NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Food security #IndigenousNCDs : Welfare reform is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people impoverishing them and resulting in the consumption of unhealthy foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases

What national and average Closing the Gap figures do not tell us is just how badly the estimated 170,000 Indigenous people in remote and very remote Australia are faring. This region where I focus my work covers 86 per cent of the Australian continent.

In the last decade new race-based instruments have been devised to regulate Indigenous people including their forms of expenditure (via income management), forms of working via the Community Development Programme (CDP) and their places of habitation, where they might access basic citizenship services.

All these measures have implications for consumption of market commodities, including food from shops, and of customary non-market goods, including food from the bush.

Owing to deep poverty, many people can only purchase relatively cheap and unhealthy takeaway foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases, like acute heart and kidney disorders, followed by lung cancer from smoking.

With income management Aboriginal people are being coerced to shop at stores according to the government’s rhetoric for their ‘food security’. Before the introduction of this regime many more people were exercising their ‘food sovereignty’ right to harvest far healthier foods from the bush.

Extracts from Jon Altman a research professor in anthropology at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, Melbourne.

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A version of this article was first published in the Land Rights News

READ over 5 Articles NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Nutrition 

READ Articles NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Welfare Card 

” NACCHO is strongly opposed to the current cashless debit card trials as well as any proposal to expand. We also note that Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by the trials and that they are in and proposed for locations where the majority participants are Aboriginal. Whilst it is not the stated intent of the trials, its impact is discriminatory.

NACCHO knows that some Aboriginal people and communities need additional support to better manage their lives and ensure that income support funds are used more effectively.

However, NACCHO is firmly of the view that there are significantly better, more cost efficient, alternative approaches that support improvements in Aboriginal wellbeing and positive decision making.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services would be well placed to develop and implement alternative programs. We firmly believe that addressing the ill health of Aboriginal people, including the impacts of alcohol, drug and gambling related harm, can only be achieved by local Aboriginal people controlling health care delivery.

We know that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a genuine say over our lives, the issues that impact on us and can develop our own responses, there is a corresponding improvement in wellbeing. This point is particularly relevant given that the majority of trial participants are Aboriginal. “

Selected extracts from Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018 

Download HERE 

NACCHO submission on cashless debit card final

As is the case in many countries, Indigenous people in Australia, New Zealand, United States of America and Canada are disproportionately affected by NCDs.

Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer,  smoking related lung disease and mental health conditions are the five main NCDs identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and these are almost uniformly experienced by Indigenous peoples at higher rates than other people.

Indigenous people globally are disproportionately affected by diabetes. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 6 times more likely than the non-Indigenous population to die from diabetes. In Canada, Indigenous peoples are 3-5 times more likely to have diabetes than other citizens.

Indigenous people are also more likely to have Cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease accounts for almost a quarter of the mortality gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. Maori people are 3-4.2 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than other people in New Zealand.

These numbers are not improving, despite national rates of smoking decreasing, and increased social marketing aimed at reducing sugar consumption and increasing physical activity.

Mainstream solutions do little to reduce the burden of NCDs for Indigenous populations. The broader social determinants of health have a huge role to play, and until these are addressed in a meaningful way, Indigenous peoples will continue to experience an inequitable burden.

With colonisation having had a devastating impact on Indigenous peoples, and mainstream solutions unable to significantly reduce the rates of NCDs experienced by Indigenous peoples, a new paradigm is urgently required.

What is required is not more state based solutions but Indigenous led solutions.

Summer May Finlay Croakey 

Welfare reform is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people impoverishing them and resulting in the consumption of unhealthy foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases

Rome (Canberra) continues to fiddle while Black Australia burns. Professor Jon Altman weighs in on the ongoing disasters of government policy that have a tight grip on remote living Indigenous people.

In the last month I participated in two workshops. I used what I observed on my latest visit to Arnhem Land and what people were telling me to inform what I presented at the workshops.

The first workshop explored issues around excessive consumption by industrialised societies globally and how this is harming human health and destroying the planet. Workshop participants asked how such ‘consumptogenic’ systems might be regulated for the global good? My job was to provide a case study from my research on consumption by Indigenous people in remote Australia.

The second workshop looked at welfare reform in the last decade in remote Indigenous Australia. In this workshop I looked at how welfare reform by the Australian state after the NT Intervention was creatively destroying the economy and lifeways of groups in Arnhem Land who are looking to live on their lands and off its natural resources.

Here I want to share some of what I said.

BROADLY speaking Indigenous policy in remote Australia is looking to do two things.

The first is to Close the Gaps so that Indigenous Australians can one future day have the same socio-economic status as other Australians. In remote Australia this goal is linked to the project to ‘Develop the North’ via a combination of opening Aboriginal communities and lands to more market capitalism and extraction, purportedly for the improvement of disadvantaged Indigenous peoples and land owners.

While remote-living Indigenous people have economic and social justice rights to vastly improved wellbeing, in such scenarios of future economic equality based on market capitalism, the downsides of what I think of as ‘consumptomania’ are never mentioned.

The second aim of policy is the extreme regulation of Indigenous people and their behaviour, when deemed unacceptable. In a punitive manifestation of neoliberal governmentality, the Australian state, and its nominated agents, are looking to morally restructure Indigenous people to transform them into model citizens: hard-working, individualistic, highly educated, nationally mobile at least in pursuit of work (not alcohol), and materially acquisitive.

This paternalistic project of improvement makes no concessions whatsoever to cultural difference, colonial history of neglect, connection to country, discrimination, and so on.

In the last decade new race-based instruments have been devised to regulate Indigenous people including their forms of expenditure (via income management), forms of working via the Community Development Programme (CDP) and their places of habitation, where they might access basic citizenship services.

All these measures have implications for consumption of market commodities, including food from shops, and of customary non-market goods, including food from the bush.

We have all heard the bad news, year after year, report after report, that the government-imposed project of improvement, called ‘Closing the Gap’ and introduced by Kevin Rudd in 2008, is failing.

Using the government’s own statistics, after 10 years only one target, year 12 attainment, might be on track. I say ‘might’ because ‘attainment’ is open to multiple interpretations: is attainment just about attendance or about gaining useful life skills?

What national and average Closing the Gap figures do not tell us is just how badly the estimated 170,000 Indigenous people in remote and very remote Australia are faring. This region where I focus my work covers 86 per cent of the Australian continent.

What we are seeing in this massive part of Australia according to the latest census are the very lowest employment/population ratios of about 30 per cent for Indigenous adults (against 80% for non-Indigenous adults) and the deepest poverty, more than 50 per cent of people in Indigenous households currently live below the poverty line.

This is also paradoxically where Indigenous people have most land and native title rights, a recent estimate suggests that 43 per cent of the continent has some form of indigenous title; and is dotted with maybe 1000 small Indigenous communities with a total population of 100,000 at most.

Native title rights and interests give people an unusual and generally unregulated right to use natural resources for domestic consumption.

This form of consumption might include hunting kangaroos or feral animals like the estimated 100,000 wild buffalo in Arnhem Land.

Such hunting is good for health because the meat is lean and fresh; it is also good for the environment because buffalo eat about 30kg of vegetation a day and are environmentally destructive; and it is good for global cooling because each buffalo emits methane with a carbon equivalent value of about two tonnes per annum.

The legal challenge of gaining native title rights and interests is that claimants must demonstrate continuity of customs and traditions and connection to their claimed country. But in remote Australia, culture and tradition have been identified as a key element of the problem that is exacerbating social dysfunction. (That is unless tradition appears as fine art ‘high culture’ which is imagined to be unrelated to the everyday culture and is a favourite item for consumption by metropolitan elites.)

Hence the project of behavioural modification to eradicate Indigenous cultures that exhibit problematic characteristics, like sharing and a focus on kinship and reciprocity, to be replaced by western culture with its high consumption, individualistic and materially acquisitive characteristics.

Connection to country, at least if it involves living on it, is also deemed highly problematic by the Australian state if one wants to produce western educated, home-owning, properly disciplined neoliberal subjects — terra nulliusis now to be replaced by terra vacua, empty land.

Such empty land would be ripe for resource extraction and capitalist accumulation by dispossession Despite all the talk of mining on Aboriginal land, there are currently very few operating mines on the Indigenous estate. This is imagined as one means to Develop the North, but recent history suggests that the long-term benefits to Aboriginal land owners from such development will be limited.

MUCH of what I describe above in general terms resonates with what I have observed in Arnhem Land where I have visited regularly since the Intervention; and what I hear from Aboriginal people and colleagues working elsewhere in remote Indigenous Australia.

From 2007 to 2012 all communities in Arnhem Land were prescribed under NT Intervention laws. Since 2012, under Stronger Futures laws legislated in force until 2022, the Aboriginal population has continued to be subject to a new hyper-regulatory regime: income management, government-licenced stores, modern slavery-like compulsory work for welfare, enhanced policing, unimaginable levels of electronic and police surveillance, school attendance programs and so on.

The limited availability of mainstream work in this region as elsewhere means that most adults of working age receive their income from the new Community Development Program introduced in 2015. Weekly income is limited to Newstart ($260) for which one must meet a work requirement of five hours a day, five days a week if aged 18-49 years and able-bodied.

Of this paltry income, 50 per cent is quarantined for spending at stores where prices are invariably high, owing to remoteness.

The main aim of such paternalism is to reduce expenditure on tobacco and alcohol which cannot be purchased with the BasicsCard.

Shop managers that I have interviewed tell me that despite steep tax-related price rises (a pack of Winfield blue costs nearly $30) tobacco demand is inelastic and sales have not declined.

Since the year 2000, Noel Pearson has popularised his metaphor ‘welfare poison’. Pearson is referring figuratively to what he sees as the negative impacts of long-term welfare dependence. In Arnhem Land welfare is literally a form of poison because in the name of ‘food security’ people are forced to purchase foods they can afford with low nutritional value from ‘licenced’ stores.

However, paternalistic licencing to allow stores to operate the government-imposed BasicsCard is not undertaken equitably by officials from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

So one sees large, long-standing, community-owned and operated and mainly Indigenous staffed stores being rigorously regulated, managers argue over-regulated. Such stores are highly visible, as are their accounts.

But small private-sector operators (staffed mainly by temporary visa holders and backpackers) that have been established as the regional economy has been prised open to the free market appear under-regulated, even though they are also ‘licenced’ to operate the BasicsCard.

These private sector operators compete very effectively with community-owned enterprises because they only have a focus on commerce: all the profits they make and most of the wages they pay non-local staff leave the region.

Owing to deep poverty, many people can only purchase relatively cheap and unhealthy takeaway foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases, like acute heart and kidney disorders, followed by lung cancer from smoking.

With income management Aboriginal people are being coerced to shop at stores according to the government’s rhetoric for their ‘food security’. Before the introduction of this regime many more people were exercising their ‘food sovereignty’ right to harvest far healthier foods from the bush.

