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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many people feel unsafe accessing the care they need.

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

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

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

See the #RefreshtheCTGRefresh Campaign post HERE

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

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

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

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

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

Summer May Finlay writes Part 2 below for Croakey 

Part 1 : Why an urgent need for action

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

Aboriginal control

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

Healing

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

A public policy crisis

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

 .

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

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

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

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


 

Healing and support crew on hand should the be needed 

Summer May Finlay writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Representation matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safe spaces needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culture is key

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listening with heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

$36 million for national suicide prevention projects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conference Website 

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

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

READ MORE ON THIS TOPIC HERE  

 NACCHO BACKGROUND

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

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

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

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

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

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

See Part 3 Below 

Part 1 Minister Greg Hunt Press Release 

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

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

One life lost to suicide is one too many.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2 Everymind Press Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jaelea Skehan, Everymind Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 3 Aboriginal youth suicide rates?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WATCH

Australia’s Lost Generation: Battling Aboriginal Suicide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al Jazeera: Why is the local approach so important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al Jazeera: How do you empower communities and people?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australia's Lost Generation: Battling Aboriginal Suicide

REWIND

Australia’s Lost Generation: Battling Aboriginal Suicide

NACCHO Aboriginal #Mentalhealth #SuicidePrevention and #RUOKday : If you ask #RUOK ? What do you do if someone says ‘no’? Plus Sponsorships for 10 #Indigenous young people to take participate #chatsafe campaign

R U OK Day today encouraging all of us to check in with others to see if they’re OK.

But what if someone says “no”? What should you say or do? Should you tell someone else?

What resources can you point to, and what help is available?

Read NACCHO Aboriginal Health articles over the past 6 Years

Mental Health 189 posts 

Suicide Prevention 124 Posts

Here is a guide 

Stop and listen, with curiosity and compassion

We underestimate the power of simply listening to someone else when they’re going through a rough time. You don’t need to be an expert with ten years of study in psychology to be a good listener. Here are some tips:

Listen actively. Pay attention, be present and allow the person time to speak.

Be curious. Ask about the person’s experience using open questions such as

what’s been going on lately?

you don’t seem your usual self, how are you doing/feeling?

Validate their concerns. See the situation from the person’s perspective and try not to dismiss their problems or feelings as unimportant or stupid. You can say things like

I can see you’re going through a tough time

it’s understandable to feel that way given everything you’ve been going through.

There are more examples of good phrases to use here.

Don’t try to fix the problem right now

Often our first instinct is wanting to fix the person’s problems. It hurts to see others in pain, and we can feel awkward or helpless not knowing how to help. But you don’t have to have all of the answers.

Instead of jumping into “fix it” mode right away, accept the conversation may be uncomfortable and allow the person to speak about their difficulties and experiences.

Sometimes it’s not the actual suggestion or practical help that’s most useful but giving the person a chance to talk openly about their struggles. Also, the more we understand the person’s experience, the more likely we are to be able to offer the right type of help.

Encourage them to seek help.

Ask:

how can I help?

is there something I can do for you right now?

Sometimes it’s about keeping them company (making plans to do a pleasant activity together), providing practical support (help minding their kids to give them time out), or linking them in with other health professionals.

Check whether they need urgent help

It’s possible this person is suffering more than you realise: they may be contemplating suicide or self-harm. Asking about suicidal thoughts does not worsen those thoughts, but instead can help ease distress.

It’s OK to ask them if they’re thinking about suicide, but try not to be judgemental (“you’re not thinking of doing anything stupid, are you?”). Listen to their responses without judgement, and let them know you care and you’d like to help.

Read more: How to ask someone you’re worried about if they’re thinking of suicide

There are resources and programs to help you learn how to support suicidal loved ones, and crisis support lines to call:

  • Contact the Social and Emotional team at your nearest ACCHO
  • Lifeline (24-hour crisis telephone counselling) 13 11 14
  • Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467
  • Mental health crisis lines

If it is an emergency, or the person is at immediate risk of harm to themselves or others, call 000.

Encourage them to seek professional help

We’re fortunate to be living in Australia, with access to high quality mental health care, resources and support services. But it can be overwhelming to know what and where to seek help. You can help by pointing the person in the right direction.

The first place to seek help is the general practitioner (GP). The GP can discuss treatment options (psychological support and/or medication), provide referrals to a mental health professional or arrange access to local support groups. You can help by encouraging your friend to make an appointment with their GP.

There are great evidence-based online courses and self-help programseducational resources and free self-help workbooks that can be accessed at any time.

There are also online tools to check emotional health. These tools help indicate if a person’s stress, anxiety and depression levels are healthy or elevated.

What if they don’t want help?

People with mental health difficulties sometimes take years between first noticing the problem and seeking professional help. Research shows approximately one in three people experiencing mental health problems accesses treatment.

So even if they don’t want help now, your conversation may have started them thinking about getting help. You can try understanding what’s stopping them from seeking help and see if there’s anything you can do to help connect them to a professional. You don’t need to push this, but simply inviting the person to keep the options in mind and offering your ongoing support can be useful in the long run.

Follow up. If appropriate, organise a time to check in with the person again to see how they’re doing after your conversation. You can also let the person know you’re around and they are always welcome to have a chat with you. Knowing someone is there for you can itself be a great source of emotional support.

Read more: Five types of food to increase your psychological well-being

The 2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conferences bursary

Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who would like to share their expertise, advice, and ideas and contribute to the development of a suicide prevention social media campaign!

About the #chatsafe campaign

We would like to partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to co-design a suicide prevention social media campaign specifically for the Aboriginal community. The campaign will focus on educating and empowering young people to support themselves and other young people within their online social networks. Rather than speaking on behalf of Aboriginal communities, we wish to draw on the expertise, cultural identities, and strengths of the community to inform campaign materials.

The co-design workshop will involve a yarning circle, where young people will be given the opportunity to share their experiences and express their needs. The yarning circle will be facilitated by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person. The workshop will also involve working together, in groups, to generate ideas for a social media campaign (e.g., digital storytelling, drawing, etc.).

The workshop will be hosted in Perth, as a part of the The 2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conferences. The workshop will be conducted in the morning and breakfast will be provided. Young people will be reimbursed $30.00 per hour for their time.

Opportunity for financial support

Oyrgen would like to sponsor 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to take part in our co-design workshop and The 2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conferences, hosted from 20 to 23 November, in Perth, by providing a bursary.

SEE CONFERENCE WEBSITE

Eligibility

To be eligible for Orygen’s bursary funding, the applicant must be an Aboriginal and Torres Islander young person, aged between 18 and 25 years. We encourage young people from all geographic regions, across Australia, to apply.

Submitting your application

If you would like to be a part of the co-design workshop, please email your application to Jo at

The 2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conferences bursary

Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who would like to share their expertise, advice, and ideas and contribute to the development of a suicide prevention social media campaign!

About the #chatsafe campaign

We would like to partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to co-design a suicide prevention social media campaign specifically for the Aboriginal community. The campaign will focus on educating and empowering young people to support themselves and other young people within their online social networks. Rather than speaking on behalf of Aboriginal communities, we wish to draw on the expertise, cultural identities, and strengths of the community to inform campaign materials.

The co-design workshop will involve a yarning circle, where young people will be given the opportunity to share their experiences and express their needs. The yarning circle will be facilitated by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person. The workshop will also involve working together, in groups, to generate ideas for a social media campaign (e.g., digital storytelling, drawing, etc.). The workshop will be hosted in Perth, as a part of the The 2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conferences. The workshop will be conducted in the morning and breakfast will be provided. Young people will be reimbursed $30.00 per hour for their time.

