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

 

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

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

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

Read full article HERE or extracts below Part 3

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

Register early as limited workshops are available!

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

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

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

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

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

Download the 50 Page 2018 Health days and events calendar HERE

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

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

NACCHO Save a date 30 Jan 2018

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

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

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

To submit your events or update our info

Contact: Colin Cowell www.nacchocommunique.com

NACCHO Social Media Editor Tel 0401 331 251

Email : nacchonews@naccho.org.au

Part 2.1 Assessment & Suicide  Prevention in Aboriginal Communities Combined

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

Download registration form

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This seemingly innocuous document is shocking on so many levels.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WATCH TV COVERAGE HERE

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

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

Fact 1   

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

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

RFDS Website

Fact 2

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

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

Originally published ABC TV NEWS

Key points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mental health advocates call for greater commitment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Federal Labor response ( added comment )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Help Contact your Nearest ACCHO

 

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

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

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

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

How wrong I turned out to be. “

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

See 3 Pages from book below Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

View Joe Williams Presentation from NACCHO Conference 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe Williams tells his story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How wrong I turned out to be.

NEED Help ? Contact your nearest ACCHO and see a Doctor or Mental Health Professional OR

 

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

 

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

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

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

Download the AMA 2018 Position Paper

Mental-Health-2018- Position-Statement

Read over 168 NACCHO Mental Health articles published over 5 Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background

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

(Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

Support Contact your nearest ACCHO or

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #AMS #MentalHealth Funding 2016-19 @KenWyattMP announces $9.1 Million funding for Aboriginal Health Services

“The nine Aboriginal Medical Services in the North Coast region of NSW , such as Bulgarr Ngaru, Jullums and Bullinah are doing some outstanding work to support their patients.

This includes ensuring that community members with chronic disease get to see the health practitioners they need to, are provided with specialised medical aids where necessary and are assisted with transport to attend medical appointments.

The tremendous work being done by the Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations such as Durri and Rekindling The Spirit, and the other organisations who have received funding, will go a long way to improving health and wellbeing,”

The Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, Mr Ken Wyatt AM, has announced that the Commonwealth has invested more than $9.1 m in a range of health services specifically for Aboriginal communities across the North Coast.

See full list below or Download

20171107-Commissioning-Summary-Aboriginal-Health

North Coast NSW – comprising Northern NSW and the Mid North Coast – has an average Aboriginal population of 4.5%, nearly double that of other areas of Australia (2.5%).

Funding distributed through North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN) enables 14 different service providers to deliver a range of services and programs from Tweed Heads down to the Clarence Valley. These services help fill identified health service gaps and provide specialised training for both health professionals and community members.

In the Needs Assessment conducted by NCPHN last year, health service providers said that mental health and drug and alcohol counselling were the two health services that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people found most difficult to access.

Mr Wyatt said he was delighted that a significant amount of the funding had been distributed to deliver such services and programs to meet the needs of the Aboriginal population.

He also praised the work being done by Aboriginal Medical Services.

See Quotes above

North Coast Primary Health Network Chief Executive Dr Vahid Saberi said it is pleasing that NCPHN had been successful in commissioning such a range of health services specifically for Aboriginal people.

“Our commissioning process has resulted in selecting excellent providers to deliver these services. There is some exciting work happening and I look forward to seeing what is achieved, recognising that more work needs to be done.”

The funding is also providing much needed training in suicide prevention for both community members and health professionals, as well as specialist support for clinicians working with people with drug and/or alcohol issues.

Key North Coast PHN Indigenous investments:

  • Integrated Team Care: $5.029 million (2016-18) to improve access to coordinated care for chronic conditions and culturally appropriate care.
  • Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders: $2.095 million (2016-19) to increase capacity of the drug and alcohol treatment sector though improved regional coordination and by commissioning additional drug and alcohol treatment services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Indigenous Mental Health Flexible Funding: $2.006 million (2016-18) to improve access to integrated, culturally appropriate and safe mental health services that holistically meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Source: Ice dependence, chronic disease among targets of North Coast health blitz

Click here to download a summary of current NCPHN commissioned services.


EXAMPLES OF CURRENT ABORIGINAL HEALTH PROJECTS LISTED BELOW:

INTEGRATED TEAM CARE & OUTREACH PROGRAM

Providers: Jullums Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) Lismore, Bullinah AMS, Ballina, Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Corporation; Durri Aboriginal Medical Corporation; Werin Aboriginal Corporation Medical Clinic; Bawrunga Coffs Harbour GP Super Clinic Ltd.

