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

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

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

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

NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke naccho-press-release

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

Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2016 Report

Download PDF and Word copies of report here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NACCHO Aboriginal children’s health and what works :No School No Pool policy means improved health in remote communities

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 ” Participants identified a range of encouraging aspects of the Royal Life Saving Society program including cultural appropriateness, community participation, positive effects on health, swimming ability and wellbeing and the promotion of good behaviour among youth.

 Evidence suggested the pool encouraged younger students to attend school through the implementation of the ‘No School No Pool’ policy.

The poor health of remote Aboriginal communities has been well documented. Children in these regions are more likely to suffer severe skin, ear, eye and respiratory infections as a result of inadequate hygiene, exposure to a dusty and dirty environment and insufficient health services.”

For more information go to the Royal Life Saving WA website

If you have an Aboriginal Health program that works contact NACCHO News

A unique study conducted by the Royal Life Saving Society WA has found swimming pools in remote Aboriginal communities are positive enablers of community cohesion, improved health and well-being and higher school attendance.

Download copy of report :

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The Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pool (RASP) program focuses on providing the remote communities of Burringurrah, Jigalong, Yandeyarra, Bidyadanga, Warmun and Fitzroy Crossing with recreational and educational swimming programs, to encourage safe aquatic participation.

Funding is provided by WA’s State Government and BHP Billiton, while the pools are run and managed by the Royal Life Saving Society.

In order to gather feedback on the effectiveness of the RASP program, and to encourage the communities to identify areas for improvement, Royal Life Saving Society researchers engaged with participants in three of the six communities over a six month period.

Health Benefits

RASP is premised on the basis that providing well-maintained, well-supervised aquatic facilities and swimming programs can potentially improve the overall health status of Aboriginal communities, particularly Aboriginal children.

Research shows that the children appear healthier since the pools have opened, and the incidence of skin sores and ear infections has decreased. At Burringurrah, ear problems have decreased from 90% to 54% and severe skin sores have decreased from 28% to 3%. Similar results were recorded in Jigalong.
Swimming proficiency has reduced mortality rates from drowning; a key issue in these communities which are located close to rivers that flood during the wet season.

The research

Interviews were conducted with adults, while students took photos of things they liked and didn’t like about the pools; captions written to describe these photos were then analysed

Greg Tate, Royal Life Saving Society WA General Manager for Community Health, believes the results from this project provide further evidence of the health benefits of remote pools, explaining “while our findings are based purely on observations, community members consistently report that infections among children are reduced during the pool season.”

Tate says these results further justify enhanced government support of the project, adding “our findings are not limited to one facet of the community.

There is evidence to suggest that the building and running of pools in these regions enhances multiple aspects of individual and community wellbeing.

Western Australian Parliamentarian Dr. Kim Hames “Aboriginal swimming pools are one of the single most successful interventions influencing health, social and education outcomes for these communities in our state. “

These pools are a community hub and the focal point for social interactions and recreation for those in very remote locations.

The community ownership they facilitate and their benefits for wellbeing make them valuable investments.”

The Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pools project (RASP) has delivered significant positive outcomes for the communities involved, including health and social benefits and education and training opportunities.

Social Benefits

Each community has embraced the No School, No Pool policy and school principals have reported a marked increase in school attendance and an overall improvement in the children’s behaviour. For example the Jigalong community school has increased school retention rates from approximately 20% to 80%.
“The school attendance has definitely improved. In fact, at Jigalong we were told that they had to increase the number of teachers because so many kids were going to school …”
[Mary Tennant, Research Assistant, Telethon Kids Institute]
Further benefits include an increase in physical activity levels in the host communities, enhanced community cohesion and reported decrease in vandalism.
“It is quite interesting that the policeman said that in the summer months the crime rate among adolescent children went to zero. In the winter months when the pool was closed, it went up … it is definitely helping with crime.”
[Mary Tennant, Research Assistant, Telethon Kids Institute]
The children participate in a number of activities at the pool including swimming lessons, work experience and holiday programs. They have painted brightly coloured murals on the buildings, displaying their creative and artistic talents.
Social programs at the aquatic facility are popular, with birthday parties, pool-fishing events, barbeques and movie nights proving to be regular features on the community calendar. Swimming and lifesaving carnivals are also a social highlight.