Opportunity for financial support

Oyrgen would like to sponsor 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to take part in our co-design workshop and The 2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conferences, hosted from 20 to 23 November, in Perth, by providing a bursary.

Eligibility

To be eligible for Orygen’s bursary funding, the applicant must be an Aboriginal and Torres Islander young person, aged between 18 and 25 years. We encourage young people from all geographic regions, across Australia, to apply.

Submitting your application

If you would like to be a part of the co-design workshop, please email your application to Jo at jo.robinson@orygen.org.au. Submissions can be made on, or before Sunday, 30 September, 2018.

Selection process

In the first week of October, a panel consisting of Oyrgen staff, a Culture is Life representative, Professor Pat Dudgeon from the conference organising committee, Summer May Finlay (a Yorta Yorta woman), and young people will review all written applications and select 10 successful applicants. The selection panel will endeavour to select a diverse range of young people. The 10 successful applicants will be notified by email by mid-October. The success applicants will have until 31 October, 2018 to accept the bursary offered.

Requirements

The successful recipients of the bursaries are required to attend a half-day co-design workshop. Recipients will also be asked to complete and submit a ‘Wellness Plan’, ‘Bank Details Form’, and ‘Consent Form’ prior to participation in the w

. Submissions can be made on, or before Sunday, 30 September, 2018.

Selection process

In the first week of October, a panel consisting of Oyrgen staff, a Culture is Life representative, Professor Pat Dudgeon from the conference organising committee, Summer May Finlay (a Yorta Yorta woman), and young people will review all written applications and select 10 successful applicants. The selection panel will endeavour to select a diverse range of young people. The 10 successful applicants will be notified by email by mid-October. The success applicants will have until 31 October, 2018 to accept the bursary offered.

Requirements

The successful recipients of the bursaries are required to attend a half-day co-design workshop. Recipients will also be asked to complete and submit a ‘Wellness Plan’, ‘Bank Details Form’, and ‘Consent Form’ prior to participation in the w

Anyone seeking support and information about mental health can contact beyondblue on 1300 22 46 36. For information about suicide and crisis support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health NEWS : @AIHW report : The consumption of #alcohol, #tobacco and other #drugs is a major cause of preventable disease and illness in our communities

The consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is a major cause of preventable disease and illness in our comminities

There are a wide range of data sources available that contribute to our understanding of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.

This web report from AIHW is intended to be a general reference for contemporary data on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia.

SEE Full Report 

This report consolidates the most recently available information regarding the use of tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, meth/amphetamines and other stimulants, the non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs, illicit opioids (heroin) and new (and emerging) psychoactive substances (NPS).

Key trends in the availability, consumption, harms and treatment are identified and detailed data are presented for vulnerable populations.

These population groups include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, homeless people, older people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer (LGBTIQ), people in contact with the criminal justice system, people with mental health conditions, young people and people who inject drugs

Key findings Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 

  • There has been significant declines in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people smoking and consume alcohol that exceeds lifetime risk guidelines (consuming more than two standard drinks per day on average).
  • The prevalence of smoking by Indigenous people has declined from 55% in 1994 to 45% in 2014–15.
  • The proportion of Indigenous people that consume alcohol as levels that exceed lifetime risk guidelines has reduced from 19% in 2008 to 15% in 2014–15.
  • In 2011, tobacco use accounted for 12% of the burden of disease for Indigenous Australians. This accounts for 23.3% of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
  • In 2016, more than 1 in 4 (27%) Indigenous Australians used an illicit drug in the last 12 months. This was 1.8 times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians (15.3%).
  • The most commonly used illicit drug by Indigenous Australians is cannabis (16.7%), followed by the non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs (11.0%).
  • Of clients of alcohol and other drug, treatment services, 15% were Indigenous Australians aged 10 and over, which is an overrepresentation relative to their population size.

Currently there are almost 800,000 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people (see Box ATSI1) living in Australia, accounting for 2.8% of the Australian population [1]. There are substantial differences in measures of health and welfare between Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

Box ATSI1: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The terms ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’ is preferred in Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) publications when referring to the separate Indigenous peoples of Australia. However, the term ‘Indigenous’ Australians is used interchangeably with ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’ in order to assist readability.

The Australian Burden of Disease Study identified that Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people experience a burden of disease that is 2.3 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians [2]. The gap in the disease burden is due to a range of factors including disconnection to culture, traditions and country, social exclusion, discrimination and isolation, trauma, poverty, and lack of adequate access to services [3]. Tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs are key risk factors contributing to the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians [2].

Box ATSI2. Data sources examining tobacco, alcohol and other drug use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

There are a number of data sources that provide information about tobacco, alcohol and other drug use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) [4] and the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS) [5] collected by the ABS are designed to obtain a representative sample of Indigenous Australians. In relation specifically to tobacco smoking, the ABS has consolidated data from six large, national, multistage random household surveys to identify trends between 1994 and 2014–15 [6].

The AIHW’s National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) uses a self-completion questionnaire to capture information about drug and alcohol use among the general Australian population; however it is not specifically designed to obtain reliable national estimates for Indigenous people. In 2016, 2.4% of the NDSHS (unweighted) sample aged 12 and over (or 568 respondents) identified as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. The estimates produced by the NDSHS should be interpreted with caution due to the low sample size [7].

There are also other data sources that provide information relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

  • Australia’s Burden of Disease study analyses the impact of nearly 200 diseases and injuries in terms of living with illness (non-fatal burden) and premature death (fatal burden). In 2015, a report was released that provides estimates of burden of disease between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians [8].
  • The National Perinatal Data Collection covers each birth in Australia and includes information on Indigenous mothers and their babies [6].
  • The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Dataset (AODTS-NMDS) contains information on treatment provided to clients by publicly funded alcohol and other drug services including Indigenous clients [9].
  • The Online Services Report (OSR) contains information on the majority of Australian Government-funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander substance use services [6].

Tobacco smoking

While tobacco smoking is declining in Australia, it remains disproportionately high among Indigenous Australians. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has shown:

  • In 1994, the Indigenous Australian survey data showed that 55% of Indigenous Australians aged 18 and over were smokers; 20 years later, in 2014–15, this had declined to 45% (Table S3.4).
  • Over a similar 20-year period, the National Health Survey (NHS) the proportion of non-Indigenous smokers aged 18 and over declined, from 24% in 1995 to 16% in 2014–15 (Table S3.5).
  • There appears to have been no change to the gap in smoking prevalence between the Indigenous Australian adult population and the non-Indigenous Australian adult population from 1994 to 2014–15. Even though the Indigenous Australian smoking rates are declining, the non-Indigenous rate is declining at a similar rate, therefore the gap remained constant [6] (Figure ATSI1).

Most of the decline in smoking occurred in non-remote areas. Over the 20-year period, the proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 18 and over in non-remote areas who were smokers declined from 55% to 42%, while the proportion in remote areas remained relatively stable at between 54% and 56% (Table S3.4).

In 2014–15, Indigenous males were more likely than Indigenous females to be smokers (47% compared with 42%) [1].

Geographic trends

The 2014–15 NATSISS provides estimates of tobacco smoking for Indigenous Australians by jurisdiction. According to the 2014–15 NATSISS, 39% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over smoked daily. Those from the Northern Territory (45%) and Western Australia (42%) surpassed this national average, while Indigenous Australians from South Australia (35%) were the least likely to be a current daily smoker [4] (Table S3.3).