This program is run through Aboriginal Medical Services and supports Aboriginal patients with chronic disease in purchasing specialised medical aids and with transport and support to attend GP and specialist medical appointments. Delivered across the entire region.


DRUG AND ALCOHOL SERVICE REDESIGN PROJECT

Provider: Jullums AMS and Rekindling The Spirit

The project aim is to align the Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) service delivered by Jullums to national guidelines for managing people with co-occurring alcohol and drug issues and mental health conditions in community settings. The guidelines will be amended to ensure that the service is culturally appropriate and is tailored to meet the needs of each patient.


ADDICTION SPECIALIST CLINICAL SUPPORT SERVICE

Provider: Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Corporation

Addiction specialist support to the clinicians working in Bulgarr Ngaru medical clinics, located in Grafton, Casino and Tweed Heads.


CLINICIAN SUPPORT FOR MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT OF DRUG/ALCOHOL ISSUES

Provider: Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Corporation

Clinician support for management and treatment of drug/alcohol issues – Grafton and surrounds.


HEALTHY LIFESTYLE PROGRAM

Provider: Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Corporation

A holistic and culturally appropriate cardiac health prevention and management program – Clarence Valley


KIDNEY HEALTH PROJECT

Provider: Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Corporation

The Kidney Health Project aims to improve early identification and interventions to achieve better kidney health, thus preventing the onset of chronic kidney disease. Run in collaboration with Northern NSW Local Health District. To be run across Northern NSW.


CLINICIAN SUPPORT FOR MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT OF DRUG/ALCOHOL ISSUES

Provider: Jullums Aboriginal Medical Service

Clinician support for management and treatment of drug/alcohol issues. Delivered in Lismore and surrounds.


HEALTHY LIFESTYLE PROGRAM

Provider: Werin Aboriginal Corporation Medical Clinic

A holistic and culturally appropriate cardiac health prevention and management program. Delivered in the Port Macquarie LGA.


BOWRAVILLE FAMILY THERAPY

Provider: Durri Aboriginal Medical Corporation

Assisting families with a range of health related matters, identifying ways to improve health outcomes. Delivered in the Nambucca region.


MENTAL HEALTH IMPROVEMENT PROJECT

Provider: Galambila Aboriginal Health Service Corporation

Working with Mid North Coast LHD staff to improve mental health and wellbeing. Mid North Coast region.


MAAYU MALI (GROW STRONG PROGRAM)

Provider: Galambila Aboriginal Health Service Corporation

Maayu Mali means to “make better”. It offers a 3-month residential rehabilitation program followed by after-care services, delivered in a culturally sensitive context to people experiencing drug and alcohol addiction. Hastings-Macleay region.


EXTENSION OF NAMATJIRA HAVEN “GULGIHWEN” RESIDENTIAL POGRAM & WITHDRAWAL MANAGEMENT SERVICE

Provider: Namatjira Haven

This is a program for Aboriginal men with both alcohol and/or other drug issues and mental health problems. It works to re-connect Indigenous men to their history, culture and community. Delivered for residents in Ballina, Lismore, Byron Bay, Casino and Kyogle.


MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID TRAINING

Provider: Namatjira Haven

Mental Health First Aid courses teach mental health first aid strategies to community members. The first aid is given until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves. Delivered in Alstonville.


ALCOHOL AND DRUG TREATMENT INTEGRATION PROJECT

Provider: The Buttery

Aboriginal workforce development, capacity building, information and education for health professionals to improve the coordination and integration of drug and alcohol treatment services. Delivered across Northern NSW.


GARIMALEH WERLA NA (TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF PROGRAM)

Provider: University Centre for Rural Health, Lismore

Enhances social and emotional wellbeing, particularly with complex health needs in relation to disconnection, trauma and substance misuse. Delivered in Lismore, Alstonville and Ballina.


THE LIFE TREE MENTAL HEALTH & SUICIDE PREVENTION TRAINING FOR ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY MEMBERS

Provider: CRANES

The Life Tree Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Training Program for Aboriginal community members. Delivered across North Coast.


THE LIFE TREE MENTAL HEALTH & SUICIDE PREVENTION TRAINING FOR CLINICIANS WORKING IN ABORIGINAL HEALTH

Provider: CRANES

The Life Tree Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Training Program for clinicians working in Aboriginal Health. Delivered across North Coast.


