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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download all reports HERE

Or Summary HERE

mental-health-draft-overview

Download NACCHO’s submission to this report

NACCHO-mental-health submission

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

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

Today’s news coverage

From todays The Australian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Workplace reform is also ­proposed.

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

 

 

Australia’s mental health: a generational shift is needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A path for maintainable long term reform

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

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

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

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

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

Reform area 2: close critical gaps in healthcare services

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

 

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

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

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

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

Reform area 3: investment in services beyond health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Brooke Blurton’s speaker BIO Here 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key findings include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources of support

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

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

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

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

Suicide prevention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To donate please click on Nathan’s link 

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

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

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

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

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

To donate please click on Nathan’s link 

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

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

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

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

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

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

To donate please click on Nathan’s link 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See Menzies Press Release and English video version Part 2 below

Download this NACCHO Press Release in PDF HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #Wellbeing #SuicidePrevention : NATSIMHL and @cbpatsisp #GayaaDhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration and Indigenous Governance workshop : Keynote Speech from John Paterson CEO @AMSANTaus

“ AMSANT understands that social determinants of health are critical to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal Communities and recognises the role that these determinants play in the development of mental health and harmful substance use issues within communities.

AMSANT therefore recognises that a crucial component of providing support to the delivery of AOD and Mental Health programs and services through the Community Controlled Sector is to continue to advocate and lobby for the improvement of the social determinants of health and mental health for Aboriginal people.

We understand that these determinants extend beyond issues relating to, for example, housing, education, and employment, to more fundamental issues relating to the importance of control, culture and country and the legacy of a history of trauma and loss.

Strong and empowered community governance is the backbone to community resilience and Self-Determination and leads to better health outcomes

We have great challenges and great opportunities here in the Territory and with your commitment to self-determination, Aboriginal Governance, policies and practices that do not re-traumatise, we can achieve strong outcomes together

But first we need to recognise and acknowledge the past to inform our future journey and the sometimes difficult paths we will need to take. 

We as Aboriginal people understand the inter-connectivity of all things;

Our call to action is what part will you play, where are you positioned within this connectivity to ensure health and wellbeing is strong for Gayaa Dhuwi our Proud Spirit. “

John Paterson CEO AMSANT ( Pictured above with Kerry Arabena ) Keynote speech see Part 2 Below

Have your say about what is needed to make real change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people see part 3 below #HaveYourSay about #closingthegap   

Part 1 Help close the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health gap by pledging support for the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration.

The mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is significantly worse than that of other Australians across many indicators. In particular, the suicide rates are twice as high.

The reasons for the gap are many but include the lack of culturally competent and safe services within the mental health system, that balance clinical responses with culturally-informed responses including access to cultural healing.

To rectify this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership is needed in those parts of the mental health system that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

Pledging your organisation’s or personal support for the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration is a first step in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in appropriate parts of the mental health system to improve our mental health and reduce suicide.”

More info sign HERE

Or Download the 6 Page Brochure HERE

Gayaa-Dhuwi-Declaration_Proud-Spirit

Part 2

The Aboriginal Medical Services of the NT is the peak body for the community controlled Aboriginal primary health care (PHC) sector in the Northern Territory (NT). We have 25 members providing Aboriginal comprehensive primary health care (CPHC) right across the NT from Darwin to the most remote regions.

AMSANT has been established for 25 years and just recently celebrated our 25 year anniversary in Alice Springs.   AMSANT has a major policy and advocacy role at the NT and national levels, including as a partner with the Commonwealth and NT governments in the Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum (NTAHF).

The ACCHSs sector in the NT is comparatively more significant than in other jurisdictions, being the largest provider of primary health care services to Aboriginal people in the NT. Over half of all the episodes of care approximately 60% and contacts 65% in the Aboriginal PHC sector in the Northern Territory are provided by ACCHSs. Moreover, ACCHS deliver comprehensive primary health care that incorporates social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and AOD services, family support services and early childhood services, delivered by multidisciplinary teams within a holistic service model.

Aboriginal people experience a disproportionate morbidity and mortality burden from mental health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems. Nationally, mental health conditions are estimated to account for 12% of the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, with suicide contributing another 6% and alcohol another 4% (Vos et al. 2007). Tragically, from 2011-15, the Indigenous suicide rate was twice that of the non-Indigenous population (AHMAC 2017).

At AMSANT, we have come to believe that encouraging an understanding of trauma and its impact and facilitating trauma informed perspectives and ways of working – for all staff throughout our health services – can enhance service delivery and outcomes for the communities in which these services are based.

Some of the most challenging, complex and life threatening issues faced within our health services can be better understood in the context of historical and ongoing experiences of trauma. But as we understand these difficulties in relation to the stories of trauma that communities have lived through since colonisation, it is vital that we also see and understand the strengths and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities – and that we recognise the central role of connection to culture, cultural identity and cultural continuity in maintaining these strengths and keeping people well.

Many Aboriginal people in the NT are happy, engaged with their families and culture, and prepared to make a positive contribution to their communities. The physical and mental health of Aboriginal people have been maintained through beliefs, practices and ways of life that supported their social and emotional wellbeing across generations and thousands of years.

However, factors unique to the Aboriginal experience—including the historical and ongoing process of colonisation that has seen loss of land, suppression of language and culture, forcible removal of children from families, and experiences of racism—have all contributed to profound feelings of loss and grief and exposure to unresolved trauma, which continues disadvantage, poor health and poor social outcomes for far too many Aboriginal people.

This process has directly involved the disruption and severing of the many connections that are protective in maintaining strong mental health and wellbeing – Our connections to a strong spirit

Identifying the extent and impacts of poor mental health among Aboriginal people must be founded on an understanding of this context and the reality that Aboriginal understandings and experiences of mental health and wellbeing are in many ways very different to that of mainstream society.

Also in relation to health and mental health, there is an acknowledgement of the significance of the social determinants of health.  There is an understanding of how ongoing marginalisation, disempowerment, discrimination and stress contribute to poor health and mental health outcomes.

AMSANT understands that social determinants of health are critical to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal Communities and recognises the role that these determinants play in the development of mental health and harmful substance use issues within communities.

AMSANT therefore recognises that a crucial component of providing support to the delivery of AOD and Mental Health programs and services through the Community Controlled Sector is to continue to advocate and lobby for the improvement of the social determinants of health and mental health for Aboriginal people.