Tobacco smoking in pregnancy

Indigenous Australians are at an elevated risk of smoking during pregnancy compared with non-Indigenous Australians. The National Perinatal Data Collection showed that:

  • Indigenous mothers accounted for 19% of mothers who smoked tobacco at any time during pregnancy in 2015, despite accounting for only around 4% of mothers.
  • The age-standardised rate of Indigenous mothers smoking during pregnancy has decreased from 50% in 2009 to 45% in 2015.
  • Almost 1 in 2 (45%) Indigenous mothers reported smoking during pregnancy—compared with 12% of non-Indigenous mothers (age-standardised).
  • The age-standardised rate of Indigenous mothers quitting smoking during pregnancy (14%) is about half that of non-Indigenous mothers (25%) (based on mothers who reported smoking in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and not smoking after 20 weeks of pregnancy) [10].

Alcohol consumption

Abstinence (non-drinkers)

  • The 2016 NDSHS found that Indigenous Australians aged 14 and over were more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol than non-Indigenous Australians (31% compared with 23%, respectively) and abstinence among Indigenous Australians has been increasing since 2010 when it was 25% [7] (Table S3.1).
  • This pattern is consistent with data from the 2012–13 AATSIHS, where 28% of Indigenous Australians reported abstaining from drinking compared with 18% of non-Indigenous Australians [5].

Lifetime risk

  • The 2014–15 NATSISS found that the proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 15 years and over who exceeded the NHMRC lifetime risk guidelines for alcohol consumption (consuming more than 2 standard drinks per day on average) decreased between 2008 and 2014–15 (19% compared with 15%; non age-standardised proportions). The overall change is largely due to a decline in non-remote areas (19% in 2008 to 14% in 2014–15) [4] (Table S3.6).
  • Comparisons between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are only available using age-standardised data from the 2012–13 AATSIHS and is not comparable to the 2014–15 NATSISS. The findings showed that lifetime risky drinking of Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over was similar to that of non-Indigenous Australians (9.8% compared with 9.7%; age-standardised) [5] (Table S3.7).

Single occasion risk

  • According to the 2014–15 NATSISS, 30% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over exceeded the single occasion risk guidelines for alcohol consumption (non age-standardised proportions), which is a decline since 2002 (35%).
  • Comparisons between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are only available using age-standardised data from the 2012–13 AATSIHS and is not comparable to the 2014–15 NATSISS. The 2012–13 AATSIHS reported that 1 in 2 (50%) Indigenous Australians exceed the single occasion risky drinking guidelines (more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion in past year). This was 1.1 times the rate that non-Indigenous Australians (44%) that exceeded these guidelines [5] (Table S3.7).

Risky alcohol consumption

  • According to the 2016 NDSHS, almost 1 in 5 Indigenous Australians (18.8%) consumed 11 or more standard drinks at least once a month. This was 2.8 times the rate that non-Indigenous Australians (6.8%) consumed this amount of alcohol [7] (Table S3.1).

Geographic trends

Between 2002 and 2014–15 there was a decline in the proportion of Indigenous Australians that resided in New South Wales Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory that exceeded the lifetime and single occasion risk guidelines (Figure ATSI2). Indigenous Australians residing in Tasmania (36%), the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) (35%), Queensland (33%) and Western Australia (33%) had higher rates of exceeding the single occasion drinking guidelines than the national average [4] (Table S3.8).

Indigenous Australians residing in Western Australia (16%), New South Wales (16%) and Queensland (15%) surpassed the national average for exceeding lifetime risk guidelines [4] (Table S3.9).

Illicit drug use

In the 2014–15 NATSISS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 and over were asked whether they had used illicit substances in the last 12 months, and the types of illicit substances they had used during that period [4]. The data showed that:

  • Almost one-third (30%) of Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over reported having used illicit substances in the last 12 months, up from 22% in 2008.
  • Males were significantly more likely than females to have used illicit substances (34% compared with 27%), as were people in non-remote areas compared with those in remote areas (33% compared with 21%).
  • Cannabis was the most commonly reported illicit drug used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the last 12 months at 19% (25% of males compared with 14% of females).
  • The non-medical use of analgesics and sedatives (such as painkillers, sleeping pills and tranquilisers) was also relatively common (13%), with females (15%) being more likely than males (11%) to have used analgesics and sedatives.
  • One in twenty (5%) Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over reported having used amphetamines or speed in the last 12 months (6% of males compared with 3% of females) [4] (Figure ATSI3).

The 2016 NDSHS data showed that (other than ecstasy and cocaine), Indigenous Australians aged 14 and over recent used of illicit drugs was at a higher rate than non-Indigenous Australians (Table S3.1). Rates of illicit drug use in 2016 for Indigenous Australians aged 14 and older were:

  • Over one in four (27%) used any illicit drug in the last 12 months—1.8 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians (15.3%)
  • One in five (19.4%) used cannabis in the last 12 months—1.9 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians (10.2%)
  • Around one in 10 (10.6%) used a pharmaceutical for non-medical use—2.3 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians (4.6%) [7] (Table S3.1)
  • 3.1% used meth/amphetamines in the last 12 months—2.2 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians (1.4%).

The differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians were still apparent even after adjusting for differences in age structure (Figure ATSI4). There were no significant changes in illicit use of drugs among Indigenous Australians between 2013 and 2016, however due to the small sample sizes for Indigenous Australians, the estimates of the NDSHS should be interpreted with caution.

Geographic trends

Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over residing in the Northern Territory (22%) were the least likely to report substance use, while those from the Australian Capital Territory (41%) and Victoria (40%) were the most likely to report using substances.

Indigenous Australians from the Northern Territory (22%) and Queensland (29%) were the only jurisdictions below the national average (30%) [4] (Table S3.3).

Health and harms

The health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are considerably lower than for non-Indigenous Australians. For instance:

  • 35.1% of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people compared with 58.3% of non-Indigenous Australia self-assessed their health as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ (age-standardised per cent).
  • 32.5% of Indigenous Australians compared with 12.3% of non-Indigenous Australians reported high/very high psychological distress (age-standardised per cent).
  • 71.0% of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term health condition compared with 55.3% of non-Indigenous Australians (age-standardised per cent) [4] (Table S3.6).

Almost 1 in 2 Indigenous Australians with a mental health condition were a daily smoker (46%) and about 2 in 5 (39%) to have used substances in the last 12 months. This was higher than for Indigenous  Australians with other long-term health conditions (33% and 24%, respectively) or those with no long term health condition (39% and 29% respectively) [4] (Table S3.11).

The Australian Burden of Disease Study provides an indication of the risk factors that contribute to the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. In 2011, tobacco use accounted for 23.3% of the gap, and alcohol and drug use contributed to 8.1% and 4.1% of the gap, respectively [8] (Table S3.12).

Treatment

Indigenous Australians are also overrepresented in drug and alcohol treatment services. In 2016–17, the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Dataset (AODTS-NMDS) showed that 15% of clients were Indigenous Australians aged 10 and over (Table S3.13). Indigenous Australians (3,313 per 100,000 population) were 7 times more likely to receive AOD treatment services than non-Indigenous Australians (430 per 100,000 population) were. Specifically where:

  • Amphetamines was the principal drug of concern, Indigenous Australians (1,204 per 100,000 population) were 8 times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians (155 per 100,000 population).
  • Heroin was the principal drug of concern Indigenous Australians (911 per 100,000 population) were 7 times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians (123 per 100,000 population) were.
  • Cannabis was the principal drug of concern Indigenous Australians (867 per 100,000 population) were 7 times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians (126 per 100,000 population) were.
  • Alcohol was the principal drug of concern Indigenous Australians (136 per 100,000 population) were 7 times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians (26 per 100,000 population) [9] (Table S3.14).