ART ON BUNDJALUNG COUNTRY

Provider: North Coast Primary Health Network

A creative arts project to nurture local Indigenous artists and to prepare work for a special exhibition at the new Lismore Regional Gallery late in the year. It’s well known that engagement in the arts can enhance health and wellbeing. Delivered in the Northern Rivers region.


HEALTHY MINDS

Provider: North Coast Primary Health Network

A free, referral-based psychological service for those needing access to mental health services who are financially disadvantaged, including members of the Aboriginal community. Delivered across North Coast.


MENTAL HEALTH NURSING SERVICES

Provider: North Coast Primary Health Network

For people with a mental illness impacting severely on their lives, including members of the Aboriginal community. Delivered across North Coast.


“WE YARN” ABORIGINAL SUICIDE AWARENESS & PREVENTION WORKSHOPS

Provider: Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, University of Newcastle

For Aboriginal community members interested in suicide prevention. Delivered across the region

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealthDay : Australia’s new digital #mentalhealth gateway now live

 ” Today we are launching our new digital mental health gateway – Head to Health.

Head to Health is an essential tool for the one in five working age Australians who will experience a mental illness each year.

The website helps people take control of their mental health in a way they are most comfortable with and can complement face-to-face therapies.

Evidence shows that for many people, digital interventions can be as effective as face-to-face services.

Head to Health provides a one-stop shop for services and resources delivered by some of Australia’s most trusted mental health service providers.

They include free or low-cost apps, online support communities, online courses and phone services.

Head to Health provides a place where people can access support and information before they reach crisis.

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health launching www.headtohealth.gov.au

See full press release from Minister Part 3 below

 ” For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the strength of personal identity is often connected to culture, country and family.

Like all of us, however, you can have problems with everyday things like money, jobs and housing that can impact your social and emotional wellbeing. On top of that, you might have to deal with racism, discrimination, bullying, gender-phobia, and social inequality ”

READ MORE ON THIS TOPIC HERE

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

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

READ MORE ON THIS TOPIC HERE  

Part 1 NACCHO BACKGROUND

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

Read over 115 NACCHO Suicide Prevention Articles published over 5 yrs Including

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

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

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

Download the final #ATSISPEP report here

atispep-report-final-web-pdf-nov-10

Part 2 Mental Health Australia campaign

We need to see tackling stigma around mental health as a way to improve the health of the nation, improve our productivity, improve our community engagement, and improve our quality of life.”

“Yes we’ve come a long way to challenge and change perceptions, and paved the way for many to tell their story, but there is still great stigma associated with mental illness.”

“This year, my #mentalhealthpromise is to challenge Australia to look at mental health through a different light. Let’s look at the positives we can achieve as a community by reducing stigma and changing our approach to improving someone’s health.”

Mental Health Australia CEO Mr Frank Quinlan

Today World Mental Health Day – Tuesday 10 October – and Mental Health Australia is calling on the nation to further reduce stigma and promise to see mental health in a positive light.

‘Do you see what I see?’ challenges perceptions on mental illness aiming to reduce stigma.

‘Do you see what I see?’ promotes a positive approach to tackling an issue that affects one in five Australians.

‘Do you see what I see?’ aims to put a new light on the conversation… from dark to bright. Incorporating the successful #MentalHealthPromise initiative, which last year saw both the

Prime Minister and Opposition Leader make a mental health promise to the nation, ‘Do you see what I see?’ will also feature a series of photos from across Australia, shedding light and colour on an issue which is still cloaked in darkness.

“We’ve all seen it before… The stock black and white photo of someone sitting with their head in their hands signifying mental illness. That’s stigma… and stigma is still the number one barrier to people seeking help. Help that can prevent and treat,” said Mental Health Australia CEO Mr Frank Quinlan.

“We have to see things differently, and see the positive outcomes of tackling this issue if we are to see real benefits and reductions in the rate of mental illness affecting the nation.”

“We need to see mental health, and mental wealth through our own eyes, through the eyes of a family member or close friend and through the eyes of those in our community who don’t have that support around them.”

‘What will your #MentalHealthPromise be?

Making and sharing a mental health promise is easy and takes just a few minutes at www.1010.org.au

Part 3 The Hon. Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health press release Continued

Australia’s new digital mental health gateway now live

As part of our over $4 billion annual investment in mental health, the Turnbull Government is today launching our new digital mental health gateway – Head to Health.