Training & Employment Benefits

Mentoring and training is being provided for community members with a view to management responsibility and ownership passing back to the community in the longer term.
In association with the management training, the Royal Life Saving Society also runs a pool lifeguard training course and approximately 45 Aboriginal trainees have progressed to pool lifeguard standard. Part of the training is completed at the community pool, with the remainder undertaken at the nearest regional centre. The partnership covers all accommodation and travel costs incurred by the trainees.
“Swimming pool management training courses are an ideal employment pathway allowing an individual within a remote community to obtain portable work sills and qualifications that can be used in mainstream society.”
[Education and Health Standing Committee, Swimming Pool Program in Remote Communities, Report No. 2 in the 37th Parliament, 2006]
The course is a modified version, designed to be more accessible for the Indigenous learner.
“We have found that a more hands-on training approach works well and as a result of the changes most Indigenous students who commence training achieve a successful outcome and meet the standards required by industry for employment.”
[Greg Tate, Manager Community Relations, Royal Life Saving Society WA]
Royal Life Saving is continuing to work closely with the remote communities to develop new and innovative programs to ensure we are adequately servicing the community’s needs

 

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

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 ” The many years of community-generated work in suicide prevention is something that Indigenous Australia, as a collective, should take great pride in.

However, we have to acknowledge also that this alone has not been enough to stop Indigenous suicide rates overall getting higher recently, and that some communities remain at particularly high risk.

ATSISPEP’s first challenge was to identify ‘what works:’ the success factors evident from the suicide prevention work already undertaken in our communities. The second challenge was to support the dissemination of ‘what works’ across all communities: to share knowledge, and ensure that all can benefit from this collective wisdom and experience.”

Professor Pat Dudgeon and Professor Tom Calma AO Website

Photo above  : Page 15 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper to be published 16 November

Read over 100 NACCHO articles here on suicide prevention

After almost two years of work, ATSISPEP released a final report in Canberra on the 10th of November 2016.

Download the final #ATSISPEP report here

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The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) is a unique Indigenous-led research project to identify ‘what works’ to prevent suicide in our communities.

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At launch at Parliament House with politicians from all parties and special guests the family of Norma from Leonora who lost a son not long ago and Lena from Fitzroy Crossings who lost a daughter.

Our rates of suicide today are twice as high as other Australians and probably growing. Like the tip of an iceberg, high rates of suicide in a community can be a sign of deeper and complex community-wide problems, involving families and people caught in cycles of despair and a sense of hopelessness. Yet not all our communities, even those facing similar challenges, experience the same rates of suicide.

ATSISPEP was developed with the recognition that for many years Indigenous Elders, community leaders and healers in some of our worst-affected communities have been working tirelessly to prevent suicide.

Often volunteering, and with little or no financial support, they have generated community-specific and culturally-based ways of bringing people back from the edge of suicide and also supporting families who are bereaved by loss.

In some cases, they have worked with entire communities to address the underlying community-level issues that can contribute to a suicide, for example, unemployment, violence, and alcohol and drug use. In others, they have connected young people to their Indigenous identity and culture and the sense of worth this can bring.

Some good examples are presented in the Elders’ Report into Preventing Indigenous Self-harm & Youth Suicide (see: https://bepartofthehealing.org/EldersReport.pdf).

The many years of community-generated work in suicide prevention is something that Indigenous Australia, as a collective, should take great pride in.

However, we have to acknowledge also that this alone has not been enough to stop Indigenous suicide rates overall getting higher recently, and that some communities remain at particularly high risk.

ATSISPEP’s first challenge was to identify ‘what works:’ the success factors evident from the suicide prevention work already undertaken in our communities. The second challenge was to support the dissemination of ‘what works’ across all communities: to share knowledge, and ensure that all can benefit from this collective wisdom and experience.

The report includes an analysis of Indigenous suicide prevention program evaluations and previous research and consultations on Indigenous suicide prevention. It includes the input of ATSISPEP-held regional community roundtables, and roundtables on specific topics (for example, on Indigenous young people and suicide prevention, justice issues, and Indigenous LGBTQI and suicide prevention).

ATSISPEP also held a national conference in Alice Springs this May. It was an opportunity to test our work and gather even more information from the 370 attendees, most of whom were Indigenous.

A selection of some of the success factors identified in the report includes:

  • Community-specific programs to address the community-level contributing factors that can lead to suicide.
  • Community development and ownership of programs.
  • Access to culturally competent counsellors and mental health support for people at immediate risk of suicide.
  • The involvement of Elders in programs.
  • Cultural frameworks for programs, and cultural elements in them: for example, culturally-informed healing practices and connecting young people to country.
  • Alcohol and drug use-reduction as a part of an overall response.
  • Gatekeeper training, whereby community members are trained to identify people at risk of suicide and connect them to help.
  • For young people, peer to peer mentoring, and education and leadership on suicide prevention.
  • 24-hour, seven-day a week availability of support.

