other drug field have been developed within Western systems of knowledge and focus on a biomedical model with an emphasis on biological factors and discounts any psychological, environmental, and social influences. As a result, it is not generalisable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander culture and ignores important indigenous perspectives and needs.

Including the need for access to culturally appropriate and comprehensive services to address multiple problems, and the need for local links with Indigenous services.

Western alcohol and other drug services are based on an abstinence model and focuses on residential rehabilitation which is aimed more on the needs of alcohol users and not illicit drug users.

Residential alcohol and drug programs provide care and support for people within a residential community setting and can be medium to long-term duration of anywhere from 4 weeks to 12 months and but again only supports residents’ psychological needs only.

This model also lacks consideration to the prevention and early intervention strategies of risky drinking and drug use, lacks acknowledgement of family, culture and community which we know are important aspects in the holistic model of care.

Despite a paucity of data, the knowledge of how to prevent alcohol misuse among the general population – while not consistently translated to policy and practice – is extensive.

The evidence for the effectiveness of such programs for Indigenous Australians, however, remains scant.

Racism is still present in mainstream services so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders might have limited access to mainstream health services.

Systemic racism in the health system directly influences Indigenous Australians’ quality of and access to healthcare.

The severity of this impact intensifies levels of psychological stress, which is closely linked to poorer mental and physical health outcomes.

Racism not only provides a major barrier to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to health care but also to receiving the same quality of healthcare services available to non-Indigenous Australians.

There is also a tendency to stereotype Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as ‘drunks’ or ‘alcoholics’ which, as I have previously discussed today is not necessarily the case.

So, what will work if mainstream alcohol and other drug services have limited evidence for our people?

Historically, reactions to the concerns of alcohol and other drug misuse among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were driven not by governments, but by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves who recognised the fact that mainstream services were non-existent or largely culturally inappropriate.

Today, Indigenous Australians are acutely aware of the impacts of alcohol and other drugs and have been actively involved in responding to alcohol and other drugs misuse in their communities.

Any initiative to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should be developed with, and led by, those communities.

There is value in supporting these communities, including the evaluation of strategies implemented so that communities can learn from their own and from other communities’ experience.

Any action that attempts to treat alcohol and other drugs needs to come from a holistic model of care that is comprehensive and culturally appropriate.

Awareness of the land, the physical body, clan, relationships, and lore, it is the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community and not just the individual.

This is why western models of treatment just won’t work.

Comprehensive primary health care is a key strategy for improving the health of Indigenous Australians and is an important platform from which to address the complex health and social issues associated with alcohol and drug misuse.

A holistic approach locally designed and operated by Indigenous people is favoured in its ability to be tailored to community needs and in a cultural context that is owned and supported by the community. 

Despite inadequate funding and resources, the ACCHOs sector has been identified as having a unique role in making alcohol and other drug treatment services more accessible.

One of the unique attributes of Aboriginal controlled drug and alcohol services is that they are a practical expression of Aboriginal peoples’ self-determination, reflected in their governance and treatment models.

A recent example of what works is the pilot of an integrated model of care within Central Australian Aboriginal Congress based in Alice Springs.

Congress developed an integrated non-residential treatment model for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with alcohol and other drug issues and it is based on providing care for all aspects of health through three streams of care:

Social and cultural support – which is delivered by Indigenous workers with cultural knowledge, language skills and an in-depth knowledge of the Aboriginal community alongside social workers. This stream includes case management and care coordination, advocacy on behalf of clients, social support, cultural support, access to medical care, and opportunistic alcohol and other drug counselling and brief interventions.

Psychological therapy – which is carried out by qualified therapists delivering evidence-based treatments including cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and related psychological therapies and access to neuropsychological assessment and treatment. And:

Medical treatment – which is provided by Congress GPs and other members of the primary health care team, and includes medical assessments of alcohol and other drug clients, management of chronic disease and prescription of pharmacotherapies where appropriate to assist with alcohol withdrawal.

This model recognises the comorbidities that occur with alcohol and other drug clients and sought to address within a holistic approach that is adaptable based on needs of individuals.

In 2016-17, in the presenting alcohol and other drug clients, 28% received only one stream of care, 59% received two-streams and the remainder, 13% received all three streams of care.

The Congress ‘three streams model’ of care for alcohol and other drug treatment has been developed over many years to provide a single, integrated multidisciplinary service organised around social and cultural support; psychological therapy; and medical care.

In doing so, it reduces demands on clients presenting with alcohol and other drug issues to navigate multiple health care providers, and attempts to address their holistic needs, including advocacy and support around the social determinants of health and wellbeing including housing, welfare and employment, criminal justice, and basic life needs.

This is a great example of how well it can work when the system is correct and can be used as a model for other ACCHOs to learn from.

The diversity of Aboriginal Australia means that no service model can be simply transferred from one place to another. Instead, the strength of Aboriginal community-controlled health services is their capacity to adapt successful models to the particular needs, strengths and histories of the communities they serve.

But funding is a barrier in implementing optimal services in many regions.

A recent report on organisations conducting Indigenous-specific alcohol and other drug services found that a lack of government commitment to funding community-controlled organisations has compromised the capacity of Indigenous Australians to address alcohol and other drug issues within their own communities.

In addition, the capacity of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations to deliver services was severely constrained by staff shortages, lack of trained and qualified staff, and very limited access to workforce development programs.

Treatment is also not the only key, continuing to increase the community awareness and education about the effects of alcohol and other drugs and the treatment options for dealing with issues is vital.

Including a range of health promotion activities and groups including exercise and nutrition programs, tobacco use treatment and preventions groups to address the holistic needs is essential and well help to reduce the levels of risky drinking and the efficacy of treatment once in treatment.

We need to enable our people to have control over their health and improve health literacy on risky behaviours to help stop the impacts of alcohol and other drugs.

 Part 2 Minister Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt keynote 

Good morning. In West Australian Noongar language I say “kaya wangju” – hello and welcome.

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we’re meeting, the Kaurna people, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

The 5th National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Conference is a positive opportunity to make progress on a difficult issue.

The conference theme is Responding to Complexity – and there certainly is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges our people face.

This is why we have to attack the scourge of drug and alcohol dependency and abuse on multiple fronts.

To form new partnerships.

To speak and to listen, with open minds and hearts.

All of us want to see better health for First Nations Australians.

We know that the excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol is associated with health problems in all societies.

It has been linked to chronic conditions such as cancer and liver disease, the spread of hepatitis and HIV, injuries and deaths from motor vehicle accidents and assaults, increased encounters with the law, deaths in custody, suicides and family breakdown.

The reasons why First Nations’ people engage in high risk drug and alcohol consumption are indeed, complex.

Working together, we are making progress, reducing binge drinking rates among our people from 38 per cent to 31 per cent between 2008 and 2014–15.

But there is still much work to be done.

As we see in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework report, social determinants are estimated to make up 34 per cent of the gap in health outcomes between First Nations’ people and other Australians.

Together, with behavioural risk factors, such as alcohol, drug and tobacco use, they account for 53.2 per cent of the health gap.

Alcohol and drug abuse has a broad and insidious impact.

We have a moral and social imperative to work together to put an end to violence and dysfunction and the drug- and alcohol-driven neglect of children in our communities.

Our Government is committed to working with families and individuals to address substance misuse and to break the cycle of disadvantage that prevents children from attending school, and adults from going to work.

Particularly for the protection of children, we have invested over $10 million to provide better diagnosis and management, develop best practice interventions and services to support high-risk women.

A 10-year FASD Strategic Action Plan is in the final stage of development.

Just as important, we see outstanding examples of local warriors for health – like June Oscar and her team in Fitzroy Crossing – who have tackled alcohol in their communities, with life-changing results for children and families.

We must try harder to understand and address the underlying causes of alcohol and drug misuse.

The percentage of First Nations’ people who drink is no greater than for other Australians – in fact, there are many of our people who do not drink at all.

Equally, the impacts of trauma on the health of our communities cannot be ignored, because they add to the complexity of the challenge.

Trauma is no excuse for substance abuse, violence or neglect – but understanding its history can help us reduce its impact.

It reaches across generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and must be acknowledged and addressed.

Significant health impacts have resulted from displacement from family and country, institutionalisation, racism, abuse and neglect.

This has led to increasingly high rates of incarceration and juvenile detention, suicide, family violence, children being taken into care, and poorer physical and mental health.

63 per cent of First Nations’ prisoners are incarcerated as a result of violent crimes and offences that cause harm.

First Nations’ offenders are also more likely to be under the influence of alcohol when they offend.

It’s a sad fact, that alcohol was involved in 80 per cent of cases of domestic homicide, where both the offender and the victim were First Nations’ people.

That’s more than three times the level of domestic homicides involving other Australians.

It’s also known that First Nations people who engage in alcohol-related crime are themselves more likely to be the victims of such offences.

The question is, how do we reduce high-risk levels of alcohol consumption?

Harm reduction programs can minimise the immediate danger posed by alcohol misuse; but our broader aim should be to reduce alcohol intake.

Our Government is investing in a series of activities which have been shown to be effective.

These range from alcohol restrictions to treatment and rehabilitation.

Under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, the Government has committed around $70 million in 2017–18 to support over 80 Indigenous alcohol and other drug treatment services.

They are located in places with high First Nations’ populations, in capital cities and regional centres as well as outer regional and remote areas.

Alcohol is a particular problem in the Northern Territory.

Our Government recognises this and is providing more than $91 million over seven years for targeted local action to reduce alcohol related harm.

A significant part of our national support to reduce risk also includes primary healthcare and population health programs addressing smoking and alcohol, in urban, regional and remote locations across Australia.

Poor mental health as a result of drug and alcohol problems is a huge issue and one which I am pleased will be addressed during this important conference.

It is equally high on our Government’s agenda.

The Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council recently endorsed the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017–2023.

The council has prioritised development of a national Indigenous Health and Medical Workforce Plan, which aims to increase the number of Aboriginal doctors, nurses and health workers on country and in our towns and cities.

Primary Health Networks across Australia also have mental health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health among their priorities.

I am very keen to ensure Primary Health Networks provide a strong platform for culturally comfortable drug, alcohol and mental health services.

To that end, we have targeted more than $85 million to improve access for integrated, culturally appropriate and safe mental health services for First Nations people.

Our Primary Health Networks are also currently investing a further $79 million on the provision of alcohol and other drug services specifically designed to meet the needs of First Nations people, at the local level.

While the effects of alcohol and drugs can be dire, the insidious damage caused by tobacco is significant.

Statistics show that smoking is responsible for 23 per cent of the gap in health outcomes between First Nations’ people and other Australians.

That is why reducing smoking rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is central to our efforts to close the gap.

By supporting locally linked projects within a national campaign, we are seeing some success.

The daily smoking rate for First Nations’ people aged 15 years and over has declined from 49 per cent in 2002 to 39 per cent in 2014–15, with most of this since 2008, when targeted measures commenced.