Head to Health provides a place where people can access support and information before they reach crisis.

And it will continue to grow with additional services, a telephone support service to support website users, and further support for health professionals to meet the needs of their patients.

I encourage not only people seeking help and support, but anyone wanting to learn more on how to maintain good mental health wellbeing, to visit the website at: www.headtohealth.gov.au.

The Turnbull Government supports the need for a long term shift in mental health care towards early intervention, and the Head to Health gateway will help with this.

We have recently announced $43 million in funding for national suicide prevention leadership and support activity to organisations across Australia such as R U OK?, Suicide Prevention Australia and Mindframe.

This year we are investing $92.6 million in the headspace program to improve access for young people aged 12–25 years who have, or are at risk of, mental illness.

In addition, we have provided $52.6 million to beyondblue, which will partner with headspace and Early Childhood Australia to provide tools for teachers to support kids with mental health concerns and provide resources to help students deal with challenges.

Digital mental health services are an important part of national mental health reform and have been identified in the recently endorsed Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

Building a digital mental health gateway was a key part of the Government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programs and Services.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #suicideprevention and solutions : Download @MindframeMedia Aboriginal Suicide Data 2012-2016

 

” The report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that 2,866 Australians died by suicide in 2016. This is a decrease of 161 deaths from the previously reported 2015 figure of 3,027.

While we are seeing the first decrease in some years, suicide remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are approximately twice as likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous Australians, with 162 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders dying by suicide in 2016.”

Download  2016 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Summary

  • 162 (119 male, 43 female) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people died by suicide, which is slightly higher than the 152 recorded in 2015.
  • Suicide was the 5th leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across NSW, QLD, SA, WA and NT, compared to the 15th leading cause of death for non-Indigenous people in these states.
  • In these states, the standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (23.8 per 100,000) was more than twice the non-Indigenous rate (11.4 per 100,000).

Background NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert :

Launch #ATSISPEP Community-led solutions for Indigenous suicide prevention

Read over 110 Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO over 5 years

Solutions that Work: What the Evidence and Our People Tell Us.

Download

atispep-report-final-web-pdf-nov-10

atsispep

 

The report sets out a new blueprint to improve suicide-prevention services and programmes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on the principle of prioritising community led, culturally-appropriate services.

Peak body reports a national decrease in deaths by suicide

Download 2016 National Summary

Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) Chief Executive Sue Murray calls for those working in suicide prevention to hold their focus: “Suicide is a complex public health issue that requires sustained investment in prevention efforts to support more Australians to live. We are encouraged by the reported decrease, increased funding, support across Parliament and focus on regionally driven suicide prevention over the past year.

“Many organisations and communities are working hard to implement locally driven prevention plans focusing on priority issues such as primary care and care following discharge from our hospitals, as well as trialling innovative whole of community solutions. We will continue to encourage all working in suicide prevention to hold their focus on making the deep systemic and social changes needed.”

SPA Director Matthew Tukaki says of the release: “Above all else, on behalf of Suicide Prevention Australia, I acknowledge each of these lives lost to suicide and the pain suicide brings to individuals, families and whole communities.

“As well as taking a whole-of-community-approach to prevention we must look to how individuals and organisations support priority populations that are continually overrepresented in deaths by suicide.”

The ABS is to be congratulated for improving the timeliness of this data.

Headline data published includes:

  • There were 2,866 deaths due to suicide in 2016 with an age-specific rate of 11.8 per 100,000.
  • There were an average of 7.9 deaths by suicide in Australia each day.
  • There were 2,151 male deaths at a age-specific rate of 17.9 per 100,000.
  • There were 715 female deaths at an age-specific rate of 5.9 per 100,000.

For a full summary of ABS Causes of Death data relating to suicide, please visit the Mindframe website at http://www.mindframe-media.info/ and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website for full data sets.

Talking about suicide in the media: A reminder of the Mindframe Media guidelines – http://www.mindframe-media.info/ and http://ww.conversationsmatter.com.au for tips on how to talk safely and constructively about suicide.

24/7 crisis support information

Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 http://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au 
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelp.com.au
MensLine 1300 78 99 78 www.mensline.org.au
beyondblue 1300 22 4636 www.beyondblue.org.au
Qlife 1800 184 527  http://www.qlife.org.au /

For additional services and support visit www.suicidepreventionaust.org and click on the Get Help button.

Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #RUOKDay 14 Sept Advanced Speeches : The cause bringing Turnbull and Shorten together

 ” The truth is that mental health is enormously costly, in every respect.

It’s costly for individuals who suffer, its costly to their families but it’s especially costly when people take their own lives.

So we all have a vested interest in each others’ mental health. The most important thing we can do is to look out for each other.

Yes, governments and parliaments and health professionals spend money and trial new approaches and use digital technologies more effectively and we’re doing all these things and we’ll no doubt do much more in the future.

But you know, just four letters ‘R U OK?’ can make a difference. Because they represent another four letters, ‘L O V E’ – love. That’s what it’s about; showing that love and care for the people with whom you are with, whether they are your families, your friends or your workmates. Reach out to them, ask are you okay, show you care.

You could not just change a life, you could save a life.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressing the RUOK Breakfast 12 September

Download his speech or read in full Part 2 Below PM Malcolm Turnbull RUOK

Read over 150 Aboriginal Mental Health articles published by NACCHO over 5 years

” We know that suicide is the scourge of rural and regional communities.

It takes a shocking toll on our people in the bush.

We know the suicide rate is twice as high amongst our First Australians, Pat Dodson has written movingly about those nights when his phone rings with the tragic news that another young person in the Kimberley has taken their life.

There is always time to start a conversation.

I think about all the people that I have known – and I am not sure I could have done anything then to change something.

But I wish that I knew then what I know now, and was able to ask these people: ‘Are you ok?’ “

Opposition Leader  Bill Shorten addressing the RUOK Breakfast 12 September

Download his speech or read in full Part 3 Below Bill Shorten RUOK

Part 1 The cause bringing Turnbull and Shorten together

From SBS Report

When Bill Shorten sat down to prepare some remarks for a parliamentary breakfast on suicide, he reflected on how many people he knew who had taken their own life.

He stopped at about seven.

“The thing about these people I thought about is that they remain forever young,” the opposition leader told an ‘R U Ok?’ gathering at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Shorten said he questioned what he could have done to help them or whether people didn’t see a sign.

He’s not alone. Seven people commit suicide on average every day in Australia.

“It is a silent crisis at the heart of our nation,” he said.

“These are preventable deaths.”

Mr Shorten reflected on veterans who feel let down by the nation they served and young people who feel like they don’t fit in.

The world of social media had created a form of emotional distance, a world of exotic holidays and glamorous events, he noted.

“The challenge is to look beyond the superficial snapshots of endless good times. To go further than simply clicking ‘like’.”

Mr Shorten believes MPs and senators are actually well placed to understand the message of the suicide prevention charity.

“In this very large building with thousands of people it can be a hard and isolating experience.”

“Suicide knows no boundaries, we are all in this together” Professor Gracelyn Smallwood in Townsville

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said suicide prevention was about people but the high statistics demand everyone do much better.

He believes a reluctance to talk about mental health issues – whether because of stigma or taboo – has been a barrier.

“You can’t deal with a problem that you don’t acknowledge,” he said.

Mr Turnbull noted the work of the late Watson’s Bay resident Don Ritchie who invited anxious people at The Gap nearby in for a chat and a cuppa.

“He would gently lure them back from the brink by doing no more than showing that he cared for them,” he said.

“That is why ‘R U Ok?’ day is so important.”

Mr Shorten was glad the event brought the two leaders together.

“It’s a galling thing when you’re leader of the opposition and the prime minister yells slogans at you,” he said.

“But then occasionally sometimes he gives a speech like that and I think ‘you’re not too bad after all’.”

Both agreed the mutual feeling would be over by question time.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Part 2 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressing the RUOK Breakfast 13 September

Well good morning. It’s great to be here with Andrew Wallace who is standing in for Julian Leeser, who together with Mike Kelly are Co-Chairs of the Friendship Group.

I acknowledge Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health and Sport, Bill Shorten, Julie Collins the Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health, Murray Bleach, the Chairman Suicide Prevention Australia, Mike Connaghan – Chairman of RUOK? and Mike and I were reflecting on how many decades it is since we first met and worked together in advertising but there it is. You’re looking very youthful. That’s what happens if you don’t go into politics.

And of course Professor Batterham is our guest speaker this morning – and so many other leaders in health and in suicide prevention, and of course all my Parliamentary colleagues here as well.