Dependence on opioid drugs (including codeine, heroin and oxycodone) can be treated with pharmacotherapy therapy using substitute drugs such as methadone or buprenorphine. The National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data collection (NOPSAD) provides information on clients receiving opioid pharmacotherapy treatment on a snapshot day each year. For jurisdictions where data was provided, in 2017:

  • Around 1 in 10 clients (9%) were Indigenous, an overrepresentation relative to their population size.
  • Indigenous Australians were almost 3 times as likely (70 clients per 10,000 population) to receive pharmacotherapy treatment as non-Indigenous Australians (26 clients per 10,000 population) [11] (Table S3.15).

Data from the OSR shows that 2015–16, there were 80 organisations around Australia that provided alcohol and other drug treatment services to around 32,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients [6]. The OSR data also shows that:

  • All 80 organisations reported that alcohol was one of the top five common substance-use issue, followed by cannabis (94%) and amphetamines (70%)
  • Treatment episodes were more likely to be to occur in non-residential settings (87%)
  • One third of all treatment episodes were in Very remote areas (32%) and the highest proportion of clients were located in Major cities (35%).

Policy context

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2017

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2017 includes a suite of products that give the latest information on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia are faring according to a range of 68 performance measures across 3 tiers: Tier 1—health status and outcomes, Tier 2—determinants of health, and Tier 3—health system performance. The measures are based on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework and cover data that has been collected on the entire health system, including Indigenous-specific services and programs, and mainstream services [12].

National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Peoples Drug Strategy 2014–2019

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Drug Strategy 2014–2019 was a sub-strategy of the National Drug Strategy 2010–2015 and remains a sub-strategy under the National Drug Strategy 2017–2025. The overarching goal of this sub-strategy is to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by preventing and reducing the harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) on individuals, families and their communities [13].

Minister @KenWyattMP launches NACCHO @RACGP National guide for healthcare professionals to improve health of #Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients

 

All of our 6000 staff in 145 member services in 305 health settings across Australia will have access to this new and update edition of the National Guide. It’s a comprehensive edition for our clinicians and support staff that updates them all with current medical practice.

“NACCHO is committed to quality healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, and will work with all levels of government to ensure accessibility for all.”

NACCHO Chair John Singer said the updated National Guide would help governments improve health policy and lead initiatives that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

You can Download the Guide via this LINK

A/Prof Peter O’Mara, NACCHO Chair John Singer Minister Ken Wyatt & RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel launch the National guide at Parliament house this morning

“Prevention is always better than cure. Already one of the most widely used clinical guidelines in Australia, this new edition includes critical information on lung cancer, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and preventing child and family abuse and violence.

The National Guide maximises the opportunities at every clinic visit to prevent disease and to find it early.It will help increase vigilance over previously undiagnosed conditions, by promoting early intervention and by supporting broader social change to help individuals and families improve their wellbeing.”

Minister Ken Wyatt highlights what is new to the 3rd Edition of the National Guide-including FASD, lung cancer, young people lifecycle, family abuse & violence and supporting families to optimise child safety & wellbeing : Pic Lisa Whop SEE Full Press Release Part 2 Below

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) have joined forces to produce a guide that aims to improve the level of healthcare currently being delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and close the gap.

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Associate Professor Peter O’Mara said the third edition of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the National Guide) is an important resource for all health professionals to deliver best practice healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

“The National Guide will support all healthcare providers, not just GPs, across Australia to improve prevention and early detection of disease and illness,” A/Prof O’Mara said.

“The prevention and early detection of disease and illness can improve people’s lives and increase their lifespans.

“The National Guide will support healthcare providers to feel more confident that they are looking for health issues in the right way.”

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said the RACGP is committed to tackling the health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“The National Guide plays a vital role in closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health disparity,” Dr Seidel said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have equal access to quality healthcare across Australia and the National guide is an essential part of ensuring these services are provided.

“GPs and other healthcare providers who implement the recommendations within the National Guide will play an integral role in reducing health disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and ensuring culturally responsive and appropriate healthcare is always available.”

The updated third edition of the National Guide can be found on the RACGP website and the NACCHO website.

 

Free to download on the RACGP website and the NACCHO website:

http://www.racgp.org.au/national-guide/

and NACCHO

Part 2 Prevention and Early Diagnosis Focus for a Healthier Future

The critical role of preventive care and tackling the precursors of chronic disease is being boosted in the latest guide for health professionals working to close the gap in health equality for Indigenous Australians

The critical role of preventive care and tackling the precursors of chronic disease is being boosted in the latest guide for health professionals working to close the gap in health equality for Indigenous Australians.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, today launched the updated third edition of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Prevention is always better than cure,” said Minister Wyatt. “Already one of the most widely used clinical guidelines in Australia, this new edition includes critical information on lung cancer, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and preventing child and family abuse and violence.

“The National Guide maximises the opportunities at every clinic visit to prevent disease and to find it early.

“It will help increase vigilance over previously undiagnosed conditions, by promoting early intervention and by supporting broader social change to help individuals and families improve their wellbeing.”

The guide, which was first published in 2005, is a joint project between the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners RACGP).

“To give you some idea of the high regard in which it is held, the last edition was downloaded 645,000 times since its release in 2012,” said Minister Wyatt.

“The latest edition highlights the importance of individual, patient-centred care and has been developed to reflect local and regional needs.

“Integrating resources like the national guide across the whole health system plays a pivotal role in helping us meet our Closing the Gap targets.

“The Turnbull Government is committed to accelerating positive change and is investing in targeted activities that have delivered significant reductions in the burden of disease.

“Rates of heart disease, smoking and binge drinking are down. We are on track to achieve the child mortality target for 2018 and deaths associated with kidney and respiratory diseases have also reduced.”

The National Guide is funded under the Indigenous Australian’s Health Programme as part of a record $3.6 billion investment across four financial years.

The RACGP received $429,000 to review, update, publish and distribute the third edition, in hard copy and electronic formats.

The National Guide is available on the RACGP website or by contacting RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health on 1800 000 251 or aboriginalhealth@racgp.org.au.

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Saveadate and The #Apology10 :The fact is that most of the social and health problems we see in communities today are linked to Intergenerational Trauma says Richard Weston CEO @HealingOurWay

 ”  The fact is that most of the social and health problems we see in communities today, from family violence and suicide to high rates of incarceration and child protection, can be linked to Intergenerational Trauma

So if we want to create a different future and close the gaps that still exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, we need to stop putting Intergenerational Trauma in the too-hard basket.

The National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008 was a landmark event. It was a moment of truth telling which is critical when you’re trying to heal from trauma. But it was a starting point not a solution. The latest progress report on Closing the Gap shows that efforts to address appalling levels of disadvantage have made marginal improvements, in spite of billions of dollars in government funding.

Closing the Gap is complicated, but it’s not impossible. We just need to invest in strategies that have been proven to work and be prepared to invest beyond political cycles and social fads.

We also need to listen to what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities tell us will work.”

Richard Weston, a Meriam man who was born on Gadigal country and grew up on Noongar Boodja and is now on Ngunnawal Country, is this week’s host on the @IndigenousX Twitter account and is tweeting with the #Apology10 hashtag. See Full Croakey article below

Communities across Australia, from Kununurra to Mildura, Casuarina to Logan, the Mornington Peninsula to Cherbourg and Muswellbrook to Adelaide, will come together this month to commemorate todays 10th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations on 13 February 2008.