However, the daily smoking rate in remote areas is still 47 per cent, and worryingly, the number of First Nations’ women smoking while pregnant remains far too high, at 46 per cent.

To continue supporting change for the better – through funding certainty and proven programs – we have gone to a four-year, $300 million funding commitment for the successful Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.

We are supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific education programs, as part of the National Tobacco Campaign.

“Don’t Make Smokes Your Story” targets First Nations’ smokers aged 15 years and over.

Since its third phase concluded at the end of June, evaluation has shown its effectiveness.

86 per cent of First Nations smokers were aware of the campaign.

7 per cent had quit and 26 per cent said they had reduced the amount they smoke.

If we can maintain this sort of momentum, I am we will see significant improvements in health in future.

We have also had significant success in reducing petrol sniffing, which can cause brain damage and even death.

Independent research undertaken since 2005 indicates that in communities with low aromatic fuel, petrol sniffing has dropped by 88 per cent.

Low aromatic fuel, subsidised by the Government, has now replaced regular unleaded in around 175 outlets in the Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.

There were special factors related to petrol sniffing which make it impractical to apply the same approach to alcohol and drug misuse.

But there is one big lesson from that success.

When families, communities, local organisations and governments join hands, we are powerful together.

Alcohol and other drugs, tobacco, lifestyle risk factors and social determinants represent more than half of the quest for health and life equality.

It’s now been 10 years since the launch of the Closing the Gap initiative.

The agenda is being refreshed and it’s time to refresh our approach – including by acknowledging the complexity of the drug and alcohol challenge and making even greater efforts to address it.

This conference will be an important part of that solution – and I look forward to hearing the outcomes.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : #NACCHOagm2018 Delegates agree unanimously to motion that the #CDP is discriminatory and is causing significant harm, hardship , distress and they call on cross bench senators to reject the Bill in its entirety

” The National Association of Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services, in its submission, warned that extending the four-week payment cutoff penalty to CDP and requiring recipients to reapply would be much more difficult for people in remote areas who may have language barriers, lack access to a phone or have underlying cognitive or health impairments and will likely mean that Aboriginal people in CDP regions will have less access to income support payments than other Australians”.

The Australian 

 ” NACCHO is deeply concerned by the Community Development Program (CDP) and its impact on Aboriginal people living in remote areas or CDP regions. We believe that the CDP is discriminatory and is causing significant harm, hardship and distress to Aboriginal people across Australia. NACCHO does not support the CDP nor does it support the proposed Bill. We believe the proposed Bill will only worsen the impact of the current CDP.

The Senate must recognise the unanimous voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and reject this Bill.”

Background : Extracts from NACCHO submission  post 15 October Read in full

We haven’t come here to bash the government or criticise, we’ve come here with a solution and the solution is here and we’re willing to work with all government at all levels,” he said.

What it reminds me of is a modern day Wave Hill situation- where Aboriginal people were paid sugar, flour and tea,

Those sorts of conditions and that sort of wage offer and assistance for Aboriginal Australians should not be offered in this day and age.”

John Paterson, CEO of Aboriginal Peak Organizations said the current program is “not an effective piece of work” and claims it puts “so many breaches on Aboriginal people” 

Picture below speaking at Parliament House September 2018 see NITV SBS Article

Motion below by John Paterson on CDP to the NACCHO 2018 Conference, 1 Nov 2018

Moved: Tim Agius, Durri ACMS, Kempsey NSW

Seconded: Vicki O’Donnell, KAMS

Agreed unanimously.

That the NACCHO 2018 Conference endorses the following:

NACCHO member services are deeply concerned by the Community Development Program (CDP) and its impact on Aboriginal people living in remote areas or CDP regions.

We believe that the CDP is discriminatory and is causing significant harm, hardship and distress to CDP participants and their families and deepening poverty in communities.

We do not support the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Community Development Program) Bill 2018 (CDP Bill) currently before the Parliament. We believe the Bill will only worsen the impact of the current CDP.

In particular, the proposed application of the mainstream Targeted Compliance Framework (TCF) is inappropriate for remote community conditions and will result in a worsening of already unacceptable rates of serious breaches and penalties applied to participants and an increase in disengagement from the scheme.

Other proposed changes, such as reducing the number of hours that CDP participants must Work for the Dole and offering wage subsidies, can be achieved without the Bill.

We are heartened by the opposition to the Bill expressed by Labor and the Greens and the support for Aboriginal concerns expressed by cross bench members of the Senate.

We urge cross bench Senators to reject the Bill in its entirety.

We call for urgent and fundamental reform of the program to be achieved through direct engagement and collaboration with Aboriginal peak and community organisations.

We propose the Fair Work and Strong Communities scheme proposed by APO NT and a coalition of Aboriginal organisations and national peak bodies as the appropriate basis for this discussion.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Download @HealingOurWay report, titled #LookingWheretheLightIs: creating and restoring safety and healing, to coincide with PM Morrison’s apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

“The Healing Foundation has released a report, titled Looking Where the Light Is: creating and restoring safety and healing, to coincide with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

The report details a cultural framework that aims to address the inaction that followed the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report, which outlined 54 recommendations to redress the impact of removal policies and tackle ongoing trauma – most remain unresolved.”

Download Copy of Report Looking-Where-The-Light-Is-Final

With more than 14 per cent of respondents to the Royal Commission coming from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the effects of institutional child sexual abuse are overwhelming.

While an apology is welcome and seen as a good first step, the inaction from the Bringing Them Home report necessitates a direct response.

The Royal Commission made a number of recommendations in relation to advocacy, support and treatment services for survivors, including providing access to tailored treatment and support services for as long as necessary, along with funding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing approaches as an ongoing, integral part of therapeutic responses.

The way forward is clear. However, it requires long term commitment from governments, the broader Australian community and mainstream organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ElderCare funding up to $46 million : Applications close on 26 Nov 2018: Donna Ah Chee CEO @CAACongress welcomes @KenWyattMP announcement of increased funding to assist Aboriginal people growing old with their families in their own communities


Improvements in Aboriginal health have more of our people living into old age than there were even a decade ago and necessitates a need to meet the increasing demand for these types of services.

Being on country as you grow old is a very strong cultural obligation for Aboriginal people and for too long our people have had to move into population centres to access services.

We now have two major recent initiatives that will help our older people stay on country. Firstly, the announcement of the new Medicare item for nurse assisted dialysis on country and now this announcement from Minister Wyatt.

This continuing connection to country is vital for the spiritual foundation and quality of life of Aboriginal people.

It is a key part of keeping our older people healthy and happy.

Our people have a very strong desire to be on country when they die and announcements like this will help to make sure that people grow old and die on country and with family. We know that social isolation is very damaging to older people’s health and this will ensure people remain socially and culturally connected.

While keeping people at home with aged care packages is a key goal there are some very successful aged care facilities on country at places like Mutitjulu. This also is important for people who need this level of care

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) Chief Executive Officer, Donna Ah Chee, welcomes the announcement of increased funding to assist Aboriginal people growing old in a well-supported way, with their families in their own communities

Originally published Talking Aged Care 

Photos above Ken Wyatt meeting with the elders from the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation in Roebourne WA 2017

Read NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Elder Care Articles HERE

Ageing First Australians living remotely will now have increased access to residential and home aged care services close to family, home or country following an announcement by Federal Government to expand their Budget initiative – the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC) program

The $105.7 million Government commitment, which will benefit more than 900 additional First Australians, is set to be expanded progressively over the next four years.

Federal Minister for Senior Australians, Aged Care and Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt announced the first round of expansion funding under the program – up to $46 million – to increase the number of home care places delivered through NATSIFAC program in remote and very remote areas.

“Aged care providers are invited to apply for funding under the expanded NATSIFAC program’s first grants round, which is designed to improve access to culturally-safe aged services in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” the Minister explains.

“The program funds service providers to provide flexible, culturally-appropriate aged care to older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people close to home and community.

“Service providers can deliver a mix of residential and home care services in accordance with the needs of the community.”

Minister Wyatt reiterates the importance of home care in enabling senior Australians to receive aged care to live independently in their own homes and familiar surroundings for as long as possible, and says the initiative is all about “flexibility and stability”.

“It is improving access to aged care for older people living in remote and very remote locations, and enables more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to receive culturally-safe aged  care services close to family, home or country, rather than having to relocate hundreds of kilometres away,” he says.

“At the same time, it helps build the viability of remote aged care providers through funding certainty.”

Applicants can apply for new or additional home care places under the NATSIFAC program or approved providers can apply to convert their existing Home Care Packages, administered under the Aged Care Act 1997, to home care places under the NATSIFAC program.

Applications close on 26 November 2018 with more details about the expansion round available online.

GO ID: GO1606
Agency:Department of Health

Close Date & Time:

26-Nov-2018 2:00 pm (ACT Local Time)
Primary Category:
101001 – Aged Care

Publish Date:

4-Oct-2018

Location:

ACT, NSW, VIC, SA, WA, QLD, NT, TAS

Selection Process:

Targeted or Restricted Competitive

Description:

This Grant Opportunity is to increase the number of home care places under the NATSIFAC Program in remote and very remote Australia (geographical locations defined as Modified Monash Model (MMM) 6 and 7).

Eligibility:

To be eligible you must be one of the following:

Type A:

Existing NATSIFAC Program providers delivering services in geographical locations MMM 6-7

Type B:

Approved providers currently delivering Commonwealth funded home care services (administered under the Aged Care Act 1997) to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in geographical locations MMM 6-7, with up to 50 home care recipients per service, for conversion to the NATSIFAC Program

Type C:

Organisations not currently delivering aged care services in geographical locations MMM 6-7, however but existing infrastructure and the capability to deliver aged care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Total Amount Available (AUD):

$46,000,000.00

Instructions for Lodgement:

Applications must be submitted to the Department of Health by the closing date and time.

Other Instructions:

$46 million (GST exclusive) over 4 years, 2018-2022.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealthWeek News : 1.Download Report Monitoring #mentalhealth and #suicideprevention reform 2.Government has announced a new Productivity Commission Inquiry into the role of mental health in the Australian economy

“As background to this development, the National Mental Health Commission has published its sixth national report – Monitoring Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Reform: National Report 2018 – which provides an analysis of the current status of Australia’s core mental health and suicide prevention reforms, and their impact on consumers and carers.”

Part 1 Download a copy of report 

Monitoring Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Reform National Report 2018

Engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in regional planning

” One of the priorities for PHNs is engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and community controlled organisations in co-designing all aspects of regional planning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention services.

There has been some early success in building partnerships between PHNs and Aboriginal community controlled organisations (see Case study). In contrast, some PHNs have primarily commissioned mainstream providers rather than community controlled health services to provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Leading Aboriginal organisations consider this approach to be flawed, and believe it will result in poorer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It is important for PHNs to recognise and support the cultural determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, in addition to clinical approaches.26 Recent research by the Lowitja Institute highlights the need for a specific definition of mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as mental illness is more likely to occur when social, cultural, historical and political determinants are out of alignment.27

Extract from Page 20 of Report 

Read over 150 NACCHO Aboriginal Mental Health artices published over 6 years

Part 2

 ” The Government has announced a new Productivity Commission Inquiry into the role of mental health in the Australian economy. 