With ATSISPEP complete, the implementation of the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy (with almost $18 million pledged to it) through the Primary Health Networks, and the establishment of at least two Indigenous suicide prevention trial sites (that were recently announced by the Australian Government) can proceed on an evidence-based footing. ATSISPEP has also generated tools for both Indigenous communities and Primary Health Networks to use to develop and strengthen programs.

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Our NACCHO CEO Pat Turner as a contributor to the report attended the launch pictured here with Senator Patrick Dodson and co-author Prof. Pat Dudgeon

The hope of ATSISPEP is that its report will help bring about a new era in Indigenous suicide prevention in which many lives will be saved. It is now incumbent on Australian governments to ensure that our communities receive the support they need to help make this happen.

All of the ATSISPEP reports can be accessed at www.atsispep.sis.uwa.edu.au.

ATSISPEP was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health.

If you are looking for help please call one of the following national helplines:
Lifeline Counselling Service: 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 (cost of a local call)

atsispep

 

 

 

NACCHO #APSAD @APSADConf Aboriginal Health and #ICE :New study show #Ice use in rural Australia has more than doubled since 2007

 

An ice pipe in Melbourne, Monday, July 2, 2007. The item was one of 76,00 dangerous products seized last financial year, a record total haul for an Australian state or territory. (AAP Image/Julian Smith) NO ARCHIVING

” The study has raised particular concerns given rural Australians already have poorer health outcomes, with shorter life expectancies and significantly higher mortality rates, mental illness, chronic disease, family and domestic violence and more.

 A complex, variable picture has emerged of methamphetamine use across the country, What is clear is that there has been a disproportionately larger increase in the misuse of methamphetamine, including crystal methamphetamine, in rural locations compared to other Australian locations.

 At the same time, it’s very concerning there has been no increase in the number of people accessing help in rural areas. We need to urgently establish whether existing support services simply don’t have the capacity to deal with demand for drug treatment, or whether there are there significant reasons.

 Contributing factors to rural drug problems include lower educational attainment, low socioeconomic status, higher unemployment, isolation and the deliberate targeting of rural communities by illegal distribution networks.

Professor Ann Roche, Director of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction at Flinders University.

Read 51 NACCHO Articles about Aboriginal Health and Ice

 

Australians is on the rise have now been confirmed with the first documented evidence released today at the APSAD Scientific Alcohol and Drugs Conference.

The study – the most detailed examination to date – found lifetime and recent methamphetamine and recent crystal methamphetamine (ice) use is significantly higher among rural than other Australians, at rates double or more.

In addition, recent crystal methamphetamine use in rural Australia has more than doubled since 2007 – increasing by 150 per cent from 0.8 per cent to 2.0 per cent of people reporting lifetime and recent use.

“For some time now there have been anecdotal reports suggesting a high and increasing level of methamphetamine use in rural Australia, but this was unsupported by evidence.

Now we have this proof, the next challenge is to understand why and determine how we can best tackle this problem,” said Professor Ann Roche, Director of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction at Flinders University.

Significantly, more rural men and employed rural Australians use methamphetamine than their city, regional or Australian counterparts, with use most prevalent in men aged 18-25 years.

Recent methamphetamine use in rural teens aged 14-17 years also appears to be much higher than in urban areas.

The study has raised particular concerns given rural Australians already have poorer health outcomes, with shorter life expectancies and significantly higher mortality rates, mental illness, chronic disease, family and domestic violence and more.

“Our findings warrant targeted attention, especially given the pre-existing health and social vulnerabilities of rural Australians. We need tailored strategies and interventions to address this growing health problem,” said Professor Roche.

The research is being presented for the first time at the annual summit of the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD), the APSAD Scientific Alcohol and Drugs Conference, held in Sydney from 30 October to 2 November.

Ice campaign/youth: Did the federal government’s campaign, ‘What are you doing on ice’ really work?

Barriers to treatment: What are the most significant obstacles preventing people seeking treatment for their methamphetamine use? Available upon request

Women/Methamphetamines: A look at the specific treatment barriers faced by women and how to overcome them.

The global burden of methamphetamine disorders: An overview of the proportion of disease burden attributable to substance use disorders and differences in the distribution and burden of amphetamine use disorders between countries, age, sex, and year.

New treatment for methamphetamine addiction: Treatment options for methamphetamine dependence are currently limited, but a drug licensed in Australia for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder could be an important innovation.