See this list of events.

In this anniversary article for Croakey, The Healing Foundation CEO Richard Weston says Australia must understand that the impacts of the Stolen Generations policies, and other brutal acts of colonisation, are not consigned to the past, but “very much part of the here and now”. He says we need a serious commitment to tackle unresolved and intergenerational trauma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

#Apology10 is also hosting a free community concert in Canberra to mark #Apology10, featuring Archie Roach, Shellie Morris, The Preatures, Busby Marou and Electric Fields, hosted by Myf Warhurst and Steven Oliver.

See also this video series marking the National Apology being published by IndigenousX – featuring Uncle Jack Charles, Amnesty Australia’s Roxanne Moore, and Gavan Moor and Chris Dunk.

 Download the 6 Page 2018 Aboriginal / Health  days and events calendar updated 6 February  HERE

NACCHO Aboriginal Health 2018 Save a date Feb 6

National Apology was starting point, not solution: Stolen Generations trauma continues

Anniversaries are a good time for reflection and as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the National Apology today, I hope we can use the momentum to achieve something we’ve never managed to realise before—a serious commitment to tackle unresolved and Intergenerational Trauma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ten years on from the Apology, and 20 years on from the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report that recommended that apology in the first place, there are still thousands of our people held back by the impact of trauma. Almost every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family is affected in some way.

To give you an idea of what I mean, more than 12 per cent of the people who gave evidence of abuse to the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. But we’re not just talking about events of the past. A study in Western Australia found that one in five Aboriginal children were living in families now, where between seven to 14 major life stress events had occurred in 12 months.

Most Australians prefer to think about the Stolen Generations—and other brutal episodes in 230 years of colonisation—as a phenomenon of the past. But the impacts are very much part of the here and now.

Trauma affects the way people think and act and overwhelms their ability to cope and engage. If people don’t have the opportunity to heal from trauma, it’s likely that their experiences and negative behaviours will start to impact on others, particularly children who are susceptible to significant developmental damage when they experience trauma at a young age.

This has created a cycle of trauma, where the impact is passed from one generation to the next, creating a snowball effect of cumulative damage. Research backs this up. The Stolen Generations and their children and grandchildren are twice as likely to be arrested by police and a third less likely to be in good health, compared to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are already at a disadvantage.

 

The Healing Foundation is finalising the first full analysis of current needs for the Stolen Generations, particularly as they enter the aged care sector, and to address issues like national reparations. When we talk to members of the Stolen Generations, they tell us over and over again that re-building families through culture and healing is a key priority.

Why? Because a traumatised person can’t benefit from programs around education and training.  Healing strategies must be implemented alongside enablers like employment, education and economic empowerment, otherwise we will keep wasting taxpayer dollars focusing on symptoms alone.

The Healing Foundation has shown that investment in the right programs will create long term change and reduce the burden on public funds.  Over the last eight years we’ve seen reductions in violence, juvenile justice rates and out-of-home care for children where healing programs have been implemented.  For example, our men’s healing programs have led to a 50% reduction in contact with Corrective Services and a drop in family violence, while programs for young people have potentially reduced contact with the protection system by 18.5% and the juvenile justice system by nearly 14%.

To replicate these successes across Australia, we need to scale-up our healing efforts and focus on families and communities, rather than individuals.

Today will be a day of celebration to mark a major step forward in the process of healing and reconciliation.  But it’s also a day when we need to take stock of what’s working and what’s not. Over the past few weeks I’ve been reminded by young people in our communities that the future holds a great deal of hope. Despite the wrongs of the past, many of them are optimistic and motivated to create change. This gives me hope that we will have something more positive to report after the next decade—and a different future, built on a foundation of healing.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health 2018 #Saveadate Calendar Download : Features this week Dr Tracy Westerman’s 2018 Workshops Assessment and #SuicidePrevention in Aboriginal Communities Combined and #CulturalCompetency

 

” Tracy has now trained more than 22,000 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal service providers, accrediting them in her unique tools and approaches — enabling them to identify early stages of risk in Aboriginal people.

She has also provided her suicide intervention programs to Indigenous communities throughout Australia, as well as programs that improve the cultural competence of those working with Aboriginal people.”

Dr Tracy Westerman learnt early how to be a strong, proud Aboriginal. Now WA’s Australian of the Year is teaching others to be the same

Read full article HERE or extracts below Part 3

See Save a dates for Dr Tracy Westerman 2018 Workshops Assessment & Suicide  Prevention in Aboriginal Communities Combined and Cultural Competency for Supervisors of Aboriginal People See Part 2 Below

Register early as limited workshops are available!

Workshops are delivered by Dr Tracy Westerman, a recognized leader in Aboriginal mental health, suicide prevention and cultural competency fields

Part 1 : Aboriginal Conferences, Events, Workshops, Health Awareness Days

For many years ACCHO organisations have said they wished they had a list of the many Indigenous “ Days “ and Aboriginal health or awareness days/weeks/events.

With thanks to our friends at ZockMelon here they both are!

It even has a handy list of the hashtags for the event.

Download the 50 Page 2018 Health days and events calendar HERE

2018-Health-Days-and-Events-Calendar-by-Zockmelon

Download the 6 Page 2018 Aboriginal / Health  days and events calendar updated 30 January  HERE

NACCHO Save a date 30 Jan 2018

We hope that this document helps you with your planning for the year ahead.

Events have been selected on their basis of relevance to the broad Aboriginal health promotion and public health community in Australia.

Every Tuesday we will update these listings with new events and What’s on for the week ahead

To submit your events or update our info

Contact: Colin Cowell www.nacchocommunique.com

NACCHO Social Media Editor Tel 0401 331 251

Email : nacchonews@naccho.org.au

Part 2.1 Assessment & Suicide  Prevention in Aboriginal Communities Combined

Brisbane 18,19 & 20 July
Cairns     1, 2 & 3 August
Adelaide 15, 16 & 17 August
  • Free Cultural Competency profile
  • Ensuring Cultural compatibility in assessment and engagement
  • Culture-bound syndromes – type, nature and assessment
  • Depression in Aboriginal people. Treatment, assessment and intervention
  • Post traumatic stress and its manifestations
    • Halting the transmission of intergeneration trauma
  • Accreditation in four unique assessment tools
    • Acculturation Scale for Aboriginal Australians
    • Acculturative Stress Scale for Aboriginal Australians
    • The Westerman Aboriginal Symptom Checklist – Youth & Adults – a suicide risk screening tool for Aboriginal people
  • The nature of Aboriginal suicide – intervention and prevention frameworks
  • Effective engagement with suicidal Aboriginal clients
  • Translating cultural differences into suicide risk assessment
Part 2.2 Cultural Competency for Supervisors of Aboriginal People 
Sydney 18-19 October
Perth    1-2 November
  • Free General Cultural Competency profile
  • Cultural competence- talking through an experiential journey
  • Motivators & predictors of racial bias and how to ensure a culturally safe work environment
  • Increase knowledge of Aboriginal health, history, government policies & culture
  • Aboriginal Identity Formation and its role in retention and employment outcome
  • Managing retention of Aboriginal employees – what are the issues and how to address them
  • Common causes of employment cessation
  • How to support Aboriginal employees
  • Understand impacts of community, culture & historical context
  • Supervision and leadership models
  • Cultural learning style differences
  • Cultural competent organisations and what defines them
  • Increasing representation of Aboriginal employees across organisations

Download registration form

 

Part 3 :Dr Tracy Westerman now WA’s Australian of the Year celebrates the 20th year of Indigenous Psychological Services

As a psychologist, she now knows that reaction was about the desire to fit in at all costs.