This move is significant recognition of the considerable impact of mental health challenges on individuals and the wider community.”

The Productivity Commission’s inquiry will take 18 months and will scrutinise mental health funding in Australia, which is estimated at $9 billion annually across federal, state and territory governments. Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed 3,128 people committed suicide in 2017, which is up from 2,866 people in 2016.

The commission will be expected to recommend key priorities for the Government’s long-term mental health strategy and will accept public submissions. AHCRA looks forward to meaningful and authentic consumer engagement by the Inquiry.

The inquiry was welcomed by many, including Labor’s mental health spokeswoman, Julie Collins. Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman also praised the inquiry. “There have been numerous investigations and reviews into mental health in Australia, but this is the first time the Productivity Commission will take the lead. It is a significant step forward and one that has the potential to drive real change,” Ms Harman said in a media release.

AHCRA highlights the 2018 Report as a valuable source of information that outlines the size of the problem and the prevalence and impact of mental illness and suicide in Australia.

ABC News item: https://ab.co/2E725r5
Guardian coverage: https://bit.ly/2IKNYqh
Media release: https://bit.ly/2E9Bxpo

The Mental Health Commission website is here: https://bit.ly/2pJ216U
The 2018 report link: https://bit.ly/2C30YpM

NACCHO Aboriginal #WorldMentalHealthDay : Culture as key to mental wellbeing , evidence shows that culturally-safe early intervention and prevention programs and services are the most effective in reducing poor mental health and suicide

 ” NACCHO and the Sector Support Organisations appreciate the opportunity to make this submission on behalf of our Member Services.

With circumstances unimproved after many years of multiple policy approaches, there is a dire need to overturn poor mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This will require attention to the full spectrum of Aboriginal life experience. There needs to be commitment at all levels of government in terms of funding, policy development and support, for the implementation of culturally-appropriate programs and services.

There must be recognition that self-determination of Aboriginal people will be the foundation of true progress.

NACCHO strongly recommends that government engage in meaningful dialogue with it, the Sector Support Organisations and ACCHSs, in relation to the proposals canvassed in this submission, and work in partnership to address the significant and continual inequity of access to culturally-safe mental health and social / emotional wellbeing services for all Aboriginal people.”

Download a full NACCHO copy :

Network Submission – Mental Health Services Rural Remote Aust – 23.8.18 – FINAL

Read over 190 NACCHO Aboriginal Mental Health articles pubished over last 6 years 

 

In keeping with this Indigenous model of SEWB, AMSANT believes that integrating SEWB,
Mental health and AOD, which work toward preventing and addressing these issues, into
Primary Health Care (PHC) Services is the most cost-effective approach to the delivery of
mental health services throughout rural and remote NT.

In keeping with the model, SEWB programs require funding for multidisciplinary, culturally and trauma informed teams with expertise across these various aspects of wellbeing for Aboriginal communities.

SEWB services are designed to support individuals, families and communities in all aspects of life
that strengthen wellbeing,”

From AMSANT’s seperate submission 

sub129_AMSANT

Introduction

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) welcomes the opportunity to provide input for the Senate inquiry into Accessibility and quality of mental health services in rural and remote Australia.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent approximately 3% of the population, yet are disproportionately over-represented in a negative way on almost every indicia of social, health and wellbeing determinants.[i]

Commonly recognised factors causing these disparities include intergenerational trauma, racism and social exclusion, as well as loss of land and culture.[ii] They are vastly over-represented in mental health services[iii], and evidence of the gap in mental health outcomes compared with their non-Indigenous peers is well documented.[iv]

For example, a 2016 report states that Aboriginal males aged 25–29 years have the highest rates of suicide in the world.[v] Underscoring these health disparities, the rate of admissions to specialised psychiatric care has been found to be double that of non-Indigenous Australians.[vi]

Mental health and wellbeing is integral to the individual and collective ability to think, express and engage productively in work and in life.[vii] A multitude of relevant national frameworks and reforms have highlighted the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as a priority, with a focus on prevention and early intervention. The nexus for bridging the gap is cultural security, which includes access to culturally-safe mental health and social / emotional wellbeing services.[viii] However, this access, in particular in regional, remote and very remote locations, is highly inconsistent and in many locations is non-existent.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services

NACCHO is the peak body representing 145 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) across Australia. ACCHSs provide comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at over 300 Aboriginal medical clinics. Three million episodes of care are delivered to around 350,000 people each year (over 47% of the Aboriginal population); a third of these in remote areas.

The ACCHS sector is the largest single employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the country, employing 6,000 staff. Evidence that the ACCHS model of primary health care delivers better outcomes for Aboriginal people is well established. The model has its genesis in the people’s right to self-determination, and is predicated on principles that incorporate a holistic, person-centred, whole-of-life, culturally-safe approach. Without exception, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities lead, define, design, control and deliver their own services and programs, they achieve improved outcomes.[ix] The principles of self-determination and community control remain central to the people’s wellbeing and sovereignty.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to experience disadvantage in equity of access to mental health services. This is a major concern requiring immediate redress by governments at all levels. Despite inequitable levels of funding and resources[x], ACCHSs continue to meet the challenges of addressing the burden of disease and mental ill-health of communities. Further investment is needed to expand and build capacity of the Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce (AMHW), to deliver culturally-safe mental health and social / emotional wellbeing services. As the predominant primary health care providers to Aboriginal people, ACCHSs are best placed to deliver appropriate services. Aboriginal Health Workers and Health Practitioners (AHW/P) as ‘cultural brokers’ are vital to bridge the prevailing gap between mainstream mental health services and Aboriginal consumers’ access to mental health care, treatment and support.[xi]

The nature and underlying causes of rural and remote Australians accessing mental health services at a much lower rate

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to under-utilise health services, despite experiencing poorer health. They are over-represented in rural and remote areas, so the issue of remoteness in accessing mental health services is particularly important for them.[xii] Data from the 2011 Census show that 3% of Australians (669,881) identified as Indigenous; 21% lived in remote or very remote areas[xiii], compared to only 1.7% of non-Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal people represent 16% and 45% of all people living in remote and very remote areas respectively.[xiv]

The geographical challenges in ACCHS availability and lack of resources to access culturally-appropriate mental health services restricts choice for Aboriginal people; this is compounded when they have to travel long distances from their communities for care and treatment. Mainstream services cannot provide culturally-appropriate care for the mental health needs of Aboriginal people, particularly those living in rural, remote and very remote locations.

Culturally-safe mental health services – ACCHS’ preferred provider status

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people identify culture as key to mental wellbeing and evidence shows that culturally-safe early intervention and prevention programs and services are the most effective in reducing poor mental health and suicide.

Like all Australians, Aboriginal people are influenced by their experiences when accessing health services, including cultural responsiveness.[xv] In 2012–13, a reported 7% of Aboriginal adults avoided seeking health care because they had been treated unfairly by doctors, nurses or other staff at hospitals or surgeries.[xvi] Those with mental illness experience extreme social and emotional divorcement, alienation from their families, country of origin and their identity. Self-esteem and a sense of empowerment are important in recovery-based models of care, and arguably the best way to achieve this for Aboriginal people is to hand over control of the design and delivery of services to them.[xvii] In providing culturally-safe, holistic and community-based care, Aboriginal community controlled organisations have been identified as best placed to deliver mental health services.

It is important to emphasise that culture must be considered for best practice mental health models of service for Aboriginal people. This includes the multi-faceted impact of intergenerational trauma and its inextricable link to mental health and social / emotional wellbeing.[xviii]

Funding inequities

Despite 30% of Australia’s population living in regional, rural and remote areas[xix], Commonwealth mental health funding is inequitably distributed, and the delivery of services to these locations is severely compromised, resulting in greater costs overall. Ample evidence suggests that better allocation of resources and cost-effective funding in the ACCHS sector would result in better mental health outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not seeking the mental health care they need in a timely manner, if at all, due to a lack of culturally-safe services, results in individuals becoming increasingly unwell. This escalates emergency or voluntary admissions to hospitals, usually in an acute state – admission, treatment and follow-up cost around $19,782 per person.[xx] This is a significantly higher cost than investing in ACCHSs to deliver community-based mental health services, closer to where people live, keeping people well in the community and preventing hospital admissions.

Despite the ACCHS sector’s ongoing advice to governments at all levels, about effectively addressing the mental health disadvantage and disparities experienced by Aboriginal Australians, funding continues to be directed to mainstream services. Substantial funding and essential resources are redirected from ACCHSs and administered to Primary Health Networks. This lack of transparency is having a deleterious and inequitable impact on Aboriginal people’ access to appropriate services. Despite the rhetoric, funding needed for ACCHSs is not ending up in Aboriginal hands; if government is serious about closing the gaps in health and mental health services, it is imperative to direct funding for Aboriginal service delivery to the ACCHS sector.

The higher rate of suicide in rural and remote Australia

The 2016 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) report noted that suicide has emerged in recent decades as a major cause of Aboriginal premature mortality and contributes to overall health and life expectancy gaps. In 2014, suicide was the fifth leading cause of death among Aboriginal people, with the age-standardised rate around twice as high as the non-Indigenous rate.[xxi] Alarmingly, Aboriginal children and young people are particularly vulnerable, comprising 30% of suicide deaths among those under 18 years of age. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal people aged 14–34[xxii] and those aged 15–24 are over five times as likely to commit suicide as their non-Indigenous peers.

In Australia, rates of suicide and self-harm are higher in rural and remote areas, [xxiii]; and Aboriginal people are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than non-Indigenous people.[xxiv] From 2001–2010, most suicides among Aboriginal people occurred outside of capital cities, in stark contrast to non‑Indigenous suicides, which mostly occurred within cities.[xxv]

In recent years, several efforts have been made to tailor and implement suicide awareness training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and communities. However, as highlighted in the ATSISPEP report, efforts to reduce suicide must not only address social and economic disadvantage but narrow the gap in health status. Strategies need to promote healing and build the resilience of ‘individuals, families and communities by strengthening social and emotional wellbeing and culture’.[xxvi]

Addressing the higher rates of suicide in Aboriginal communities is a priority for any plan that aims to reduce suicide in rural and remote areas. It will require investment by all levels of government to increase the response capacity of health workers. Further investment in consultation with the communities is needed to design a national capacity-building strategy to respond to the issue.[xxvii]

The nature of the mental health workforce

A range of strategies and actions are required to create an effective, empowered workforce for the mental health wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These have been identified in a National Strategic Framework for 2017–2023[xxviii] on this topic. A key requirement is a highly skilled and supported workforce, operating in a clinically and culturally-safe way.