We understand that these determinants extend beyond issues relating to, for example, housing, education, and employment, to more fundamental issues relating to the importance of control, culture and country and the legacy of a history of trauma and loss.

Strong and empowered community governance is the backbone to community resilience and Self-Determination and leads to better health outcomes.  For this reason APONT’s Partnership Principles have been developed to improve collaboration and coordination between service providers with the aim of strengthening and rebuilding an Aboriginal controlled development and service sector in the NT.

It is widely understood that mental illness carries a certain amount of social stigma. The impact of this is magnified however for Aboriginal people, who are often subject to systemic racism and discrimination in their everyday lives.  This is demonstrated in the overrepresentation of Aboriginal young people in justice and child protection systems

Census data from June 2017 revealed that among the 964 young people in detention on an average night in Australia, 53% were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and 64% had not been sentenced. In the Northern Territory, these rates were as high as 95% for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children, with 70% not sentenced.

It is now well known that unresolved traumatic experience impacts the developing brain, causing an over-developed fear response leading to increased stress sensitivity and related symptoms can include isolation, aggression, lack of empathy and impulsive behaviour.

Often children in the youth justice system may appear to be violent, aggressive, oppositional, unreachable or disturbed, however, underlying these behaviours is the grief of a child who has had to live through experiences that no human being should ever experience especially a child who does not have the agency to repair, respond and heal, resulting in feelings of powerlessness, anxiousness, and depression.

For these reasons, having a youth justice system that incorporates punishment as a form of behavioural management will only perpetuate the child’s belief that their world is unsafe, and further compound and escalate complex and violent behaviours. If the emotional and psychological wounds do not get appropriately addressed then there is risk of a lifelong pattern of anger, aggression, self-destructive behaviours, academic and employment failures, and rejection, conflict, and isolation in every key relationship. This cycle of trauma and violence can continue across generations.

AMSANT believes that a youth justice system that is trauma informed and sits within a social emotional wellbeing (SEWB) framework would be a positive way forward in redirecting youth away from the justice system, supporting social and emotional health and aiding in community re-entry.

It is also necessary to understand and confront the cumulative impacts of institutional racialism and discriminative policies. For example, the Intervention in the Northern Territory involved the imposition of a series of punitive measures against 73 Aboriginal communities and denied opportunities for community leaders to govern their own communities. The effects of the Intervention on Indigenous people throughout the NT and the fundamental disempowerment that it represented, can hardly be overstated and is demonstrated in our continuing unacceptable disparity in health outcomes.

However Aboriginal Territorian are working together and in collaboration to overcome these disparities.  For example, here in the Territory we have the Aboriginal Health Forum which provides high-level guidance and decision-making. The Forum enables joint planning and information sharing, where partners work together in a spirit of partnership and collaboration.

Nationally AMSANT is involved through the Coalition of Peaks in developing agreed policy positions to negotiate a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap with the Council of Australian Governments or COAG.  For a long time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been calling to have a much greater say in how programs and services are delivered to our peoples.

See Part 3 below to have your say about what is needed to make real change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people #HaveYourSay about #closingthegap

As a result of the work of the Coalition of Peaks, we are now formally represented on the Joint Council on Closing the Gap – which is the first time an external non-government partner has been included within a COAG structure.

Finally we are seeing a change in the policy conversation on Closing the Gap, with our mob at the decision-making table.

And regionally, leadership exists throughout all of our communities.   Even without the resources and empowerment that would allow for leadership and governance to thrive, it is intrinsically there, understood and followed by the protocols of community life and our kinship systems.

Our ACCHS in the Northern Territory recognise social emotional wellbeing as holistic and interconnected which includes our cultural knowledge and practices as well as mental health and the social determinants of health.

Having control and governance over our service delivery has paved the way for innovation and best practice within our SEWB programs.

We have great challenges and great opportunities here in the Territory and with your commitment to self-determination, Aboriginal Governance, policies and practices that do not re-traumatise, we can achieve strong outcomes together

But first we need to recognise and acknowledge the past to inform our future journey and the sometimes difficult paths we will need to take.

We as Aboriginal people understand the inter-connectivity of all things;

Our call to action is what part will you play, where are you positioned within this connectivity to ensure health and wellbeing is strong for Gayaa Dhuwi our Proud Spirit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth Download @NMHC National Report 2019 Released today : The Australian Government encourages PHNs to position Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as preferred providers for mental health and suicide prevention services for our mob

” Working to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a priority area for PHNs.

The PHN Advisory Panel Report recommended that PHN funds for mental health and suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be provided directly to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) as a priority, unless a better arrangement can be demonstrated.

The Senate Inquiry into the accessibility and quality of mental health services in rural and remote Australia also made a similar recommendation.

PHNs should continue to work on formalising partnerships with ACCHS.

The NMHC supports the recommendations made by both these reports and recommends that the Australian Government encourages PHNs to position ACCHS as preferred providers for mental health and suicide prevention services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people “

Extract from Page 14 

Recommendation 16: The Australian Government encourages PHNs to position Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as preferred providers for mental health and suicide prevention services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The National Mental Health Commission today released its National Report 2019 on Australia’s mental health and suicide prevention system, including recommendations to improve outcomes.

Download the full 97 Page Report HERE 

National_Report_2019

or 9 Page Summary HERE 

National Report 2019 Summary – Accessible PDF

The Commission continues to recommend a whole-of-government approach to mental health and suicide prevention.

This broad approach ensures factors which impact individuals’ mental health and wellbeing such as housing, employment, education and social justice are addressed alongside the delivery of mental health care.

National Mental Health Commission Advisory Board Chair, Lucy Brogden, said we are living in a time when we’re seeing unprecedented investment and interest in making substantial improvements to our mental health system.

“Current national reforms are key, but complex, interrelated and broad in scope, and will take time before their implementation leads to tangible change for consumers and carers,” Mrs Brogden said.

“The National Report indicates while there are significant reforms underway at national, state and local levels, it’s crucial that we maintain momentum and implement these recommendations to ensure sustained change for consumers and carers.”

National Mental Health Commission CEO Christine Morgan said the National Report findings align with what Australians are sharing as part of the Connections Project, which has provided opportunities for the Commission to hear directly from consumers, carers and families, as well as service providers, about their experience of the current mental health system.