This dramatic transformation has occurred as an unusual form of regional economy that involved a high level of customary activity has been effectively destroyed by the dominant government view that only prioritises engagement in market capitalism — that is largely absent in this region.

On one hand, we now see the most able-bodied hunters required to work for the dole every week day with their energies directed from what they do best.

On the other hand, the greatly enhanced police presence is resulting simultaneously in people being deprived of their basic equipment for hunting — guns and trucks — regularly impounded because they are unregistered or their users unlicenced.

People are being increasingly isolated from their ancestral lands and their hunting grounds.

Excessive policing, growing poverty, dependency and anomie are seeing criminality escalate with expensive fines for minor misdemeanours further impoverishing people and reducing their ability to purchase either more expensive healthy foods or the means to acquire bush foods.

A virtuous production cycle that until the Intervention saw much ‘bush food consumption’ has been disastrously reversed. Today, we see a vicious cycle where people regularly report hunger while living in rich Australia; people’s health status is declining.

Welfare reform and Indigeneity is indeed a toxic mix, poison, in remote regions like Arnhem Land.

I WANT to end with some more general conclusions.

On the regulation of Indigenous expenditure, we see a perverse policy intervention: the Australian government is committing what are sometimes referred to as Type 1 and Type 2 errors.

The former sees the government looking to regulate Indigenous consumption using the expensive instrument of income management that has cost over $1.2 billion to date, despite no evidence that it makes a difference.

The latter sees an absence of the proper regulation of supply in licences stores evident when stores with names like ‘The Good Food Kitchen’ sell cheap unhealthy take-aways.

In my view the racially-targeted and crude attempts to regulate Indigenous expenditure are unacceptable on social justice grounds.

Two principles as articulated by Guy Standing stand out.

‘The security difference principle’ suggests that a policy is only socially just if it improves the [food]security of the most insecure in society. Income management and work for the dole do not do this.

And ‘the paternalism test’ suggests that a policy like income management would only be socially just if it does not impose controls on some groups that are not imposed on the most-free groups in society.

Paternalistic governmentality in remote Australia is imposing tight regulatory frameworks on some people, even though the justifying ideology suggests that markets should be free and unregulated.

Sociologist Loic Wacquant in  Punishing the Poor shows how the carceral state in the USA punishes the poor with criminalisation and imprisonment; the poor there happen to be mainly black.

In Australia, punitive neoliberalism punishes those remote living Aboriginal people who happen to be poor and dependent on the state.

Once again there is a perversity in policy implementation.

Hence in Arnhem Land, people maintain strong vestiges of a hunter-gatherer subjectivity that when combined with deep poverty makes them avid consumers of western commodities that are bad for health (like tobacco that is expensive and fatty, sugary takeaway food that is relatively cheap).

At the same time commodities that might be useful to improve health, like access to guns and trucks essential for modern hunting, are rendered unavailable by a combination of poverty and excessive policing.

Australian democracy that is founded on notions of liberalism needs to be held to account for such travesties.

Long ago in 1859, John Stuart Mill, the doyen of liberals, wrote in  On Liberty: “…despotism is a legitimate form of government in dealing with barbarians, providing the end be their improvement and the means justified by actually effecting that end”.

In illiberal Australia today, authoritarian controls over remote living Indigenous people and their behaviour are again viewed as legitimate by the powerful now neoliberal state, even though there is growing evidence from remote Australia that things are getting worse.

I want to end with some suggested antidotes to the toxic mix that has resulted from welfare reform that is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people and impoverishing them.

First, in my view despotism for some is never legitimate, so people should be treated equally irrespective of their ethnicity or structural circumstances.

Second, the Community Development Programme is a coercive disaster that is far more effective at breaching and penalising the jobless for not complying with excessive requirements than in creating jobs. CDP is further impoverishing people and should be replaced, especially in places where there are no jobs, with unconditional basic income support.

Third, people need to be empowered to find their own solutions to the complex challenges of appropriate development that accord with their aspirations, norms, values, and lifeways. Devolutionary principles of self-government and community control, not big government and centralised control, are needed.

Fourth, the native title of remote living people should be protected to ensure that they benefit from all their rights and interests. There is no point in legally allocating property rights in natural resources valuable for self-provisioning if people are effectively excluded from access to their ancestral lands and the enjoyment of these resources.

Finally, governments should support what has worked in the past to improve people’s diverse culturally-informed views about wellbeing and sense of worth.

While such an approach might not close some imposed ‘closing the gap’ targets, like employment as measured by standard western metrics, it will likely improve other important goals like reducing child mortality and enhancing life expectancy and overall quality of life.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Download @CSIROnews #FutureofHealth Report that provides a new path for national healthcare delivery, setting a way forward to shift the system from illness treatment, to #prevention.

Australians rank amongst the healthiest in the world with our health system one of the most efficient and equitable. However, the nation’s strong health outcomes hide a few alarming facts: 

  • There is a 10-year life expectancy gap between the health of non-Indigenous Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Australians spend on average 11 years in ill health – the highest among OECD countries
  • 63% (over 11 million) of adult Australians are considered overweight or obese
  • 60% of the adult population have low levels of literacy 
  • The majority of Australians do not consume the recommended number of serves from any of the five food groups.

From CSIRO Future of Health report

Download HERE full 60 Page Report NACCHO INFO FutureofHealthReport_WEB_180910

The CSIRO Future of Health report provides a list of recommendations for improving the health of Australians over the next 15 years, focussed around five central themes: empowering people, addressing health inequity, unlocking the value of digitised data, supporting integrated and precision health solutions, and integrating with the global sector.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said collaboration and coordination were key to securing the health of current and future generations in Australia, and across the globe.

“It’s hard to find an Australian who hasn’t personally benefitted from something we created, including some world’s first health innovations like atomic absorption spectroscopy for diagnostics; greyscale imaging for ultrasound, the flu vaccine (Relenza); the Hendra vaccine protecting both people and animals; even the world’s first extended-wear contact lenses,” Dr Marshall said.

“As the world is changing faster than ever before, we’re looking to get ahead of these changes by bringing together Team Australia’s world-class expertise, from all sectors, and the life experiences of all Australians to set a bold direction towards a brighter future.”

The report highlighted that despite ranking among the healthiest people in the world, Australians spent on average of 11 years in ill health – the highest among OECD countries.

Clinical care was reported to influence only 20 per cent of a person’s life expectancy and quality of life, with the remaining 80 per cent relying on external factors such as behaviour, social and economic support, and the physical environment.

“As pressure on our healthcare system increases, costs escalate, and healthy choices compete with busier lives, a new approach is needed to ensure the health and wellbeing of Australians,” CSIRO Director of Health & Biosecurity Dr Rob Grenfell said.

The report stated that the cost of managing mental health related illness to be $60 billion annually, with a further $5 billion being spent on managing costs associated with obesity.

Health inequities across a range of social, economic, and cultural measures were found to cost Australia almost $230 billion a year.

“Unless we shift our approach to healthcare, a rising population and increases in chronic illnesses such as obesity and mental illness, will add further strain to the system,” Dr Grenfell said.

“By shifting to a system focussed on proactive health management and prevention, we have an exciting opportunity to provide quality healthcare that leaves no-one behind.

“How Australia navigates this shift over the next 15 years will significantly impact the health of the population and the success of Australian healthcare organisations both domestically and abroad.”

CSIRO has been continuing to grow its expertise within the health domain and is focussed on research that will help Australians live healthier, longer lives.

The Future of Health report was developed by CSIRO Futures, the strategic advisory arm of CSIRO.

More than 30 organisations across the health sector were engaged in its development, including government, health insurers, educators, researchers, and professional bodies.

Australia’s health challenges:

  • Australians spend on average 11 years in ill health – the highest among OECD countries.
  • 63 per cent (over 11 million) of adult Australians are considered overweight or obese.
  • There is a 10-year life expectancy gap between the health of non-Indigenous Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • 60 per cent of the adult population have low levels of health literacy.
  • The majority of Australians do not consume the recommended number of serves from any of the five food groups.

The benefits of shifting the system from treatment to prevention:

  • Improved health outcomes and equity for all Australians.
  • Greater system efficiencies that flatten the cost curve of health financing.
  • More impactful and profitable business models.
  • Creation of new industries based on precision and preventative health.
  • More sustainable and environmentally friendly healthcare practices.
  • More productive workers leading to increased job satisfaction and improved work-life balance.

More info : www.csiro.au/futureofhealth

NACCHO Aboriginal Health supports our First Nations Media @FNMediaAust #OurMediaMatters Campaign : Download nine calls for action that the Government needs to address

We are asking Governments to be part of growing and sustaining our sector for the benefit of First Nations peoples as well as developing greater understanding of our cultures for the benefit of non- Indigenous Australia

Our national network includes more than 40 organisations that service 235 broadcast locations. Collectively those radio services reach nearly 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country with audiences of around 320,000 listeners each week

We are producing and broadcasting content in over twenty languages. We’ve been making media through film, television, radio and print for more than four decades and in recent years diversified to on-line platforms.

People watch and listen and interact because our media tell positive stories about First Nations people relevant to their community and lives, and in many places, it’s in their first language.

Our media engages our audiences in a two-way dialogue that is both culturally appropriate and relevant.

Our media is an essential service, particularly in the many areas across Australia where it is the only means of receiving emergency information and health messages, including local languages.

Our media saves lives in the immediate sense as a primary source of information, but also through the stories we tell and the impact those stories have on our people’s social and emotional wellbeing.

That’s why our media has impact and that’s why we want Governments to recognise that our media matters.

First Nations Media Australia chair Dot West

#OurMediaMatters was the message First Nations media organisations from around the country  took directly to politicians and policy makers in Canberra this week from Monday 20 August .

FNMA’s goals in calling for action are to close the gap on disadvantage, to inform, connect and empower communities, to provide meaningful jobs, skills and business opportunities, and to provide our children with opportunities, a strong sense of identity, inclusion and pride in their languages and culture.

Download the full call to action

Calls-For-Action-2018-Consolidated-CFA-Documents

Peak body First Nations Media Australia (FNMA) showcased the work of member organisations and how First Nations media services play a crucial role in increasing community cohesion, building community resilience and creating meaningful employment and economic opportunity

Picture below 2017 Conference

The Festival theme was Lutjurringkulala Nintiringama Ngapartji Ngapartji meaning ‘come together to learn and share’.

Over 100 delegates travelled the long red desert highway to be welcomed to Country, culture, big night skies and Tjukurrpa by Irrunytju traditional owners and community leaders. The opening ceremony featured a Turlku (dance) performance of the Minyma Kutjara (Two Sisters) story that passes Irrunytju community. The week-long event affirmed the remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media industry as a powerful and connected voice for generations to come.