Identifying current capacity and gaps in the workforce is important, to better target investment[xxix]. This includes the organisational capacity of Aboriginal and mainstream mental health services as well as skill and availability gaps in the primary mental health professions – nursing, occupational therapy, psychiatry, psychology and social work. It is also vital to consider the links and development opportunities across the different workforces in mental health, social / emotional wellbeing, alcohol and other drugs, family violence and relevant others.

Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce

Critical to positive mental health outcomes for Aboriginal people in rural and remote areas is a reinvestment in community mental health services, and in a committed workforce. A comprehensive Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce (AMHW) is required to improve the cultural responsiveness and safety of these services, to provide appropriate systems of care.

The AMHW plays an important role as ‘cultural broker’, through its advocacy and cultural advice, in the mental health legislation of a number of jurisdictions. Established in both mainstream health services and the ACCHS, the AMHW delivers specialist, holistic and culturally-safe services, which are key to addressing disadvantage and improving mental health outcomes. It helps to bridge the cultural gap, enabling Aboriginal consumers to effectively access mental health services, including presence of an AHW/P during assessment and treatment.

In recognising that Aboriginal community controlled organisations are best placed to deliver health services to communities, improved coordination between ACCHSs and Local Health Districts is needed. The placement of Aboriginal mental health workers in the ACCHS sector, working in conjunction with mainstream services, could help develop integrated models of care, to increase the capacity and confidence of services to work with communities. This working partnership could potentially progress a historically arduous relationship and would increase the capacity of AHW/P in mental health and access to specialist support.

The uncertain and cyclic funding paradigm is a factor undermining the retention of a skilled Aboriginal workforce, and its training and working conditions. Consequently, this has a deleterious effect on achieving sustained improvements in treatment and care of Aboriginal people with mental health problems, particularly those with complex, severe and persistent illnesses.

The challenges of delivering mental health services in the regions

The challenges for people with mental illness in rural and remote areas are well known, and include distance, availability of health services, lower socioeconomic status, and shortages of GPs, specialist medical services and AHW/P. Most barriers in accessing mental health services in these communities are structural, including cost, transportation, or time constraints.[xxx] Geographic and professional isolation also make rural or remote communities less attractive to mental health practitioners, making it difficult to recruit and retain them.[xxxi]

Lack of funding for the ACCHS sector

A major contributor to the poor delivery of mental health services in rural and remote areas is the lack of funding. In the current context where health services, for mental health in particular, are under extreme pressure to meet urban population needs, the capacity of state governments to fund specialist mental health services to people outside of cities is diminished.[xxxii] The funding transition in 2013, from the Ministry of Health – Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health to the Department of the Prime Minister in Cabinet, led to a reduced AMHW and programs in the ACCHS sector, disadvantaging communities and the sector itself.

Continual under-funding of ACCHSs is a limiting factor that impedes the capacity to improve the mental health outcomes of Aboriginal people, particularly in rural, remote and very remote areas. Government investment is ad hoc, often directed towards mainstream service delivery, with non-Aboriginal services delivering care to Aboriginal people. These services are seen to lack the cultural knowledge, competence, capacity and understanding to effectively engage with Aboriginal people and their communities. Funding referred to mainstream services has resulted in many Aboriginal people failing to present at appointments or dis-engaging due to these services being culturally unsafe or inappropriate. It has also contributed to expensive increases in hospital admission rates for acute and complex conditions.

The ACCHS sector has consistently shown its capacity to achieve better health outcomes for Aboriginal people through delivering comprehensive, culturally-safe health, prevention and early intervention services in a more cost-effective way. However, adequate funding is still required to expand services in regions where they are inaccessible or demand is greater. ACCHSs contend that procurement approaches lacking in cultural safety will not provide equity of access for communities. These approaches, which deny Aboriginal community controlled services the opportunity to access resources to deliver appropriate services related to mental health, will continue to fall short, preventing effective social policy implementation and outcomes for communities and for government.

It is in the government’s interest to invest in the ACCHS sector to provide prevention and early intervention services, due to the significant economic burden of mental illness. There is a strong argument for optimising investment in areas where populations are most at risk and vulnerable.

Service delivery – need for greater coordination

Better services coordination between government and non-government organisations is a significant issue impacting Aboriginal people, particularly to address their needs in a culturally-appropriate and holistic way. Like many governments, the South Australian Government has acknowledged the barriers that departmental silos represent for the provision of appropriate and effective mental health care to Aboriginal people.

The Commonwealth Government’s Better Access to Mental Health Services Initiative is an example. This initiative is intended to mitigate access disparities and provide more coordinated care. However, application of the Modified Monash Model geographical classification system to determine eligibility requirements denies access for Aboriginal people living in many regional, remote and very remote locations, particularly in Western Australia.

Improved coordination of services is essential to reduce hospital admissions and ensure that Aboriginal people do not continue to be ‘lost’ in a system that does not understand or respond to their cultural and mental health needs. Paramount to ensuring consumers receive the right care is a more ‘wrap-around’, culturally-safe, holistic service model, implemented at all levels of government and non-government organisations. The ACCHS sector is the expert in this regard and is best placed to deliver services and educate the mainstream sector, with respect to relevant services for Aboriginal people.

Opportunities that technology presents for improved service delivery

The delivery of mental health services using new technologies is a growing area of practice and research interest. Building capacity within ACCHSs to effectively deliver technology‑based services is a sensible option, but how they will improve patient experience or access must be considered. Online services need to complement rather than replace an early human response in a crisis.

While the relative benefits of online services have not yet been evaluated in terms of their ability to augment traditional face-to-face mental health services, there are positive cost and service efficiencies. Research indicates that web-based services that provide mental health information and support can significantly improve mental health outcomes. New developments mean that cognitive behavioural therapies can be adapted into an online environment and be delivered without a counsellor, while providing the same outcomes at a fraction of the cost.[xxxiii]

Telehealth initiatives – such as teleconferencing and videoconferencing – are being used globally to deliver mental health services (assessment, consultation and therapy), and to fill prevention, assessment, diagnosis, counselling and treatment[xxxiv] service gaps in rural and remote locations. For people living in rural and remote Australia, the recent introduction of a new Medicare rebate, aimed at improving access to telehealth psychological services, is an important step. This means people can claim a rebate for up to seven videoconferencing consultations with psychologists and other mental health professionals. With Medicare data showing that per capita MBS expenditure on mental health services in remote areas is less than a quarter of that in major cities[xxxv], this is indeed a substantial improvement in the supply of services to disadvantaged populations.

A significant benefit of technology is the online access to training and referral advice for health professionals in rural and remote areas. Not only can web-based services have great potential for consumers, they can also offer education to mental health professionals, GPs and other staff.

While many approaches to online service delivery are still in their infancy, there are plenty of opportunities to combine research with new telehealth programs and evaluation of their effectiveness. A number of Member Services are currently trialling telehealth in remote areas with positive results, despite facing challenges with set-up and costs. While there is great potential for the development of mental health internet-based and mobile apps, it is important that these are inclusive and culturally appropriate for Aboriginal consumers. This requires investment and direct involvement of the ACCHS sector.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Conferences and events : This week #WorldMentalHealthDay #WMHD2018 #MentalHealthPromise #10OCT This Month : Register and Download #NACCHOagm2018 Oct 30 – Nov 2 Program @hosw2018 #HOSW18 #HealingOurWay @June_Oscar #WomensVoices #IndigBizMth

 

This week 

World Mental Health Day Oct 10

World Mental Health Week Oct 7- 13 

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) 28th November to 5th December : Expression of Interest open but close 26 October

This Month

NACCHO AGM 2018 Brisbane Oct 30—Nov 2 Registrations now open : Download the Program 

Future events /conferences

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship applications Close October 14 October
National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Third edition) Workshop 10 October 

Now open: Aged Care Regional, Rural and Remote Infrastructure Grant opportunity.$500,000  closes 24 October 2018

The fourth annual Indigenous Business Month this year will celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in business, to coincide with the 2018 NAIDOC theme Because of Her, We Can.

 

Wiyi Yani U Thangani Women’s Voices project. 

2018 International Indigenous Allied Health Forum at the Mercure Hotel, Sydney, Australia on the 30 November 2018

AIDA Conference 2018 Vision into Action

Healing Our Spirit Worldwide
2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference 20-21 November Perth

2019 Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 – National Conference 2019
This week 

This World Mental Health Day – on Wednesday 10 October – will be the biggest yet in Australia, with more than 700 organisations, companies, community groups and charities taking part, as well an official Guinness World Record Attempt in Wagga Wagga to raise awareness and reduce stigma.

The ‘Do You See What I See?’ campaign encourages people to make a #MentalHealthPromise and shed a more positive light on mental health in a bid to reduce stigma for the one in five Australians who are affected by mental illness annually.

More than 700 organisations have engaged with the campaign already this year, which has also seen more than 20,000 mental health promises made by individuals at http://www.1010.org.au .

Five days out from World Mental Health Day itself, on Wednesday 10 October, Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan says this year’s response has been the biggest ever.

“Year-on-year the interest in World Mental Health Day continues to grow and to me that’s a clear sign that we are reducing stigma, and more and more people are prepared to talk and hopefully seek help,” said Mr. Quinlan.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in the participation of workplaces over the last two years, and have tailored our messaging accordingly to encourage people to shed a more positive light on mental health at work.”

“We know from our recent Investing to Save Report with KPMG that investment in workplace initiatives could save the nation more than $4.5 billion, and to see some of the biggest employers in the country engage with this year’s campaign, is a clear sign that people are becoming more and more aware of just how important it is to look after mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.”

To help celebrate this year’s World Mental Health Day, and to add to the success of the campaign, Mental Health Australia has also linked up with the Wagga Wagga City Council and Bunnings Warehouse to attempt a Guinness World Record for the most number of people wearing high visibility vests in one location.

Aimed to again shed a positive light, and raise the visibility and awareness of mental health in a community, particularly amongst young men, tradies, farmers and their families, the high-viz world record attempt in Wagga on World Mental Health Day has already seen the people of the Riverina come together.

“We often speak about mentally healthy communities and this fun Guinness World Record Attempt has been a great opportunity to engage with, and unite the people of Wagga Wagga for a common goal,” said Mr. Quinlan.

“Thanks to the fantastic support of Bunnings and the Wagga Wagga City Council, as well as 3M and Triple M Riverina, we can’t wait to see a sea of high visibility vests in the Bunnings carpark next Wednesday morning, and who knows we might even break the current record of 2,136.”

To find out more or to register for the Guinness World Record Attempt go to www.1010.org.au/wagga (link is external)

Mental Health Australia would like to thank all the organisations who have shown their support this year and will be helping to raise awareness and reduce stigma next Wednesday 10 October on World Mental Health Day.

To find our more go to www.1010.org.au

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) 28th November to 5th December : Expression of Interest open but close 26 October

In 2017 we supported more than 60 ACCHS to run community events during ATSIHAW.