“What’s clear is we must remain focused on long term health objectives. Implementation of these targeted recommendations will support this focus,” Ms Morgan said.

The NMHC recommendations require collaboration across the sector.  As part of its ongoing monitoring and report role, the NMHC will work with stakeholders to identify how progress of the recommendations can be measured.

For your nearest ACCHO contact for HELP 

NACCHO Aboriginal Mental Health #RUOKDay @ruokday ? Download #RUOKSTRONGERTOGETHER resources a targeted #MentalHealth #SuicidePrevention campaign to encourage conversation within our communities. Contributions inc Dr Vanessa Lee @joewilliams_tew @ShannanJDodson

Regardless of where we live, or who our mob is, we can all go through tough times, times when we don’t feel great about our lives or ourselves. That’s why it’s important to always be looking out for each other.

If someone you know – a family member, someone from your community, a friend, neighbour or workmate – is doing it tough, they won’t always tell you.
Sometimes it’s up to us to trust our gut instinct and ask someone who may be struggling with life “Are you OK?”.

By asking and listening, we can help those we care about feel more supported and connected, which can help stop them from feeling worse over time.

That’s why this campaign has a simple message: Let’s talk. We are stronger together

“Nationally, Indigenous people die from suicide at twice the rate of non-Indigenous people. This campaign comes at a critical time.

As a community we are Stronger Together. Knowledge is culture, and emotional wellbeing can be learned from family members such as mothers and grandmothers.

These new resources from R U OK? will empower family members, and the wider community, with the tools to look out for each other as well as providing guidance on what to do if someone answers “No, I’m not OK”.”

Dr Vanessa Lee BTD, MPH, PhD Chair R U OK’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group whose counsel has been integral in the development of the campaign

Read over 130 + NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles

Click here to access the STRONGER TOGETHER resources on the RUOK? website

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP)

https://www.atsispep.sis.uwa.edu.au/

 I have struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’m 32 years old and only this year did I have the first psychologist ever ask me about my family history and acknowledge the intergenerational trauma that runs through Indigenous families.

Like many others, I have thought about taking my own life. There were a myriad of factors that led to that point, and a myriad of factors that led to me not following through. But one of the factors was the immense weight of intergenerational trauma that I believe is embedded into my heart, mind and soul and at times feels too heavy a burden to carry.

We can break this cycle of trauma. We need culturally safe Indigenous-designed suicide prevention programs and to destigmatise conversations around mental health. My hope is that, by sharing my own experiences of dealing with this complex subject, other people will be able to see that intergenerational trauma affects all of our mob.

The more we identify and acknowledge it, we’ll be stronger together “

Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman and on the RUOK? Indigenous Advisory committee that has launched the Stronger Together campaign targeted at help-givers – those in our communities who can offer help to those who are struggling ;

See full story Part 2 Below or HERE

R U OK? has launched STRONGER TOGETHER, a targeted suicide prevention campaign to encourage conversation within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Developed with the guidance and oversight of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and 33 Creative, an Aboriginal owned and managed agency, the campaign encourages individuals to engage and offer support to their family and friends who are struggling with life. Positive and culturally appropriate resources have been developed to help individuals feel more confident in starting conversations by asking R U OK?

The STRONGER TOGETHER campaign message comes at a time when reducing rates of  suicide looms as one of the biggest and most important challenges of our generation.

Suicide is one of the most common causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander people. A 2016 report noted that on average, over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people end their lives through suicide each year, with the rate of suicide twice as high as that recorded for other Australians [1]. These are not just numbers. They represent lives and loved ones; relatives, friends, elders and extended community members affected by such tragic deaths.

STRONGER TOGETHER includes the release of four community announcement video

The video series showcases real conversations in action between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocates and role models.

The focus is on individuals talking about their experiences and the positive impact that sharing them had while they were going through a tough time.

“That weekend, I had the most deep and meaningful and beautiful conversations with my Dad that I never had.

My Dad was always a staunch dude and I was always trying to put up a front to, I guess, make my Dad proud. But we sat there, and we cried to each other.

I started to find myself and that’s when I came to the point of realising that, you know, I’m lucky to be alive and I had a second chance to help other people.”

When we talk, we are sharing, and our people have always shared, for thousands of years we’ve shared experiences, shared love. The only way we get out of those tough times is by sharing and talking and I hope this series helps to spread that message.”

Former NRL player and welterweight boxer Joe Williams has lent his voice to the series.

Born in Cowra, Joe is a proud Wiradjuri man. Although forging a successful professional sporting career, Joe has battled with suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder. After a suicide attempt in 2012, a phone call to a friend and then his family’s support encouraged him to seek professional psychiatric help.

Australian sports pioneer Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM has also lent her voice to the series. Marcia Ella-Duncan is an Aboriginal woman from La Perouse, Sydney, with traditional connection to the Walbunga people on the NSW Far South Coast, and kinship connection to the Bidigal, the traditional owners of the Botany Bay area.

“Sometimes, all we can do is listen, all we can do is be there with you. And sometimes that might be all you need. Or sometimes it’s just the first step towards a much longer journey,” said Marcia.

Click here to access the STRONGER TOGETHER resources on the RUOK? website.

If you or someone you know needs support, go to:  ruok.org.au/findhelp

Part 2

Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman and on the RUOK? Indigenous Advisory committee that has launched the Stronger Together campaign targeted at help-givers – those in our communities who can offer help to those who are struggling ;

Originally Published the Guardian and IndigenousX

It is unacceptable and a national disgrace that there have been at least 35 suicides of Indigenous people this year – in just 12 weeks – and three were children only 12 years old.

The Kimberley region – where my mob are from – has the highest rate of suicide in the country. If the Kimberley was a country it would have the worst suicide rate in the world.

A recent inquest investigated 13 deaths which occurred in the Kimberley region in less than four years, including five children aged between 10 and 13.

Western Australia’s coroner said the deaths had been shaped by “the crushing effects of intergenerational trauma”.

When we’re talking about Indigenous suicide, we have to talk about intergenerational trauma; the transfer of the impacts of historical trauma and grief to successive generations.

These multiple layers of trauma can have a “cumulative effect and increase the risk of destructive behaviours including suicide”. Many of our communities are, in essence, “not just going about the day, but operating in crisis mode on a daily basis.”