Broadcasters

Imparja Television

Indigenous Community Television (ICTV)

National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS)

National Indigenous Television (NITV)

Broadband for the Bush Alliance

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)

Australian Smart Communities Association

Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association

Central Desert Shire Council

Central Land Council (CLC)

Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT)

Centre for Remote Health (CRH)

Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA)

Ethos Global Foundation

Frontier Services

Indigenous Remote Communications Association

Infoxchange

Mid West Development Commission

National Centre of Indigenous Excellence

National Rural Health Alliance

Ninti One

Regional Development Australia, Northern Territory

Remote Area Planning and Development (RAPAD)

Swinburne Institute for Social Research

TelSoc

FNMA has identified nine calls for action to Government that address four key aims

  • To increase jobs and skills
  • To improve the sector’s capacity and sustainability
  • To enhance social inclusion, and
  • To preserve culture and language.

Some of the calls for action are budget neutral and simply ask for policy amendments to recognise First Nations broadcasters as a separate license category under the Broadcasting Services Act.

  1. Broadcasting Act Reform for First Nations Broadcasting. Download
  2. Increase in Operational and Employment Funding. Download
  3. Live and Local Radio Expansion Program. Download
  4. Strengthening of First Nations News Services. Download
  5. Expanding Training and Career Pathway Programs. Download
  6. Upgrading Infrastructure and Digital Networks. Download
  7. Recognising First Nations Broadcasters as the Preferred Channel for Government Messaging. Download
  8. Preserving First Nations Media Archives. Download
  9. Establishing an Annual Content Production Fund. Download

Other calls for action would require a funding commitment, for example to underpin First Nations media capacity to act as training and employment hubs.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and local #Adoption : @CAACongress @SNAICC and @AbSecNSW streamed live today August 14 from Canberra , public hearing local adoption : Plus @AMSANTaus full submission

 

We are aware that this Inquiry was called in the wake of recent media coverage relating to the issue of adoption of Aboriginal children, including the Minister’s own comments that adoption policies should be changed to allow more Aboriginal children to be adopted by non-Aboriginal families.

AMSANT would like to emphasise the importance of informed discussion on this issue and draws the Committee’s attention to the following, put forward in March of this year as part of a joint statement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in response to media coverage:

We need to have a more rational and mature discussion aimed at achieving better social, community, family and individual outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. We must work to ensure that the drivers of child protection intervention are addressed, rather than continuing with a poorly designed and resourced system that reacts when it’s too late, after families have already reached breaking point and children have been harmed1

See Full AMSANT Submission Part 2 Below

 

“As detailed in our submission, AbSec is strongly opposed to the coerced adoption of Aboriginal children by statutory child protection systems. Adoption orders are characterised by the absence of key safeguards to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children.

They fail to uphold an Aboriginal child’s fundamental rights to family, community and culture, and the importance of these connections to our life long wellbeing and resilience. They are not in the best interests of our children.

In particular, it must be noted that past policies of the forced separation of Aboriginal children and young people from their families, communities, culture and Country is regarded as a key contributor to this ongoing over-representation. It is not a solution.

AbSec, alongside QATSICPP and SNAAICC, call for the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led approaches to the care of our children “

ABSEC Submission Download Here

ABSEC Adoption submission

SNAICC Submission Download Here

Snaicc Adoption submission

 Part 1 Next public hearing for local adoption inquiry

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs will hold a public hearing into a nationally consistent framework for local adoption in Australia.

The Committee will hear from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care – National Voice for our Children (also known as SNAICC), and the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (NSW) (also known as AbSec).

A detailed program for the hearing is available from the inquiry webpage (www.aph.gov.au/localadoption).

Public hearing details: Tuesday 14 August, 4.40pm (approx) to 6.00pm, Committee Room 1R2, Parliament House, Canberra

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

SNAICC (Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care) – National Voice for our Children

AbSec – the Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (NSW)

The hearings will be streamed live in audio format at aph.gov.au/live.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the hearing however there will be limited seating available.

Further information about the inquiry, including the terms of reference and submissions published so far, is available on the inquiry webpage.

Part 2 AMSANT submission to The Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs: Inquiry into local adoption

AMSANT welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the Inquiry into Local Adoption. As the peak body for the community controlled Aboriginal primary health care sector in the Northern Territory AMSANT advocates for equity in health, focusing on supporting the provision of high quality comprehensive primary health care services for Aboriginal communities.

This submission provides an overview of AMSANT’s position in relation to Aboriginal children in Child Protection, including Out of Home Care (OOHC) and potential adoption, and also responds directly to Terms of Reference 1 and 2 of the Inquiry.

Overview

AMSANT embraces a social and cultural determinants of health perspective which recognises that health and wellbeing are profoundly affected by a range of interacting economic, social and cultural factors. Accordingly, we advocate for a holistic and child-centred approach to Child Protection that seeks first and foremost to address the underlying causes of abuse and neglect through prevention and early intervention.

We are aware that this Inquiry was called in the wake of recent media coverage relating to the issue of adoption of Aboriginal children, including the Minister’s own comments that adoption policies should be changed to allow more Aboriginal children to be adopted by non-Aboriginal families.

AMSANT would like to emphasise the importance of informed discussion on this issue and draws the Committee’s attention to the following, put forward in March of this year as part of a joint statement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in response to media coverage:

We need to have a more rational and mature discussion aimed at achieving better social, community, family and individual outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. We must work to ensure that the drivers of child protection intervention are addressed, rather than continuing with a poorly designed and resourced system that reacts when it’s too late, after families have already reached breaking point and children have been harmed1.

As captured in this statement it is essential that efforts to improve outcomes for children and families in contact with the Child Protection System stem from an understanding that abuse and neglect of children are most often the result of deeper family conflict or dysfunction, arising from social, economic and/or psychological roots.

In cases where children do need to be removed from family, decisions about what kind of placement, including adoption, is most appropriate for that child should occur in line with the following principles:

 Child-centred approach that allows for children to have a say in decisions that affect them

 OOHC for Aboriginal children delivered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Services (ACCSs)

 Adoption of a set of national standards for the rights of children in care

 Maintaining connection to family, community, culture and country, including prioritising adoption by extended family or if that is not possible, Aboriginal families who are not related.

 Improved support for kinship carers

1 See full statement here: http://www.snaicc.org.au/snaicc-statement-14-march-2018-joint-statement-aboriginal-torres-strait-islander-leaders-recent-media-coverage-around-child-protection-children/ Inquiry into local adoption

Stability and permanency for children in out-of-home care with local adoption as a viable option

Transition of OOHC to Aboriginal Community Control

Evidence clearly demonstrates that culturally competent services lead to increased access to services by Aboriginal children and their families2. Aboriginal led and managed services are well-placed to overcome the many barriers that exist for Aboriginal families and children to access services3, such as:

 a lack of understanding of the OOHC system and how to access advice and support;

 a mistrust of mainstream legal, medical, community and other support services;

 an understanding of the cultural or community pressures not to seek support, in particular perceptions of many Aboriginal families that any contact with the service system will result in the removal of their child4.

As the evaluation of child and family service delivery through the Communities for Children program identifies, “Indigenous specific services offer Indigenous families a safe, comfortable, culturally appropriate environment that is easier to access and engage with.”5 In addition, they are also going to be better at locating, training and supporting Aboriginal foster carers. This provides the opportunity to increase the quality of OOHC for Aboriginal children at significant lesser cost than the current “professional” foster care arrangements that are too often being put in place for Aboriginal children.

Following the lead of NSW, who in 2012 commenced a process of transfer to community control, there is a project currently being undertaken by the Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT), in collaboration with the NT Government, to develop a strategy for the transition of OOHC to Aboriginal community control in the NT. Victoria has also confirmed that all OOHC service provision for Aboriginal children and families will be provided by community controlled services, with Queensland and Western Australia both exploring similar shifts.

AMSANT supports APO NT’s vision that Aboriginal children and young people in out of home care, as a priority, are placed with Kinship or Aboriginal foster carers and supported to retain culture, identity and language.

Strengthening the voice of children in decisions that affect them

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states; “Children have the right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account” 6.

There is a need for Child Protection proceedings to be more responsive to the child’s aspirations and needs. An approach taken in Family Law known as child-inclusive family dispute resolution has been shown to produce better outcomes for families with parenting disputes, including greater stability of care and contact patterns, and greater contentment of children with those arrangements7. Central to this approach is the use of an independent, specially trained child health professional to conduct interviews before any decision is made about them.

There is no reason why a similar approach couldn’t be taken in terms of long term care arrangements for children but with specific provisions for continuing contact with family and community.

Maintaining connection with family, kin and country

In line with international convention, Aboriginal children and families have the right to enjoy their cultures in community with their cultural groups (UNCRC, article 30; UNDRIP, articles 11-13). This right has been enshrined in these conventions to reflect the wealth of evidence that show culture, language and connection to country are protective factors for at-risk communities8.

The Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Placement Principle (ATSIPP) has been developed to ensure recognition of the value of culture and the vital role of Aboriginal children, families and communities to participate in decisions about the safety and wellbeing of children.

Despite the commitment from all States and Territories to fully implement this principle under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, in 2015 only 34.7% of Aboriginal children in the NT were placed in care in accordance with the Child Placement principle, compared with a national average of 65.6%, and only 3.3% of children were placed with relatives or kin, compared with 48.8% at the national average9.

This reflects the need for better practice relating to kinship care in the NT including;

– early identification of kinship networks when the child first comes to the attention of Child Protection, rather than when a crisis point has been reached;

– increased access to supports and training for kinship carers (see below);

– support services to birth parents to strengthen the option for reunification;

– development of cultural support plans for all Aboriginal children to ensure meaningful connection to family, culture and community is maintained.

Improved support for kinship carers

A lack of adequate support for kinship carers can contribute to placement breakdown, and escalation for children and young people in the statutory OOHC system, including entry into residential care.

Conversely, home based care and placement stability are associated with a range of better health, education, economic and wellbeing outcomes.

Improved access to the following would support kinship carers in maintaining more stable placements for the children in their care:

– Ensure a comprehensive assessment of the child has been conducted and a care plan, incorporating cultural supports for Aboriginal children, is developed and fully implemented.

– Ensure access to training courses across a broad range of issues (parenting solutions, behavioural management, understanding and responding to trauma etc.)

– Increased financial support to bring payments in line with foster carers.

It is important to note that even for many long-term, stable care arrangements, including for children in kinship care, adoption may not be seen as a viable option due to the loss of supports that would be incurred in transitioning from ‘carer’ to ‘parent’.

In this way it is clear that the type of placement reflects neither stability and permanency nor wellbeing for the child, but rather the particular vulnerabilities and needs of the child and their carer. Adequately meeting these needs should remain the paramount focus of any efforts to create stable, loving homes for children in care.

Appropriate guiding principles for a national framework or code for local adoptions within Australia

In order to ensure that the rights and needs of the child remain central to all Care and Protection operations, AMSANT advocates that Australia adopt a set of national standards that set out the rights of children in care, which would be modelled on the Council of Europe’s 2005 Recommendation on the Rights of Children Living in Residential Institutions10.

