NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert : #BlackLivesMatter is not just a hashtag or a movement. It is an opportunity for real change.  Says Jill Gallagher AO, CEO of VACCHO

Unless we as a Nation, are prepared to address racism head on then we will never see improved health and wellbeing outcomes. Long after COVID-19 vanishes.

This point in history is the point in which choices need to be made. We must move beyond mere words of support and into full action.

Being ‘in this together’ is a slogan made popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it is more than a slogan. It is time that we understood what that would look like if we accepted that challenge.

To those who are not from our communities, being in this together means this.

  • Keep marching alongside us. We make up three percent of Australia’s population only. To the other 97 percent, this is your fight for a better future, too.
  • Keep amplifying our voice.
  • Keep demanding justice. Support treaty and truth telling commissions as outlined in the Uluru Statement of the Heart.
  • Keep calling on the governments to stamp out racism.

We cannot walk this road alone, anymore. It has been 231 years. It goes without saying that this is a defining moment in history. And one that will be reflected upon by future generations.

A legacy will be made forever in the way we choose to respond. ”

Ms Jill Gallagher AO, a Gunditjmara woman from western Victoria, is CEO of VACCHO

This article was first published in VACCHO News

We know our families and communities are hurting. This is a failure of the system.

There is a shocking and disproportionate level of suicide between Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples compared to the broader Australian population.”

Jill Gallagher, chief executive of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health ­Organisation, said answers were needed urgently : Interview with Australian see Part 2 Below

Part 1: Let’s change history together

In the same week Australia was set to celebrate its Aboriginal reconciliation achievements, the world was devastated that George Floyd was racially targeted and killed by Minnesota police.

This violent act had reverberations at home; it spoke to our own colonial injustice. A story we know too well.

As much as this has become a global story and sparked global unrest among the broader community, for those of us with lived experience of racial abuse, it’s a deeply personal story.

We saw our sons, our uncles, our brothers, our cousins in George’s eyes.

I witnessed my own mother being asked to leave a shop when I was a very little girl in rural Victoria.  My son is reluctant to display the Aboriginal flag on his car for fear of being pulled over by police.

Only two weeks ago, during a local supermarket trip the morning of the Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne, I was wearing my Aboriginal t-shirt and carrying an Aboriginal bag.

Once I had finished my shopping, I went through the self-checkout when the person who monitors that section stopped me and asked if she could search my bags. I said no assertively and asked her why she had targeted me, and not the other people just walking through. She advised “because it’s policy”.’

Unless you have experienced this kind of blatant racism daily, it can be hard to appreciate the cumulative impact of this behaviour on an individual’s emotional, mental, and ultimately physical wellbeing.

But the BLM response is a wake-up call that we can no longer ignore – a stark reminder of the violence and racism that plagues our own society. It is time for Australians to truly understand that racism exists here on all levels, and it is killing our people.

This is much deeper than a social movement. It is our current, lived reality. For this generation, and – if we do not step forward to change – it will be the reality for our next generation.

Our reality needs to change

In June 2020, our people are more likely to go to prison, than go to University; and not for serious crimes either, for unpaid fines or petty crimes like shoplifting.

Our people are more likely to be locked up and die in custody. We are more likely to die or be seriously injured in family violence incidents. We are also more likely to die from chronic disease.

We are more likely to live in places that have poor air and food quality too. Appallingly, 95 percent of us have experienced some form of racism, which carries the same health impact equivalent to smoking.  And we are more likely to experience high levels of psychological distress rooted in intergenerational grief, loss, and trauma.

The pandemic has taught VACCHO and our member organisations many things. But in most cases it has reaffirmed the inequality around the globe when it comes to health care access.

In the US, the latest data shows African Americans have died from the disease at almost three times the rate of white people. In the UK, black men and women are four times more likely to die from coronavirus than white people.

During the pandemic, we heard abhorrent stories of remote Aboriginal communities being sent body bags, instead of adequate supplies and support. We’ve heard of Aboriginal organisations in Victoria, almost shutting down or being forced to make their own personal protective equipment, as they were not seen as an ‘essential service’.

Federally, we continue to see an abundance of investment being prioritised to non-Aboriginal health organisations that do not always deliver outcomes for our communities.

Of the $2.4 billion dollars invested in a COVID-19 health plan, only $123 million was provided to Aboriginal Communities and $57.8 million went to remote Aboriginal Communities.

In Victoria, the flow-down of that funding was minimal.

Courage and resilience

While the challenges we have faced and continue to face as First Nations peoples speak of injustice and heartache. That is not the whole story.

Ours is also a story of courage, resilience, and achievement. This history is also a powerful reality. A story that is seldom told. Starting from today and working backwards.

COVID-19 was predicted to have devastating impacts on our communities. To date, the Victorian Aboriginal community has had a total of six cases. Nationally, that total is 60. We have forged a path in working together for health and wellbeing.

This way of working has stopped the outbreak and saved lives.

That said, even with the low incidence of COVID-19 cases in our communities. This pandemic has placed us in a situation that might take years to recover from.

But alas, Aboriginal people and communities and organisations, right across the country, have shown tremendous strength, fortitude, and adaptability. In some ways, this should not be a surprise. Resilience is in our DNA.

Aboriginal people have inhabited Australia for over 80,000 years, though we believe this to be longer. In this time, we survived the end of the last Ice Age, watching as glaciers retreated, isolating us from the rest of the world. We faced massive changes to the land, to animals, to flora and food sources. And even still our populations flourished.

It is believed by the time Captain Cook crashed into the Great Barrier Reef in 1770; our population was in the middle of a three-century growth spurt.

We developed knowledge and relationships with the land and each other. These complex relationships enabled us to thrive, to adapt and excel, in some of the harshest environments known to man. Yet what was to come was one of the biggest threats; colonisation.

When that occurred, we fought to survive massacres and genocide. We fought to survive attempts at assimilation.

Being forced off our traditional lands and herded on missions like cattle. And having our families and customs ripped apart. That happened to my family, it happened to me.

We fought to survive newly introduced diseases like smallpox. We fought and survived them, nonetheless. We have not been recognised as First Nations of this Country, or for those injustices. And we certainly have not been celebrated for our resilience, and our achievements.

And in 2020, I ask Australians this. Should we be expected to keep fighting for justice and equality?

Fighting to be valued in a world that chooses not to see black or brown people is a heavy burden to bear.

And I would argue it is, in fact, not our burden at all. Isn’t it time now for our fellow Australians to finally stand up to alleviate some of this weight?

If not now, when?

Part 2 : More than half of the indigenous people who committed suicide in Victoria since 2009 had contact with police in the 12 months ­before they died and a third had contact with the court system, a groundbreaking report has found.

Advocacy groups claim the ­extensive data breakdown in the report by the Coroners Court provides proof of the extent of indigenous vulnerabilities and suicides.

Since the beginning of the year, 11 indigenous people have committed suicide in

The report shows marked differences between indigenous and non-indigenous people who committed suicide during the recording period of January 2009 to April 30 this year.

Forty per cent of indigenous females who committed suicide were aged under 25, compared with 13.4 per cent of all females who took their lives.

Indigenous people who committed suicide had greater contact in the previous year with police (52.2 per cent to 39.6 per cent) and were also more likely to have a diagnosed mental illness (62.3 per cent to 55.7 per cent).

Alcohol was detected in 40.2 per cent of post-mortem toxicology results of indigenous people compared to 29.4 of all Victorians, and the detection of ­illegal drugs was also higher (42 per cent to 15 per cent).

Coroner John Cain said the ­report was important because it provided a significant data base going forward. He said people had previously speculated on the suicide figures but the report and more detailed future studies would provide reliable background data for policy decisions.