“When you’re a kid you don’t want to stand out for any reason,” she says. “But I was just really lucky to have an environment that didn’t generalise racism. They’d say ‘That’s just that nasty person’, rather than, ‘All white people are this way’. And I have never, ever been into divisiveness. We are all Australians together.”

Besides, she says, the stakes are too high to make her work a black or white issue.

“We have kids in our communities as young as 10 who are choosing the option of death instead of life. This is not an Aboriginal issue any more, this is a human issue,” she says, her passion rising to the fore. “We are only as strong as our most vulnerable and Australians have always been concerned about our most vulnerable. I’m not a social media commentator, I’m not a politician, I’m very, very clear about what I want my platform to be.”

Tracey used the Australian of the Year platform on Thursday to do as she has long been doing — working to improve Aboriginal mental health and help prevent alarming rates of suicide.

As she celebrates the 20th year of Indigenous Psychological Services, a business she started because she could see her people weren’t getting the kind of help they needed — and which she is proud to say has never had any government funding — even she finds it hard to believe she almost walked away from psychology.

“The first three years at uni I struggled, the culture shock was pretty significant. I mean I did distance education, I never caught an escalator, I never caught a bus, crossing Stirling Highway was terrifying to me,” she says. “And then on top of that I had this concept of the sorts of things that worked for my people and I was being taught the absolute contrary of that. I thought I can’t be a psychologist; if this is what psychology is, I’ve got it wrong.”

“I’ve always done fast things, so marathon running was the best thing for me because it made me slow down. It was this real mental battle initially because I’d go out like a bull at a gate and then after 10km I’d pass out.”

Then the 22-year-old was offered a job working in Kalgoorlie and the Western Desert communities with child welfare. “My first job in Warburton was just after 60 Minutes had been in there to do the big expose on petrol and glue sniffing,” she recalls. “I’d never been in an environment before where there was solvent abuse and there are 5000 household substances you can use to get a high.

“Imagine something the size of Subiaco Oval and shopping bags littered as far as the eye can see, discarded shopping bags that kids had used to sniff with. I had one sibling group one day, four years of age all the way through to 12 — five of them, high as kites. It’s just heartbreaking.”

But she loved the communities and immediately felt she could make a difference. Initially she was like a bull at a gate, wanting to smash all the obstacles at once, but was guided by some wiser heads. “One of my elders said to me ‘It’s like a drop in a bucket. One day you help someone and it’s a little drop in the bucket, and the next day you help someone else and it’s another drop in the bucket and eventually the bucket gets full’,” she says.

The experience also made her all the more determined to prove that mainstream psychology methods simply weren’t effective in dealing with indigenous mental health and suicide prevention.

“I developed the first unique screening tool for Aboriginal youth (the Westerman Aboriginal Symptom Checklist — Youth, or WASC-Y), developed from the ground up and validated,” she says. “I didn’t realise that had never been done before, not just in Australia but globally. I started to think maybe we’re getting this wrong, maybe the suicides are escalating because we’re getting the risk factors wrong and no one bothered to check. So we checked and found that the risk factors were very different, and if you get the risk factors wrong everything going forward is wrong.”

“We ended up wearing Aboriginal badges on our shirts when we went out just so that people would know we were Aboriginal because every time you’d go out you’d be in an argument.”

In 1998, as she was nearing the end of her groundbreaking PhD, she struck out on her own. “I was 27, I quit government, I bought a fax machine for $300 and just started sending out faxes to people about my training workshops — $600 for four days, fully catered. And that’s how I started my business, in the front lounge of this house.

People started registering straight away, I just couldn’t believe it. But mostly the business was born out of pure frustration. I knew that you had to get into communities and skill up whole communities if you were going to make a difference.”

This seemingly innocuous document is shocking on so many levels.

Tracy has now trained more than 22,000 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal service providers, accrediting them in her unique tools and approaches — enabling them to identify early stages of risk in Aboriginal people. She has also provided her suicide intervention programs to indigenous communities throughout Australia, as well as programs that improve the cultural competence of those working with Aboriginal people.

“You have to get people to identify unconscious bias and that’s really challenging. It’s quite common that they come up to me in tears,” she says.

She conducts an activity whereby she asks the participants to picture a group of Aboriginal people in a park. “And I go ‘OK, open your eyes’. And on the powerpoint there’s a couple of very well dressed Aboriginal tradesmen at work in the park.

And I say ‘Did you see this?’ And then you have another picture of some Aboriginal people drunk and dishevelled and lying in the park ‘Or did you see this?’ I am not doing it for the shock value. I’m doing this because the science tells us that this shifts people.”

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #Suicide : @RoyalFlyingDoc says mental health services in rural and remote Australia are in a state of “crisis”.

 “We see [more remote] people only accessing mental health services at … 20 per cent the rate of those who access services in the city.

If that’s not a crisis, I don’t know what a crisis is.

We provide 24-hour medical care to people in rural and remote Australia, but our doctors are finding themselves overwhelmed by the amount of psychological support they need to provide to their patients.

Last year the Flying Doctors saw 24,500 people to provide mental health counselling, but we could double or triple that service tomorrow and still not touch the surface,” .

The RFDS chief executive Martin Laverty said major disparities between country and city services still existed, despite numerous government reviews designed to address the problem

WATCH TV COVERAGE HERE

Read over 169 NACCHO Mental Health Articles published over past 6 years

Read over 119 NACCHO Suicide Prevention articles published over past 6 years

Fact 1   

“Roughly half the people the Flying Doctor cares for in our health or dental clinics or transports by air or ground are Indigenous.

“The Flying Doctor RAP, agreed with Reconciliation Australia, contains tailored actions for tangible improvements in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

RFDS Website

Fact 2

Each year, around one in five, or 960,000, remote and rural Australians experience a mental disorder. The prevalence of mental disorders in remote and rural Australia is the same as that in major cities, making mental disorders one of the few illnesses that does not have higher prevalence rates in country Australia compared to city areas.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service says mental health services in rural and remote Australia are in a state of “crisis”.

Originally published ABC TV NEWS

Key points:

  • There are no registered psychologists in 15 of Australia’s rural and remote areas
  • “There should be no excuse in a country of universal access to healthcare,” RFDS CEO says
  • Mental health advocates are calling for a bigger financial commitment from the Government in this year’s budget

Data from the Department of Health showed the number of registered psychologists across the country increased in 2015/16. But there were no registered psychologists in 15 rural and remote areas.

Mr Laverty said areas like west coast Tasmania, central Australia, western Queensland and the Kimberley in Western Australia missed out.

“Areas where perhaps you’re not surprised to see that there aren’t health professionals in abundance,” he said.

“That should be no excuse in a country of universal access to healthcare.”

Mental Health Australia chief executive Frank Quinlan said doctors were not always the best people to provide mental health support.

“It is not necessarily the best way for us to be spending our resources — to have GPs with 10 years or more of training — delivering basic brief interventions and counselling interventions that could be delivered by other professionals and trained peer workers,” he said.

Suicide rates in rural areas are 40 per cent higher than in major cities, and in remote areas, the rate is almost double.

Mental health advocates call for greater commitment

The Coalition allocated $80 million for psychosocial support services in last year’s federal budget.

The program would help people suffering from severe mental illness — who are not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) — find housing, education and better care.