This recommendations sets out a list of basic principles, specific rights of children living in residential institutions and guidelines and quality standards in view of protecting the rights of children living in residential institutions, irrespective of the reasons for and the nature of the placement. It advocates that the placement of a child should remain the exception and that the placement must guarantee full enjoyment of the child’s fundamental rights.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Obesity NEWS : 1.Network Submission to the Select Committee’s #Obesity Epidemic in Australia Inquiry and our 13 recommendations: 2.Healthy Food Partnership Survey

 

” The 2012-13 Health Survey identified that Indigenous adults were 1.6 times as likely to be obese as non-Indigenous Australians, with the prevalence increasing more rapidly in Aboriginal school-aged children.

Overweight and obesity in childhood are important predictors of adult adiposity, increasing the risk of developing a range of medical conditions, each of which is a major cause of morbidity, mortality and health expenditure.

While it is surprisingly clear what needs to be done to improve the health of Indigenous children, recent cuts to Indigenous preventative workforce and nutrition programs throughout Australia have severely reduced the capacity to respond.

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

Closing the Gap, including the gap attributable to obesity, requires ensuring the ACCHS sector is resourced to deliver the full range of core services required under a comprehensive and culturally safe model of primary health care.

The effectiveness of ACCHSs has long been recognised, with many able to document better health outcomes than mainstream services for the communities they serve. “

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

Download the full 15 Page submission HERE

Obesity Epidemic in Australia – Network Submission – 6.7.18

 ” The Healthy Food Partnership is a mechanism for government, the public health sector and the food industry to cooperatively tackle obesity, encourage healthy eating and empower food manufacturers to make positive changes.

The Healthy Food Partnership’s Reformulation Working Group has developed draft reformulation targets for sodium, sugars and/or saturated fats, in 36 sub-categories of food.  These food categories are amongst the highest contributors of sodium, sugars and saturated fat to Australian population level intakes.”

See Healthy Food Partnership Survey Part 2 Below

Read over 50 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Obesity articles published in past 6 years 

 

Introduction to NACCHO Network Sumission and selected extracts 

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is the peak body representing 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) across Australia.

ACCHSs provide comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through over 300 Aboriginal medical clinics throughout Australia.

ACCHSs deliver three million episodes of care to around 350,000 people each year, servicing over 47% of the Aboriginal population, with about one million episodes of care delivered in remote areas.

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) sector is the largest single employer of Indigenous people in the country, employing 6,000 staff, the majority of whom are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

The evidence that the ACCHS model of comprehensive primary health care delivers better outcomes than mainstream services for Aboriginal people is well established.

Without exception, where Aboriginal people and communities lead, define, design, control and deliver services and programs to their communities, they achieve improved outcomes.

The ACCHS model of care has its genesis in Aboriginal people’s right to self-determination, and is predicated on principles that incorporate a holistic, person-centred, whole-of-life, culturally secure approach.

The ACCHS principles of self-determination and community control remain central to wellbeing and sovereignty of Aboriginal people. Equipped with inequitable levels of funding and resources ,

ACCHSs continue to meet the ongoing challenges of addressing the burden of disease in Aboriginal communities.

Executive summary

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) welcomes the opportunity to provide input into the Inquiry into the Obesity epidemic in Australia.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent approximately 3% of the Australian population yet are disproportionately over-represented on almost every indicium of social, health and wellbeing determinant.

Social determinants and historical factors such as intergenerational trauma, racism, social exclusion, and loss of land and culture are commonly recognised as causative factors for these disparities.

In 2008 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to addressing the health disparity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians by adopting the Closing the Gap initiative. Whilst gaining some success in achieving convergence for some health indicators, wide health and wellbeing disparity still remains for both children and adults.

The life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians remains 10.6 years for males and 9.5 years for females.

As a major contributor to morbidity and mortality among Indigenous Australians, obesity is estimated to account for 16% of the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the total Australian population.

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

Closing the Gap, including the gap attributable to obesity, requires ensuring the ACCHS sector is resourced to deliver the full range of core services required under a comprehensive and culturally safe model of primary health care. The effectiveness of ACCHSs has long been recognised, with many able to document better health outcomes than mainstream services for the communities they serve.

Combating the burden of obesity and its health effects for Indigenous Australians demands a strategic and coordinated whole-of-society approach at a national level by the Federal Government.

Without coordinated, sustained national action, efforts to improve the health status of Aboriginal children are likely to fail. In recognising the need to seriously address this critical and increasing gap in Indigenous health, NACCHO welcomes this inquiry and proposes the following recommendations:

  1. Government to work in partnership with NACCHO and the ACCHS sector to develop policies and plans that are responsive to the needs of Aboriginal communities
  2. A commitment to increase the understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of the health significance of overweight and obesity, and facilitating access for these communities to resources which support healthy eating and physical activity
  3. Additional investment to build organisational capacity within the ACCHS sector and to increase the capacity of Aboriginal Health Promotion Officers to maintain a focus on public health initiatives
  4. Government to encourage professional support systems for, and assist Aboriginal Health Worker’s and other primary care workers to provide advice to adults and children about weight management as part of existing health checks and screening programs – this may be achieved by encouraging the MBS Aboriginal Health Check item to communicate more effectively the importance of physical activity, nutrition and weight management
  5. Fund the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural awareness training for health care professionals covering care, education and information relating to food, physical activity, lifestyle choices and health service arrangements
  6. In understanding that health promotion is more difficult in regional and rural Australia, targeted funding should be dedicated to these areas to overcome the pervasive problems associated with distance
  7. A commitment to ongoing consultation with Aboriginal communities on what can be achieved at a local level to effectively promote healthy eating and physical activity for children
  8. Facilitate access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to resources which support lifestyle changes, including access to information, physical activity opportunities, and healthy food choices
  9. The prevalence of childhood obesity and the absence of culturally specific programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people warrants further work in the development of culturally appropriate programs and tailored communication strategies alongside mainstream campaigns and messages
  10. Given the paucity of studies on Indigenous children, there is a need for further research on effective obesity prevention interventions for Indigenous families. This requires commitment to more detailed monitoring of young Indigenous children’s diets and their physical activity
  11. Government to work with the food industry and community stores to implement retail intervention strategies to positively influence access to and consumption of healthy food choices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  12. Consider mechanisms to sustain programs on physical activity, nutrition and weight management that have proven effective
  13. Ensure significant participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in national surveys and evaluations by enhancing the sampling frame and applying culturally appropriate recruitment strategies

Evidence-based measures and interventions to prevent and reverse childhood obesity, including experiences from overseas jurisdictions

Evidence-based profiling of obesity and overweight in Indigenous Australian children has been poor, with very little known about the effectiveness of culturally adapted children’s interventions. Given the impact on health, finances and community, the need for better strategies and interventions to manage obesity are now being recognised by the entire health system.

Historically, initiatives have focused on nutrition or physical activity as separate entities and have shown modest effects. In recent years, global interventions considering the wider ‘obesogenic environment’ have been recommended, with policymakers and public health practitioners increasingly turning to evidence-based strategies to discover effective interventions to childhood obesity.

It is important to note, however, that the rapidly growing body of literature has meant many recommendations for childhood obesity have often relied on research that has not been systematically reviewed and focused more on assessing the internal validity of study results than on evaluating the external validity, feasibility or sustainability of intervention effects.

Experience in several countries has shown that successful obesity prevention during childhood can be achieved through a combination of population-based initiatives.li There is strong evidence for the effectiveness of school-based strategies, acting as an ideal setting for interventions to support healthy behaviours, and can also potentially reach most school age 9 children of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic groups. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a curriculum that is culturally appropriate and a school environment that reflects the culture within the community by demonstrating cultural awareness in healthy eating and physical activity practices.l

Examples of school-based strategies include policies that limit student access to foods and beverages that are high in fats and sugar, contributing to decreased consumption during the school dayliii, and efforts to increase physical activity leading to a lowered body mass indexliv and improved cognitive abilities,lv especially in younger children. An evaluation of a school-based health education program for urban Indigenous youth found compromising results in physical activity, breakfast intake and fruit and vegetable consumption, all of which are core components of healthy weight management.lvi

Studies have examined the effectiveness of culturally specific versions of programs to tackle obesity, including a US study comparing a mainstream program with a culturally adapted version. Findings were that cultural adaptations improved recruitment and retention numbers, with the authors recommending that to improve program design, ethnic communities and organisations should be approached to collaborate with researchers in design, modifications, recruitment techniques, implementation, evaluation and interpretation of results.lvii

A 2013 Canadian pilot evaluation of a whole-school health promotion program, Healthy Buddies, involved researchers consulting Aboriginal community members about how the program could be more effective, sustainable and culturally appropriate, resulting in a new version called Healthy Buddies – First Nations. Prior to implementation, communities were able to review the program and tailor its cultural appropriateness. Lesson content and visual aids were amended to resemble Aboriginal children, as well as Aboriginal food and activities.lviii In promoting social responsibility through the buddy system, the program showed a significant lowering in BMI and waist circumference and was considered particularly important for remote communities.

Systematic and evidence-based reviews have suggested promise in tailoring programs to be more culturally appropriate for specific ethnic and culturally diverse groups. The 2014 Global Nutrition Report, which examined the limited access to supermarkets and a reliance on fast-food as contributing to the growing prevalence of obesity in American Indian communities, recommended that interventions need to be multi-faceted, culturally sensitive, grounded in cultural traditions, and developed with full participation of American Indian communities.lix

Similar recommendations were made in a review by Toronto Public Health, identifying that interventions targeting children from low socioeconomic or culturally diverse backgrounds can positively impact on physical activity levels and dietary intake. This highlights the need to consider focusing on specific cultural backgrounds, like Indigenous Australians, when planning obesity prevention interventions to achieve better outcomes.

The role of the food industry in contributing to poor diets and childhood obesity in Australia

Improving the access to and availability of nutritious food is a vital step to combating the prevalence of obesity. Indigenous people living in rural and remote areas in particular face significant barriers in accessing nutritious and affordable food.

The level and composition of food intake is influenced by socio-economic status, high prices, poor quality fruit and vegetables in community stores, and unavailability of many nutritious foods.lxi This is indeed exacerbated by the exposure to high levels of unhealthy food marketing across a range of media. 10

The ubiquitous marketing of unhealthy food creates a negative food culture, undermining nutrition recommendations.

Substantial research documents the extensiveness and persuasive nature of food marketing in Australia; importantly, the vast majority of all food and drink marketing, regardless of medium or setting, is for food and drinks high in fat, sugar and/or salt.lxii Australian children are exposed to high levels of unhealthy food marketing through a range of mediums, including sponsorship arrangements with children’s sport. With research identifying a logical sequence of effects linking food promotion to individual-level weight outcomes,lxiii it is clear that food marketing influences children’s attitudes and subsequent food consumption.

Australia’s National Preventative Health Taskforce has highlighted the importance of restricting inappropriate marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children as a cost-effective obesity prevention strategy.lxiv Clear affirmative action in Australia to such marketing has been lacking to date, compounding the need for Government to explore options for regulating the production, marketing and sale of energy-dense and nutrient-poor products to reduce consumption.