I have struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’m 32 years old and only this year did I have the first psychologist ever ask me about my family history and acknowledge the intergenerational trauma that runs through Indigenous families.

Like many others, I have thought about taking my own life. There were a myriad of factors that led to that point, and a myriad of factors that led to me not following through. But one of the factors was the immense weight of intergenerational trauma that I believe is embedded into my heart, mind and soul and at times feels too heavy a burden to carry.

Indigenous suicide is different. Suicide is a complex issue, there is not one cause, reason, trigger or risk – it can be a web of many indicators. But with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people intergenerational trauma and the flow-on effects of colonisation, dispossession, genocide, cultural destruction and the stolen generations are paramount to understanding high Indigenous suicide rates.

When you think about the fact that most Indigenous families have been affected, in one or more generations, by the forcible removal of one or more children, that speaks volumes. The institutionalisation of our mob has had dire consequences on our sense of being, mental health, connection to family and culture.

Just think about that for a moment. If every Indigenous family has been affected by this, of course trauma is transmitted down through generations and manifests into impacts on children resulting from weakened attachment relationships with caregivers, challenged parenting skills and family functioning, parental physical and mental illness, and disconnection and alienation from the extended family, culture and society.

The high rates of poor physical health, mental health problems, addiction, incarceration, domestic violence, self-harm and suicide in Indigenous communities are directly linked to experiences of trauma. These issues are both results of historical trauma and causes of new instances of trauma which together can lead to a vicious cycle in Indigenous communities.

Our families have been stripped of the coping mechanisms that all people need to thrive and survive. And while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are resilient, we are also human.

Our history does shape us. Let’s start from colonisation. My mob the Yawuru people from Rubibi (Broome) were often brutally dislocated from our lands, and stripped of our livelihood. Our culture was desecrated and we were used for slave labour.

My great-grandmother was taken from her father when she was very young and placed in a mission in Western Australia. My grandmother and aunties then all finished up in the same mission. And two of those aunties spent a considerable time in an orphanage in Broome, although they were not orphans.

In 1907, a telegram from Broome station was sent to Henry Prinsep, the “Chief Protector of Aborigines for Western Australia” in Perth. It reads: “Send cask arsenic exterminate aborigines letter will follow.” This gives a glimpse of the thinking of the time and that of course played out in traumatic and dehumanising ways.

In the late 1940s a magistrate in the court of Broome refused my great-grandmother’s application for a certificate of citizenship under the Native Citizen Rights Act of Western Australia. Part of his reasons for refusing her application was that she had not adopted the manner and habits of civilised life.

My anglo grandfather was imprisoned for breaching the Native Administration Act of Western Australia, in that he was cohabiting with my grandmother. He was jailed for loving my jamuny (grandmother/father’s mother).

My dad lost his parents when he was 10 years old. My grandfather died in tragic circumstances – and then my grandmother, again in tragic circumstances, soon after.

My dad was collected by family in Katherine and taken to Darwin. There was a fear that he would be taken away – Indigenous families knew well the ways of the Native Welfare authorities, and I suspect they were protecting my dad from that fate. Unlike many Indigenous families, he was permitted to stay with them and became a state child in the care of our family.

My family has suffered from ongoing systematic racism and research has shown that racism impacts Aboriginal people in the same way as a traumatic event.

My family and community have suffered premature deaths from suicide, preventable health issues, grief and inextricable trauma.

We can break this cycle of trauma. We need culturally safe Indigenous-designed suicide prevention programs and to destigmatise conversations around mental health. My hope is that, by sharing my own experiences of dealing with this complex subject, other people will be able to see that intergenerational trauma affects all of our mob. The more we identify and acknowledge it, we’ll be stronger together.

NACCHO Aboriginal #Mentalhealth and #SuicidePrevention #WSPD2019 News :The @NACCHOChair and other Indigenous leaders welcomes the Government’s commitment and national actions towards reducing suicide rates and improving #mentalhealth outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples @cbpatsisp @blackdoginst

NACCHO welcomes the Government’s commitment and national actions towards reducing suicide rates and improving mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Mental health and suicide remain one of our top priorities as research shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are 2.7 times more likely to experience high levels of psychological distress than other Australians.

 The attempted suicides are almost twice the rate of non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and they are missing out on the much-needed mental health services.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations are best placed to be the preferred providers of mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, and suicide-prevention activities in their communities. They need to be adequately resourced to develop community-led solutions that consider issues from a social and emotional perspective and provide appropriate solutions to prevention.

Harnessing this global momentum on World Suicide Prevention Day is critical to ensure productive and meaningful solutions are put in place to drive suicide rates down.

 We will continue to advocate for appropriate funding to ensure community-led solutions to arrest suicide.”

Acting NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills

Picture above from Left to right Tanja Hirvonen and Pat Dudgeon (CBATSISP) , Professor Tom Calma , Minister Ken Wyatt and Leilani Darwin see event details Part 4

Read this NACCHO Press Release in full HERE

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

Read over 23 Aboriginal Mental Health articles published by NACCHO over 7 Years

The Morrison Government is investing over $5.5 million in an approach that will help two of the nation’s leading mental health organisations reduce suicide rates and improve mental health outcomes for First Australians.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and this is an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide prevention and to shine a light on this enormous tragedy.

See Minister Hunt and Wyatt full Press Release Part 2 Below

TRANSCRIPT OF SPEECH, WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY BREAKFAST (FED)

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, discusses R U OK day, youth mental health and suicide prevention, and government investment in suicide prevention.

PM Speech Suicide Prevention Day

Indigenous leaders welcomed Health Minister Greg Hunt’s $4.5 million announcement of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia – a national independent and inclusive Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention leadership body – at a Parliament House Poche Indigenous Health Network (PIHN) breakfast yesterday

Further welcome was given to Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt’s announcement of a $1 million Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network within the Black Dog Institute to provide a national representative voice for Indigenous people with lived experience of suicide “

See Part 4 Below for Press Release 

Aboriginal medical service was the best opportunity for a wraparound service for families within these communities.

They can provide social and emotional wellbeing and access to counselling, and their care management is done more effectively.

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA had been given the lead role by the WA Primary Health Alliance to look at a transition of State Government services.

We’ve all made the agreement and established thereference group now through Thirrili.