Now we’re all united here behind Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day. Suicide Prevention Day was on Sunday and R U OK? Day is later this week.

Each year, around one in every five Australians experience mental illness and in 2015, more than 3,000 took their own life.

Now, suicide is about people, it’s about families, not numbers. But the statistics confront us all and call on us to do much better.

I am firmly of the view that our reluctance to talk about mental health issues – whether you call it a stigma or a taboo – has been a very real barrier to addressing this issue. You can’t deal with a problem that you do not acknowledge.

So we have started to talk about suicide and mental health and in an open and honest way, as we have not done in the past.

Now my own electorate of Wentworth includes one of the most beautiful yet tragic places in Australia, The Gap. It is a place where many, many Australians take their lives. A part of The Gap story until he died in 2012 was an extraordinary man called Don Ritchie who was an old sailor and also very tall, I might add.

For the best part of half a century, he lived near The Gap and when he would go for walks and he saw somebody there – anxious, perhaps standing on the wrong side of the fence – he would talk to them.

He would say: “Are you OK? How are you going? Do you want to have a chat? Do you want to come in and have a cup of tea?” He would gently lure them back from the brink by doing no more than showing that he cared for them.

That is why ‘R U OK? Day?’ is so important. Because what it is all about, is showing that we do care. Four letters ‘R U O K’ import so much. They send a message of love, they send a message of care. Critically important and what could be more Australian than looking out for your mates? Or looking out for people you don’t even know? Looking out for somebody who seems anxious, worried, or someone at work that isn’t quite themselves. It is a caring and a loving question. And it raises very prominently this issue of awareness, to the forefront.

At Gap Park for example, as the local Member, I’ve pushed for more funding and support for suicide prevention. Since 2010 there has been implemented a ‘Gap Master Plan’ and I want to acknowledge the support that Julia Gillard provided as Prime Minister to support the local government, the Woollahra Council, towards that funding.

It was a series of measures of signs, telephones, obviously of cameras so that the police can keep an eye on what’s going on there and also a very innovative design in defences that are hard to get over, but easier to get back over, if you know what I mean.

So all of this makes a difference and since 2010 the local police tell me there has been a significant increase in the number of successful interventions at The Gap. But still, far, far too many people die there and in many other places around Australia.

Now, we’re working better to understand the factors that have contributed to rising suicide rates and to support communities to respond to their own unique circumstances.

We’re committed to reducing suicide rates through regional trials, research and building the evidence base with flexible models that address regional needs and work in our local communities.

This includes the implementation of 12 regional suicide prevention trial sites in Townsville, the Kimberley and Darwin and other places. Digital innovation trials and ten lead sites to trial different care models. All looking to see what actually works.

We’re also investing a great deal more in mental health and making services more effective, accessible and tailored to local needs.

Since 2016, we’ve invested an additional $367.5 million in mental health and suicide prevention support.

That includes a $194.5 million election package towards building a modern 21st century mental health system and our $173 million in new funding in the 2017‑18 Budget and $58.6 million to expand mental health and suicide prevention services for current and ex-serving ADF members and their families.

So we’re putting existing resources to work. But you know, the most important resource is you, is all of us. You know my very good friend and a good friend of all of yours, I know, Ian Hickie has got a great concept. He talks about the ‘mental wealth of nations’, sort of elaborating from Adam Smith.

The truth is that mental health is enormously costly, in every respect.

It’s costly for individuals who suffer, its costly to their families but it’s especially costly when people take their own lives.

So we all have a vested interest in each others’ mental health. The most important thing we can do is to look out for each other.

Yes, governments and parliaments and health professionals spend money and trial new approaches and use digital technologies more effectively and we’re doing all these things and we’ll no doubt do much more in the future.

But you know, just four letters ‘R U OK?’ can make a difference. Because they represent another four letters, ‘L O V E’ – love. That’s what it’s about; showing that love and care for the people with whom you are with, whether they are your families, your friends or your workmates. Reach out to them, ask are you okay, show you care. You could not just change a life, you could save a life.

Thank you very much.

Part 3 Opposition Leader  Bill Shorten addressing the RUOK Breakfast 13 September

Good morning everybody.

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, I pay my respect to their elders both past and present.

I’m actually going to spend a moment on what the Prime Minister said and thank him for his words.

It’s a galling thing when you’re Leader of the Opposition that the Prime Minister yells slogans at you one day, and you think oh why did he do that?