Research has shown that the prevalence of obesity increases and consumption of fruit and vegetables decreases with increasing distance to grocery stores and supermarketslxv and a higher density of convenience stores and take-away food outlets.lxvi Cost is also a major issue, with the price of basic healthy foods increased by 50% or more in rural and remote areas where there is a higher proportion of Indigenous residents compared to non-Indigenous residents than in urban areas.lxvii The purchasing behaviour of children is particularly sensitive to price, and can have significant effects over time.

Foods of better nutritional choice, including fresh fruits and vegetables, are often expensive due to transportation and overhead costs, or only minimally available.lxviii Comparatively, takeaway and convenience food, often energy-dense and high in fat or sugar, are less affected by cost and availability.

A study of intake of six remote Aboriginal communities, based on store turnover, found that intake of energy, fat and sugar was excessive, with fatty meats making the largest contribution to fat intake.lxx Compared with national data, intake of sweet and carbonated beverages and sugar was much higher in these communities, with the proportion of energy derived from refined sugars approximately four times the recommended intake.

Recent evidence from Mexico indicates that implementing health-related taxes on sugary drinks and on ‘junk’ food can decrease purchase of these foods and drinks.lxxi A recent Australian study predicted that increasing the price of sugary drinks by 20% could reduce consumption by 12.6%.lxxii Revenue raised by such a measure could be directed to an evaluation of effectiveness and in the longer term be used to subsidise and market healthy food choices as well as promotion of physical activity.

It is imperative that all of these interventions to promote healthy eating should have community-ownership and not undermine the cultural importance of family social events, the role of Elders, or traditional preferences for some food. Food supply in Indigenous communities needs to ensure healthy, good quality foods are available at affordable prices.

In Summary

It is widely understood that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, predominantly children, are at high-risk of ill-health due to overweight and obesity. This is likely to lead to a widening gap in health outcomes for Indigenous Australians if prevention efforts are not improved. Despite the identified health and economic gains which can be achieved by using a social determinants and culturally appropriate approach, Australia is yet to embed such thinking in health policy.

Policy in isolation will not solve the epidemic of childhood obesity for Indigenous children. What is required, is urgent action to address poverty, education, unemployment and housing, all of which are factors that shape a child’s ability to engage with healthy behaviours. There also needs to be close ongoing national monitoring through the collection of comparable data; more detailed monitoring of the composition of young Indigenous children’s diets and physical activity is necessary to determine whether patterns are changing in response to interventions.

Undeniably, strategic investment is needed to implement population-based childhood obesity prevention programs which are effective and also culturally appropriate, evidence-based, easily understood, action-oriented and motivating. Interventions must be positioned within broad strategies addressing the continuing social and economic disadvantages that many Indigenous people experience and need to have an emphasis on training community-based health workers, particularly in the ACCHS sector who are best placed to respond to the increasing rates of obesity and associated health concerns for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The ACCH sector has a central role in promoting and improving health outcomes for Indigenous people yet requires additional targeted funding and resources to implement new initiatives, including intervention, education, and research to encourage physical activity and healthy nutrition. Indeed, multifaceted strategies involving the public, private and ACCHS sector, along with community participation and government support, are required to gradually reverse this trend.

NACCHO and its Affiliates in each State and Territory appreciate the opportunity to make this submission on behalf of our member services. With circumstances unimproved after years of policy approaches, the need remains to overturn the prevalence of overweight and obesity of Indigenous people. There needs to be a 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 a recognition that self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be the foundation of true progress.

NACCHO strongly recommend that Government engage in meaningful dialogue with NACCHO, NACCHO’s Affiliates in each State and Territory and ACCHSs in relation to the proposals canvassed in this response; and work in partnership to address the significant prevalence of obesity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially children

 

Part 2 Overview Healthy Food Partnership Survey 

The Healthy Food Partnership is a mechanism for government, the public health sector and the food industry to cooperatively tackle obesity, encourage healthy eating and empower food manufacturers to make positive changes.

The Healthy Food Partnership’s Reformulation Working Group has developed draft reformulation targets for sodium, sugars and/or saturated fats, in 36 sub-categories of food.  These food categories are amongst the highest contributors of sodium, sugars and saturated fat to Australian population level intakes.

Please note the different closing dates relating to feedback on the various nutrient targets.

Why We Are Consulting

The Healthy Food Partnership (Partnership) recognises that many companies are already reformulating their products to improve the nutritional quality and aims to build on (rather than replicate) these efforts.

It is not the intention of the Partnership to disadvantage companies that are already reformulating, but to recognise and support their efforts to date, and encourage those companies that are yet to engage in reformulation activities to move towards improving the nutritional profile of their products.  Targets will create certainty for industry of what they, and their competitors, should be aiming for.

Feedback is sought on the feasibility of the draft targets, the appropriateness of the draft category definitions (including products which are included or excluded), and the proposed implementation period (four years).  Consultation feedback will inform the final recommendations of the Reformulation Working Group, to the Partnership’s Executive Committee.

Deidentified information from submissions will be provided to the Reformulation Working Group and other committees involved with the Healthy Food Partnership.

Submissions will be published at the end of the consultation period, unless confidentiality has been requested.

Begin survey

Aboriginal Health #Socialdeterminants and #Remote Housing Debate : @NACCHOChair urges Federal Government to maintain funding $ for remote Indigenous housing

“ NACCHO is extremely disappointed that the Commonwealth Government has recently walked away from all States’ Remote Housing funding agreements and only maintained smaller scale arrangements in the Northern Territory.

States have been offered short-term agreements and committed fewer funds.

Simply put, decent housing and reducing homelessness is critical to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal people’

We know it’s a significant concern for State Governments too

Mr John Singer Chairperson of NACCHO See full Press Release Part 1

It is morally reprehensible that the Federal Government can walk away from ongoing funding for remote communities after being involved in this space for 50 years.

If the PM does not step in to resolve this issue – as requested in a formal letter sent to him by WA Premier Mark McGowan on May 11 – he will be showing his true stripes as the so-called PM for Closing the Gap.

We want to Close the Gap – not slam the door.”

WA Housing Minister Peter Tinley : Read full Press Release Below Part 2 Remote communities’ campaign calls on Commonwealth for a fair go

“The people living in WA’s 165 remote communities are amongst the most vulnerable in Australia. There are significant challenges in servicing their communities to a suitable standard.

For the Federal Government to suggest that this is solely a State responsibility is a nonsense.

I would urge all Australians – including all members of the Liberal and National State Opposition whose silence on this issue to date has been noted – to get on board with this campaign.”

I’ve spent a lot of my life having to deal with the slings and arrows of being an Aboriginal person. Nigel Scullion is just the latest in that , he’s clearly unsuitable to try to resolve this issue and I am surprised and disappointed that he would resort to such rhetoric.”

WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt in The Guardian

WA minister says Scullion ‘unsuitable’ to resolve remote Indigenous housing dispute

and Press Release Part 2

“Without a decent place to live, the task of closing the gap in health or education becomes only more difficult,”

Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Patrick Dodson said housing underpins all of the Close the Gap targets. See Part 3

Download NACCHO Press Release

NACCHO URGES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO MAINTAIN HOUSING Agreements

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is extremely concerned that the Federal Government has cut funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing.

Housing conditions in remote communities remain substandard, overcrowded and there are high rates of homelessness in remote communities. All of these contribute to poor health outcomes and prevalence of third world diseases like trachoma and rheumatic heart disease.

The WA State Government’s ‘Don’t Walk Away’ campaign, calls on the Federal Government not to abandon remote communities in Western Australia. For more information, visit http://www.dontwalkaway.wa.gov.au

NACCHO requests that the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing funding is maintained to support efforts in Closing the Gap policies of the Federal government and Agreements with all States signed as a matter of urgency.

Part 2 Remote communities’ campaign calls on Commonwealth for a fair go

The WA McGowan Government started a campaign to pressure the Federal Government to not abandon 165 remote communities in Western Australia.

The ‘Don’t Walk Away’ campaign featured online and print media advertising, and promote a website with a call to action for people concerned about the plight of the almost 12,000 people living in remote communities across WA.

June 30 marked the end of a 10-year, $1.2 billion funding agreement between the Federal Government and the WA Government to support remote communities through the provision of housing.

The WA Government contributes about $90 million annually to maintain these communities through the provision of essential services such as power, water and waste management, infrastructure and regular maintenance activity.

The Federal Government’s own independent Remote Housing Review has identified that about 1,300 new homes will need to be built in WA in the coming decade to address issues of overcrowding in remote communities and to cater for population growth.

But despite months of haggling, the Federal Government has indicated it intends to wash its hands of further involvement in the provision of housing for remote services after making a payment of about $60 million over the next three years.

This will leave an approximate $400 million gap in the State’s finances over the forward estimates.

The State Government today issued a national call to action for all caring Australians to lobby Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – the so-called PM for Closing the Gap – to solve the current impasse and prevent indigenous Australians living in remote communities from further disadvantage.

For more information, visit http://www.dontwalkaway.wa.gov.au

Part 3 Labor Press Release TURNBULL WALKS AWAY FROM REMOTE INDIGENOUS HOUSING

Malcolm Turnbull has turned his back on remote Indigenous communities in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland, with funding for remote housing in those states ceasing yesterday.

This is despite Senator Nigel Scullion’s repeated claims to contrary over the past six months.

This year’s Budget confirmed there would be no additional funding for these states in the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. Only the NT will continue to receive Commonwealth support to tackle overcrowding.

Shadow Homelessness Minister Doug Cameron said the Turnbull Government is walking away from remote communities. “This cut shows an appalling lack of leadership and a complete misunderstanding of the Close the Gap framework,” Senator Cameron said.

“Overcrowding is a root cause of Indigenous disadvantage because it leads to a range of other social and health problems in remote communities. Prior to the Budget, Senator Scullion’ described claims he was cutting the agreement as ‘fiction’ and ‘nonsense’.

In December 2017, Senator Scullion told the Guardian Australia that “commonwealth officials are in discussion with their state counterparts regarding future funding arrangements. This will include further Commonwealth funding.”

Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Patrick Dodson, said housing underpins all of the Close the Gap targets. “Without a decent place to live, the task of closing the gap in health or education becomes only more difficult,” Senator Dodson said.

According to a 2017 review of the program, by 2018 the strategy will have delivered 4,000 new houses and 7,500 refurbishments The NPA is estimated to have led to a significant decrease in the proportion of overcrowded houses in remote and very remote areas.

It has also been a driver of job creation and Indigenous business’s in many remote communities.

With Malcolm Turnbull’s refresh of the Close the Gap strategy now underway, it is critical that the Turnbull Government does not walk away from any of the current targets.

Instead of walking away from programs that work – the Turnbull Government should be working with Indigenous communities to ensure services are delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible.