Basically ( The forum ) it was held in response to the inadequacy of services, particularly related to suicide prevention, mental health and primary health care services,”

South Regional TAFE Aboriginal development officer and Noongar man Laurence Riley organised the event and said there had not been a meeting like it in years.

See Article in full Part 3 Below

Part 2 : The Morrison Government is investing over $5.5 million in an approach that will help two of the nation’s leading mental health organisations reduce suicide rates and improve mental health outcomes for First Australians.

In 2017, the suicide death rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was twice that for non-Indigenous people.

Suicide accounts for 40 per cent of all deaths of Indigenous children – one life lost to suicide is one too many.

The Government is investing $4.5 million in Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia to deliver a national plan for culturally appropriate care and make suicide prevention services available and accessible to First Australians no matter where they live.

Proud Spirit will provide support in times of need with:

  • A dedicated senior suicide prevention officer
  • the inclusion of a government and a Primary Health Network (PHN) liaison officer, to ensure Proud Spirit connects to all Australian governments and PHNs
  • a representative of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation so Proud Spirit links to mental health and health services
  • a community partnerships officer, to connect Proud Spirit to Indigenous communities, including people with lived experience of suicide, members of the Stolen Generations, youth and Indigenous LGBTIQ people.

In addition, we are investing $963,000 to establish the Centre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Mental Illness and Suicide Network.

The Black Dog Institute and the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention at the University of Western Australia, will work together to deliver this initiative.

These organisations will:

  • Provide the means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with lived experience of mental illness and suicide to contribute to and engage with policy and program development, leading to an increase in self-determination and empowerment
  • support organisations to provide culturally appropriate mental health and suicide prevention programs and services to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In the 2019–20 Budget, the Morrison Government boosted funding for Indigenous-specific health initiatives to $4.1 billion over four years to 2022-23.

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

Part 3  :Narrogin’s Aboriginal community came together last month to voice their concerns, discuss mental health, and call for change in the region.

The Narrogin and Surrounds Aboriginal Community Consultation hosted more than 60 people at the John Higgins Community Centre, including elders, community members, and representatives from health organisations across the State and Australia.

The four-hour forum heard the community’s concerns, among which were poor health and support services in the region, and ongoing high rates of suicide, with many making emotional pleas for change.

South Regional TAFE Aboriginal development officer and Noongar man Laurence Riley organised the event and said there had not been a meeting like it in years.

“Basically it was held in response to the inadequacy of services, particularly related to suicide prevention, mental health and primary health care services,” he said.

“A lot of the services that exist in town, are not able to cater for that long, progressive counselling and support for families or people that are going through mental health issues and suicidal ideology.”

Mr Riley said part of the issue was being managed by three State regional boundaries, and government agencies not responding or being accountable to each other.

“It’s been trickling on since our first suicide 20 years ago and then we had the suicide spike in 2007-2008, when those seven or eight young men within Narrogin, Pingelly and Wagin took their lives,” he said.

National Indigenous Critical Response Service case manager Tina Hayden, who attended the meeting, said there was a funeral almost every week from someone taking their life in the area.

“We’re all related so it’s not just their loss — even though it’s their son or their daughter or grandson — it’s our loss because it’s still our family and they would have made an impact on our lives in some way,” she said.

Elder Nolda Williams, who was also present at the meeting, lost her son to suicide when he was 18 years old.

“It’s something you’ll never get over,” she said.

“I don’t want to see any more kids lose their lives.

“I want to see something happen, something they can do, somewhere they can go.”

Mr Riley said an Aboriginal medical service was the best opportunity for a wraparound service for families within these communities.

“They can provide social and emotional wellbeing and access to counselling, and their care management is done more effectively,” he said.

Mr Riley said the Aboriginal Health Council of WA had been given the lead role by the WA Primary Health Alliance to look at a transition of State Government services.

“We’ve all made the agreement and established thereference group now through Thirrili,” he said.

Thirrili and the National Indigenous Critical Response Service provide direct emotional and practical support to families and communities affected by suicide or another traumatic event.

NICRS chief executive Adele Cox said she was delighted with the number of community members who took part in the forum.

“I think that confirmed the absolute support and commitment from the community to look at taking these issues into their own hands and finding local solutions,” she said. “As a national service, it was heart-warming to come see such a turn-out and hear those conversations.

“While they were not always pleasant and some of the conversations that had to be had were hard, I think there was a showing of respect from everyone that attended.”

Ms Cox said it was great to see the Shire of Narrogin, including chief executive Dale Stewart and president Leigh Ballard, at the forum, and she hoped they had taken the opportunity to listen and take active initiative.

“We heard many ideas and very simple and practical suggestions from the community, which don’t take a lot in terms of resources,” she said.

The forum was led by Laurence Riley.Picture: Daryna Zadvirna

AHCWA, WAPHA and NICRS were also joined at the meeting by the local Kaata-Koorliny Employment and Enterprise Development Aboriginal Corporation, as well as Life without Barriers.

KEEDAC chief executive Leanne Kickett said the community was frustrated as the same issues had been addressed for the last 20 years but there had been no real outcomes so far.

“Funding has been allocated to certain services but we haven’t seen a result, there hasn’t been a different outcome,” she said.

“I think it has made us realise that we need to work together to make this change.”

Mr Riley said he spoke to the Commonwealth in 2015 about the opportunity to establish new Aboriginal medical services in the Narrogin region.

“Government’s response was ‘We don’t have the dollars so at this point of time we won’t be establishing any new Aboriginal medical services’,” he said.

“So what they’ve been doing is using existing resources and dollars to be able to expand into different regions.

“But since then (Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken) Wyatt has accused metropolitan services of neglecting rural and remote Aboriginal communities, hence why we’re kind of taking the lead to try to establish some services.”

A report on the forum held earlier this month was planned to be drafted and released to the community for a review, Ms Cox said.

“I’m hoping that as a part of this process we can get commitment from the State Government and I know that Minister Wyatt has certainly highlighted that he’s certainly for community-driven approaches and solutions,” she said.

“So hopefully, the report that comes out of this will be something that is listened to.”

Mr Riley said although change would be slow, it was definitely in progress.

“I think people are ready for change,” he said.

“People are ready to combat this division and just start moving forward as a community.