Jacqueline McGowan-Jones, chief executive of Thirrili, an indigenous organisation working to stem suicide, said there needed to be a focus on prevention of indigenous suicides as well as “postvention” to help families and friends cope with bereavement and trauma.

“We want early notification reporting from people so we can reach out to the family,” she said.

“(Reports on) self-harm and attempted suicide, the protocols can get better at providing support to those at risk.

“I do commend Victoria on doing the report. The way we get change is to identify why it is happening.”

Ms McGowan-Jones said there needed to be a stronger focus on support services.

“It’s heartbreaking that with all the opportunity for prevention, we still can’t reach everybody who needs help and support,” she said.

 

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 79 : June 11 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : 1.#COVID19 advice for #BlackLivesMatter protestors 2. New $24.2 million @headspace_aus mental health services funding for young people aged 12–25

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lives Matter: Many thousands of people around the country gathered in public places to give that message loud and clear over the weekend.

This has been followed by some mixed messages about the risks of catching COVID-19 and who needs to be tested.

Through following the health messages below, we can continue to keep COVID-19 infections low amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and all Australians.

1.People with coronavirus can spread the virus for at least 48 hours before showing symptoms. This is why it is important you continue with social distancing, regular hand washing and cough hygiene.If you can, avoid contact with Elders and with people with chronic medical conditions as these people are at much higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness if they get infected.

2.If you develop even the mildest of symptoms, stay home and get a COVID-19 test. The symptoms that warrant a COVID-19 test include a sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, chills, night sweats or a temperature over 37.5°C. The earlier we pick up infections, the quicker we can move to prevent further spread.

3.Testing is only recommended for people with symptoms.

Part 2 : Press Release : The Australian Government announced an additional $24 million in funding , to expand headspace services and reduce wait times for young people seeking mental health support.

The Federal Government is investing $24.2 million to reduce wait times – fast tracking access to mental health services for young people aged 12–25 seeking headspace appointments.

Mental health and suicide prevention remains one of our Government’s highest priorities.

One in four young Australians are affected by a mental health illness every year, and as we battle COVID-19 it’s more important than ever that we prioritise mental health.

The disruption to normal life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the required restrictions has had profound impacts on young Australians.

Funding will go to Primary Health Networks (PHNs) in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and headspace National.

Services provided through headspace centres are a safe place to turn to, somewhere young people can get professional help, peer support and feel comfortable enough to tackle their challenges in a way that is right for them.

headspace provides access to free or low cost youth-friendly, primary mental health services with a single entry point to holistic care in four key areas—mental health, related physical health, substance misuse, and social and vocational support.

Prior to the pandemic, headspace service centres were experiencing high demand across the country.

Our Government’s investment will ensure young Australians can get information, advice, understanding, counselling and treatment, when and where they need it.

Individual grants of up to $2 million will improve facilities, access and reduce waiting times at headspace services commissioned by PHNs.

The headspace Demand Management and Enhancement Program is an investment of $152 million over seven years from 2018-19 by the Morrison Government to reduce wait times at headspace services.

The headspace services which will receive funding through this grant opportunity are:

State/Territory headspace Service
New South Wales Bankstown, Bondi Junction, Camperdown, Dubbo, Griffith, Hurstville, Lismore, Lithgow, Liverpool, Maitland, Miranda, Nowra, Orange, Penrith, Port Macquarie, Queanbeyan, Tamworth, Tweed Heads, Wagga Wagga and Wollongong
Victoria Albury-Wodonga, Bairnsdale, Bendigo, Geelong, Greensborough, Shepparton, Werribee and Wonthaggi
Queensland Bundaberg, Capalaba, Hervey Bay, Inala, Maroochydore, Nundah, Rockhampton, Southport, Townsville and Warwick
South Australia Berri, Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge and Port Augusta
Tasmania Hobart and Launceston
ACT Canberra

Our Government continues to demonstrate its firm commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.

Children, young people and their families have been identified as a vulnerable population in the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan.

We know this group will experience the impact of the social and economic outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic the most.

Through record investments in mental health services and support, the Morrison Government will invest an estimated $5.2 billion this year alone.

Since the beginning of the year, our Government has provided $8 billion as part of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) National Health Plan, which is supporting primary care, aged care, hospitals, research and the national medical stockpile.

This includes an additional $500 million for mental health services and support, including $64 million for suicide prevention, $74 million for preventative mental health services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and $48 million to support the pandemic response plan.

Next COVID-19 Webinar

A reminder too that our next webinar on the COVID-19 response for mental health will be held on Wednesday 17 June, 11am – 11:30am AEST. We hope to see you then and, as always, you can catch up on all previous webinars on-demand.

COVID webinar survey

If you have also been one of the thousands of practitioners who have watched our COVID-19 webinars then we are especially grateful for your engagement. The questions and comments have helped shape the information we have been providing.

To make sure our communication activities continue to be useful as we enter the next phase of the pandemic response, we would like your feedback. Your responses will be anonymous, and should take less than 5 minutes to complete. We appreciate your time is extremely valuable.

This link will remain open until COB Tuesday 16 June.

Take survey HERE

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus #MentalHealth News Alert No 68 : May 21 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : @GayaaDhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia – two new wellbeing and mental health posters released this week Staying Strong and Healthy During the Coronavirus Outbreak

” Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, the new national Indigenous wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention leadership body, this week launched two additional wellbeing and mental health support posters for Indigenous Australians for staying healthy and strong during the coronavirus outbreak.”

Download all 7 posters HERE 

The first, Looking After Ourselves – Our Way is a contemporary expression of the social and emotional wellbeing concept with seven intersecting elements that have supported Indigenous Australians physical, mental and spiritual health for tens of thousands of years including periods of adversity, and are of equal value during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The second, How Are You Coping with Coronavirus? encourages Indigenous people to check in with themselves and others to keep their wellbeing and mental health on track during these difficult times.

The two new posters are in addition to the five ‘tips’ posters Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia published on 13 May, and further to the long and shorter tips material published on their website in April.

The posters are designed to appeal to wide cross section of Indigenous audiences – remote and urban, and young and old alike.

There will be more wellbeing support resources published by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia over the coming months to meet the continuing challenges associated with the virus

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Remote Communities News : I. @SenatorDodson The Need to empower remote Communities 2.@abcnews Empowering Young Leaders’ in the Kimberley call for change to curb suicides

Indigenous people living in remote communities are still betrayed. The truth of this nationally is seen in the government’s “duck, dive” approach to entrenching a voice in the Constitution.

On the first day of parliament sittings next year, the Prime Minister will present the annual Closing the Gap report, an index of the disadvantage experienced by First Nations people.

It will be another recitation of government failures to improve their lives — lives that in remote communities end many years shorter than elsewhere.

Not only do they die younger, their existence also is miserable. It’s not just a matter of poor service delivery, it’s that their lives are not their own. Governments, unwilling to trust First Nations people to take charge of their own lives, continue to intrude and manage.

Patrick Dodson is the Labor senator for Western Australia writing in the Weekend Australian

See Part 1 Below

“The Empowered Young Leaders’ report, released last week, calls for more education for young people around social and emotional wellbeing and increased efforts to embed Indigenous culture in schools.

They also want a permanent forum for young people to voice their concerns.

It comes as the State Government considers a formal response to the WA coroner’s inquest into the suicides of 13 Indigenous young people in the remote region.” 