Comorbid mental and substance use disorders: The top 10 causes of burden of disease in young Australians (15-24 years) are dominated by mental health and substance use disorders.

OTHER MONDAY HIGHLIGHTS

 Opening by The Hon. (Pru) Prudence Jane Goward, MP NSW Minister for Medical Research, Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and Assistant Minister for Health

Cannabis as Medicine in Australia: Where are we now, where are we heading to, where might we end up? Professor Nicholas Lintzeris

Friend or Enemy? Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Gallop, Director, Graduate School of Government, University of Sydney and Former Premier of Western Australia

About APSAD Sydney 2016

The APSAD Scientific Alcohol and Drugs Conference is the southern hemisphere’s largest summit on alcohol and other drugs attracting leading researchers, clinicians, policy makers and community representatives from across the region. The Conference is run by the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD), Asia Pacific’s leading multidisciplinary organisation for professionals involved in the alcohol and other drug field.

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This year’s theme: Strengthening Our Future through Self Determination

As you are aware, the  2016 NACCHO Members’ Meeting and Annual General Meeting will be in Melbourne this year 6-8 December
1. Call to action to Present
at the 2016 Members Conference closing 8 November
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An ice pipe in Melbourne, Monday, July 2, 2007. The item was one of 76,00 dangerous products seized last financial year, a record total haul for an Australian state or territory. (AAP Image/Julian Smith) NO ARCHIVING

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : Woman behind watershed non-sniffable fuel rollout in Central Australia honoured 10 years on

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“The petrol sniffing problem was like a monsoon rain that flowed down and affected everyone

The liquid petrol was just pouring onto our lands and it was pushing people, particularly young people … and so we needed help with that, and that help came in the form of a different kind of liquid, which was Opal fuel.

That was a really triumphant moment and we knew that it would bring good things, and it has.

Everyone has been so happy since then because of the instant reduction in petrol sniffing. ”

Ms Inyika  ( Her other name is ‘never give up’ ) said through a Pitjantjatjara interpreter. She is now terminally ill and wanted to see her legacy recorded. CAYLUS estimated there had been a 94 per cent reduction in the number of sniffers in the region.

It is the 10-year anniversary since the roll out of non-sniffable Opal fuel in Central Australia and the APY lands, and the woman who led the fight against petrol sniffing has reflected on her triumphant campaign directed at the Federal Government in an interview with the ABC

For decades petrol sniffing devastated the beloved Aboriginal communities of fuel campaigner Janet Inyika.

Ms Inyika fought tirelessly to introducer get non-sniffable low aromatic fuel, known as Opal.

Janet Inyika at fuel launch, 2005

In a wheelchair, Janet Inyika wears a yellow carnation – the same type of flower she held during the launch of Opal fuel in Amata in the remote APY Lands of South Australia’s far north in 2005.

Back then she had everyone wearing the yellow flower, the colour of the fuel, as a symbol of change.

“That was a really triumphant moment and we knew that it would bring good things, and it has,” Ms Inyika said.

“Everyone has been so happy since then because of the instant reduction in petrol sniffing.

“They were so proud of me, and people have been coming up to me ever since and thanking me for all the work that I did to get to that point.”

Her other name is ‘never give up’

Janet Inyika, 2008

Current CEO of the NPY Women’s Council, Andrea Mason, said Ms Inyika was the face of council advocacy long before Opal was introduced.

Ms Inyika was also a leader with Aboriginal corporation NPY Women’s Council for many years.

“She actually has another name and her other name is ‘never give up’,” Ms Mason said.

“Her family was being impacted by sniffing. She was seeing people die around her, become brain injured, disabled for life, and she put herself right in the middle of the fire.”

Ms Mason was working on the APY Lands in the 1990s and saw the problem first-hand.

“I look at this community of Central Australia and there is a line drawn in the sand – the life before Opal fuel and the life after Opal fuel, and the important for us living in the life after Opal fuel is we must never forget how devastating petrol sniffing is,” she said.

Tony Abbott changed position to back fuel rollout

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was the health minister when the Federal Government backed the rollout of Opal across bowsers in the region.

Mr Abbott initially said petrol sniffing could be solved by “parents taking petrol away from their kids”.

However, veteran youth worker Tristan Ray said Mr Abbott was ultimately persuaded by voices on the ground.

“I think that it was just so obvious that it was making a really big difference and there were politicians on all sides of politics that saw the benefit,” Mr Ray said.

Mr Ray said there was still resistance from a handful of fuel retailers, but most have made the switch to Opal.

CAYLUS estimated there had been a 94 per cent reduction in the number of sniffers in the region.