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SDOH : Sir @MichaelMarmot Visits @CAACongress ACCHO Alice Springs : Watch 90 minute @Flinders seminar TAKING ACTION Social Justice , #SocialDeterminants and #HealthEquity @baumfran

“What I have seen in Alice Springs are examples of good news stories – committed people, adequately resourced, who are engaged with the Indigenous community, doing good things”

Professor Sir Michael Marmot visited Alice Springs  last week to speak at a seminar ( View 90 minute broadcast Part 1 below ) and witness Congress Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service’s work in reducing the impact of disadvantage and the effects this has on health outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Picture above Sir Michael at the CAAC health clinic Areyonga, NT

Sir Marmot, Director of the University College London’s Institute of Health Equity and a leading researcher on health inequality issues, is a powerful international advocate for the social determinants of health.

Principal Investigator of the Whitehall Studies of British civil servants, Sir Marmot has investigated the reasons for the striking inverse social gradient in morbidity and mortality.

1.Flinders University Lecture

Kath Martin welcome to Arrernte Country

Why treat people and send them back to what made them sick !

Watch Sir Michaels 90 minute presentation here

Noting that it will start at the 15 Minute mark

“Welcome to my fantasy land & let’s imagine a fairer world”, closing words from … such wonderful, inspiring, lecture

Read background to Fantasy Land

2.Alcohol & overcrowding – Sir Michael Marmot talks on the NT health challenge       

Overcrowded houses and alcohol ravaging families are just some of the many challenges which face the health system in the Northern Territory.

But how well is the Territory tackling these issues?

Paul Serratore speaks with Sir Michael Marmot, a professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, to find out.

Listen Here

3. Sir Marmot visited Congress specifically to learn how Aboriginal Community Controlled health services improve the lives of Aboriginal people.

“Importantly, through our use of data we have been able to clearly demonstrate to Sir Marmot how effective Congress is as a leading Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service” Congress CEO, Donna Ah Chee, said.

“The way we collect and use data is building an evidence base about what works, and he commented on the importance of this approach. He was also clear that one of the key ways that health services implement a social determinants approach is by providing Aboriginal employment and in this regard, he was very impressed with the current 50% Aboriginal employment rate and strategic target of 60%.

He was impressed that there are so many good things happening in Aboriginal health as compared with the doom and gloom he had previously heard about.”

“This has been a fantastic opportunity to show case the great work of Congress to an internationally renowned advocate for social determinants of health” Ms Ah Chee said.

“We are very pleased that Sir Marmot will be taking what he has learnt here to the rest of the world.”

 Local Aboriginal health worker, Sarah and , in local health clinic Areyonga, NT

Downtown Areyonga/Utju – an Aborigine population of about 150, with a well-resourced health centre

NACCHO Research NEWS : Indigenous Health Minister @KenWyattMP AM officially launches @MurdochUni #NgangkYira an Australian-first centre to boost Aboriginal health by fast-tracking social and cultural research.

“This unique centre aligns strongly with the Turnbull Government’s holistic, whole-of-life approach to improving First Peoples’ health.

Ngangk Yira means ‘rising sun’ in Noongar and aims to expose and reduce the broader social inequities that affect the health of many of our people.

Targeting and understanding the social and cultural determinants of health is crucial, because these factors can account for up to half the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM has officially launched an Australian-first centre to boost Aboriginal health by fast-tracking social and cultural research.

See Murdoch University press Release part 2 below

See the research projects seek to close the gap in Aboriginal health Part 3 Below

Hear from Professors Rhonda Marriott and Fiona Stanley, and meet Aboriginal midwife Valerie Ah Chee in the Ngangk Yira launch video

https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js

Minister Wyatt said Murdoch University’s Ngangk Yira Aboriginal Health and Social Equity Research Centre promises new methods of tackling Closing the Gap challenges.

Minister Wyatt said the new centre would focus on practical health solutions, including research into the importance of cultural respect, education and equality.

“Ngangk Yira’s Birthing on Noongar Boodjar study has already revealed a shortage of culturally secure maternity care in hospitals,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The centre’s work is about giving children the best start in life and the opportunity to reach their full potential as they grow into adults.”

Minister Wyatt is Patron of the new centre. Co-Patron is Fiona Stanley AC.

Research will be conducted by Aboriginal researchers, in partnership with other Australian and international experts in maternal health, youth resilience and mental health.

Ngangk Yira studies will be carried out in close consultation with Aboriginal elders.

Part 2

Murdoch University is this week launching an Aboriginal health research centre – the first of its kind in Australia – to address the urgent and complex ‘wicked’ problems affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and social equity.

The Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity will focus on translational research that provides practical solutions to improve health, educational and social outcomes for Aboriginal families and their communities.

Led by Aboriginal maternal and child health academic Professor Rhonda Marriott, the Centre has as patrons eminent child and Aboriginal health advocate Professor Fiona Stanley AC and Federal Minister for Indigenous Health Hon Ken Wyatt, MP.

Research is conducted by Aboriginal researchers in partnership with leading WA and international, maternal health, youth resilience and mental health experts and services and with the close involvement of community elders and stakeholders.

Taking a connected life course approach from pregnancy, to young adulthood, and parenthood the Centre’s research recognises that a strong start in life is fundamental for healthy and resilient children, families and communities, Professor Marriott said.

“To grow strong Aboriginal communities, we must start at the beginning by supporting mothers and families every step of the journey from pregnancy. Even before a baby is born, the environment  has a big impact on lifelong social, physical and emotional health,” Professor Marriott said.

Murdoch University Vice Chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen said Ngangk Yira’s work had the potential to transform the real-life experiences of Aboriginal families and their communities.

“We will be pioneering the practical changes that will change the life course of the next generation of Aboriginal youth, and informing key changes to state and national policy, practice and education to support these outcomes,” Professor Leinonen said.

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said: “The work of this centre will help to push out life expectancy and is likely to reduce the prevalence rates of renal disease and many of the later chronic conditions because children will grow up healthy and resilient. Like a house, a solid foundation gives strength to the structure and, equally, the foundation of life and being born healthy and well means that your life’s journey will be stronger and longer.”

A recently completed four-year NHMRC-funded Ngangk Yira project, Birthing on Noongar Boodjar, highlighted a shortage of high-quality, culturally secure maternity care in WA hospitals that was critical to improved maternity care and childbirth outcomes for Aboriginal mothers and their babies.

Other projects underway include the Baby Coming – You Ready program that provides a mental health screening tool for postnatal depression to assist young parents during pregnancy and their babies first year.  This is expected to bolster the social and emotional wellbeing of new parents and support improved birth and developmental outcomes for their babies.

The Indigenous Young People’s Resilience and Wellbeing project is a long-term study of Aboriginal youth aged 15 to 18 to better understand factors affecting their resilience and wellbeing and to improve youth services and community programs to address these.

Parental mental health and its impact on children’s mental health will also be examined through a population-based Linked Data Project that will study the type, scale and timing of mental health problems in young Aboriginal people and their families. Data will be used to address some critical gaps in support for mental health development in “the critical first 1001 days” of a child’s life.

This research is expected to improve knowledge of the mental and physical health of Aboriginal children in Western Australia, pregnancy outcomes, child abuse and neglect, disability, contact with the juvenile justice system and education.

The Centre’s work to identify ways to make Aboriginal families healthier and more resilient is also supported by strong partnerships with academics and experts in NSW, Canada and the UK, along with the Telethons Kids’ Institute, the University of Notre Dame and international universities.

To learn more about Ngangk Yira click here.

Part 3 About Ngangk Yira

Murdoch University’s Ngangk Yira Research Centre supports the University’s commitment to improving Aboriginal health, wellbeing and social equity through innovative and translational research.

Ngangk Yira’s research takes a connected approach from pregnancy, young adulthood, to parenthood and the transition to older adulthood, recognising the evidence that a strong start in life is fundamental for healthy and resilient children, families and communities.

Aboriginal researchers lead the Centre’s projects in partnership with non-Aboriginal colleagues and with the close involvement of community elders.

Its work is already pioneering the practical changes that will change the life course of the next generation of Aboriginal youth and which will inform translatable outcomes to state and national policy, practice and education.

Upcoming studies will help better identify and address risk factors for mental wellbeing in mothers and young families and look at ways to build resilience in Aboriginal youth.

Ngangk Yira brings together an experienced team of researchers, led by Professor Rhonda Marriot. Professor Fiona Stanley and the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt, are patrons of the Centre.

Ngangk Yira

Ngangk means both ‘mother’ and ‘sun’. Alongside the Noongar word Yira, the meaning expands to: the rising sun (ngangk yira). Together, they have added spiritual meaning for the sun’s giving of life to all things in its passage across the sky.

Our research projects seek to close the gap in Aboriginal health

Birthing on Noongar Boodjar

Since 2014, researchers at Murdoch University have been collecting data to better understand the cultural needs of Aboriginal women and different meanings of ‘cultural security’ when Birthing on Country.

Interviews with Aboriginal mothers, senior women and elders examined what women want and expect from their maternity health services. An understanding of the knowledge and experience of midwives in supporting Aboriginal women’s maternity care was also gained.

The study found that more Aboriginal midwives and culturally secure models of care in WA hospitals are critical to closing the gap in maternity care and childbirth outcomes for Aboriginal women and families. Both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants identified the negative impact of racism and racial stereotyping on Aboriginal women’s birthing experiences.

The research recognised that better access to Aboriginal staff and family support during pregnancy and childbirth helped empower Aboriginal mothers.

Learn more in our news story, and the Ngangk Yira brochure.

Baby Coming – You Ready?

Perinatal mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can result in detrimental impacts on pregnancy and postnatal periods. Baby Coming – You Ready? was designed by Aboriginal men and women to assist young parents during pregnancy and their child’s first year.

It is different from other mental health screening and assessment tools because it’s a shared assessment between the client and the clinician, with a goal to bringing clarity to complex situations. The model encourages self-evaluation and reflection and fosters an understanding for both users.

This web-based interactive app will do much more than screen for perinatal depression. It will use visual images on a touch screen device to portray emotions, circumstances and events, both positive and challenging, that a mother or father-to-be may be experiencing.

Baby Coming – You Ready? is expected to see improvements in attendance at antenatal appointments, bolstering the social and emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents, and better birth and development outcomes for babies.

Learn more in the Ngangk Yira brochure.

Indigenous Young People’s Resilience and Wellbeing (2017 – 2020)

Launched in the second half of 2017, this project is a longitudinal study of Aboriginal youth across two sites; one here in Noongar country and one in the Gamilaroi nation in New South Wales.

The project is expected to enhance understanding of Aboriginal youth and improve our knowledge of their resilience and wellbeing.

Learn more in the Ngangk Yira brochure.

Linked Data Project

Parental mental health and its impact on children’s outcomes will be examined through data collected between 1990 – 2015. The data will be used to study the type, scale and timing of mental health problems in young people and their families, and address critical gaps in mental health, with a focus on the “critical 1001 day” period for children.