See Part 2 Below

After 2,800 Aboriginal Health Alerts over 7 and half years from www.nacchocommunique.com NACCHO media will cease publishing from this site as from 31 December 2019 and resume mid January 2020 with posts from www.naccho.org.au

For historical and research purposes all posts 2012-2019 will remain on www.nacchocommunique.com

Your current email subscription will be automatically transferred to our new Aboriginal Health News Alerts Subscriber service that will offer you the options of Daily , Weekly or Monthly alerts

For further info contact Colin Cowell NACCHO Social Media Media Editor

Part 1 : The nation’s treatment of remote indigenous communities is an international scandal. We need a Marshall Plan to end the squalor.

Labor MPs Murray Watt, Linda Burney, Warren Snowdon, Sharon Claydon and Patrick Dodson on their indigenous road trip. Picture: supplied

In January 1994, then Labor senator Graham Richardson, health minister in Paul Keating’s government, toured remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Conditions in those communities, he said, were “miserable”. He “saw things … that would barely be tolerated in a war-ravaged African nation”.

In August, with a party of fellow federal Labor parliamentarians, I did a big sweep through remote communities in WA and the Territory. From Port Hedland we dropped in at Marble Bar, Jigalong, Newman, Meekatharra, Wiluna, Leonora,

More than 25 years after Richardson’s expedition, I can attest that conditions for Aboriginal people in those places are still miserable and intolerable.

Last month WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt visited remote communities in his jurisdiction and wrote in The Australian of their “institutionalised ghetto status”.

How many inquiries or reports will it take, how often can the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples declaim against this tragedy, before Australia confronts the crisis that cripples these communities, and sets about fixing things?

The people out there did not choose to live in those places. By and large, those communities were artificially designed by bureaucrats and Aboriginal people were shepherded there — sometimes for their protection (from Woomera rockets, for example), sometimes as a consequence of assimil­ationist policies. But, having plonked them there, governments have failed to maintain adequate basic services.

Forget the trumped-up national emergency John Howard and Mal Brough declared across the Northern Territory in June 2007 (although Aboriginal people will never forget).

The real emergency was staring them right in the face and they never dealt with it: the parlous plight of thousands of Aboriginal people forced to live in squalor and denied basic rights of citizenship.

It’s interesting to recall that back in 1994 when Richardson pledged to “clear up that mess” he said: “I hope perhaps out of the social justice package we’ve promised for Mabo, there will be scope to address some of these wrongs.”

The Keating government’s response to the High Court’s Mabo decision had three elements: the Native Title Act, the land fund — out of which grew the (now) Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation — and a social justice package.

Robert Tickner, Keating’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs minister, told the 12th session of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1994: “The social justice package presents Australia with what is likely to be the last chance this decade to put a policy framework in place to effectively address the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as a necessary commitment to the reconciliation process leading to the centenary of Federation in 2001.”

Hollow words. The justice package was doomed: the Keating government did not press its pro­gress and passed to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission the job of consulting with First Nations about what it should embrace.

Keating’s successor, John Howard, rejected ATSIC’s visionary report in 1996 and went off on his own “practical reconciliation” frolic. ATSIC itself was dispatched by Howard a few years later, but it’s worth restating a few words from the ATSIC report on the social justice package because they continue to resonate: “Indigenous people have been too often betrayed over the last two centuries by fine words that have soon withered in the grim drought of inaction and indifference.”

Indigenous people living in remote communities are still betrayed. The truth of this nationally is seen in the government’s “duck, dive” approach to entrenching a voice in the Constitution.

On the first day of parliament sittings next year, the Prime Minister will present the annual Closing the Gap report, an index of the disadvantage experienced by First Nations people. It will be another recitation of government failures to improve their lives — lives that in remote communities end many years shorter than elsewhere.

Not only do they die younger, their existence also is miserable. It’s not just a matter of poor service delivery, it’s that their lives are not their own. Governments, unwilling to trust First Nations people to take charge of their own lives, continue to intrude and manage.

Remote communities, especially those in the desert region straddling the Territory,WA and South Australia, have the foundations of their customary law, kinship relationships and knowledge of country pretty much underpinning their continuing survival. It is the world of art, sport and ceremonial obligations that makes their world partly tolerable.

But, as long as we view these places through the prism of reform­ing public sector outlays, we will continue to contribute to their demise. They must have a real say in their destiny, and governments have a duty to reorder ideological and biased views about their futures.

In the Territory, the federal government wants to foist its cashless debit card on 23,000 people deemed to be “beneficiaries”, who are already subject to income management (a hangover from the intervention). There is no choice being offered here and the policy will impact severely on First Nations people living remotely.

As the Central Land Council has pointed out, the transfer to the CDC will require people to have an email address, access to mobile phone coverage and a smartphone, the skills to navigate online card activation, and access to the internet. But access to the National Broadband Network is limited in remote communities, home computers are rare, and most internet access through mobile phones is intermittent and unreliable. CDC holders will need to receive an activation number by post, but the post in remote communities is slow or non-existent.

The federal government’s plan to introduce the CDC is yet another example of top-down policy, and recipients in remote communities have not been consulted.

So much for the government’s mantra it wants to do things with First Nations people, not to them.

How will this card help build the capacity of people in these remote communities? How will it help them manage their lives?

We need new frameworks that enable people in remote communities to determine their destiny, and for governments to treat them as sovereign peoples.

These remote communities must be helped to lift themselves out of “institutionalised ghetto status”. Relief is beyond the capacity of states and territories. The federal government has the remit to avert disaster — after all, what was the 1967 referendum all about?

It will require a Marshall Plan to correct the decades of neglect.

However, until we grasp that sort of commitment and empower remote Aboriginal communities, the lives of their residents will be further accursed.

Part 2

Aboriginal youth leaders in Western Australia’s far north have made sweeping recommendations to curb the chronic rates of suicide among their peers.

PHOTO: The Empowered Youth Leader delegates have proposed a set of recommendations. (Supplied: WA Primary Health Alliance)

Key points:

  • Suicide remains the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • The Empowered Young Leaders’ report calls for more education for young people around social and emotional wellbeing
  • It also recommends increased efforts to embed Indigenous culture in schools, and a permanent forum for young people to voice concerns

From Here

The Empowered Young Leaders’ report, released last week, calls for more education for young people around social and emotional wellbeing and increased efforts to embed Indigenous culture in schools.

They also want a permanent forum for young people to voice their concerns.

It comes as the State Government considers a formal response to the WA coroner’s inquest into the suicides of 13 Indigenous young people in the remote region.

Too many lost’

In an impassioned statement, the delegates put policy makers on notice, saying they would no longer accept the “normalisation of suicide”.

“We have lost too many loved ones to suicide,” the statement read.

“Through our own lived experience, we bear witness to the heavy burden our families and communities endure in grappling with the never-ending cycle of grief and loss.

“We no longer choose to be disempowered by the issues that continue to impact on us as a result of intergenerational trauma. The lives of our children and grandchildren are in our hands.”

Jacob Smith, 23, has been working in suicide prevention for two years.

As a member of the Empowered Young Leaders, he spent 12 months working intensely with 10 youth delegates across the Kimberley.

He said the recommendations were the starting point for creating generational change.

“There’s endless possibilities, there’s a lot more focus now on young people stepping up and getting involved,” he said.

“Our hope is to amplify our voice and be at the forefront of these conversations with our leaders.

“If we can better consult with our youth they will be way more inclined to engage in these conversations and initiatives.”

Efforts to meaningfully reduce the amount of Aboriginal youth taking their lives have largely failed, despite dozens of reports, inquests and millions of dollars in funding.

It remains the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

In the Kimberley, the rate of youth suicide is among the highest in the world.

In the aftermath of coroner Ros Fogliani’s 2017 inquest into 13 suicides, young people had been given a bigger role in helping governments at both levels forge a solution.