It said on the edges of Opal zones, there were about 20 sniffers remaining

Aboriginal Mental Health News : NACCHO welcomes consultation on Fifth National Mental Health Plan

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“The release of this much awaited Draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan is another important opportunity to support reform, and it’s now up to the mental health sector including consumers and carers, to help develop a plan that will benefit all.”

A successful plan should help overcome the lack of coordination and the fragmentation between layers of government that have held back our efforts to date.”

NACCHO and Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan have welcomed the release of the Draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan and is encouraging all ACCHO stakeholders to engage with the plan during the upcoming consultation period.

Download the Draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan at the link below:

PDF Copy fifth-national-mental-health-plan

You can download a copy of the draft plan;
Fifth National Mental Health Plan – PDF 646 KB
Fifth National Mental Health Plan – Word 537 KB

View all NACCHO 127 Mental Health articles here

View all NACCHO 97 Suicide Prevention articles here

The Consultation Draft of the plan identifies seven priority areas;

1.    Integrated regional planning and service delivery

2.    Coordinated treatment and supports for people with severe and complex mental illness

3.    Safety and quality in mental health care

4.    Suicide prevention

5.    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention

6.    Physical health of people with mental illness

7.    Stigma and discrimination reduction

Summary of actions

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention

1.     Governments will work collaboratively to develop a joined approach to social and emotional wellbeing support, mental health, suicide prevention, and alcohol and other drug services, recognising the importance of what an integrated service offers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

2.     Governments will work with Primary Health Networks and Local Hospital Networks to implement integrated planning and service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the regional level.

3.     Governments will renew efforts to develop a nationally agreed approach to suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

4.     Governments will work with service providers, including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander access to and experience with mental health and wellbeing services.

5.     Governments will work together to strengthen the evidence base needed to inform development of improved mental health services and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

6.Governments will develop suitable public health and communication strategies to better inform the community about suicide and suicide prevention.

Additional info Mental health services—in brief 2016

released: 14 Oct 2016 author: AIHW media release

Download Summary mental-health-serives-in-australia-aiw-report

Mental health services—In brief 2016 provides an overview of data about the national response of the health and welfare system to the mental health care needs of Australians.

It is designed to accompany the more comprehensive data on Australia’s mental health services available online at <http://mhsa.aihw.gov.au>.

Mental Health Australia is pleased to be partnering with the Department of Health to run consultation workshops on the plan during November which is an important opportunity for members to provide feedback and guidance on the plan.

National Consultations

National consultation activities to assist with the development of the Fifth Plan will run from November to early December 2016.

A series of face-to-face workshops will be conducted in all states and territories throughout this period. These workshops will be complemented by local consultation events convened by some states and territories.

An opportunity to submit general feedback on the Fifth Plan via this webpage will also be available throughout the duration of the consultation period.

Info here

Further details on the consultation activities and how you can participate will be available here shortly

 If you need support you can contact one of our 302 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services clinics

Download or free NACCHO Contact APP

or the following services:

Lifeline Freecall 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
NT Mental Health Help Line 1800 682 288
Headspace (12-25 years)     1800 659 388 or 8931 5999
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

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NACCHO #NNW2016 #RMA16 Aboriginal Children’s Health : Malnutrition Traps Children Of Remote Australia In Poverty

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” Growing up without access to affordable, healthy food to eat – being food insecure – is not just bad for the health of a child, it also affects their growth and development.  If food insecurity persists, it affects all aspects of the child’s schooling, setting children up for a poor life trajectory.

The 1000 days from conception up until a child turns two are critical days to ensure every child has the basic building blocks they need for success at school and throughout life.”

Professor Kerry Arabena, Chair of Indigenous Health at the University of Melbourne, leads the First 1000 Days Australia project.

 “We consider electricity and water to be vital parts of society — we even have universal access to the Internet — but we don’t have anything like that for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Kim Webber National Rural Health Alliance 

And the findings of the report Food Insecurity and Health in Rural and Remote Australia support this.

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Download rirdc_foodsecurity_prj010146_fullreport

Malnutrition, obesity and nutritional risk were identified in 44% of paediatric admissions to a sample of tertiary paediatric and regional hospitals during a one-day snap shot of Australian paediatric admissions in 2015.

In 1995, it was estimated that about 20% of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory suffered from malnutrition.  Without more robust data, it is hard to know whether this situation has changed in the intervening 21 years.

And the findings of the report Food Insecurity and Health in Rural and Remote Australia support this.