We are now seeking final EOIs to host 2018 ATSIHAW Events

EOI’s will remain open until 26th October 2018

ATSIHAW coincides each year with World AIDS Day- our aim is to promote conversation and action around HIV in our communities. Our long lasting theme of ATSIHAW is U AND ME CAN STOP HIV”.

If you would like to host an ATSIHAW event in 2018, please complete the EOI form here Expression of Interest 2018 and then send back to us to at  atsihaw@sahmri.com

Once registered we will send merchandise to your service to help with your event.

For more information about ATSIHAW please visit http://www.atsihiv.org.au/hiv-awareness-week/merchandise/

ATSIHAW on Facebook     https://www.facebook.com/ATSIHAW/

ATSIHAW on Twitter          https://twitter.com/atsihaw

NACCHO AGM 2018 Brisbane Oct 30—Nov 2 Registrations still open

Follow our conference using HASH TAG #NACCHOagm2018

Download Draft Program as at 2 October

NACCHO 7 Page Conference Program 2018_v3

Register HERE

Conference Website Link:

Accommodation Link:                   

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

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

Conference Website Link

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship applications Close October 14 October

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme is designed to encourage and assist undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce.

Dr Puggy Hunter was the NACCHO Chair 1991-2001

Puggy was the elected chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, (NACCHO), which is the peak national advisory body on Aboriginal health. NACCHO has a membership of over 144 + Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and is the representative body of these services. Puggy was the inaugural Chair of NACCHO from 1991 until his death.[1]

Puggy was the vice-chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council, the Federal Health Minister’s main advisory body on Aboriginal health established in 1996. He was also Chair of the National Public Health Partnership Aboriginal and Islander Health Working Group which reports to the Partnership and to the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council. He was a member of the Australian Pharmaceutical Advisory Council (APAC), the General Practice Partnership Advisory Council, the Joint Advisory Group on Population Health and the National Health Priority Areas Action Council as well as a number of other key Aboriginal health policy and advisory groups on national issues.[1]

The scheme provides scholarships for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people studying an entry level health course.

Applications for PHMSS 2019 scholarship round are now open.

Click the button below to start your online application.

Applications must be completed and submitted before midnight AEDT (Sydney/Canberra time) Sunday 14 October 2018. After this time the system will shut down and any incomplete applications will be lost.

Eligible health areas

  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander health work
  • Allied health (excluding pharmacy)
  • Dentistry/oral health (excluding dental assistants)
  • Direct entry midwifery
  • Medicine
  • Nursing; registered and enrolled

Eligibility criteria

Applications will be considered from applicants who are:

  • of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent
    Applicants must identify as and be able to confirm their Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status.
  • enrolled or intending to enrol in an entry level or graduate entry level health related course
    Courses must be provided by an Australian registered training organisation or university. Funding is not available for postgraduate study.
  • intending to study in the academic year that the scholarship is offered.

A significant number of applications are received each year; meeting the eligibility criteria will not guarantee applicants a scholarship offer.

Value of scholarship

Funding is provided for the normal duration of the course. Full time scholarship awardees will receive up to $15,000 per year and part time recipients will receive up to $7,500 per year. The funding is paid in 24 fortnightly instalments throughout the study period of each year.

Selection criteria

These are competitive scholarships and will be awarded on the recommendation of the independent selection committee whose assessment will be based on how applicants address the following questions:

  • Describe what has been your driving influence/motivation in wanting to become a health professional in your chosen area.
  • Discuss what you hope to accomplish as a health professional in the next 5-10 years.
  • Discuss your commitment to study in your chosen course.
  • Outline your involvement in community activities, including promoting the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The scholarships are funded by the Australian Government, Department of Health and administered by the Australian College of Nursing. The scheme was established in recognition of Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s significant contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and his role as Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

Important links

Links to Indigenous health professional associations

Contact ACN

e scholarships@acn.edu.au
t 1800 688 628

National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Third edition) Workshop 10 October 

The RACGP and NACCHO invite you to a workshop to be held prior to GP18, that
will support your practice team to maximise the opportunity for the prevention of
disease at each health service visit.

A National Guide contributor and a cultural educator will discuss how best to utilise
the third edition of the National Guide when providing care for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people.

The workshop will also include a focus group exploring implementation of the
National Guide in both mainstream and Aboriginal Community Controlled Primary
Health Care Services (ACCHSs), as well as the characteristics of a culturally
responsive general practice.

Program

• Background and purpose of the National Guide
• Features of the National Guide, including:
• Recommendation tables
• Good practice points
• Evidence base
• Lifecycle wall chart
• Putting the National Guide

Date
Wednesday 10 October 2018

Time
Registration and lunch 12.00 pm
Workshop 12.30–4.00 pm

Venue
Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre
1711 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads

Cost
Free of charge

RSVP
Friday 5 October 2018

Registration essential

Registration
Email daniela.doblanovic@racgp.org.au
or call Daniela Doblanovic on 03 8699 0528.

We will then contact you to confirm

 

Now open: Aged Care Regional, Rural and Remote Infrastructure Grant opportunity.$500,000  closes 24 October 2018

This grant opportunity is designed to assist existing approved residential and home care providers in regional, rural and remote areas to invest in infrastructure. Commonwealth Home Support Programme services will also be considered, where there is exceptional need. Funding will be prioritised to aged care services most in need and where geographical constraints and significantly higher costs impede services’ ability to invest in infrastructure works.

Up to $500,000 (GST exclusive) will be available per service via a competitive application process.

Eligibility:

To be eligible you must be:

  • an approved residential or home care provider (as defined under the Aged Care Act 1997) or an approved Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) provider in exceptional circumstances (refer Frequently asked Questions) ; and
  • currently operating an aged care service located in Modified Monash Model Classification 3-7 or if a CHSP provider, the service is located in MMM 6-7. (MMM Locator).

More Info Apply 

The fourth annual Indigenous Business Month this year will celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in business, to coincide with the 2018 NAIDOC theme Because of Her, We Can.

Throughout October, twenty national Indigenous Business Month events will take place showcasing the talents of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women entrepreneurs from a variety of business sectors. These events aim to ignite conversations about Indigenous business development and innovation, focusing on women’s roles and leadership.

Indigenous Business Month is an initiative driven by the alumni of Melbourne Business School’s MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class, who see business as a way of providing positive role models for young Indigenous Australians and improving quality of life in Indigenous communities.

Since the launch of Indigenous Business Month in 2015, [1] the Indigenous business sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in Australia delivering over $1 billion in goods and services for the Australian economy.

Jason Eades, Director, Consulting at Social Ventures Australia and Indigenous Business Month 2018 host said:

It is a privilege to be involved in Indigenous Business Month, to be able to take the time to celebrate and acknowledge the great achievements of our Indigenous entrepreneurs and their respective businesses. Indigenous entrepreneurs are showing the rest of the world that we can do business and do it well, whilst maintaining our strong cultural values.”

The latest ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2014-15 shows that only 51.5 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women participate in the workforce compared to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men at 65 percent.

The Australian Government has invested in a range of initiatives to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women entrepreneurs in the work-placeincluding: [2) Continued funding for girls’ academies in high schools, so that young women can realise their leadership potential, greater access to finance and business support suited to the needs of Indigenous businesses with a focus on Indigenous entrepreneurs and start-ups, and expanding the ParentsNextprogram and Fund pre-employment projects via the new Launch into Work program providing flexibility to meet the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Michelle Evans, MURRA Program Director AND Associate Professor of Leadership at the University of Melbourne said:

The Indigenous Business Month’s aim is to inspire, showcase and engage the Indigenous business community. This year it is more significant than ever to support the female Indigenous business community and provide a platform for them to network and encourage young Indigenous women to consider developing a business as a career option.”

Indigenous Business Month runs from October 1 to October 31. Check out the website for an event near you (spaces are limited).

The initiative is supported by 33 Creative, Asia Pacific Social Impact Centre at the University of Melbourne, Iscariot Media, and PwC.

For more information on Indigenous Business Month visit

·         The Websitewww.indigenousbusinessmonth.com.au

·         Facebook

·         Twitter

·         LinkedIn

Wiyi Yani U Thangani Women’s Voices project.

June Oscar AO and her team are excited to hear from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls across the country as a part of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani Women’s Voices project.

Whilst we will not be able to get to every community, we hope to hear from as many women and girls as possible through this process. If we are not coming to your community we encourage you to please visit the Have your Say! page of the website to find out more about the other ways to have your voice included through our survey and submission process.

We will be hosting public sessions as advertised below but also a number of private sessions to enable women and girls from particularly vulnerable settings like justice and care to participate.

Details about current, upcoming and past gatherings appears below, however it is subject to change. We will update this page regularly with further details about upcoming gatherings closer to the date of the events.

Please get in touch with us via email wiyiyaniuthangani@humanrights.gov.au or phone on (02) 9284 9600 if you would like more information.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Pathways borders

Current gatherings

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls are invited to register for one of the following gatherings

Pathways borders

Upcoming gatherings

If your community is listed below and you would like to be involved in planning for our visit or would like more information, please write to us at wiyiyaniuthangani@humanrights.gov.au or phone (02) 9284 9600.

Location Dates
Port Headland October 2018
Newman October 2018
Dubbo TBC
Brewarrina TBC
Rockhampton TBC
Longreach TBC
Kempsey TBC

Pathways borders

 

Download HERE

2018 International Indigenous Allied Health Forum at the Mercure Hotel, Sydney, Australia on the 30 November 2018.

This Forum will bring together Indigenous and First Nation presenters and panellists from across the world to discuss shared experiences and practices in building, supporting and retaining an Indigenous allied health workforce.

This full-day event will provide a platform to share information and build an integrated approach to improving culturally safe and responsive health care and improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Indigenous peoples and communities.

Delegates will include Indigenous and First Nation allied health professionals and students from Australia, Canada, the USA and New Zealand. There will also be delegates from a range of sectors including, health, wellbeing, education, disability, academia and community.

MORE INFO 

AIDA Conference 2018 Vision into Action


Building on the foundations of our membership, history and diversity, AIDA is shaping a future where we continue to innovate, lead and stay strong in culture. It’s an exciting time of change and opportunity in Indigenous health.

The AIDA conference supports our members and the health sector by creating an inspiring networking space that engages sector experts, key decision makers, Indigenous medical students and doctors to join in an Indigenous health focused academic and scientific program.

AIDA recognises and respects that the pathway to achieving equitable and culturally-safe healthcare for Indigenous Australians is dynamic and complex. Through unity, leadership and collaboration, we create a future where our vision translates into measureable and significantly improved health outcomes for our communities. Now is the time to put that vision into action.