Part 4 Indigenous leaders welcome $5.5 million social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention initiatives

Indigenous leaders welcomed Health Minister Greg Hunt’s $4.5 million announcement of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia – a national independent and inclusive Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention leadership body – at a Parliament House Poche Indigenous Health Network (PIHN) breakfast this morning.

Further welcome was given to Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt’s announcement of a $1 million Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network within the Black Dog Institute to provide a national representative voice for Indigenous people with lived experience of suicide.

PIHN Chair and Patron, and founder of the Close the Gap Campaign for Indigenous Heath Equality, Professor Tom Calma AO said:

“I thank the Prime Minister and Ministers Hunt and Wyatt for both announcements today and their recognition that the overall Indigenous health and life expectancy gap cannot be closed without significant focus on strengthening Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing and mental health, and on reducing our suicide rates”

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH) Chair Mr Tom Brideson said:

“I add my thanks to the Australian Government for these announcements today. Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia will provide an inclusive, representative and complementary voice for the Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention sector

It will, in particular, focus on implementation of the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration developed by NATSILMH and that Australian governments are required to implement by the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia will be a national advocate for a ‘best of both worlds’ approach to our wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention, encompassing cultural and clinical elements to benefit all our diverse communities: remote, regional and urban, and including our young people, our LGBTIQ, and our Stolen Generations.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network Head Ms Leilani Darwin said:

“The Black Dog Institute and I are excited to establish the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network to inform, influence and enhance culturally-appropriate suicide prevention activities and mental health support programs that work for our First Nations people.”

“The Lived Experience Network will be the conduit that links existing networks together and mobilises, connects and enables Indigenous people with lived experience of suicide to have a seat at

the national table and to help deliver culturally fitting and safe Indigenous -led suicide prevention and mental wellbeing reform.”

Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association Chair Ms Tania Dalton said:

“ I am particularly pleased that the work of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, supported by the Lived Experience Network, will include leading an inclusive development process for a dedicated Indigenous suicide prevention plan with a strong youth component. “

In closing, Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) Director Professor Pat Dudgeon affirmed:

“Indigenous leadership – inclusive and accountable to our communities – is critical if efforts to close the mental health outcome and suicide rate gaps are to be effective. With today’s announcements Indigenous leadership of Indigenous mental health, social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention is – at last – cemented into the national policy space,”

“I take this opportunity to pay tribute to 40-years and more of tireless work by Indigenous leaders in this space. In particular, I acknowledge the work of NATSILMH since 2013. The naming of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia after its Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration is a testament to NATSILMH’s influence.”

“Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia and the Lived Experience Network will also promote a new generation of leaders in this space to ensure indigenous leadership of the sector into the future.”

END

  • For media enquiries on for Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia: Tanja Hirvonen (CBATSISP) and Professor Tom Calma are available for and interview requests. Please contact Jessica Weiland, 0468969041 or via Jessica.weiland@health.nsw.gov.au
  • For media enquiries on The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network: Leilani Darwin is available for interview requests. Please contact: Natalie Craig 02 9382 3712 or 0448 144 999 or via Natalie.craig@blackdog.org.au,
  • For more information about NATSLMH and the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration see: https://natsilmh.org.au/
  • For more information about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network see: https://blackdoginstitute.org.au/lived-experience-network · For more information about CBPATSISP see https://www.cbpatsisp.com.au/ · For more information about AIPA see: http://www.indigenouspsychology.com.au/
  • The Poche Indigenous Health Network is a network of Poche centres, focused on closing the gap in life expectancy and seeking solutions to address the complex health issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For more info see: http://pochehealth.edu.au/ ·
  • For reporting guidelines around mental illness and suicide see Mindframe: http://www.mindframe.org.au · For information around national suicide prevention see Life in Mind: http://www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au
  • Lifeline: 131 114
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
  • Mensline: 1300 78 99 78

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #SuicidePrevention : Read and Watch @beyondblue Chair The Hon Julia Gillard AC speech @UniofAdelaide Truth-telling and reconciliation will enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

” Suicide in our Indigenous communities is one of the greatest challenges of our times and its causes are complex.

Beyond Blue cannot claim or seek to be a specialist or comprehensive provider of social and emotional wellbeing or suicide prevention services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

That is a role which is more appropriately the domain of Aboriginal-led and community-controlled organisations.

But we can apply what we have learnt so far through our Reconciliation Action Plan, our growing cultural competencies, and strong relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, leaders and organisations.

We can complement the work of the Aboriginal organisations and others by ensuring our major interventions are suitable for, and accessible to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wherever possible, and use our well-known brand and strength in communications to fight racism and discrimination.

We will recognise those inherent protective factors of Indigenous cultures and communities – those powerful forces of resilience, humour, spirituality and connectedness – that can and should be utilised as sources of strength and healing.

We are ready to work alongside Indigenous people and communities in co-designing solutions to provide better outcomes for health and wellbeing.

We intend to be the best ally we can be, lend our voice when required and listen to learn.

We need to educate ourselves and ask questions when we need to; to commit, to support, to ally.

We pledge to be a positive force for change as the nation addresses the issue of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always resisted actions designed to destroy their culture, disperse their families and sever their connections to Country.

The day will come when we look with pride upon that determination, and indeed celebrate it as a complete history.

The Hon Julia Gillard AC University of Adelaide public lecture 2019 3 September 2019

Yellaka Dance Group 

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

Read over 150 Aboriginal Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO in Past 7 years

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and in the spirit of reconciliation, pay my respects to Elders past and present. Yellaka, thank you for your warm Greeting to Country.

Introduction

The is the second time I have had the privilege of being so welcomed by Yellaka. The first time was at the recent South Australian State dinner to celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage in our State – a milestone to be inspired by.

In fact, that dinner was very important for me in preparing for this lecture.

It caused to me to reflect on the complexity of history; on our achievements and failings. In that speech I spoke about the need to erect a permanent monument to celebrate the fight for women’s suffrage and all that was gained here in South Australia in 1894.

But in doing so, I said care must be taken to tell the whole story, not part of it.

Despite Aboriginal men and, as a result of women’s suffrage, Aboriginal women having the right to vote, it was common for them neither be told about it nor supported to enrol. Sometimes this oppressive neglect morphed into a more active discouragement from participating.