But then occasionally he gives a speech like that and I think, you’re not too bad after all.

It really was a good set of words.

Mind you, by Question Time that thought will be erased.

I’d like to thank Mike Kelly and Andrew Wallace filling in for Julian Leeser for bringing all of us here today.

We’ve got the Shadow Minister Julie Collins and we’ve got the Minister Greg Hunt.

Yesterday afternoon when I was preparing my words for this morning, I stopped to think about people I’d known who’d taken their own lives. And you start to construct that list.

I’m sure I’m not unique. I think most Australians find out after the event, someone they liked or loved has taken their own life.

As I got thinking about it, I could think of about seven people I knew. I actually stopped there. Because I knew the longer I thought, I could think of families with their kids and other people.

The thing about these people I thought about, is that they remain forever young.

You can still imagine them. You can remember not everything that you should, but you can remember some of their jokes perhaps, some of their ideas, some of their abilities.

I think about RUOK and I thought what could we have done then, what could I have done then?

And what has been done today to help this be prevented in the future.

I think about each of these people, and I went through the process of writing down their names just to start reconstructing.

Because you don’t always think about the people who have passed, you move on, the events move on.

And I think, was there some sign that they weren’t well? Was there some signal, some marker?

Is there something you could have done differently?

Some of the people I think of were teenagers, highly-talented. They seemed to be very successful at everything they did. But inside they were battling illness and great, great depression.

And when I thought about seven people I could think of I was reminded that seven Australians take their life on average every day, and possibly seven more will today. Every single day.

It is a silent crisis at the heart of our nation.

I’m sure all of you have sat with parents at their table when they’re numb with incomprehension, when they’re shattered by grief.

When they’re trying to write words to say farewell to their child or their adult child, taken too soon.

I still recall a school assembly where the school captain or someone very senior in the school said he died on a train, that’s what we were told. It was only years after that I found out that was the way the school dealt with the fact that he had taken his own life.

And you do think about what you could have done.

I think about veterans who are let down by the nation that they served.

Seven Australians – every day.

And what I wanted to say is that these are preventable deaths – we are not talking about a terminal condition, some dreadful metastasising cancer spread throughout a human body.

These deaths are preventable, there is nothing inevitable about suicide.

And we know that expert assistance can make the difference but it is in short supply.

Our emergency departments work very well. If you turn up with say chest pains, terrible chest pains I reckon nearly all of the time you’ll get the right diagnosis and the care is there.

When I was talking to Professor Pat McGorry who is here today, you know and he worries that you can turn up to an emergency department and you’ve got a very serious case of potential self-harm, or as a suicide risk.

Do we have the resources there to the same proportion as a medical condition, another medical condition? I don’t think we do.

And I know every Member of Parliament here regardless of their political affiliation will have constituents who come to them desperate, red-eyed saying I’ve got a child, an adult child who really needs that sub-acute care. And the search for the beds that aren’t there.

We know that suicide is the scourge of rural and regional communities.

It takes a shocking toll on our people in the bush.

We know the suicide rate is twice as high amongst our First Australians, Pat Dodson has written movingly about those nights when his phone rings with the tragic news that another young person in the Kimberley has taken their life.

We know, as Mike Kelly alluded to, that suicide is more common and more frequently attempted by young LGBTI Australians grappling with their sexuality, fearing rejection.

Completely alienated and unsure of where they fit in.

And we all do have a responsibility to call-out that hateful discrimination and language, particularly in the weeks ahead.

The simple truth is no part of our nation has a wall tall enough to keep the scourge of suicide from that postcode. Suicide is no respecter of ethnicity, of income.

It does not care which god you pray to, or who you love, it affects every Australian and therefore it is within the power of every Australian to do something about it.

We live in a world where it has been easier than ever to see what our friends and our family are up to.

I remember when I was a backpacker 25 years ago, I could be back home before any of the postcards which I had sent to Mum and Dad.

These days you feel like you’re on everybody else’s holiday half the time, as soon as you turn on the computer.

Australians aged between 15 and 24 spend an average of around 18 hours a week online.

And while social media has a tremendous ability to bring us closer together, Instagram,

Facebook and Snapchat also create emotional distance. A carefully-curated view of each other’s lives: exotic holidays, glamorous events, fun nights out, fancy meals.

We have now got a situation where before teenagers will eat the food, they will photograph it.

But the challenge for us is to look beyond the superficial snapshots of endless good times, to go further than simply clicking ‘like’ and scrolling on down the feed.