Registrations Close August 31

Healing Our Spirit Worldwide

Global gathering of Indigenous people to be held in Sydney
University of Sydney, The Healing Foundation to co-host Healing Our Spirit Worldwide
Gawuwi gamarda Healing Our Spirit Worldwidegu Ngalya nangari nura Cadigalmirung.
Calling our friends to come, to be at Healing Our Spirit Worldwide. We meet on the country of the Cadigal.
In November 2018, up to 2,000 Indigenous people from around the world will gather in Sydney to take part in Healing Our Spirit Worldwide: The Eighth Gathering.
A global movement, Healing Our Spirit Worldwidebegan in Canada in the 1980s to address the devastation of substance abuse and dependence among Indigenous people around the world. Since 1992 it has held a gathering approximately every four years, in a different part of the world, focusing on a diverse range of topics relevant to Indigenous lives including health, politics, social inclusion, stolen generations, education, governance and resilience.
The International Indigenous Council – the governing body of Healing Our Spirit Worldwide – has invited the University of Sydney and The Healing Foundation to co-host the Eighth Gathering with them in Sydney this year. The second gathering was also held in Sydney, in 1994.
 Please also feel free to tag us in any relevant cross posting: @HOSW8 @hosw2018 #HOSW18 #HealingOurWay #TheUniversityofSydney

2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference 20-21 November Perth

” The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference Committee invite and welcome you to Perth for the second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference, and the second World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference.

Our Indigenous communities, both nationally and internationally, share common histories and are confronted with similar issues stemming from colonisation. Strengthening our communities so that we can address high rates of suicide is one of these shared issues. The Conferences will provide more opportunities to network and collaborate between Indigenous people and communities, policy makers, and researchers. The Conferences are unique opportunities to share what we have learned and to collaborate on solutions that work in suicide prevention.

This also enables us to highlight our shared priorities with political leaders in our respective countries and communities.

Conference Website 

2019 Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 – National Conference 2019
Indigenous Eye Health and co-host Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) are pleased to announce the Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 – National Conference 2019 which will be held in Alice Springs, Northern Territory on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 March 2019 at the Alice Springs Convention Centre.
The 2019 conference will run over two days with the aim of bringing people together and connecting people involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye care from local communities, ACCOs, health services, non-government organisations, professional bodies and government departments from across the country. We would like to invite everyone who is working on or interested in improving eye health and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
More information available at: go.unimelb.edu.au/wqb6 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Racism Debate : “Racism ‘alive and it’s kicking’ @June_Oscar Indigenous commissioner challenges Chin Tan our new @AusHumanRights Race Discrimination Commissioner’s stance

” I’m hearing from women and girls across the country that racism is one of the key emerging issues. I know from my own personal experiences that racism is alive and it’s kicking.”

“It’s critical that he as the new race discrimination commissioner is aware of the prevalence of racism across the country and it’s experiences from the everyday lived realities of women and girls and Indigenous peoples … and personal experiences of racism in the schoolyard and in public places,”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner June Oscar has declared that racism in Australia is “alive and it’s kicking” in response to comments by the nation’s newly appointed race discrimination commissioner that Australia is not a racist country.

Calling out racism is very important, but I want to be very careful that we put things in context – because I do share a view that that can be overplayed sometimes,

It’s important to remember the race discrimination [commissioner] role is not meant to divide, it’s meant to enhance communities and strengthen them.”

In a clear departure from his predecessor,  Chin Leong Tan, Australia’s new race discrimination commissioner said there were limits to the power of “calling out” racism – even for the race discrimination commissioner. see interview Part 2 below 

 ” How do we balance the steps forward against the steps backwards to arrive at our answer that Australia is or isn’t a racist country? How we compare the arts against the justice system, or politics against social media?

How much weight do we give to the stated intentions of white people to the stated interpretations of non-white people? But these are not homogenous groups either. There are plenty of white people who understand racism exists, and then we have some people of colour who will say that they do not believe Australia is a racist country.

Racism is insidious. It impacts on people’s health, their education, housing and employment opportunities, and their sense of self and safety living in Australia.”

Luke Pearson is a Gamilaroi man, and is the founder and CEO of IndigenousX. see in full Part 3


NACCHO Aboriginal health and racism
:

Read HERE : What are the impacts of racism on Aboriginal health ?

 

 WATCH June Oscar interview 

Article by Patricia Karvelas 

Key points:

  • June Oscar travelling across Australia to hear from Aboriginal and Torres Strait women
  • Indigenous people are often “watched and followed” in supermarkets
  • Aboriginal communities are being punished under a “racist” employment scheme

The Morrison Government’s newly appointed race discrimination commissioner Chin Leong Tan has rejected claims that Australia is a racist country ahead of assuming his official role on Monday.

The lawyer has also revealed he will not use his position to solicit complaints.

But in an interview with the ABC’s National Wrap program, Commissioner Oscar said that she will inform the new race discrimination commissioner of “encounters of institutional racism” that confront Indigenous peoples on a “daily basis”.

“It’s critical that he as the new race discrimination commissioner is aware of the prevalence of racism across the country and it’s experiences from the everyday lived realities of women and girls and Indigenous peoples … and personal experiences of racism in the schoolyard and in public places,” she said.

Commissioner Oscar said she would work with Commissioner Tan to ensure that people were aware of the processes available to them when they do encounter experiences of vilification and discrimination.

Indigenous people subjected to everyday racism

Data obtained by the ABC has revealed the impacts of how Indigenous communities are being punished under a “racist” employment scheme.

Unemployed job seekers can be docked up to $50 per day for missing work-for-the-dole activities.

But statistics show that places with higher numbers of Indigenous participants were issued with more penalties.

Commissioner Oscar questioned why the sector is treated in this manner, offering a grassroots solution.

“I think we can help to address the employment and the active engagement of participants who are on this program by supporting local organisations and creating innovative work-for-the-dole programs informed by the people who live in these communities,” she said.

“We know that the access to different forms of employment may vary across these communities but we certainly shouldn’t be penalising people who are living in poverty.”

Commissioner Oscar has been travelling the country with the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project, which she hopes will “elevate” the voices of the nearly 2,000 women and girls she has encountered.

She identified “racist attitudes” experienced in public spaces like supermarkets as one of the key emerging issues raised, revealing her own personal encounters of “being watched and followed”.

“Why would someone select to a focus on, you know, my right in accessing these public places and not others who may appear to look differently to myself?”

The Commissioner will head to the Torres Strait next week, continuing conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women after her most recent sessions in far north Queensland, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.

The Women’s Voices project’s final report is expected to be handed down in mid-2019.

Interactive map: which regions are being issued with the most work-for-the-dole fines?

Part 2: ‘Balancing’ act: Australia’s new race commissioner is not inclined to commentary or advocacy

Chin Leong Tan, Australia’s new race discrimination commissioner, sees his role very differently to predecessor Tim Soutphommasane. For one thing, he is not inclined to commentary or advocacy. Instead, he approaches issues with a clinical dispassion befitting his background as a commercial and property lawyer. One of his favourite words is “balance”.

FROM SMH 

Take the most controversial debate in race politics last year: the bid to repeal or dilute section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person on the basis of race.

“It’s not for me to comment on legislation that’s been there for 40-odd years,” says Mr Tan, who takes up his new position today 8 October.

“Law is a living creature. If there’s the community sense that it’s time to perhaps look at some changes … my role is really to then arbitrate, and not to push for a view.”

When pushed, he praises section 18C as “a reflection of Australian values and views that we have”. But it is not clear if he believes those values should endure regardless of the prevailing sentiments in Canberra.

“I defend the existing section 18C for what it is … it’s there as a law and I comply with the law,” Mr Tan says.

It’s a similar story when it comes to African gang violence in Victoria. The debate has elicited claims of race-baiting and dog-whistling ahead of a state election – particularly directed at Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who claimed Melburnians were afraid to go out to restaurants at night.

“He has a view and he expressed it. People had opposing views. That’s largely the debate that’s going on out there,” Mr Tan says.

“It’s not my role to canvass an opinion about what politicians say from time to time, unless it becomes a public issue of a dimension that requires my involvement within the confines the Act.”

The clash with Dr Soutphommasane’s approach, particularly during his final months, could hardly be more stark. In his final speech, the former commissioner warned “race politics is back”, and singled out Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Dutton, Tony Abbott, Andrew Bolt and others for criticism.

Dr Soutphommasane is a former Labor staffer and was appointed to the role by Labor in the dying days of the second Rudd government. Mr Tan unsuccessfully sought Liberal Party preselection in an on-again, off-again relationship with the party – he said he resigned his membership about a month ago after resuming it last year.

Attorney-General Christian Porter praised Mr Tan as “a well-known and recognised leader in the multicultural community” who would “represent all Australians”.

In a clear departure from his predecessor, Mr Tan said there were limits to the power of “calling out” racism – even for the race discrimination commissioner.

“Calling out racism is very important, but I want to be very careful that we put things in context – because I do share a view that that can be overplayed sometimes,” he said.

“It’s important to remember the race discrimination [commissioner] role is not meant to divide, it’s meant to enhance communities and strengthen them.”

Mr Tan was born in Malaysia to Chinese parents, and migrated to Melbourne in the 1980s. After leaving commercial law in 2011, he headed the Victorian Multicultural Commission, and since 2015 he has been director of multicultural engagement at Swinburne University of Technology.

His new $350,000-a-year job sits within the Australian Human Rights Commission, which has been the focus of political argy-bargy since the Coalition’s spectacular falling out with former president Gillian Triggs over asylum seekers. Some conservatives argued for the race discrimination role to be scrapped or renamed, but the government opted to do neither.

Part 3 Is Australia a racist country?”

From Indigenous X 

It’s a contentious question, and one that has no easy answer. (Well, it does have an easy answer – yes, but it takes some unpacking to understand the question and the answer).

First of all, what do we mean by ‘Australia’?

Do we mean 50% +1 of the total population? (or 50% + 1 of the white population?)

Are we talking about personal perspectives and experiences? One person in Australia might not see racism in their workplaces or their social groups. Or they might not define what they see as racism where someone else might. They might have all sorts of inbuilt response mechanisms they use to justify to themselves and to others how they couldn’t possibly be racist – ‘It was just a joke!’ ‘You’re being too sensitive’. ‘I didn’t mean it that way – you’re taking it out of context!’. ‘They can’t be racist, they are a lovely person!’. ‘I can’t be racist – I have an Aboriginal friend!’. ‘I can’t be racist, I’ve never even met an Aboriginal person!’. The list is endless.

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If a person experiences racism everyday of their lives is it fair for them to think ‘Australia is a racist country’? Especially if their experiences are compounded by the lack of other people standing up for them, or even believing them when they try to raise it.

Or is it not about individual or collective group experiences and is about ‘official Australia’, eg to what extent does racism exist in our public spaces and in our institutions? And importantly, how is racism responded to when it occurs.

How does Australia respond to racist people, or people who do racist things? Do we hold them accountable? Do we condemn them, fire them from their jobs, or do we elect them, promote them, or give them their own tv show?