Mr Smith said the top priority was to ensure youth were permanently involved in the design and delivery of policy.

He said this would be achieved by establishing local Aboriginal youth action committees in each town.

“We need to invest and build the skills of our young people … to build a real peer-to-peer network in the Kimberley,” he said.

“There’s a few of us young people working in this space but we don’t feel like we have a strong network.

“There’s no real structure around that at the moment.”

Calls for better education and resources

Education was another key area in which the group wanted improvement.

They called for more social and emotional wellbeing training for young local people so they could support their peers with mental health difficulties.

There was also a push to better involve youth in developing targeted programs.

Delegates raised concerns about the lack of after-hours services, and proposed to establish 24-hour safe houses and a youth-focused rehabilitation centre.

“Delegates expressed frustration at the lack of local training and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people in the youth services sector,” the report stated.

They also identified the poor “cultural and community connection” between mainstream services and local Aboriginal families.

Government to respond to coroner’s inquest

The report is being considered by the WA Government.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Wyatt said the recommendations were valued and would be treated with respect.

“The report will have an important role to play in the Government’s understanding of the perspective of young Aboriginal people in the region,” he said.

Mr Wyatt also outlined the McGowan Labor Government’s efforts to improve education and skills training.

“In 2019, there were 60 WA public schools teaching one or more of 21 Aboriginal languages to 5,611 students,” the Minister said.

“WA public schools are increasingly teaching children local Aboriginal languages, benefiting students and helping to keep the languages alive in our communities.

“The Aboriginal Cultural Standards Framework supports all Department of Education staff to reflect on their approaches to the education of Aboriginal students.”

Mr Wyatt pointed to a “range of regional partnerships” that ensured Aboriginal people received adequate skills training.

“A great success story is one of North Regional TAFE’s alumni, Soleil White, who was named the WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year at the 2018 WA Training Awards.”

The State Government is expected to hand down its formal response to the coroner’s inquest in the coming weeks.

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NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #SuicidePrevention @cbpatsisp : Health Minister @GregHuntMP welcomes the #YouCanTalk campaign, encouraging our mob struggling with their mental health to reach out and find support

“ The Federal Government welcomes the #YouCanTalk campaign, which encourages Australians struggling with their mental health to reach out and find support.

The awareness campaign is a collaboration between several organisations, including Beyond Blue, Everymind, headspace, Lifeline, ReachOut, RU OK?, SANE Australia, the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, Roses in the Ocean and the Black Dog Institute.

The campaign will take place over the December-January holiday period, in recognition of how difficult this time of year can be for many Australians.

Our Government commends the collaboration of these organisations to raise awareness about the importance of starting a conversation, particularly over the Christmas-New Year period.” 

Health Minister Greg Hunt Press Release continued Part 1 below 

Read over 160 Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years 

” Suicide has emerged in the past half century as a major cause of premature mortality and is a contributor to the overall health and life expectancy gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In 2018 it was the fifth leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the age-standardised suicide rate was more than twice as high as the non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rate.”

What we know about suicide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people : or see Part 3 Below

Sadly, more than 3,000 Australians choose to end their lives each year – about eight people a day.

Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy, creating a ripple effect that flows through families, friendship groups, schools, workplaces and communities.

That’s why the Federal Government has committed to Towards Zero – working towards reducing the suicide rate to zero.

Towards Zero is a total commitment to the value of each and every life, and recognises the importance of all lives, in all ages, and all groups.

This commitment is backed by our investment of $5.2 billion in mental health and suicide prevention services this financial year, including $63.3 million on suicide prevention activities.

It’s so important for Australians who are struggling to reach out and seek support.

The #YouCanTalk campaign also aims to connect people with tools that can support them through their website

www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au/youcantalk.

#YouCanTalk exists to encourage all Australians to have a conversation with a friend, family member or work colleague they’re concerned about.

While it can be difficult to talk about suicide, research shows you can have a positive influence on someone who may be considering suicide by initiating a conversation with them and supporting them to seek help.

The main message is you don’t need to be a clinician, a GP, or a nurse to check-in with someone you are worried about.

It is OK to let someone know you have noticed they are struggling and ask them if they are experiencing thoughts of suicide.

It is normal to feel worried or nervous about having a conversation with a friend, family member or work colleague who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts, but there are resources available to help you.

Life in Mind is a national digital gateway providing organisations and communities access to suicide prevention information, programs, services, resources and research.

Part 3

Suicide has emerged in the past half century as a major cause of premature mortality and is a contributor to the overall health and life expectancy gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

In 2018 it was the fifth leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the age-standardised suicide rate was more than twice as high as the non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rate.

The standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (24.1 per 100, 000) was higher than the non-Indigenous rate (12.4 per 100, 000)2.

On average, over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons end their lives through suicide each year, accounting for 1 in 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths.

STATISTIC

Further suicide data can be found at the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, and from the ATSISPEP report.

Three main issues can be identified:

  1. There is variable quality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification at the state and national levels, resulting in an expected under-reporting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides.
  2. Lack of reporting on suicide due to questions regarding intent, especially in the case of childhood suicides. Similarly, it can be demonstrated that there may be a reluctance to classify adult deaths as suicides for a variety of reasons also.
  3. Delays in reporting data, whereby incidences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide might not be known for months and often years after the fact.

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth #SuicidePrevention : New @ozprodcom report says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are twice as likely as non-indigenous people to be hospitalised because of mental illness, and twice as likely to die by suicide.

 ” The report says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are twice as likely as non-indigenous people to be hospitalised because of mental illness, and twice as likely to die by suicide.

For those up to 24 years of age, the suicide rate is 14 times higher for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

And services are far from uniform across the nation, with ­people in capital cities nearly twice as likely to access mental health services as those in ­remote areas.

It recommended services tailored to meet the needs of “particular groups”,  including First Nations people.

Aboriginal health practitioner play an important role in providing culturally capable care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,”

The Productivity Commission, in a forensic examination of mental illness, finds it is costing the ­nation about $500m a day and recommends sweeping policy changes in the health system, workplaces, housing and the ­justice system. see Key findings below 

Download all reports HERE

Or Summary HERE

mental-health-draft-overview

Download NACCHO’s submission to this report

NACCHO-mental-health submission

Read over 230 Aboriginal Mental Health articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years 

Read over 150 Aboriginal Health and Suicide articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years

Today’s news coverage

From todays The Australian

One million Australians with mental health conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to psychosis and borderline personality disorders are going untreated each year, while the economic cost of mental illness has hit $180bn.

The Productivity Commission, in a forensic examination of mental illness, finds it is costing the ­nation about $500m a day and recommends sweeping policy changes in the health system, workplaces, housing and the ­justice system.

Calling for “generational changes’’ to address a problem that is getting worse despite increasing expenditure in the area, the report, to be released on Thursday, estimates there are 3.9 million people with mental illness, but only 2.9 million are ­accessing support and services.

One in eight visits to the GP is related to mental health issues, and mental health presentations at emergency departments have risen by about 70 per cent over the past 15 years.

The system is not adequately helping many people seeking treatment, the report finds, with one million having symptoms too complex to be adequately treated by a GP and limited government-funded sessions available with mental health providers.

But their condition does not reach the threshold to access state-­funded specialised services, private psychiatrists or private hospitals because of long waiting lists or high out-of-pocket costs.

The report finds many people still avoid treatment because of stigma and, with 75 per cent of people with a mental health issue first experiencing symptoms before the age of 25, calls for a greater focus on early ­intervention.

Social and emotional development checks of Australia’s 1.25 million children aged up to three years are among 25 detailed recommendations.