But the Government will not release the money unless states and territories stump up funds too, and Mr Quinlan said that was yet to happen.

“That’s in spite of the fact that we know that with the roll-out of the NDIS and the roll-back of previous Commonwealth programs, people are already starting to fall into the gaps,” he said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has acknowledged more assistance is needed for people in the bush.

“I do believe there is a very significant challenge and this is because there are four million Australians every year who have some form of mental health challenge and in the rural areas this is a significant challenge which is precisely why we are looking at additional services,” he said.

The Federal Government recently announced more than $100 million for the youth mental health service Headspace.

It is also spending $9 million improving tele-health services in rural areas.

But mental health advocates are calling for a bigger commitment to such initiatives in this year’s federal budget.

“The Minister — Greg Hunt — was relatively new to the ministry when the 2017 budget was released,” Mr Quinlan said.

“So I think the sector quite broadly and quite rightly, now, 12 months on, will be looking to the 2018 budget to see whether the Government is actually able to prioritise a lot of the concerns and issues that have been addressed.”

Federal Labor response ( added comment )

The Turnbull Government must break its silence over growing concerns about the quality of mental health services being delivered across Australia.

The Royal Flying Doctors Service is the latest organisation to raise the alarm about mental health service issues in rural and remote Australia. These comments today should be a wake-up call for Malcolm Turnbull.

It is vitally important the Turnbull Government gets this right. The mental health gap between the city and country is already too wide.

Today’s comments follow the Australian Medical Association’s position statement on mental health last week on the ‘gross’ underfunding of mental health services.

The Turnbull Government must prioritise greater funding for mental health services in the lead-up to the Budget.

Labor knows there is more work to be done to improve the mental health of all Australians and find ways to further reduce the thousands of lives lost to suicide each year.

It is only by working together that we will be able to finally reduce the impact of mental health issues in our society .

Mental health services need more than lip-service from Malcolm Turnbull and his Government.

For Help Contact your Nearest ACCHO

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth #Suicide : #DefyingTheEnemyWithin Powerful new book extract from @joewilliams_tew out 22 January – a promising career derailed by booze, drugs and mental health problems.

That afternoon, a guy I’d never seen before, who was partying with the group, approached me and asked if I needed anything to help me stay awake. That was the day I had my very first ecstasy tablet. Boom. I was instantaneously hooked.

Now I had a drinking and drug problem. But I didn’t for one second think I might have a mental-health problem.

I thought that someone who was mentally unwell was “weird” or not stable in society. I even believed that mentally ill people were criminals.

How wrong I turned out to be. “

This is an edited extract from Defying The Enemy Within by Joe Williams, published by ABC Books, in stores Monday

See 3 Pages from book below Part 2

Win a copy of the book by sending an email to media@naccho.org.au

Telling Joe in 50 words or less why you would like to read his book : Entries Close Wednesday 24 January : Winner Announced Thursday 25 January NACCHO Deadly Good News Post

‘Joe Williams has been into the darkest forest and brought back a story to shine a light for us all. He’s a leader for today and tomorrow.’Stan Grant

‘In telling his powerful story, Joe Williams is helping to dismantle the stigma associated with mental illness. His courage and resilience have inspired many, and this book will only add to the great work he’s doing.’Dr Timothy Sharp, The Happiness Institute

‘It is through his struggles that Joe Williams has found direction and purpose. Now Joe gives himself to others who walk the path he has.‘ – Linda Burney MP

Former NRL player, world boxing title holder and proud Wiradjuri First Nations man Joe Williams was always plagued by negative dialogue in his head, and the pressures of elite sport took their toll.

Joe eventually turned to drugs and alcohol to silence the dialogue, before attempting to take his own life in 2012. In the aftermath, determined to rebuild , Joe took up professional boxing and got clean.

Defying the Enemy Within is both Joe’s story and the steps he took to get well. Williams tells of his struggles with mental illness, later diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder, and the constant dialogue in his head telling him he worthless and should die. In addition to sharing his experiences, Joe shares his wellness plan – the ordinary steps that helped him achieve the extraordinary.

Joe Williams was guest speaker at NACCHO Conference Canberra : See full text from the Enemy Within  .

 

View Joe Williams Presentation from NACCHO Conference 2018

Read over 169 NACCHO Mental Health Articles published over past 6 years

Read over 119 NACCHO Suicide Prevention articles published over past 6 years

MOVING to Sydney to chase my dream in the NRL was a fantastic opportunity; spending my first two years in the big city under Arthur Beetson’s roof gave me a lifetime of memories and an experience I am truly grateful for.

But those years also provided me with some of the biggest and toughest life lessons I’ve learned.

During the 2002 pre-season, I got my first taste of mixing with the squad as a full-time player. I was expected to train with the team either on the field or in the weights room two or three times a day, five days a week.

It was essential to get to training on time but one day I was running late for a mid-morning session because I’d had to stay at Marcellin (College) a bit later than usual for school photos.

I raced to training, knowing I’d get in trouble from coach Ricky Stuart for being late. Sure enough, being the tough coach he was, Ricky started ripping into me.

When I told him I was late because I had my school photos, he and all the players burst out laughing. For the next few weeks, it became the running joke as an excuse for being late.

I learned so much during that off-season and impressed the coaching staff enough to be chosen in the top squad for the trial period.

Having just turned 18, it was amazing to play in two trial first grade NRL games at halfback inside Brad “Freddy” Fittler, one of the greatest five-eighths of all.

I didn’t make my NRL debut that year because the coaching staff wanted me to gain more experience playing in the Roosters’ under-20s Jersey Flegg side.

Looking back, although I felt like I was ready, I definitely needed the time and experience under my belt to become a more complete player and the sort of on-field leader a halfback needs to be

At the time, though, it was disappointing to go from playing with the first grade team one week to training with guys who were pretty much hoping to get a spot so they’d be contracted.

It was after I was put back to the under-20s that I first noticed the negative voices in my mind rearing their ugly head, telling me I didn’t deserve to be in Sydney given I wasn’t playing first grade and that I should just pack up and head back to the bush (Wagga) because I was worthless.

Back then, there wasn’t as much emphasis on the psychology of professional athletes and the pressures that came with playing elite sport.

There were days when training staff were almost like army drill sergeants. Sometimes they screamed at players and humiliated and even degraded players in front of other members of the team.

Occasionally, they would even bring the racial identity of a player into the abuse. It may be that they believed this was the way to make the players mentally stronger and that, if you weren’t mentally strong, you should just give up playing rugby league.

For me and many others, that approach of ridicule, embarrassment and tough love didn’t work.

In fact, it had the opposite impact of sending my self-esteem lower and lower.

But the negative thoughts were a different story altogether. They’d often spiral out of control, to the point where I felt like I was witnessing an argument taking place between two separate people; the negative Joe and positive Joe.

The head noise and voices affected my mental well-being so severely that it started to affect me physically.

Things grew worse, as the voices wreaked havoc on my ability to think. I started second-guessing every decision I made both on and off the field. The voices became so vivid and loud in my head, it was like I was hearing actual voices.

After a while, I became so anxious and down that I’d get to the point where I’d convinced myself I was worthless, a failure.

Even on the days I didn’t put a foot wrong on the footy field or won player of the match, I’d convince myself I would be dropped from the squad because of the negatives in my game.

I would be scared to go to training because I dreaded the coach saying I wouldn’t be in the team the following week.

The only way I knew how to combat these constant thoughts, turn down the voices and deaden the pain I felt, was to drink as much alcohol as I could.