The events and conditions that exist in these first 1000 days up until a child turns two have a significant impact on the way a child develops. This means the health and wellbeing of the mother before she becomes pregnant and during pregnancy is crucial in giving children the best start in life.

Where conditions are optimal, the mother and child have the best possible situation for a healthy pregnancy resulting in a normal birthweight baby that will reach its healthy growth and development marks.

International studies show that children who are malnourished in the first year of life have impaired growth, lower IQs and poor scholastic achievement.

But this doesn’t have to be.  A second International study that has been following a group of children into adulthood showed that the potentially poor health, education and life outcomes can be addressed with early, ongoing, nutritional support through better diet and vitamin/mineral supplements.

Children offered such ongoing support to their diet had higher rates of schooling completion, better reading comprehension, higher IQ test results and earned higher wages.  And their risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease was also reduced.

With such results, supporting better diets for rural and remote mothers and young children makes sense.

Additional article

On any given day in a regional Australian hospital, 44 percent of children admitted will be there due to malnutrition.

In our wealthy nation, where no one starves, National Rural Health Alliance research details an epidemic of malnutrition in regional and remote areas, and it’s affecting children’s development for the rest of their life.

Chief executive officer Kim Webber told The Huffington Post Australia that the problem isn’t that there is no food — it’s that there is the wrong kind of food available.

“A lot of Australians don’t realise how hard it can be to access affordable fruit and vegetables in regional areas,” Webber told HuffPost Australia.

We consider electricity and water to be vital parts of society — we even have universal access to the Internet — but we don’t have anything like that for fresh fruit and vegetables.Kim Webber

“To get there, the supply chains are long and expensive, and the communities of 1000 or 500 people aren’t big enough to have that buying power. There are no subsidies, it’s all the private market so regular fruit and vegetables end up being very expensive.

“Grey nomads have a better idea of the issues, because they’ve driven through the areas.

“A woman in Wilcannia said she went to make her child a cake, and a tub of butter and a 2L milk cost $14.”

Webber said this often results in a diet of poor quality, processed food. Early malnutrition affects all aspects of a child’s life, from stunting intelligence to affecting concentration at school.

“We’re setting people up for poor health and wellbeing over their whole life because we consider electricity and water to be vital parts of society — we even have universal access to the Internet — but we don’t have anything like that for fresh fruit and vegetables.”

University of Melbourne Chair of Indigenous Health, Kerry Arabena, is leading a program called First 1000 Days Australia project that seeks to ensure children have adequate nutrition right from before conception through to about two years of age.

We know food insecurity among pregnant women has a likely impact of lower birthrates, increased risk of birth defects, and a real risk of poor brain growth and development.Kerry Arabena

“Basically before a woman becomes pregnant, it’s really critical they have access to good fresh food because their health and wellbeing secures that of their children,” Arabena said.

“We know food insecurity among pregnant women has a likely impact of lower birthrates, increased risk of birth defects, and a real risk of poor brain growth and development.”

“International studies show that children who are malnourished in the first year of life have impaired growth, lower IQs and poor scholastic achievement.”

Webber said Australia needed to find ways to ensure all people had access to affordable, nutritious food.

“Otherwise it’s a vicious cycle of disadvantage,” Webber said

How you can share  health messages stories about Aboriginal Community Controlled Health issues ?

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health #suicideprevention News : Health Minister Sussan Ley Communique – Kimberley Roundtable; #suicideprevention

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 “A high-level Roundtable discussion on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide in the Western Australian Kimberley region, chaired by Federal Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, emphasised the need for local, Indigenous controlled responses to the escalating rates of suicide in the community.”

The Hon Sussan Ley Health Minister

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull had committed the Government to this Roundtable discussion with key stakeholders in the Kimberley to understand what is working in the region and what is not and to find some agreement on ways to help shape a new landmark suicide prevention trial in the Kimberley.

The Kimberley region has been selected as an initial site for a suicide prevention trial in recognition of the high rate of suicide in the region, particularly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In the Kimberley, the age-adjusted rate of suicide is more than six times the national average.

Minister Ley was joined by Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, and Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, who is an Aboriginal man from Western Australia.

Delegates to the Roundtable were given an advanced copy of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) report, which was discussed by the project director, Professor Pat Dudgeon.

The report evaluated the effectiveness of existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention services and programs and makes a number of recommendations that emphasise the need for community and culturally sensitive involvement in any suicide prevention activities.

It was agreed that the recommendations of the Report form a blueprint for the suicide prevention trial and that the ATSISPEP Evaluation tool be used and implemented to guide the PHN and Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial site.