Key outcomes will include improved knowledge of the mental and physical health of Aboriginal children in Western Australia, pregnancy outcomes, child abuse and neglect, disability, contact with the juvenile justice system and education.

Learn more in the Ngangk Yira brochure.

Helping to build healthy and resilient communities

Learn more about our first complete project, the four-year Birthing on Noongar Boodjar, and Baby Coming – You Ready?, Ngangk Yira’s aim to find meaningful solutions to real problems.

Hear from Professors Rhonda Marriott and Fiona Stanley, and meet Aboriginal midwife Valerie Ah Chee in the Ngangk Yira launch video.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Conferences and events : 2018 SAVE A DATE : #CongressUN18 #WeAreIndigenous #BecauseOfHerWeCan #NACCHOagm2018 , @NATSIHWA , @AIDAAustralia , @CATSINaM @HOSW8 @hosw2018 #HOSW8 #HealingOurWay

Download PDF copy 2018 Calendar

NACCHO Save a date Master 17 April

1.National NAIDOC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Woman’s Conference 11-12 July

It is with great excitement that Ngiyani Pty Ltd as the host of the National NAIDOC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Woman’s Conference with Project Management support from Christine Ross Consultancy proudly announce Registrations have officially OPENED. Please see the link below

https://www.ngiyani.com/because-of-her-we-can/

The dates for the conference are the 11 – 12 July 2018 at UNSW Kensington Campus in Sydney.

Please note the $350 Conference Registration for 2 days or $175 for one day is non- refundable or transferrable.

The Conference Dinner is optional on Wednesday 11 July 2018 at 7.00 – 11.00pm cost is an additional $80.00. food and entertainment will be provided (this is an alcohol free event). The Dinner is open to all Conference Delegates including Sponsors (so blokes are welcome) Details will be posted at a later date.

You will be able to choose your Workshops when you Register so please take the time to read Workshop outlines.

This Conference is incredibly popular and seats are limited, it will book out so to ensure you don’t miss out BOOK SOON.

Please note if you wish to purchase tickets to the National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony to be held Friday 13 July 2018 in Sydney. This is a seperate event to the Conference and first release tickets go on sale through Ticketek at 9.00 am AEST on Thursday 3 May 2018.Second release tickets go on sale at 9.00 am AEST 10 May 2018. Cost of tickets is $185.00 or $1,850.00 per table.

It will be a massive week in Sydney as we celebrate the theme:
‘Because of Her, We Can’

A huge thanks to our Sponsors: Reconciliation Australia, UNSW, Rio Tinto, JobLink Plus, Lendlease, Westpac, Veolia, NSWALC, Griffith Business School, Macquarie University, Accor Hotels, Warrikal, PwC Indigenous Consulting, Gilbert and Tobin and National Library of Australia.

2. Sir Michael Marmot in Alice Springs 4 May : Health equity : Taking Action

3.National Congress Co-Chair Jackie Huggins is set to participate in

Opens on 16 April 2018 with more than 1000 First Nations participants from across the globe.

 

4.New : Finding Common Ground and a Way Forward for Indigenous Recognition 

Written submissions should be received by Monday 11 June

Above NACCHO Library image

A new committee met yesterday, to further consider matters regarding recognition of Australia’s indigenous people, and will be co-chaired by Senator Patrick Dodson, Senator for Western Australia, and Mr Julian Leeser MP , Member for Berowra.

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is expected to report by the end of November this year, with an interim report due in July.

The Committee is calling for submissions and is considering options for public meetings and hearings.

Co-Chairs Senator Dodson and Mr Leeser MP said: ‘As a committee, we are looking for common ground and ways forward on these critical matters for Australia’s future. We hope to hear from Australians about the next steps for recognition of First Nations peoples.

We plan to consult widely, starting with First Nations leadership. We understand that a great deal of work has already been done: the job of this committee is to build on that work and to now take the next steps.’

The Committee website has details of Committee membership, and will be the first point of information about the work of the Committee.

Written submissions should be received by Monday 11 June, to assist with planning meetings and hearings, but the Committee may accept submissions after this date.

For background:

Please contact the Committee secretariat on 02 6277 4129

or via email at jsccr@aph.gov.au

Interested members of the public may wish to track the committee via the website.

WEBSITE

Click on the blue ‘Track Committee’ button in the bottom right hand corner and register

5. 2018 NACCHO Annual Members’ Conference and AGM SAVE A DATE

Follow our conference using HASH TAG #NACCHOagm2018

This is Brisbane Oct 30—Nov 2

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.

More Info soon

6. NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health Ochre Day

Hobart  Aug 27 –28

More Info soon

7. NATSIHWA National Professional Development Symposium 2018

We’re excited to release the dates for the 2018 National Professional Development Symposium to be held in Alice Springs on 2nd-4th October. More details are to be released in the coming weeks; a full sponsorship prospectus and registration logistics will be advertised asap via email and newsletter.

This years Symposium will be focussed on upskilling our Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners through a series of interactive workshops. Registrants will be able to participate in all workshops by rotating in groups over the 2 days. The aim of the symposium is to provide the registrants with new practical skills to take back to communities and open up a platform for Health Workers/Practitioners to network with other Individuals in the workforce from all over Australia.

We look forward to announcing more details soon!

8.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.

AIDA Awards
Nominate our members’ outstanding contributions towards improving the health and life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

9.CATSINaM Professional Development Conference

Venue: Hilton Adelaide 

Location:  233 Victoria Square, Adelaide, SA 

Timing: 8:30am – 5:30pm

We invite you to be part of the CATSINaM Professional Development Conference held in Adelaide, Australia from the 17th to the 19th of September 2018.
The Conference purpose is to share information while working towards an integrated approach to improving the outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The Conference also provides an opportunity to highlight the very real difference being made in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by our Members.
To this end, we are offering a mixed mode experience with plenary speaker sessions, panels, and presentations as well as professional development workshops.

More info

The CATSINaM Gala Dinner and Awards evening,  held on the 18th of September, purpose is to honour the contributions of distinguished Members to the field.
10.Study Question: What would it take to address Family Violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities?

The Australian National University is seeking partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to conduct research to find out what communities need to promote and improve safety for families.  We want to partner and work with local organisations and communities to make sure the research benefits the community.

Who are we?

We work at the Australian National University (ANU).  The study is led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers.  Professor Victoria Hovane (Ngarluma, Malgnin/Kitja, Gooniyandi), along with Associate Professor Raymond Lovett (Wongaibon, Ngiyampaa) and Dr Jill Guthrie (Wiradjuri) from NCEPH, and Professor Matthew Gray of the Centre for Social Research and Methods (CSRM) at ANU will be leading the study.

 Study Question:  What would it take to address Family Violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities?

 How are we going to gather information to answer the study question?

A Community Researcher (who we would give funds to employ) would capture the data by interviewing 100 community members, running 3 focus groups for Men /  Women / Youth (over 16).  We would interview approx. 5 community members to hear about the story in your community.

We know Family Violence happens in all communities.  We don’t want to find out the prevalence, we want to know what your communities needs to feel safe. We will also be mapping the services in your community, facilities and resources available in a community.  All this information will be given back to your community.

What support would we provide your service?

We are able to support your organisation up to $40,000 (including funds for $30 vouchers), this would also help to employ a Community Researcher.

Community participants would be provided with a $30 voucher to complete a survey, another $30 for the focus group, and another $30 for the interview for their time.

 What will we give your organisation?

We can give you back all the data that we have captured from your community, (DE identified and confidentialised of course). We can give you the data in any form you like, plus create a Community Report for your community.  There might be some questions you would like to ask your community, and we can include them in the survey.

 How long would we be involved with your community / organisation?

Approximately 2 months

How safe is the data we collect?

The data is safe. It will be DE identified and Confidentialised.  Our final report will reflect what Communities (up to 20) took part in the study, but your data and community will be kept secret.  Meaning, no one will know what data came from your community.

Application close April 27

If you think this study would be of benefit to your community, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Victoria Hovane, or the teamon 1300 531 600 or email facts.study@anu.edu.au.

11.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 Worldwide began 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 #HOSW8 #HealingOurWay #TheUniversityofSydney
 

NACCHO Media Alerts : Top 10 Current Aboriginal Health News Stories to keep you up to date

1. Aboriginal sexual health: The Australian : Was the syphilis epidemic preventable ? NACCHO responds

2.Royal Flying Doctors Service extra 4-year funding $84 million Mental Health and Dental Services

3.Nurses PAQ continues political membership campaign spreading false and misleading information about our cultural safety

4.AMSANT has called for re-doubled efforts to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the care and protection of children in partnership with NT Aboriginal leaders

5.Dialysis facilities worth $17 million are sitting padlocked, empty and unused in WA’s north

6.ALRC Report into Incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

7. Minister Ken Wyatt : Listening to Indigenous Needs: Healthy Ears Program Extended with $29.4 commitment

8.Tangentyere Alice Springs Women’s Family Safety Group visits Canberra

9.Minister Ken Wyatt launches our NACCHO RACGP National Guide to a preventative health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

10. Your guide to a healthy Easter : #Eggs-actly  

 

1.Aboriginal sexual health: The Australian : Was the syphilis epidemic preventable ? NACCHO responds

“These (STIs) are preventable diseases and we need increased testing, treatment plans and a ­culturally appropriate health ­education campaign that focuses resources on promoting safe-sex messages delivered to at-risk ­communities by our trained Aboriginal workforce,”

Pat Turner, chief executive of peak body the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, is adamant about this.

Read full article in Easter Monday The Australian or Part B below

2.Royal Flying Doctors Service extra 4-year funding $84 million Mental Health and Dental Services

Read full press release here

 

3.Nurses PAQ continues political membership campaign spreading false and misleading information about cultural safety

SEE NACCHO Response

SEE an Indigenous Patients Response

See Nurses PAQ Misleading and false campaign

4. AMSANT  has called for re-doubled efforts to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into the care and protection of children in partnership with NT Aboriginal leaders

Read full AMSANT press Release

Listen to interview with Donna Ah Chee

Press Release @NACCHOChair calls on the Federal Government to work with us to keep our children safe

#WeHaveTheSolutions Plus comments from CEO’s @Anyinginyi @DanilaDilba

4.Dialysis facilities worth $17 million are sitting padlocked, empty and unused in WA’s north

Read full Story HERE

6.ALRC Report into Incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People;

Read Download Full Transcript

Senator Patrick Dodson

Download the report from HERE

Community Groups Call For Action on Indigenous Incarceration Rates

7. Minister Ken Wyatt : Listening to Indigenous Needs: Healthy Ears Program Extended with $29.4 commitment

The Australian Government has committed $29.4 million to extend the Healthy Ears – Better Hearing, Better Listening Program, to help ensure tens of thousands more Indigenous children and young adults grow up with good hearing and the opportunities it brings.