There are examples of all of these that can be found. Which one you think happens more than others probably depends on who you listen to more. An average IndigenousX reader probably has a very different view on this than an average Andrew Bolt reader. But even that dichotomy isn’t clear cut. There are likely people who are reading this right now who do or say racist stuff, and there are probably Andrew bolt readers who don’t – not many, I admit, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

How does Australia respond to racist people, or people who do racist things? Do we hold them accountable? Do we condemn them, fire them from their jobs, or do we elect them, promote them, or give them their own tv show?

Australia, as a collective group of people, has competing forces and competing views. No one person best exemplifies an ‘average Aussie’, so answering the question ‘is Australia racist?’ is an almost impossible question to answer if we don’t qualify it and contextualise it.

That’s why it is such a great quote to use in media spaces, or in politics. It’s click bait. It’s a dog whistle. It means nothing but is guaranteed to cause a controversy and polarise people.

One person saying ‘Australia is not a racist country’ can mean something very different from someone else who says it. A person could be saying this to appeal to the common humanity and empathy that exists in most of us, or someone could be saying it to appeal to the fervour for racism denialism that is so strong in Australia. It can be said to dismiss lived experience, or to optimistically appeal to our greater humanity.  It’s so loaded now though (and maybe it always was) that anyone who says it, regardless of intent, will rightly be met with much eye rolling and dismissive responses. It is now the national equivalent of ‘I’m not racist but’ except it doesn’t even get a ‘but’.

And what about the ‘alarming rise in anti-white racism’ that Pauline Hanson and Mark Latham complain about? Well, that’s nonsense and we probably don’t need to spend much time on that one. It is definitely worth considering the rise in white nationalism that their racist nonsense represents though. The new trend on framing white people as the victims of racism to justify actual  racism, and how seemingly innocuous slogans like ‘It’s ok to be white’ are actually deeply embedded within white supremacist movements.

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A better question might be to look at to what extent does it exist, and how is it responded to in Australia?

Racism in Australia exists. It exists in our institutions and in our public spaces. There are those who oppose it, but there is also a lot of racism among our self-proclaimed ‘white allies’. But how do we judge whether racism is growing or shrinking in Australia?

We have more black people commenting in the mainstream media on issues that affect black people, but we also have more people dying in custody. How do you balance that on the scales? We have governments spending more than ever on Indigenous businesses, but conversations about self-determination or reparations have entirely disappeared from federal politics.

How do we balance the steps forward against the steps backwards to arrive at our answer that Australia is or isn’t a racist country? How we compare the arts against the justice system, or politics against social media? How much weight do we give to the stated intentions of white people to the stated interpretations of non-white people? But these are not homogenous groups either. There are plenty of white people who understand racism exists, and then we have some people of colour who will say that they do not believe Australia is a racist country.

Racism is insidious. It impacts on people’s health, their education, housing and employment opportunities, and their sense of self and safety living in Australia.

Racism exists within our institutions and because so many white people deny it, and so many people of colour are uncomfortable discussing it for fear of the inevitable backlash it brings, and thanks to the myth of the meritocracy, this in turn perpetuates racism within our society.

We look at Aboriginal prison rates and label Aboriginal people as criminals rather than looking at racism in policing or in sentencing. We see Aboriginal suspension rates, or low attendance rates, in school and blame Aboriginal children and parents instead of looking at our curriculum, pedagogy, and how and when school policies are enforced.

We ignore Indigenous expertise and lived experiences and instead look at Aboriginal people as a problem to be solved through ‘carrot and stick’ approaches, usually with a big stick and tiny carrot. Instead of supporting Indigenous led solutions, we get Tony Abbott as our special envoy.

Speaking of Tony, we heard him when he was PM say that Australia was ‘nothing but bush’ before white people got here, or our current PM say that Australia was ‘born’ when white people got here, but we must remember that there are entire generations of white Australians who were taught the exact same thing when they were at schools. Some of those people are now teachers themselves. Or police, or judges, or doctors or nurses.

Aboriginal people were taught the same thing in school too, at least in the past generation or two where we’ve actually been allowed to attend. What lessons did we learn in school? That we were not respected, not good enough, not smart enough, not welcome. The same lesson we learn when we here our PMs talk so disrespectfully about us.

Racism is a vicious cycle.

We know its impacts affect intergenerational trauma, but its perpetuation is intergeneration too.

Racism is insidious. It impacts on people’s health, their education, housing and employment opportunities, and their sense of self and safety living in Australia. It isn’t just words and hurt feelings.

Anti-racism isn’t just saying that you oppose racism, it’s understanding what racism is and being aware of different strategies for responding it. Anti-racism isn’t just a value, it’s a skill set.

A skill set that I would expect a Race Discrimination Commissioner for the Human Rights Commission to have.

So, when our newest appointment to this role says that he doesn’t think Australia is a racist country, it does not fill me with confidence that he has the skills, or the desire, to help make Australia an anti-racist country.


Luke Pearson is a Gamilaroi man, and is the founder and CEO of IndigenousX.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention News Alerts : National suicide data released by @ABSStats shows a 9.1% increase as Government invests more than $36 million in #suicideprevention

 

 

” The Federal Government will invest more than $36 million in national suicide prevention projects to raise awareness of the impact of suicide and to support Australians who may be at risk.

The funding, through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program, will help to deliver important awareness and stigma reduction activities, research, and leadership through variety of projects. These initiatives aim to reduce deaths by suicide across Australia.”.

Download Minister Greg Hunt Press Release with all Project Funding Part 1 Below

$36 million for national suicide prevention projects

The data released today indicates that men are still more than three times more likely to die by suicide than women, with the national suicide rates highest among men in the 30s, 40s and 50s. And while suicide rates increased across many age groups, the largest rise was among men 45-55 years in 2017.

While young people under 20 years have the lowest rate overall, suicide remains a leading cause of death for young people and the suicide rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remains unacceptably high at more than double the national suicide rate, based on the data available.

Everymind’s Director Jaelea Skehan says it is critical governments, services and the broader community come together to ensure an inclusive and proactive response to suicide. Part 2 Below

Suicide in Australia is increasing at the same time as deaths from most physical
illnesses are decreasing. We must set a target to focus Governments’ funding and the community on suicide reduction.

We should say as a nation that we want zero suicides and we are starting with a target
to reduce suicide in Australia by 25% in the next 5 years. 3,128 people died last year from a mostly preventable illness this is an outrage and it is no longer acceptable.”

Lifeline Chairman, John Brogden, today called on the Federal Government to set a
national target to achieve 25% suicide reduction over 5 years.

 ” The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference Committee invite and welcome you to Perth for the second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference, and the second World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference.

Our Indigenous communities, both nationally and internationally, share common histories and are confronted with similar issues stemming from colonisation. Strengthening our communities so that we can address high rates of suicide is one of these shared issues. The Conferences will provide more opportunities to network and collaborate between Indigenous people and communities, policy makers, and researchers. The Conferences are unique opportunities to share what we have learned and to collaborate on solutions that work in suicide prevention.

This also enables us to highlight our shared priorities with political leaders in our respective countries and communities.

Conference Website 

” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing combines mental, physical, cultural, and spiritual health of not only the individual, but the whole community. For this reason, the term “social and emotional wellbeing” is generally preferred and better understood than terms like “mental health” and “mental illness”.

Addressing social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples requires the recognition of human rights, the strength of family, and the recognition of cultural diversity – including language, kinship, traditional lifestyles, and geographical locations (urban, rural, and remote).”

READ MORE ON THIS TOPIC HERE  

 NACCHO BACKGROUND

Read over 160 NACCHO Aboriginal Mental Health Articles published over 5 yrs

Read over 140 NACCHO Suicide Prevention Articles published over 5 yrs Including

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : #ATSISPEP report and the hope of a new era in Indigenous suicide prevention

Pat Dudgeon explains why suicide rates among young Aboriginals are so high and what can be done to stem the tide.

Young Aboriginal Australians are four times more likely to commit suicide than non-indigenous Australians and in one remote community in the country’s Kimberley region, the Aboriginal suicide rate is estimated to be seven times the national average.

Experts and Aboriginal elders believe this can be attributed in part to a feeling of disconnection from the land and traditional culture and that the solution rests in restoring that, rather than solely in combatting drug and alcohol abuse. 

See Part 3 Below 

Part 1 Minister Greg Hunt Press Release 

Fifteen highly respected organisations will receive funding including Suicide Prevention Australia who will receive $1.2 million to continue its national leadership role for the suicide prevention sector.

Suicide is a national tragedy and close to 3,000 Australians take their lives each year.

One life lost to suicide is one too many.

The support I have announced today will be vitally important in helping to reduce the number of people we lose to suicide each year.

Male suicide rates are three times greater than females and the rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is around twice that of non-Indigenous people.

Awareness, prevention and intervention programs for occupations where larger numbers of men typically work will be delivered by the OzHelp Foundation and MATES in Construction to give men the confidence and support to open up and seek help for themselves, and their mates, when in need.

Funding will allow the University of Western Australia to continue critical research to ensure the best support and services are being provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people in our community.

A number of organisations, including R U OK?, Everymind, and Reach Out Australia, will receive funding for communication projects such as media and online campaigns to reduce stigma, encourage conversations and provide vital support and resources to individuals and communities at risk.

Mental Health First Aid Australia and Roses in the Ocean will receive funding to provide training, education and support for medical professionals and individuals with a lived experience of suicide.

A leadership role will be provided by Suicide Prevention Australia to build partnerships across the mental health sector and the community to change behaviour and attitudes to suicide behaviour.

The National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program was launched in 2017. This funding boost today brings the total funding for the program to $79.9 million.

The Morrison Government is committed to investing in mental health services for all Australians. It is a key pillar of our Long Term Health Plan.

In the 2018–19 Budget, mental health funding increased by $338.1 million to boost support for suicide prevention, research and programs for older Australians.

Part 2 Everymind Press Release

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the Causes of Death data for 2017, reiterating the need to renew our collective commitment to suicide prevention in Australia – as individuals, services, communities and governments.

Following a modest decrease in 2016, the latest data shows that in 2017 3,128 people died by suicide nationally, the second time that number has surpassed 3,000 in the past three years. This equates to more than eight Australians every day.

The Everymind team, through Mindframe, has worked quickly today to interpret the data and summarise it for national stakeholders, but we understand that behind every number is a person and the family and community who are grieving their loss.

The data released today indicates that men are still more than three times more likely to die by suicide than women, with the national suicide rates highest among men in the 30s, 40s and 50s. And while suicide rates increased across many age groups, the largest rise was among men 45-55 years in 2017.

While young people under 20 years have the lowest rate overall, suicide remains a leading cause of death for young people and the suicide rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remains unacceptably high at more than double the national suicide rate, based on the data available.

Everymind’s Director Jaelea Skehan says it is critical governments, services and the broader community come together to ensure an inclusive and proactive response to suicide.

“No government, service or individual should think that the lives lost to suicide in this country are acceptable. As someone who works nationally in suicide prevention and as someone that has lost family and friends to suicide, I don’t think they’re acceptable.