Key outcomes from the Roundtable today included:

  • Agreement for a shared commitment between the Australian Government, the community and service providers to reduce the high rates of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Kimberley region.
  • A recognition that suicide is not just a health issue but must link to the social and cultural determents of health.
  • a need to focus on family support
  • that community based interventions are developed and implemented using a foundation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and in partnership with Indigenous communities, including the need to train the local Aboriginal mental health workforce and taking a family focussed approach as part of empowering the community.
  • that the Kimberley trial will develop a suicide prevention model that can support the unique and culturally sensitive requirements of remote communities.
  • that government funding and investment needs to be better targeted with more local involvement and streamlining between State and Federal funding arrangements.
  • and that the Country Western Australian Primary Health Network (PHN) will work closely and collaboratively in partnership with Kimberley Aboriginal groups and organisations in the conduct of the trial. Minister Ley undertook to investigate how to extend Aboriginal community controlled health organisations representation on PHNs.

Outcomes from the Roundtable will help plan and inform the design of the trial, local suicide prevention activity, and inform the design of strategies in the national trial.

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It was agreed that the next step is to establish a Working Group consisting of representatives from local organisations as well as Commonwealth and State Departments with the assistance of the Federal Department of Health to develop the next action items for the trial.

Minister Scullion also committed to returning to the Kimberley region in December.

Minister Scullion also committed to funding a youth forum coordinated by Nyamba Buru Yawuru.

Ministers undertook to hold further consultations on these matters with the local Aboriginal community and other stakeholders in the Kimberley region.

See attached Communique from today’s suicide prevention roundtable.

kimberley-communique

NACCHO #ATSISPEP update : Report from the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander #SuicidePrevention Evaluation project

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 ” National mental health commissioner Professor Pat Dudgeon is attending the meeting in Broome to promote the findings of a report from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation project, which she co-chairs with former social justice commissioner Tom Calma.

The report concludes that effective suicide prevention must be Indigenous-led, and Dr Dudgeon is hopeful that getting the Ministers into the Kimberley will make a difference.

Indigenous leaders meeting three Federal Ministers in Broome today

group

for a roundtable on devastating rates of suicide have expressed cynicism about another meeting on the issue and hope for a radical change to government policies reports the ABC

Please note we have just been advised that the final report should be released by the end of October

View / read an interim copy on the ABC News website

The meeting is a part of the Federal Government’s election policy to trial prevention-of-suicide programs across Australia and has been a hastily arranged according to Broome Indigenous leader Marty Sibosado.

“It’s part of the national suicide policy from the Federal Government. The Kimberley will be a trial site, and to date it’s all been organised very quickly, like in the last 10 days,” Mr Sibosado said.

A new Indigenous-led approach to suicide prevention is expected to take centre place in the discussion between Indigenous leaders and Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, and Assistant Health Minister Ken Wyatt.

The latest effort to reduce some of the worst suicide rates in the world inspires both hope and cynicism for Mr Sibosado.

“We will raise the same issues that were raised by my father and grandfather in the past. The outcome is found in a whole range of reports that have been presented to government,” Mr Sibosado said.

“That’s where we’ll arrive with the same recommendations. Why? Because fundamentally we haven’t been able to connect in terms of working collaboratively.”

Hope for a new Indigenous-led approach

But Mr Sibosado, who is a Kimberley leader for the empowered communities program which aims to work with government to reform Indigenous policy, also holds hope for a new approach of collaboration.

Professor Pat Dudgeon

“Government’s tried with good intent. It’s time for the Aboriginal community to step up, take their share of the responsibility and participate in designing approaches to the various disadvantages and issues that we face,” he said.

“While I may sound critical of government, the challenge is also for the Kimberley Aboriginal community to take some responsibility.”

National mental health commissioner Professor Pat Dudgeon will also attend the meeting in Broome to promote the findings of a report from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation project, which she co-chairs with former social justice commissioner Tom Calma.

The report concludes that effective suicide prevention must be Indigenous-led, and Dr Dudgeon is hopeful that getting the Ministers into the Kimberley will make a difference.

“It’s easy when we’re living in Canberra or a university to not appreciate the complexities of what communities need to deal with,” Dr Dudgeon said.

“So I think it’s good if we can get out of our offices and go and talk to people and be with them, whoever we are.”

Mr Sibosado said suicide prevention needed to look deeper than mental health to the factors that were determining the plight of Indigenous people in the Kimberley.

“On any given day there’d be a thousand Kimberley Aboriginal people incarcerated in prison; we’re looking at around 70 per cent unemployment in the Indigenous community,” he said.