Read Press Release HEAR

8.Tangentyere Alice Springs Women’s Family Safety Group visits Canberra

This week the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group from Alice Springs were in Canberra. They shared with politicians, their own solutions for their own communities, and they are making an enormous difference.
Big thanks to all the Tangentyere women who made it to Canberra.

Read Download the Press Release

TANGENTYERE WOMEN’S FAMILY SAFETY GROUP (FED

9. Minister Ken Wyatt launches our NACCHO RACGP National Guide to a preventative health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Read press releases and link to Download the National Guide

10. Your guide to a  healthy Easter : #Eggs-actly  

And finally hope you had a Happy Easter all you mob ! After you have enjoyed your chocolate eggs and hot cross buns , this is how much exercise you will require to work of those Easter treats .

For medical and nutrition advice please check with your ACCHO Doctor , Health Promotion / Lifestyle teams or one of our ACCHO nutritionists

 

Part B Full Text The Australian Article Easter Monday

There is no reason it should have happened, especially not in a first-world country like Australia, but it has: indigenous communities in the country’s north are in the grip of wholly treatable sexually transmitted diseases.

In the case of syphilis, it is an epidemic — West Australian Labor senator Patrick Dodson ­described it as such, in a fury, when health department bureaucrats mumbled during Senate estimates about having held a few “meetings” on the matter.

There have been about 2000 syphilis notifications — with at least 13 congenital cases, six of them fatal — since the outbreak began in northern Queensland in 2011, before spreading to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and, finally, South Australia.

What’s worse, it could have been stopped. James Ward, of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, wrote in mid-2011 that there had been a “downward trend” over several years and it was likely at that point that the “elimination of syphilis is achievable within indigenous ­remote communities”.

But governments were slow to react, and Ward is now assisting in the design of an $8.8 million emergency “surge” treatment approach on the cusp of being rolled out in Cairns and Darwin, with sites in the two remaining affected states yet to be identified.

It will be an aggressive strategy — under previous guidelines, you had to have been identified during a health check as an active carrier of syphilis to be treated. Now, anyone who registers antibodies for the pathogen during a blood prick test, whether actively carrying syphilis or not, will receive an ­immediate penicillin injection in an attempt to halt the infection’s geographical spread.

This is key: the high mobility of indigenous people in northern and central Australia means pathogens cross jurisdictions with ­impunity. Australian Medical ­Association president Michael Gannon calls syphilis a “clever bacterium that will never go away”, warning that “bugs don’t respect state borders”.

Olga Havnen, one of the Northern Territory’s most respected public health experts, points out that many people “will have connections and relations from the Torres Strait through to the Kimberley and on to Broome — and it’s only a matter of seven or eight kilometres between PNG and the northernmost islands there in the Torres Strait”.

“This is probably something that’s not really understood by the broader Australian community,” Havnen says. “I suspect once you get a major outbreak of something like encephalitis or Dengue fever, any of those mosquito-borne diseases, and that starts to encroach onto the mainland, then people will start to get a bit worried.”

Olga Havnen, CEO of the Danila Dilba Health Service, says transmission is complex issue in Australia’s indigenous communities.
Olga Havnen, CEO of the Danila Dilba Health Service, says transmission is complex issue in Australia’s indigenous communities.

But it is not just syphilis — ­indeed, not even just STIs — that have infectious disease authorities concerned and the network of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations stretched.

Chlamydia, the nation’s most frequently diagnosed STI in 2016 based on figures from the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW, is three times more likely to be contracted by an indigenous Australian than a non-­indigenous one.

The rate was highest in the NT, at 1689.1 notifications per 100,000 indigenous people, compared with 607.9 per 100,000 non-indigenous Territorians. If you’re indigenous, you’re seven times more likely to contract gonorrhoea, spiking to 15 times more likely if only women are considered. Syphilis, five times more likely.

As the syphilis response gets under way, health services such as the one Havnen leads, the Darwin-based Danila Dilba, will be given extra resources to tackle it. “With proper resourcing, if you want to be doing outreach with those people who might be visitors to town living in the long grass, then we’re probably best placed to be able to do that,” she says.

But the extra focus comes with a warning. A spate of alleged sexual assaults on Aboriginal children, beginning with a two-year-old in Tennant Creek last month and followed by three more alleged ­attacks, has raised speculation of a link between high STI rates and evidence of child sexual assault.

After the first case, former NT children’s commissioner Howard Bath told this newspaper that STI rates were “a better indicator of background levels of abuse than reporting because so many of those cases don’t get reported to anyone, whereas kids with serious infections do tend to go to a ­doctor”. Others, including Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Price and Aboriginal businessman Warren Mundine, raised the ­spectre of the need for removing more at-risk indigenous children from dangerous environments.

Children play AFL in Yeundumu. Picture: Jason Edwards
Children play AFL in Yeundumu. Picture: Jason Edwards

However, Sarah Giles, Danila Dilba’s clinical director and a medical practitioner of 20 years’ standing in northern Australia, warns this kind of response only exacerbates the problem. She is one of a range of public health authorities who, like Havnen, say connecting high STI figures to the very real scourge of child sex abuse simply makes no sense. They do not carry correlated data sets, the experts say.

“One of the things that’s really unhelpful about trying to manage STIs at a population level is to link it with child abuse and mandatory reporting, and for people to be fearful of STIs,” Giles says. “The problem is that when they’re conflated and when communities feel that they can’t get help ­because things might be misinterpreted or things might be reported, they’re less likely to present with symptoms. The majority of STIs are in adults and they’re sexually transmitted.”

Havnen says there is evidence of STIs being transmitted non-sexually, including to children, such as through poor hand ­hygiene, although Giles says that is “reasonably rare”. And while NT data shows five children under 12 contracted either chlamydia or gonorrhoea in 2016 (none had syphilis), and there were another five under 12 last year, Havnen points to the fact that over the past decade there has been no increasing trend in under 12s being affected. Where there has been a rise in the NT is in people aged between 13 and 19, with annual gonorrhoea notifications increasing from 64 cases in the 14-15-year-old ­female cohort in 2006 to 94 notifications in 2016.

In the 16-17-year-old female ­cohort the same figures were 96 and 141 and in the 12-13-year-old group it rose from 20 in 2006 to 33 in 2016. Overall, for both boys and girls under 16, annual gonorrhoea notifications rose from 109 in 2006 to 186 in 2016, according to figures provided to the royal ­commission into child detention by NT Health. Havnen describes the rise as “concerning but not, on its own, evidence of increasing ­levels of sexual abuse”.

Ward is more direct. Not all STIs are the result of sexual abuse, he warns, and not all sexual abuse results in an STI. If you’re a health professional trying to deal with an epidemiological wildfire, the distinction matters — the data and its correct interpretations can literally be a matter of life and death.

Indeed, in its own written cav­eats to the material it provided to the royal commission, the department warns that sexual health data is “very much subject to variations in testing” and warns against making “misleading assumptions about trends”. Ward says: “Most STIs notified in remote indigenous communities are ­assumed to be the result of sex ­between consenting adults — that is, 16 to 30-year-olds. Of the under 16s, the majority are 14 and 15-year-olds.” He says a historically high background prevalence of STIs in remote indigenous communities — along with a range of other ­infectious diseases long eradicated elsewhere — is to blame for their ongoing presence. Poor education, health services and hygiene contribute, and where drug and ­alcohol problems exist, sexually risky behaviour is more likely too. The lingering impact of colonisation and arrival of diseases then still common in broader ­society cannot be underestimated.

But Ward claims that an apparently high territory police figure of about 700 cases of “suspected child sexual offences” in the NT over the past five years may be misleading. He says a large number of these are likely to be the result of mandatory reporting, where someone under 16 is known to have a partner with an age gap of more than two years, or someone under 14 is known to be engaging in sexual activity. Ward points out that 15 is the nationwide ­median sexual debut age, an age he suggests is dropping. At any rate, he argues, child sex abuse is unlikely to be the main reason for that high rate of mandatory ­reporting in the NT.

Areyonga is a small Aboriginal community a few hours drive from Alice Springs.
Areyonga is a small Aboriginal community a few hours drive from Alice Springs.

Data matters, and so does how it is used. Chipping away at the perception of child sexual abuse in indigenous communities are the latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showing the rate of removals for that crime is actually higher in non-indigenous Australia.

According to a report this month from the AIHW, removals based on substantiated sex abuse cases in 2016-17 were starkly different for each cohort: 8.3 per cent for indigenous children, from a total of 13,749 removals, and 13.4 per cent for non-indigenous children, from 34,915 removals.

Havnen concedes there is a need for better reporting of child abuse and has called for a confidential helpline that would be free of charge and staffed around the clock by health professionals.

It’s based on a model already in use in Europe that she says deals with millions of calls a year — but it would require a comprehensive education and publicity campaign if it were to gain traction in remote Australia. And that means starting with the adults.

“If you’re going to do sex ­education in schools and you start to move into the area about sexual abuse and violence and so on, it’s really important that adults are ­educated first about what to do with that information,” she says. “Because too often if you just ­educate kids, and they come home and make a disclosure, they end up being told they’re liars.”

These challenges exist against the backdrop of a community already beset by a range of infectious diseases barely present elsewhere in the country, including the STIs that should be so easily treatable. It is, as Havnen is the first to admit, a complex matter.

Cheryl Jones, president of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases, says the answer is better primary treatment solutions and education, rather than trying to solve the problem after it has ­occurred. “For any of these public health infectious disease problems in ­remote and rural areas, we need to support basic infrastructure at the point of care and work alongside communities to come up with ­solutions,” she says.

Sisters play in the mud after a rare rain at Hoppy's 'town camp' on the outskirts of Alice Springs.
Sisters play in the mud after a rare rain at Hoppy’s ‘town camp’ on the outskirts of Alice Springs.

Pat Turner, chief executive of peak body the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, is adamant about this. “These (STIs) are preventable diseases and we need increased testing, treatment plans and a ­culturally appropriate health ­education campaign that focuses resources on promoting safe-sex messages delivered to at-risk ­communities by our trained Aboriginal workforce,” Turner says.

The Australian Medical ­Association has called for the formation of a national Centre for Disease Control, focusing on global surveillance and most likely based in the north, as being “urgently needed to provide national leadership and to co-ordinate rapid and effective public health responses to manage communicable diseases and outbreaks”.

“The current approach to disease threats, and control of infectious diseases, relies on disjointed state and commonwealth formal structures, informal networks, collaborations, and the goodwill of public health and infectious disease physicians,” the association warned in a submission to the Turnbull government last year.

However, the federal health ­department has rebuffed the CDC argument, telling the association that “our current arrangements are effective” and warning the suggestion could introduce “considerable overlap and duplication with existing functions”.

“I think it (the CDC) might have some merit, if it helps to ­advocate with government about what needs to happen,” Havnen says, “but if these things are going to be targeted at Aboriginal bodies, it needs to be a genuine partnership. It’s got to be informed by the realities on the ground and what we know. That information has to be fed up into the planning process.”