This pernicious repudiation of a human right was compounded by a direct legal bar, when in the 1902 Commonwealth Franchise Act, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were excluded from voting in federal elections. It was not until 1962 that Indigenous Australians could have a say in who governed our nation.

We cannot tell the history of how our democracy developed without looking squarely at how equality was denied for so long.

This is just one example of the need to tell the deeper truths that lie beyond the surface.

To quote the words of Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating in his famed Redfern Speech, we need:

Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing.

We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol.

We committed the murders.

We took the children from their mothers.

We practised discrimination and exclusion.

It was our ignorance and our prejudice.

And our failure to imagine these things being done to us.

With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds.

We failed to ask – how would I feel if this were done to me?

Friends, this question is as profoundly challenging today as it was when Paul spoke those words almost thirty years ago. Trying to answer it requires honesty, empathy, intellectual understanding, spiritual depth.

Today, I am asking you to bring those characteristics with you as we discuss the tragic topic of suicide and Indigenous Australians.

Honesty

First, with honesty, let’s confront the facts.

Since 2012, suicide has been the leading cause of death among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 to 34.

The suicide rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teenagers aged 15 to 19 of both genders is around four times that of their non-Indigenous peers.

Despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprising around three per cent of the Australian population, they account for thirty per cent of the suicide deaths among those under 18 years of age.

There are significant suicide or self-harming clusters that can occur within a single community or locale over a period of weeks or months.

For example, In February, Western Australia’s State Coroner handed down her report on a cluster of 13 deaths that occurred in less than four years in the Kimberley region and included five children aged 10 to 13.

The Coroner spoke of the deaths as profoundly tragic, individually and collectively, of dysfunction, alcohol, domestic violence and grief.

But she added:

to focus only upon the individual events that occurred shortly before their deaths would not adequately address the circumstances attending the deaths. These tragic individual events were shaped by the crushing effects of inter-generational trauma and poverty upon entire communities. That community-wide trauma, generated multiple and prolonged exposures to individual traumatic events for these children and young persons.

Watch video 

Please note : Julia Gillard starts her talk at about 27 minutes into the 1hr 10 min event, and talks for just under 30 minutes. It finishes with a Q&A session (of about 20 minutes).

Empathy

The Coroner here is calling to our ability to show empathy. To walk alongside our First Peoples and try to understand how history and lived reality come together and can create circumstances of despair.

Great damage has been done to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through two centuries of discrimination, dislocation and cultural disruption.

Culture is a word that is often tangled up with nationality, but it entails much more.

Our culture determines so much of our identity; our values, the way we view the world, the way we interact with others, our sense of belonging.

And if the foundations of culture are systemically disrupted – connection to land, traditional places and practices, languages, spirituality, family and kinship ties – it causes devastation across generations.

But honesty also requires us to recognise that there is both deep lingering pain from our history, and new pain that arises in the present.

Imagine not getting the job you’re qualified for because of the colour of your skin; to know you are being followed by a store detective just for being you; to feel the stranger sitting beside you slip sideways to create greater distance.

These are everyday situations – the constant but subtle cues of difference – and where being racially different is nearly always positioned as a liability.

Put simply, racism, including these kinds of behaviours, is not only bad for mental health and wellbeing – it both causes and perpetuates high levels of social and emotional distress for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. In addition, there is a ‘dose’ effect for psychological distress caused by racism: the more a person is exposed to it, the greater the impact.

That was why Beyond Blue launched its Stop, Think, Respect invisible discriminator campaign in 2014 with a repeat run in 2016.

The campaign – the most viewed and shared in Beyond Blue’s history – highlights the routine everyday impact of subtle racism on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The campaign aimed to change behaviour by encouraging non-Indigenous Australians to think about their often, unconscious behaviours and to think again before they act.

  • To think before they laughed along – even uncomfortably – at a racist joke in the pub.
  • To challenge why they may not sit beside an Aboriginal person on a crowded bus.

But it was the reaction from Indigenous people that was most revealing.

They told us they loved the campaign because finally somebody had noticed that, for them, every day could be a little tougher than it should be.

Over half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience racial discrimination report feelings of psychological distress, meaning they are at elevated risk of anxiety and depression, substance use and contemplating or attempting suicide.

Empathy requires us to recognise that the threads of the past and the attitudes shown in the present day are woven together. For non-Indigenous Australians, our collective failure to face up to all of the brutal truth of our history and its ongoing effects holds us back from full understanding today.

For Indigenous Australians, the interconnected issues of cultural dislocation, personal trauma and the ongoing stresses of disadvantage, racism and exclusion are absolutely contributing to the heightened risk of mental health problems, substance misuse and suicide.

All this was acknowledged by the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody. That report was tabled in 1991.

Intellectual understanding

Driven by empathy, we also need to engage intellectually on the best ways to provide culturally appropriate services and supports to prevent Indigenous suicide.

Nothing less than profound systemic reform is needed to improve social and emotion wellbeing.

Such major change must be culturally informed and co-designed. As many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to remind us, Indigenous policies and responses must be led by Indigenous people, which might mean solutions that look different to anything that has been implemented before.

Innovation and new efforts are needed nationally and locally.

In 2009 the Rudd Government launched the ‘Closing the Gap’ response as a measurable account of Indigenous disadvantage that would be reported to parliament annually on progress.

In the 10 years since launch most of the indicators of disadvantaged have remained stubbornly unmoved. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live 10 to 17 years less than other Australians.

While there have been some improvements against some performance indicators, these have been small and incremental.

And babies born to Indigenous mothers still die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

And a major contributing factor to the life expectancy gap is suicide.

There are no mental health or suicide prevention targets in Australia’s Closing the Gap strategy despite the alarming statistics on Indigenous suicide and psychological distress, but as a member of the steering committee, Beyond Blue is adding our voice to rectifying this.

At the same time, we are calling for this act of national leadership, as an organisation we are trying to be a good partner in locally led change models.

In November 2018, Beyond Blue launched Be You: a Commonwealth-funded national initiative that aims to strengthen the mental health literacy, resilience, self-care and help-seeking of every member of Australia’s school communities and early childhood settings.

In January, Minister Wyatt announced $2.3 million over two years to pilot and evaluate a culturally appropriate, place-based adaptation of Be You for schools in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of WA, in partnership with Aboriginal communities.

That work is now underway. And we are taking a very different approach to this work than what we would normally.