“We want for our children the same opportunities and choices other Australians expect for their children.

“And we want them to succeed in mainstream Australia, achieving educational success, prospering in the economy, and living long safe and health lives.”

 

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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert : Five ways that the $160m same sex plebiscite could be spent in health

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PHAA chief executive Michael Moore said the money should be funnelled into areas that would benefit the community such as health and education instead.

“Essentially this is a waste of money at a time when governments are cutting health budgets – and particularly slashing prevention,” Mr Moore said.

Reporting in todays The Age

Photo Above Some in the health industry name Indigenous health as the top area worthy of investment. Photo: Michael Amendolia

The growing cost of health – powered by an ageing population and more expensive technology – presents an ongoing challenge to the federal government, but there is no shortage of people willing to offer Health Minister Sussan Ley some unsolicited advice on how to better spend her portion of the budget.

If the $160 million was diverted to health, here is where some health advocates believe it could be better invested, in no particular order.

  1. Preventative health

The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report showed the proportion of health expenditure devoted to prevention had decreased to 1.4 per cent in 2013-14, down from 2.2 per cent in 2007-2008.

Although much of the preventative health dollar in that peak year went towards introducing the HPV vaccine, other evidence suggests a disinvestment in preventative health, including the termination of funding to the Australian National Preventative Health Agency [ANPHA].

Michael Moore said the re-opening of that agency and all the programs that it ran would be one good use of the funds, or campaigns on the harms associated with tobacco, alcohol or obesity.

“You could easily spend all of the money on this as we cannot hope to compete with industry bombardment,” he said.

The Heart Foundation has called for $35 million to be spent annually on addressing physical inactivity, which is estimated to cause 14,000 deaths every year.

General manager advocacy Rohan Greenland said Australia was in the bottom third of OECD nations in terms of the amount it spent on preventative health.

“While we are doing well on tobacco control, we should be putting the same, sustained effort into preventing obesity, tackling physical inactivity and addressing poor nutrition,” Mr Greenland said.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the activities of ANPHA had been taken over by the department.

Preventative programs included projects centred on chronic conditions, a National Asthma Strategy, a National Diabetes Strategy, activities addressing healthy eating, physical activity, obesity, tobacco, alcohol, research, immunisation,  mental health initiatives and cancer screening, she said.

  1. Aged care

Nurses nominate aged care as the sector in most dire requirement of funding.

Aged care providers have long been predicting a shortage of places and qualified nurses as baby boomers move into their dotage, with lack of staffing blamed on an increase in violent incidents.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation federal secretary Lee Thomas said $160 million could replace some of the money that has been taken out of the sector in recent years.

“Currently, there is a shortage of 20,000 nurses in aged care,” Ms Thomas said.

“This needs to be fixed as a matter of urgency, given Australia’s rapidly ageing population.

“The restoration of funding for the health sector would also go toward supporting public hospitals in the states and Territories and allowing more graduate nurses to be employed.”

  1. Indigenous health

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association chief executive Alison Verhoeven has a wishlist that lasts pages (“Oh there’s so much you could do”) but indigenous health tops her list.

As a start, the money could be invested in closing the gap in diseases such as rheumatic heart disease and trachoma or addressing the high rates of suicide, drug and alcohol abuse.

“We could be looking beyond that at things like how we incorporate investment in safe housing and safe food supplies and ensure that kids growing up in indigenous, particularly remote and rural, communities actually get a good start in life,” Ms Verhoeven said.

  1. Chronic disease

The Heart Foundation has argued that there is an economic and social argument to address chronic disease, which cause 90 per cent of all deaths and 85 per cent of the burden of disease.

“The health minister has rightly said that chronic disease is our greatest health challenge,” Mr Greenland said.

“We need to be better at early detection of those at risk of having heart attacks, strokes or developing diabetes and kidney disease.”

The federal government unveiled in March a trial of “Health Care Homes”, whereby people with chronic disease would have all their care managed from a single GP practice, but Ms Verhoeven says the $21 million package would only cover education and training.

“It’s not enough to make a real change across Australia in the way we deliver primary care.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the $21 million was in addition to $93 million that would be redirected from the Medicare Benefits Schedule in 2017-18 and 2018-19 to support the management of patients with chronic conditions.

  1. Mental health

Many in the health sector are concerned that the angst caused by the plebiscite could actually contribute to its overall cost.

Michael Moore said the mental health impact of the plebiscite was estimated to cost $20 million and already there was more demand for counselling services.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists has called for employment support for people with mental illness and improved services for people with borderline personality disorder, aged care residents, children and adolescents and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.