Productivity Commission chairman Michael Brennan said dealing with mental illness was “one of the biggest policy challenges confronting Australia”.

“Mental ill health has huge impacts on people, communities and our economy, but mental health is treated as an add-on to the physical health system — this has to change,” Mr Brennan said.

He highlighted the need for a greater emphasis on early intervention. “Seventy-five per cent of those who develop mental illness first experience symptoms before they turn 25,” he said.

“Mental ill health in critical schooling and employment years has long-lasting effects for not only your job prospects but many aspects of your life.”

Workplace, housing and education reforms to support people with mental illness are also proposed. “Mental illness is the second largest contributor to years lived in ill health,” the report finds.

“Compared to other developed countries, the prevalence of mental illness in Australia is above the OECD average.’’

The report marks the first time mental health has been examined beyond its clinical context into policy areas such as education, housing, justice and the workplace.

The report, a draft inviting public submissions, notes that one in two Australians will be affected by issues such as anxiety and ­depression during their lifetime.

“The cost to the Australian economy of mental ill health and suicide is, conservatively, in the order of $43bn-$51bn a year. ­Additional to this is an approximately $130bn a year cost associated with diminished health and reduced life expectancy for those living with mental ill health.”

The direct costs are broken down into healthcare support and services ($18bn a year), lower economic participation and lost productivity ($10bn-$18bn) and informal care provided by friends and family ($15bn).

Broader social effects such as the cost of stigma or lower social participation aren’t quantified.

The report notes that while costs have risen, “there has been no clear indication that the ­mental health of the population has improved”.

“Community awareness about mental illness has come a long way, but the mental health system has not kept pace with needs and expectations of how the wellbeing and productive capacity of people should be supported,” the commission says.

“The treatment of, and support for, people with mental illness has been tacked on to a system that has been largely ­designed around the characteristics of physical illness.

“And while service levels have increased in some areas, progress has been patchy. The right services are not available when ­needed, leading to wasted health resources and missed opportunities to improve lives.”

The report says Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders are twice as likely as non-indigenous people to be hospitalised because of mental illness, and twice as likely to die by suicide.

For those up to 24 years of age, the suicide rate is 14 times higher for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

And services are far from uniform across the nation, with ­people in capital cities nearly twice as likely to access mental health services as those in ­remote areas.

The commission also calls out: thin services in the regions; too clinical an approach to mental health concerns; stigma and discrimination leading to a reluctance to seek support; and a lack of clarity between the tiers of government about roles, responsibilities and funding of services.

Among its recommended reforms, it calls for greater specialist mental health services to be ­delivered outside acute, expensive, hospital settings.

It also calls for greater investment in “long-term housing solutions for those with severe mental illness who lack stable housing”. “Stable housing for this group would not only improve their mental health and inclusion within the community, but reduce their future need for higher cost mental health in­patient services,” it says.

Workplace reform is also ­proposed.

The commission invites written submissions by January 23 in response to its draft report, and a final report will be provided to the government in May.

 

 

Australia’s mental health: a generational shift is needed

·     In any year, approximately one in five Australians experiences mental ill-health. While most people manage their health themselves, many who do seek treatment are not receiving the level of care necessary. As a result, too many people suffer additional preventable physical and mental distress, relationship breakdown, stigma, and loss of life satisfaction and opportunities.

·     The treatment of mental illness has been tacked on to a health system that has been largely designed around the characteristics of physical illness. But in contrast to many physical health conditions

–        mental illness tends to first emerge in younger people (75% of those who develop mental illness, first experience mental ill-health before the age of 25 years) raising the importance of identifying risk factors and treating illness early where possible.

–        there is less awareness of what constitutes mental ill-health, the types of help available or who can assist. This creates need for not only clear gateways into mental healthcare, but effective ways to find out about and navigate the range of services available to people.

–        the importance of non-health services and organisations in both preventing mental illness from developing and in facilitating a person’s recovery are magnified, with key roles evident for — and a need for coordination between — psychosocial supports, housing services, the justice system, workplaces and social security.

–        adjustments made to facilitate people’s active participation in the community, education and workplaces have, for the most part, lagged adjustments made for physical illnesses, with a need for more definitive guidance on what adjustments are necessary and what interventions are effective.

·     The cost to the Australian economy of mental ill-health and suicide is, conservatively, in the order of $43 to $51 billion per year. Additional to this is an approximately $130 billion cost associated with diminished health and reduced life expectancy for those living with mental ill-health.

A path for maintainable long term reform

·     Changes recommended are substantial but they would set Australia on a path for maintainable long term reform of its mental health system. Priority reforms are identified and a staged reform agenda is proposed.

Reform area 1: prevention and early intervention for mental illness and suicide attempts

·     Consistent screening of social and emotional development should be included in existing early childhood physical development checks to enable early intervention.

·     Much is already expected of schools in supporting children’s social and emotional wellbeing, and they should be adequately equipped for this task through: inclusion of training on child social and emotional development in professional requirements for all teachers; proactive outreach services for students disengaged with school because of mental illness; and provision in all schools of an additional senior teacher dedicated to the mental health and wellbeing of students and maintaining links to mental health support services in the local community.

·     There is no single measure that would prevent suicides but reducing known risks (for example, through follow-up of people after a suicide attempt) and becoming more systematic in prevention activity are ways forward.

Reform area 2: close critical gaps in healthcare services

·     The availability and delivery of healthcare should be reformed to allow timely access by people with mental ill-health to the right treatment for their condition. Governments should work together to ensure ongoing funded provision of:

 

–     services for people experiencing a mental health crisis that operate for extended hours and which, subject to the individual’s needs and circumstances, provide an alternative to hospital emergency departments

–     acute inpatient beds and specialised community mental health bed-based care sufficient to meet assessed regional needs

–     access to moderate intensity care, face-to-face and through videoconference, for a duration commensurate with effective treatment for the mental illness

–     expanded low intensity clinician-supported on-line treatment and self-help resources, ensuring this is consistently available when people need it, regardless of the time of day, their locality, or the locality choices of providers.

Reform area 3: investment in services beyond health

·     Investment is needed across Australia in long-term housing solutions for those people with severe mental illness who lack stable housing. Stable housing for this group would not only improve their mental health and inclusion within the community, but reduce their future need for higher cost mental health inpatient services.

Reform area 4: assistance for people with mental illness to get into work and enable early treatment of work-related mental illness

·     Individual placement and support programs that reconnect people with mental illness into workplaces should be progressively rolled out, subject to periodic evaluation and ongoing monitoring, to improve workforce participation and reduce future reliance on income support.

·     Mental health should be explicitly included in workplace health and safety, with codes of practice for employers developed and implemented.

·     No-liability clinical treatment should be provided for mental health related workers compensation claims until the injured worker returns to work or up to six months.

Reform area 5: fundamental reform to care coordination, governance and funding arrangements

·     Care pathways for people using the mental health system need to be clear and seamless with: single care plans for people receiving care from multiple providers; care coordination services for people with the most complex needs; and online navigation platforms for mental health referral pathways that extend beyond the health sector.

·     Reforms to the governance arrangements that underpin Australia’s mental health system are essential to inject genuine accountability, clarify responsibilities and ensure consumers and carers participate fully in the design of policies and programs that affect their lives.

–      Australian Government and State/Territory Government funding for mental health should be identified and pooled to both improve care continuity and create incentives for more efficient and effective use of taxpayer money. The preferred option is a fundamental rebuild of mental health funding arrangements with new States and Territory Regional Commissioning Authorities given responsibility for the pooled resources.

–      The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) should be afforded statutory authority status to support it in evaluating significant mental health and suicide prevention programs. The NMHC should be tasked with annual monitoring and reporting on whole-of-government implementation of a new National Mental Health Strategy.