Local stakeholder engagement has confirmed that we must be guided by local communities to genuinely co-design the project; to employ people with community relationships and credibility; and to engage Aboriginal community-controlled organisations to support implementation and delivery of the program.

It’s still very early days, but we are gaining much from partnering with Indigenous communities.

Spiritual depth – Uluru Statement from the Heart

Honesty, empathy, intellectual understanding, all are necessary in the cause of tackling the rate of Indigenous suicide.

But so is spiritual depth, the ability to transcend a divided past, address the dispiriting inequalities of the present and embrace a united future.

Just over two years ago, 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders endorsed by standing ovation the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

In burning prose it describes that the sovereignty of this nation’s First peoples is ‘a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty.’

It goes on to say:

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.’

As we all know, changing our constitution is difficult in every sense. Conducting and carrying a referendum by a special majority is hard to do. Our history books are littered with the stories of failed referendums. Nineteen referendums proposing 44 changes to the Constitution have been held since Federation but the Australian people have agreed to only eight changes with the last ‘yes’ vote occurring in 1977.

Of course, the Indigenous leaders who gave us the Uluru statement from the heart know this history. They neither underestimate how hard it is to have voters accept change, nor the joy that can come when they do. Many of them were alive when more than 90 percent of Australians voted in the 1967 referendum to allow First Nations people to be included in the census and for the Federal Parliament to have the power to legislate for an improved future.

In the Uluru statement, Indigenous leaders are specifically calling for a comparable act of national unity. There is some reason to believe that voting Australians in their millions are prepared to answer that call.

The Australian Reconciliation Barometer is a national research study conducted every two years to measure and compare attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation.

In 2018 the Barometer found:

  • 90 per cent of Australians believe the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important;
  • 95 per cent believe that it is important for our First Peoples to have a say in matters that affect them;
  • and 80 per cent support a formal truth telling process.

That there is a public mood for change is further confirmed by the Australian Constitutional Values Survey of 2017 released by the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University.

It found 61 per cent of respondents would vote “yes” in a referendum to add an Indigenous voice to Parliament.

So, we increasingly desire a richer understanding of our shared history and some form of national reconciliation, but change can be hard to achieve, even when the majority is willing.

Successive Prime Ministers and governments, Indigenous leaders and organisations have tried to advance this cause.

The government I led set out to bring a referendum on constitutional recognition to the people by the 2013 election. I appointed an Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians to advise on the wording.

On that panel were some of our most persuasive and respected Indigenous leaders, including The Hon. Ken Wyatt AM, the first Indigenous Australian to serve in the House of Representatives.

The panel’s recommendations were sensible and smart.

But before we could proceed, we needed to diagnose the prospects of success at a referendum. The very worst thing we could do would be to put a referendum proposal forward only to have it fail.

The consensus was we did not have time to build momentum for change ahead of a 2013 election.

That need for certainty remains a critical issue for today’s leaders as they move towards a proposal to put to the people.

But much has changed since 2013 and we can all be heartened by that.  I am especially heartened that we have, for the first time, extremely talented and respected Aboriginal people from both sides of politics leading Indigenous policy and discussion on this issue.

With bi-partisan support, shared commitment and collaboration, change is achievable.

We know wellbeing is intrinsically linked to a strong sense of self, connections to community, and recognition of culture.

That is why I and my Beyond Blue Board colleagues recently approved a comprehensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy to guide our contribution for the next five years. Through the Strategy, we have resolved to continue to advocate on national issues of importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We are particularly determined to raise our voice in support of an openhearted and respectful response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Beyond Blue acknowledges that there are still community and political discussions occurring about constitutional change and recognition. As that conversation continues, Beyond Blue advocacy will be aimed at our nation adopting the kind of far-sighted change that can bring a new era of healing and unity.

This isn’t a mental health organisation dabbling in politics. We do it because structural discrimination has a profound and proven negative impact on individual and community wellbeing and mental health.

This is absolutely about ‘sticking to our knitting’.

This is about the Board of Beyond Blue supporting action on the basis there will be significant benefit to a population group at higher risk of mental health conditions and suicide, and who experience discrimination and disadvantage.

The Board of Beyond Blue also accepts the invitation issued in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk with you in ‘a movement of the Australian people for a better future’.

To our federal parliamentarians who are working through how best to respond to the Uluru statement my personal message is this; I know what it is like to be beset with doubts about the best way to respond to a call to address trauma and despair. To worry about making the wrong decision, one that risks more damage.

I went through every painful permutation of that in my head when I worked through whether to call a Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings. I am not ashamed to say here that in the face of such a major decision, I was afraid.

Specifically, I was afraid that holding a Royal Commission would retraumatise, rather than heal.

As history records, I worked through those fears and called the Commission. I know now from my own observations of the impact of the Royal Commission that great healing can come from heeding the call, truth-telling and acknowledgement of past trauma.

I ask our current leaders on all sides of the parliamentary chamber to work through their fears and concerns. I ask our current leaders to heed the call of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Conclusion

Suicide in our Indigenous communities is one of the greatest challenges of our times and its causes are complex.

Beyond Blue cannot claim or seek to be a specialist or comprehensive provider of social and emotional wellbeing or suicide prevention services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

That is a role which is more appropriately the domain of Aboriginal-led and community-controlled organisations.

But we can apply what we have learnt so far through our Reconciliation Action Plan, our growing cultural competencies, and strong relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, leaders and organisations.

We can complement the work of the Aboriginal organisations and others by ensuring our major interventions are suitable for, and accessible to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wherever possible, and use our well-known brand and strength in communications to fight racism and discrimination.

We will recognise those inherent protective factors of Indigenous cultures and communities – those powerful forces of resilience, humour, spirituality and connectedness – that can and should be utilised as sources of strength and healing.

We are ready to work alongside Indigenous people and communities in co-designing solutions to provide better outcomes for health and wellbeing.

We intend to be the best ally we can be, lend our voice when required and listen to learn.

We need to educate ourselves and ask questions when we need to; to commit, to support, to ally.

We pledge to be a positive force for change as the nation addresses the issue of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always resisted actions designed to destroy their culture, disperse their families and sever their connections to Country.

The day will come when we look with pride upon that determination, and indeed celebrate it as a complete history.

I look forward with hope to that day and I thank you.