Despite the negative voices and drinking, I managed to stay on track with my footy, even captaining the under-20s Roosters team. They were a great bunch of guys and good players and we ended up having a fantastic season and making it through to the Grand Final.

On the day of the Grand Final I kicked three goals, had two try assists and kicked the winning field goal. After our first grade team also won their grand final, we had one hell of a party that went on for a few days.

During the 2003 season, I was really battling emotionally, suffering from homesickness and looking for comfort at the bottom of a bottle. Instead of concentrating on playing well, I was busy worrying about what drinking and late-night partying the crew had planned after the game.

It all began to take its toll physically and mentally. At the same time, I found I was clashing with some of the coaching staff. I became desperate for a change. As a result, I decided to move to South Sydney Rabbitohs.

When I called my mother to tell her I’d signed with the Rabbitohs, she burst into tears of joy. Mum had been an avid Souths fan since she was a young girl and had dreamed that one day she’d get to see me run out in the famous red-and-green South Sydney colours.

I’d signed with Souths to show I was still keen to be an NRL player but the money wasn’t great so the pre-season was tough. As a result, I had to make a living like many league players did, working long hours labouring on a construction site. Afterwards, I’d go to football training then get some sleep and do it all over again.

To make matters worse, I broke my thumb in the opening trial game and had to have surgery on it, causing me to miss the first six weeks of the season.

I was no longer drinking so much or partying hard as I didn’t have much money. After a few weeks of putting a huge effort into training and committing myself both physically and mentally, I was picked in the reserve grade team. I began to play myself into form, stringing a few good games together and it was noticed by the coaching staff.

It wasn’t long before I was picked in the first grade team to make my NRL debut. Finally, the time had come to live out my childhood dream.

I didn’t sleep a wink the night before my first grade debut. On the way to Shark Park, I seemed to take every wrong turn and was late for the warm-up. To my surprise and happiness, though, the coach had organised for my dad to present me with my playing jersey.

I’d dreamed of this moment for most of my life and the fact I was playing for the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs made things even sweeter.

People sometimes ask me what it was like playing my first NRL game. The funny thing is, I copped a knock to the head that gave me a mild concussion for the rest of the match.

I do remember that we lost but one thing that stood out for me was that my idol, close friend and mentor Dave Peachey was playing in his 200th NRL game. After the siren and when we were shaking hands, “The Peach” said to me: “Young brother, as my career is nearing its end, yours is just starting. Good luck”.

Joe Williams tells his story.

I had spent my entire life chasing the dream of becoming an NRL player. I now had the monkey off my back and it was time to get to work and live up to my potential.

Unfortunately, wins were few and far between for Souths in 2004.

My alcohol abuse was becoming rampant again, now I was earning more, and playing first grade had sent my ego to an all-time high, especially after I was named Rookie of the Year in 2004.

Things got even worse when I discovered party drugs during the 2004-2005 off-season. I enjoyed being the life of the party, laughing and joking, the centre of attention.

On Mad Monday, I celebrated by drinking so much alcohol I couldn’t stand up. That afternoon, a guy I’d never seen before, who was partying with the group, approached me and asked if I needed anything to help me stay awake. That was the day I had my very first ecstasy tablet. Boom. I was instantaneously hooked.

Now I had a drinking and drug problem. But I didn’t for one second think I might have a mental-health problem.

I thought that someone who was mentally unwell was “weird” or not stable in society. I even believed that mentally ill people were criminals.

How wrong I turned out to be.

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NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth Alert : @AMAPresident calls for a national, overarching mental health “architecture”, and proper investment in both #prevention and #treatment of mental illnesses

 

“Almost one in three (30 per cent) of Indigenous adults suffered high or very high levels of psychological distress in 2012-13. Indigenous adults are 2.7 times as likely as non-Indigenous adults to suffer these levels of distress.

General practitioners manage mental health problems for Indigenous Australians at 1.3 times the rate for other Australians, and mental health-related conditions accounted for 4.4 per cent of hospitalisations of Indigenous people in 2012-13.”

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon – Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Download the AMA 2018 Position Paper

Mental-Health-2018- Position-Statement

Read over 168 NACCHO Mental Health articles published over 5 Years

The AMA is calling for a national, overarching mental health “architecture”, and proper investment in both prevention and treatment of mental illnesses.

Almost one in two Australian adults will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, yet mental health and psychiatric care are grossly underfunded when compared to physical health, AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said today.

Releasing the AMA Position Statement on Mental Health 2018, Dr Gannon said that strategic leadership is needed to integrate all components of mental health prevention and care.

“Many Australians will experience a mental illness at some time in their lives, and almost every Australian will experience the effects of mental illness in a family member, friend, or work colleague,” Dr Gannon said.

“For mental health consumers and their families, navigating the system and finding the right care at the right time can be difficult and frustrating.

“Australia lacks an overarching mental health ‘architecture’. There is no vision of what the mental health system will look like in the future, nor is there any agreed national design or structure that will facilitate prevention and proper care for people with mental illness.

“The AMA is calling for the balance between funding acute care in public hospitals, primary care, and community-managed mental health to be correctly weighted.

“Funding should be on the basis of need, demand, and disease burden – not a competition between sectors and specific conditions. Policies that try to strip resources from one area of mental health to pay for another are disastrous.

“Poor access to acute beds for major illness leads to extended delays in emergency departments, poor access to community care leads to delayed or failed discharges from hospitals, and poor funding of community services makes it harder to access and coordinate prevention, support services, and early intervention.

“Significant investment is urgently needed to reduce the deficits in care, fragmentation, poor coordination, and access to effective care.

“As with physical health, prevention is just as important in mental health, and evidence-based prevention can be socially and economically superior to treatment.

“Community-managed mental health services have not been appropriately structured or funded since the movement towards deinstitutionalisation in the 1970s and 1980s, which shifted much of the care and treatment of people with a mental illness out of institutions and into the community.

“The AMA Position Statement supports coordinated and properly funded community-managed mental health services for people with psychosocial disability, as this will reduce the need for costly hospital admissions.”

The Position Statement calls for Governments to address underfunding in mental health services and programs for adolescents, refugees and migrants, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people in regional and remote areas.

It also calls for Government recognition and support for carers of people with mental illness.

“Caring for people with a mental illness is often the result of necessity, not choice, and can involve very intense demands on carers,” Dr Gannon said.

“Access to respite care is vital for many people with mental illness and their families, who bear the largest burden of care.”

The AMA Position Statement on Mental Health 2018 is available at https://ama.com.au/position-statement/mental-health-2018

Background

  • 7.3 million Australians (45 per cent) aged 16 to 85 will experience a common mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or substance use disorder, in their lifetime.
  • Almost 64,000 people have a psychotic illness and are in contact with public specialised mental health services each year.
  • 560,000 children and adolescents aged four to 17 (about 14 per cent) experienced mental health disorders in 2012-13.
  • Australians living with schizophrenia die 25 years earlier than the general population, mainly due to poor heart health.
  • Almost one in three (30 per cent) of Indigenous adults suffered high or very high levels of psychological distress in 2012-13. Indigenous adults are 2.7 times as likely as non-Indigenous adults to suffer these levels of distress.
  • General practitioners manage mental health problems for Indigenous Australians at 1.3 times the rate for other Australians, and mental health-related conditions accounted for 4.4 per cent of hospitalisations of Indigenous people in 2012-13.
  • About $8.5 billion is spent every year on mental health-related services in Australia, including residential and community services, hospital-based services (both inpatient and outpatient), and consultations with GPs and other specialists.

(Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

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