–      These changes should be underpinned by a new intergovernmental National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement.

 

Aboriginal #NACCHOYouth19 #MentalHealth #ClosingTheGap #HaveYourSayCTG : According to new @blackdoginst  @MissionAust report 32 % of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people met the criteria for psychological distress, compared to 23.9% for non-Indigenous young people

It is essential that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people have access to culturally and age-appropriate mental health services that are in close proximity to their homes.

The Australian Government should invest in building the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led and controlled health organisations to deliver these services in communities.

Why ? A greater proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents indicated concerns about suicide (40.2% compared with 6% of non-Indigenous respondents).

Relative to non-Indigenous respondents, a greater proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents with psychological distress indicated concerns about gambling (13.8% compared with 4.2%), domestic/family violence (26.3% compared with 16.8%), drugs (20.1% compared with 10.9%), discrimination (26.3% compared with 18.6%) and alcohol (15.2% compared with 8.6%).

See dedicated focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people Part 2 Below

Read Brooke Blurton’s speaker BIO Here 

” Have you seen the brilliant line-up of speakers at the NACCHO Youth Conference, 4 November 2019 at the Darwin Convention Centre? https://www.naccho.org.au/home/naccho-youth-conference-2019/

Are you under 29 years and working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health or related sectors?

If so, register NOW for our free NACCHO Youth Conference. Closing 25 October

Places are filling quick! 👉🏾 http://bit.ly/2qALFkH

Part 1 Press Release : A new joint report by Mission Australia and Black Dog Institute indicates that considerably more young people in Australia are experiencing psychological distress than seven years ago.

Almost one in four young people in 2018 say they are experiencing mental health challenges, with young females twice as likely as males to face this issue.

A higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people also met the criteria for psychological distress than their non-Indigenous peers.

The Can we talk? Seven year youth mental health report – 2012-2018 Youth Survey findings of the past seven years – and is co-authored with Black Dog Institute experts – to ascertain and investigate rates of psychological distress experienced by young people in Australia who are aged 15-19.

The report further examines the concerns, general wellbeing and help-seeking behaviours of the close to 27,000 participants of the 2018 Youth Survey aged 15-19, including those who are experiencing psychological distress – highlighting the vital role that friends, parents, services, schools and the internet play as sources of help for young people who are struggling with their mental health.

Key findings include:

  • Close to one in four young people met the criteria for experiencing psychological distress – a substantial increase over the past seven years (rising by 5.5% from 18.7% in 2012 to 24.2% in 2018).
  • In 2018, more than three in ten (31.9%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people met the criteria for psychological distress, compared to 23.9% for non-Indigenous young people.
  • Across seven years, females were twice as likely as males to experience psychological distress. The increase in psychological distress has also been far more marked among females (from 22.5% in 2012 to 30.0% in 2018, compared to a rise from 12.7% to 15.6% for males).
  • Stigma and embarrassment, fear and a lack of support were the three most commonly cited barriers that prevent young people from seeking help.
  • The top issues of personal concern for young Australians experiencing psychological distress were coping with stress, mental health and school or study problems. There was also a notably high level of concern about other issues including body image, suicide, family conflict and bullying/emotional abuse.
  • Almost four times the proportion of young people with psychological distress reported concerns about suicide (35.6% compared with 9.4% of respondents without psychological distress).
  • Young people experiencing psychological distress reported they would go to friend/s, parent/s or guardian/s and the internet as their top three sources of help. This is compared to friend/s, parent/s or guardian/s and a relative/family friend for those without psychological distress.

In response to these findings, Mission Australia’s CEO James Toomey said: “It’s deeply concerning that so many young people are experiencing psychological distress. Youth mental health is a serious national challenge that must be tackled as a priority.

“The sheer volume of young people who are struggling with mental health difficulties shows that there remains urgent need for improved access to timely, accessible and appropriate support. Irrespective of their location, background or gender, young people must have the resources they need to manage their individual mental health journey with access to youth-friendly and evidence-based mental health supports.

“Parents, peers, schools and health professionals are vital sources of support for our young people, so it’s important they are adequately equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to provide effective support when needed. For schools right across Australia, more resourcing is needed to train staff, embed wellbeing personnel and provide evidence-based early intervention and prevention programs.

“In light of these findings, I urge governments to listen to young people’s concerns about mental health and co-design solutions with them.”

With the report confirming that young people experiencing psychological distress are less likely to seek help than those without mental health concerns, Black Dog Institute Director and Chief Scientist, Professor Helen Christensen said: “Global research tells us that over 75% of mental health issues develop before the age of 25, and these can have lifelong consequences.

“We are still in the dark as to why mental health and suicide risk has increased in our current cohort of youth, a finding that is not unique to Australia.

“Adolescence is a critical time in which to intervene, but we also know that young people experiencing psychological distress can be harder to reach. This report shows that young people in distress will seek help directly from the internet. As such, we need to continue to provide online and app-based tools that may be a key part of the solution. We also need to catch the problems upstream by prioritising early intervention and prevention efforts.”

Part 2 Meeting the diversity of young people’s need  : Dedicated focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people

Nearly one third (31.9%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people indicated some form of psychological distress, compared with just under one quarter (23.9%) of non-Indigenous respondents.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people experiencing psychological distress were more likely than their non-Indigenous peers to report feeling as though they had no control over their life and to report lower levels of self-esteem. Further, a greater proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with psychological distress reported having issues that they did not seek help for, despite thinking they needed to (41.2% compared with 36.2% of non-Indigenous respondents).

Positively the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent and youth health and wellbeing 2018 report found that in 2014–15 over three-quarters of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 15–24 said, they were happy all or most of the time in the previous 4 weeks.

However, around two-thirds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–24 experienced one or more personal stressors in the previous year, the most common being not being able to get a job, and one in three reported being treated unfairly because they were Indigenous.

This report also showed that most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–24 (67%) experienced low to moderate levels of psychological distress in the previous month, while 33% experienced high to very high level.

When responding to the Youth Survey 2018 greater proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents with psychological distress also indicated concerns about gambling, domestic/family violence, drugs, discrimination, alcohol, LGBTIQ issues and suicide than non- Indigenous respondents with psychological distress.

It is important to take into account these often compounding concerns, as research shows that the leading causes of hospitalisation for mental and behavioural disorders among Aboriginal and

Torres Strait Islander people aged 10-24 years were due to substance abuse, schizophrenia, and reactions to severe stress.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have endured and survived a traumatic and deeply challenging colonisation period that affected all aspects of their collective lives, and which continues to challenge communities, families and individuals today.

At the population level, higher rates  of mental health  difficulties among Aboriginal and Torres  Strait Islander people are intertwined with entrenched poverty, substandard and overcrowded housing, health conditions and disabilities, intergenerational un/under-employment, stressors and trauma, racism and discrimination, and at-risk behaviours in response to sometimes desperate situations.80 In particular, the members of the Stolen Generations and their descendants are ‘more likely to have had contact with mental health services,’ with children in their care often challenged by higher rates of emotional and behavioural difficulties.81

In many cases, responding to population mental health challenges means addressing their deeper, structural causes. These should be identified and solutions co-designed and co-implemented under Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-leadership, including community-controlled organisations and health services. The needs of young people should be prioritised as directed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and their representative organisations.

Community-led programs that build on cultural determinants of social and emotional wellbeing and cultural strengths should be supported to help provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with protective factors against mental health challenges, and particularly against suicide, by supporting a strong sense of ‘social, cultural and emotional wellbeing’ that includes a positive Indigenous/cultural identity. These cultural determinants vary but can include culturally- shaped connections to family, kin, community, and country.