“It would be easy to point a finger at one thing that needs to change or improve, but this is a big issue that requires a big response.

“One life lost, one family impacted, one community grieving is one too many.”

Jaelea Skehan, Everymind Director

While rates are still lower than our last national peak in 1997, there has been an increase in suicide rates and the number of deaths over the past five years. In 2017 the national suicide rate was 12.7 per 100,000, compared to 11.8 per 100,000 in 2016.

Of the states and territories, QLD, the ACT and NSW recorded some of the largest increases in 2017, while the number of suicide deaths decreased in TAS, VIC and SA.

“We need to really look at addressing the social determinants that contribute to distress. We need to empower and build capacity across our community, ensure we have an accessible and responsive service system and better wrap-around supports for people who have been impacted,” Ms Skehan said.

For the first time the ABS has provided data relating to comorbidities, with 80% of suicides having comorbidities mentioned as contributing factors. Mood disorders (including depression) were reported in 43% of all suicides and drug and alcohol use disorders were mentioned in 29.5% of suicides.

“The data suggests that we need to connect our drug and alcohol strategy and service system to our national suicide prevention efforts,” Ms Skehan said.

“The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan for Australia includes most of the recommendations from the World Health Organisation, with the exception of alcohol reduction.”

Suicide Prevention Program Manager Marc Bryant says it’s important to remember that behind the data released today are people, families and communities who have all been impacted.

“Every life lost is a life that is valued and missed. Suicide is complex and the reasons people take their own life are complex. There is often no single reason why a person attempts or dies by suicide.”

Mr Bryant says it’s also essential we communicate about suicide safely and seek guidance when interpreting the data.

“Mindframe has been working to translate the data from the ABS quickly and accurately for several years now to provide national briefings for the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, as well as the media.

“Suicide and suicide prevention are both important issues of public concerns, but we need to make sure we talk about them in a way that is safe,” he said.

For a snapshot of the data and expert guidance on reporting on suicide please visit Mindframe.

To find out more about suicide prevention in Australia visit Life in Mind.

If you or someone you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

Part 3 Aboriginal youth suicide rates?

Pat Dudgeon explains why suicide rates among young Aboriginals are so high and what can be done to stem the tide.

Young Aboriginal Australians are four times more likely to commit suicide than non-indigenous Australians and in one remote community in the country’s Kimberley region, the Aboriginal suicide rate is estimated to be seven times the national average.

Experts and Aboriginal elders believe this can be attributed in part to a feeling of disconnection from the land and traditional culture and that the solution rests in restoring that, rather than solely in combatting drug and alcohol abuse.

Professor Pat Dudgeon, from the Bardi people of the Kimberley, was the first Aboriginal psychologist to graduate in Australia and is the woman behind Australia’s first national suicide prevention strategy that specifically targets Aboriginals.

She talks to Al Jazeera about the mental state of Australia’s indigenous youth and what can be done to battle the suicide rate.

Al Jazeera: You were the first Aboriginal psychologist to graduate in Australia. What inspired your career path?

Pat Dudgeon: Growing up as an Aboriginal person, I became increasingly aware of the social and historical disadvantage that my people had suffered. I became determined to help them.

WATCH

Australia’s Lost Generation: Battling Aboriginal Suicide

I wanted to help people with their mental health problems. Life at times can be very difficult – for some groups more than others. And I felt we needed to heal to become a happier, more positive and functional people.

Al Jazeera: Has anything changed since we spoke to you for our 2012 documentary “Australia’s Lost Generation”?

Dudgeon: Apparently, the national suicide averages have stabilised or even gone down. But for indigenous suicides, there’s been no change; it’s stayed the same and there’s still a lot of suicides happening.

However, I think there’s more awareness. There is a greater voice demanding more programmes, but that isn’t being provided as well as it could be. And also, it’s going to take a while. It’s taken us a long time to get to this point.

Canadian professor Michael Chandler used to say that high youth-suicide rates are, in a sense, the miner’s canary; it tells you that things aren’t good. It’s the sharp end of a very bad situation telling us that things aren’t good in a society. We need to work to turn it around. But for some communities, that might take a long time.

Al Jazeera: Are indigenous children at a greater risk of suffering from mental health issues than their non-indigenous peers?

Dudgeon: Indigenous Australians are twice more likely to commit suicide than other Australians. When you break it down by age groups, certainly our youth are more vulnerable to suicide.

We live in a society that is often very racist and doesn’t give them much opportunityBut there’s a whole range of different reasons why our youth are suffering from mental health issues and are taking their lives, among them an intergenerational trauma.

Youth suicide is not just an issue for Australian indigenous people but other indigenous people from Canada, the United States and New Zealand, as well. And the one thing that we have in common is the story of colonisation.

Al Jazeera: Do you believe that the high suicide rates are a result of this colonisation process?

Dudgeon: The difference between us and other Australian people is that we’ve gone through a process of colonisation. It was quite a brutal and horrible process that has disempowered indigenous people.

Often, there were genocides committed. People were forcibly removed from their countries, from their lands and put into reserves and missions.

Children were forcibly separated from families and put into institutions where they were trained to be menial workers, and so on. Aboriginal culture was looked down upon and discouraged. So, as well as colonising the lands, Aboriginal culture and people themselves were, in a sense, colonised psychologically.

That had a lasting impact. Certainly, if you’ve been removed from your family and culture, there’s a whole lot of trauma that goes with that. Sometimes, that trauma is carried down from one generation to the next, so that’s something we do need to heal from.

It’s only recently that Australia has accepted responsibility and we had the national apology given by the then-prime minister, Kevin Rudd. For us, that was a big healing moment, a very big healing moment.

But certainly I think that the “stolen generations”, as we call it when people were removed from their family, is a big issue that we need to grapple with and a lot more healing needs to happen.

Al Jazeera: What needs to be done to help people heal?

Dudgeon: We have a national healing foundation that supports and encourages people from all across the country to undertake healing programmes, enabling them to heal and to reinstate a strong, healthy culture.

We know from our own research that for a programme to be effective, the local Aboriginal community must be involved.

And there needs to be a range of different programmes: from clinical services, to back to country, to cultural programmes. And we need a whole range of different services.

We need to support our youth, listen to them, hear what their issues are. We need to make our cultures strong to ensure that the youth has opportunities – that they have people to speak to and show them a way to engage in our culture, as well.

I think we could see change in our generation if we put in place good systems that supported the Aboriginal community, gave them a whole range of different services – including encouraging and supporting local communities to be involved in any programmes. And to develop local healing and cultural programmes.

So it’s not insurmountable. But I think it requires the government to change the way it views Aboriginal communities and their right to self-governing.

Al Jazeera: Why is the local approach so important?

Dudgeon: For a lot of Aboriginal people, or any person really, one of the things I’ve seen as a mental health professional is the emergence of the consumer movement. People who are consumers of mental health services now have a voice.

To improve a service, those who will be using it need to be actively involved in deciding what it should be and how it should be delivered. So, if you empower people, the change will be much more effective than if they’re just receiving through some professional high up, an outsider who doesn’t really understand the issue.

This applies to either indigenous or non-indigenous people, but particularly for indigenous people because of their history of colonisation.

Al Jazeera: What’s being done to help communities and individuals tackle mental health issues?

Dudgeon: There are a lot of programmes, including Gatekeeper Training that helps people identify the signs or symptoms of possible suicide and suggest strategies on how to deal with that.

Usually, people from within the community are also asked to go and see someone if there are concerns.

I think in today’s society, both indigenous and non-indigenous, we’re much more comfortable talking about suicide, addressing it and helping each other.

It was a very taboo subject some years ago. But now it’s OK to say that you’ve got problems. It’s OK to talk about it and to go and seek help. I think it’s good that we’re moving in that direction.

Suicide isn’t just indigenous, it’s mainstream, as well. So, if we are all conscious about our mental health, acknowledge that different groups need different solutions and different approaches, and do our bit to ensure that everyone is healthy, that’s an important first step

Al Jazeera: Could you tell us more about different suicide prevention programmes that are needed?

Dudgeon: There needs to be a whole range of different projects. When we started the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander suicide evaluation project, we looked at the different types of services needed.

When people are very unhealthy they might need clinics that can provide urgent care, they might also need medication. So, you need programmes that can provide immediate relief.

You also need programmes that can help them build resilience and strengthen their culture.

The main message that came through at the round tables that we undertook across Australia was that people were saying, “We need to build up our resilience.” And the big thing that everyone was concerned about was self-determination. That Aboriginal people, or indigenous people themselves need to be in charge of any developments in the community.

According to some research done in Canada looking at First councils tribes, those with low suicide rates had a higher level of self-determination and cultural reclamation. So, those are important factors for indigenous suicide prevention. Feeling like you belong and you’ve got a future is important and empowering for any human being.

Al Jazeera: How do you empower communities and people?

Dudgeon: I was involved in a project called, “The National Empowerment Project”. It started in response to the suicides that were happening, so we developed a programme to help build a relationship with the communities we wanted to engage with us.

The communities chose people, we trained them as co-researchers, and then, they went and asked everyone in their community, what were the main issues and what were the solutions. And after, that we reported our findings to each of the communities.

We developed a programme from all those consultations called “the Cultural, Social and Emotional Wellbeing Project”. It’s basically from an indigenous point of view, so it’s very much about indigenous wellbeing, culture and self-awareness.

The funding is provided by the government, and it enables people to deal with mental health issues and come up with psychological strategies, as well as strategies to navigate normal challenges of life. It also stresses the importance of elders and culture in a community. So, it’s all about self-awareness and cultural strength.

Al Jazeera: Is there any specific case that has stuck with you throughout the years?

Dudgeon: Yes. When we organised a big suicide prevention conference in Alice Springs, we decided to have it in Central Australia. There was a community that had suffered a high number of suicides.

They were giving a bursary for a couple of them to go to Alice Springs and attend the conference. But instead, they used that bursary to hire a bus for 12-15 people to go from Leonora all the way to Alice Springs, and they stopped in other communities along the way to exchange stories with them.

That stuck with me and it illustrates that the community is concerned about the high suicide rate, they will take action, and they’re determined to try and address things themselves.

Al Jazeera: Do you believe that this increased awareness can reduce the suicide numbers?

Dudgeon: I do get concerned that perhaps not enough funding is being put into Aboriginal communities and that’s probably where the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention comes in.

I’m the director of the centre, and we’re setting up a clearinghouse with all the best practice programmes and services for indigenous suicide prevention. There will also be a lot of advice for communities. So, if they want to develop a programme and have it evaluated, they’ll be able to come to our website for that.

We can provide good strategies and when communities do get funded, they’ll be able to look at what’s happening on our website and connect with other programmes that they might think will be useful for themselves – in their own time, in their own way.

Australia's Lost Generation: Battling Aboriginal Suicide

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Australia’s Lost Generation: Battling Aboriginal Suicide