Yet, in many cases, mainstream health and mental health programs fail to incorporate culturally appropriate practices or awareness when working with or treating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing challenges to their wellbeing.

Program funding must be flexible enough to provide for differences, tailor services to meet community and individual needs and to support younger age groups where critical issues arise. It is essential that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people have access to culturally and age-appropriate mental health services that are in close proximity to their homes. The Australian Government should invest in building the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led and controlled health organisations to deliver these services in communities.

Sources of support

Friend/s (63.6%), internet (44.3%) and parent/s or guardian/s (43.5%) were the most commonly cited sources of help for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with psychological distress. Smaller proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents than non-

Indigenous respondents with psychological distress said they would turn to close personal connections for help, such as friend/s, parent/s or guardian/s, a GP or health professional, school counsellor, brother/sister or a relative/family friend.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have identified challenges in relation to mainstream models of health care offered and their affordability. Aboriginal Controlled Health Organisations have a strong role to play and should be appropriately funded.

Conversely, greater proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents indicated turning to a community agency, social media or a telephone hotline for help. Community agencies therefore need to be funded to provide culturally appropriate support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people experiencing psychological distress.

Suicide prevention

A greater proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents indicated concerns about suicide (40.2% compared with 35.6% of non-Indigenous respondents).

The rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide is a critical public health challenge for Australia. Over the 5 years from 2013 to 2017, one in four Australian children and young people aged 5-17 years who died by suicide were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.86

Designed to complement the mainstream National Suicide Prevention Strategy, the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy87 was developed to respond to this public health challenge. It recognises the need for investment in holistic and integrated approaches that helps individuals, families and communities have hope for, and optimism about, the future.

In addition to mainstream integrated approach interventions, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) highlighted the need for community- led, locally-based and culturally-appropriate ‘upstream’ preventative activities to address community-level challenges associated with suicide.

Further, ATSISPEP underlined the need for programs that build on cultural determinants of social and emotional wellbeing and its protective factors to have a positive impact against complex mental health challenges, including risks of suicide.88

Recognising the intersectionality between mental health, suicide and substance dependence, the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing requires the integration of mental health, alcohol and other drug, and suicide prevention services in communities.89 However, the Strategy needs a focused implementation plan that is properly costed and operationalised if it is to shape the mental health space.

Part 3 National : Closing the Gap / Have your say CTG deadline extended to Friday, 8 November 2019.

 

The engagements are now in full swing across Australia and this is generating more interest than we had anticipated in our survey on Closing the Gap.

The Coalition of Peaks has had requests from a number of organisations across Australia seeking, some Coalition of Peak members and some governments for more time to promote and complete the survey.

We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have their say on what should be included in a new agreement on Closing the Gap so it is agreed to extend the deadline for the survey to Friday, 8 November 2019.

This will help build further understanding and support for the new agreement and will not impact our timeframes for negotiating with government as we were advised at the most recent Partnership Working Group meeting that COAG will not meet until early 2020.

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Men’s #MentalHealth : ‘ Whatever you grow will save a bro’ says @DeadlyChoices Nathan Appo selected to be one of the faces for the 2019 International #Movember campaign. Please support Donate

A few months ago I was asked to travel to London to be one of the faces of the 2019 International Movember campaign.

Of course I said yes and I’m honoured and blessed to be apart of such an important cause.

If you know me you’d know I’m very passionate about mental health and educating our mob around the importance of staying mentally healthy.

Too many of my brothers are passing away from suicide, don’t be shame my brothers. We need to be there for each other & educate our people around mental health & depression

This is just another way in supporting friends and family going through depression and anxiety as we can always educate someone around us.

This year Movember is reminding us that not everyone can grow the world’s best moustache but that shouldn’t stop you because ‘Whatever you grow will save a bro’.

 No matter if it’s patchy, lopsided or just kind of…furry, like mine! Every Mo has the power to save 

Your donation will help Movember fund groundbreaking work in prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

To donate please click on Nathan’s link 

Nathan Appo from Innisfail / Mamu / Goreng Goreng / Bundjalung /Living in Brisbane and working with Deadly Choices

Men’s health charity, Movember, has launched its 2019 campaign for its annual month of moustache-growing.

This year, the campaign’s tagline is ‘Whatever you grow will save a bro’, acknowledging the variety of shapes and styles of moustache that are grown during Movember.

UK-based creative agency, MATTA, was behind the campaign. The ad was voiced by comedian Dave Lawson, and features testicular cancer survivor Harvee Pene, prostate cancer survivor Charlie Jia and mental health advocate Nathan Appo.

” Training isn’t always about physical health and strength. ‪I exercise to stay mentally healthy, mentally fit.‬
#MovemberMotivation‪What’s your Deadly Choice?‬ Says Nathan 

To donate please click on Nathan’s link 

“It’s amazing to see so many different faces from all over the world featured in the Movember campaign this year,” Jia said.

“As well as being a lot of fun to shoot and highlighting that anyone can grow a Mo, ‘Whatever you grow will save a bro’ has put Indigenous men’s health front and centre. It also shows that background, colour and beliefs don’t matter, because prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues won’t discriminate.”

A second video released shows Pene recount his story with testicular cancer to his barber.

Movember’s chief marketing officer, Juliette Smith, said: “‘Whatever you grow will save a bro’ arose from the insight that some men want to support the charity, but feel embarrassed by their facial hair, or its perceived inadequacy.

It also nods to the fact that the landscape of male grooming has changed, where the ask for many is no longer ‘grow a moustache’ but increasingly more often ‘shave your beard’, adding another layer of vulnerability for the grower.

 ” No matter if it’s patchy, lopsided or just kind of…furry, like mine! Every Mo has the power to save lives. My father Neily Apps is the reason why I participate in Movember, it’s a chance to educate and support our fellow men ” Says Nathan Appo 

To donate please click on Nathan’s link 

“The campaign aims to dispel these anxieties, demonstrating the ultimate importance of Movember; that the wider awareness of our charity and its causes; prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health, can change lives for better.”

MATTA’s design and production director, Tom Allwood, said: “Movember is so important in raising often un-talked about issues among men. We found a way of bringing people together from all backgrounds, showing that we’re all unique, but focusing throughout on the integral message of the movement.”

 

 

NACCHO #WorldMentalHealthDay Part 2 of 2 : @TheAHCWA Leaders in Aboriginal health and legal services express great concern over inadequate access to mental health support services and the unacceptable #suicide and self-harm rates within Aboriginal communities.

 

AHCWA has major concerns with the lack of culturally secure mental health support services for Aboriginal people and communities, experiencing crisis and trauma on a daily basis”

Chair of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA), Vicki O’Donnell expresses great concern over inadequate access to mental health support services across WA, and the unacceptable suicide and self-harm rates within Aboriginal communities. See Press release Part 1 below

“It’s the highest rate of suicide in the State this calendar year,”

Speaking at a press conference in Geraldton last week , Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service board chair and former NACCHO Deputy Chair Sandy Davies said the two suicides were among seven deaths this year, which included children as young as 12. Watch Press Conference Part 2 Below

Picture Above : National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project co-ordinator Gerry Georgatos, director Megan Krakouer, National Justice Project principal solicitor George Newhouse, Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service board chair Sandy Davies and Aboriginal Legal Service of WA chief executive Dennis Eggington at ;last weeks press conference in Geraldton. Credit: Tamra Carr, The Geraldton Guardian

Read over 230 Aboriginal Mental Health articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years 

Read over 150 Aboriginal Health and Suicide articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years

Part 1

AHCWA is the peak body for its 23 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across WA.

This crisis has tragically been highlighted again, with the recent suicides in the Midwest and Gascoyne regions, and the fatal shooting of an Aboriginal Mother in Geraldton who had a history of mental health, alcohol and other drug issues.

Aboriginal people continue to experience systemic racism within the Mental Health and Justice systems, resulting in poor health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people, their families and communities across WA.

AHCWA provides full support to the Aboriginal Elders and Leaders who gathered in Geraldton to discuss the suicide crisis in the community and are calling for urgent reform of the Mental Health system.

AHCWA calls upon the Government to undertake the following as a matter of urgency:

  • Significant reform of the Mental Health Sector through direct engagement with Aboriginal communities and organisations.
  • Commitment of significant funding for Suicide Prevention for Aboriginal people across WA.
  • Significant investment for the delivery of culturally secure Social and Emotional Well Being services for Aboriginal people and their communities across WA.
  • Greatly improve the awareness and understanding of suicidal behaviour, mental health, alcohol and drug issues through appropriate training of Police and others who work within the justice system.
  • Review of existing sentencing laws to prevent the further breakdown of families and communities.
  • Review of the policies and procedures around the use of lethal force by Police Officers.

Part 2 Leaders in Aboriginal health and legal services have warned of a suicide crisis which they say has included two Indigenous deaths in the Mid West and Gascoyne in the past six days.

Speaking at a press conference in Geraldton  Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service board chair Sandy Davies said the two suicides were among seven deaths this year, which included children as young as 12.

“It’s the highest rate of suicide in the State this calendar year,” he said.

Calls for the State Government to make mental health reforms were top of the agenda at the conference, which comes after the death last month of Aboriginal woman Joyce Clarke.

Ms Clarke was shot in the stomach by a police officer just days after she left hospital due to a mental health incident.

Her death is under investigation, with Police Commissioner Chris Dawson promising independent oversight from the Corruption and Crime Commission and the State Coroner.

According to Ms Clarke’s family, she had a history of drug use and spent a large part of her life in prison.

National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project director Megan Krakouer said the number of Aboriginals going without access to support services was “beyond a joke”.

“People who don’t know what they’re doing in mental health programs just need to get out of the way,” she said.

“I don’t know what good all these representative bodies are doing if it’s not translating to the ground.”

The conference also called on the Government to ensure police no longer respond to mental health incidents, leaving qualified professionals to do so instead.

Speakers insisted on the repeal of mandatory sentencing laws so an offender’s individual circumstances could be taken into account.

It was also said police should never use a gun on someone who did not have a gun, and that a lifelong approach to State-delivered care needed to be adopted, from birth to old age.

Other speakers included GRAMS chief executive Deb Woods, National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project co-ordinator Gerry Georgatos, Aboriginal Legal Service of WA chief executive Dennis Eggington and National Justice Project principal solicitor George Newhouse.

At the time of Ms Clarke’s death, WA Police offered their condolences to her family and have promised a thorough investigation.

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson, who has described the incident as tragic, said eight police officers were present in Petchell Street at the time and witnesses had seen Ms Clarke with a knife before the shooting.

Ms Clarke’s death has fast-tracked the roll-out of body cameras for Mid West and Gascoyne police, who were not scheduled to receive them until 2021.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health #WorldMentalHealthDay 2019: NACCHO recognises the foundations are in place to Closing the #MentalHealth Gap, but the work lies ahead. @cbpatsisp @MenziesResearch #ClosingtheGap #HaveyourSayCTG

“Our people experience very high levels of psychological stress at almost three times the rate of other Australians and are twice as likely to commit suicide.

At the heart of suicide is a sense of helplessness and powerlessness, which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience across multiple domains in direct response to their intractable circumstances.

Almost all of our people who die of suicide are living below the poverty line.

Our children are four times more likely to kill themselves in comparison with other Australian children.

In 2018, suicide was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, accounting for more than a quarter of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child deaths.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM highlighting the most vulnerable victims of this mental health crisis

Read over 230 Aboriginal Mental Health articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years 

Read over 150 Aboriginal Health and Suicide articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years

” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will have greater support for their wellbeing with the release of a video in nine Aboriginal languages and in Aboriginal English during Mental Health Week.

Led by Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and in collaboration with Indigenous communities, “Yarning About Mental Health:

Becoming Better, Becoming Stronger” aims to support the wellbeing of Indigenous communities by drawing on the strength and resilience of communities to promote mental health and wellbeing

See Menzies Press Release and English video version Part 2 below

Download this NACCHO Press Release in PDF HERE

NACCHO is marking World Mental Health Day by emphasising the importance of the 2019 theme and focus, suicide prevention.

In Australia, the rate of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continues to grow.

NACCHO believes that suicide prevention initiatives must incorporate culturally safe, holistic approaches that are co-designed with communities, and which consider the physical, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing of individuals and families.

Professor Pat Dudgeon, Director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Director, said, “The evidence shows that Indigenous cultural strengths already provide an overarching foundation for the national effort ahead. These strengths contribute to what we call our ‘social and emotional wellbeing’. Strong families, strong communities and strong cultures and cultural identity support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental (and indeed physical) health.”

There is a range of evidence which demonstrates that community-led initiatives, exemplified by the values, beliefs and services of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), are critical for designing programs that strengthen Social and Emotional Wellbeing and promote healing.

Ms Turner stated, “Our ACCHOs deliver culturally safe, trauma-informed services in communities dealing with the extreme social and economic disadvantage that are affected by intergenerational trauma, but they need more support. Our services know what’s happening on the ground, and the help that our communities need and that is why government funding is so vital.”

NACCHO understands harnessing the global momentum on World Mental Health Day is critical to ensure productive and culturally meaningful solutions are resourced and delivered to drive suicide rates down within Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities.

“NACCHO urges the Commonwealth Government to continue providing support for the national suicide prevention trials in 12 communities by looking at the learnings and how they can transition the successful elements into ongoing funding and programs,” Ms Turner stated.

Part 2 : Media Release Menzies School of Health Research : New resource to promote mental health and wellbeing in Indigenous communities featured during Mental Health Week

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will have greater support for their wellbeing with the release of a video in nine Aboriginal languages and in Aboriginal English during Mental Health Week.

Led by Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and in collaboration with Indigenous communities, “Yarning About Mental Health: Becoming Better, Becoming Stronger” aims to support the wellbeing of Indigenous communities by drawing on the strength and resilience of communities to promote mental health and wellbeing.

The short video provides information about common mental illnesses and delivers strength- based messages about staying strong and seeking help.

According to project lead, Associate Professor Tricia Nagel, releasing the video during Mental Health Week where the focus is on ‘Do you see what I see’, is very appropriate.

“People tell us that story telling in a way that shares strengths and cultural values, and includes local people and language, is the best way to share wellbeing messages – and that is what this video is all about,” A/Prof Nagel said.

“The video describes key mental health concepts and uses imagery designed to resonate with Indigenous people, drawing on connections to country and kin.”

Menzies Indigenous researcher, Jahdai Vigona says the video has been designed for use by wellbeing service providers and within communities to talk about wellbeing and ways to stay strong.

“It makes talking about mental health more accessible and the discussion more relevant to community members,” Mr Vigona said.
The video is now available on YouTube in nine Aboriginal languages and in Aboriginal English here.

The project was supported by funding from the Australian Government through the Primary Health Network Program.

Menzies’ full suite of mental health resources dedicated to Indigenous wellbeing can be found at www.menzies.edu.au/mentalhealthresources

Part 3 : Have your say about mental health / suicide prevention and what is needed to make real change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people #HaveYourSay about #closingthegap

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/