It’s about digging a bit deeper.

And in conclusion, that’s why we are here.

It’s time to make that call, to send a message, to drop-in for a visit – to really see how someone is going.

I actually think Parliamentarians are well placed to understand RUOK Day.

We’ve all seen our own challenges with mental health, I think previously in this parliament.

In this very large building with thousands of people, it can be hard and isolating experience.

It is important that RUOK day occurs because it is a reminder that we need to distinguish and not let the urgent distract us from the important.

There is always time to

  • Ask
  • Listen
  • Encourage action
  • And check-in

There is always time to start a conversation.

I think about all the people that I have known – and I am not sure I could have done anything then to change something.

But I wish that I knew then what I know now, and was able to ask these people: ‘Are you ok?’

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #WSPD17 World #Suicide Prevention Day “Take a Minute, Change a Life”

 ” Yesterday ( 10 September ) was World Suicide Prevention Day and this year’s theme, “Take a Minute, Change a Life”, captures the idea that each of us has a role to play in suicide prevention.

The same concept lies behind R U OK? Day, which will be marked next Thursday 14 September

Just a simple, sincere question can show a distressed friend, colleague, family member or even a stranger that they are not alone and that help is available.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt : Marking World Suicide Prevention Day ( see Part 2 Below)  

 ” For me, suicidal ideation is a daily battle. It might be intense for a little bit, then I use my coping mechanisms and strategies I have learnt and they pass. Lately however, the ideations have been crippling – to the point where I can’t get out of bed, I can’t talk to people and at times before one of my education sessions, I felt I couldn’t go on stage. I was behind the curtain sobbing like a baby – petrified to talk to anyone.

The past few months I have been in a real struggle, the biggest and most constant fight I have ever been in.”

Joe Williams ( Pictured above ) will be a guest speaker at NACCHO #OchreDay2017 in Darwin Oct 4-5 : See full text Part 3 Below from the Enemy Within  .

 “The worst response to suicide within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is to ignore social disadvantage and instead attribute the loss of life to individual failure or weakness.

“Addressing the social disadvantage plaguing our communities is critical to solving many of the challenges facing our peoples, including suicide.

Our nation must face up to the devastation that has been wrought upon our peoples and which overwhelms us today,”

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar

Read her full speech Suicide Prevention Speech HERE

 ” The suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in 18 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths is a suicide. However, because of under-reporting issues and circumstances where there is an inability to gather adequate evidence to satisfy the coroner of a suicide, I estimate that rather one in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths is a suicide.’

Read full article Here : We should weep, but more importantly we should act to stop Indigenous suicides

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert : Launch #ATSISPEP Community-led solutions for Indigenous suicide prevention

Read over 110 Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO over 5 years

Solutions that Work: What the Evidence and Our People Tell Us.

Download

atispep-report-final-web-pdf-nov-10

atsispep

 

The report sets out a new blueprint to improve suicide-prevention services and programmes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on the principle of prioritising community led, culturally-appropriate services.

“This is where the rubber hits the road, working very closely at the community level, involving young people, families and elders,

We now have a strong operational plan based around the communities, to bring promising and proven strategies together in liaison with local people, to make a difference on the ground.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM will co-chair a new steering committee working directly with local Aboriginal communities, as the Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial begins detailed planning and delivery of potentially lifesaving initiatives across the region.

Part 1 Increased youth focus as Minister co-chairs suicide prevention committee

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM will co-chair a new steering committee working directly with local Aboriginal communities, as the Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial begins detailed planning and delivery of potentially lifesaving initiatives across the region.

“This is where the rubber hits the road, working very closely at the community level, involving young people, families and elders,” the Minister said.

“We now have a strong operational plan based around the communities, to bring promising and proven strategies together in liaison with local people, to make a difference on the ground.”

Minister Wyatt said the recent  suicide prevention roundtable in Broome was important in establishing a strong working partnership between local Aboriginal communities and the Commonwealth, especially through younger people.

He praised a presentation by Kimberley Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Forum members Jacob Corpus (20) from Broome and Montana Ahwon (19) from Kununurra, and said young people must be supported to play key roles in reducing suicide.

“Both Montana and Jacob are incredible and inspiring young leaders who have helped identify key factors that impact on Kimberley youth, which the steering committee will now consider,” he said.

“I will also encourage relevant Commonwealth and State organisations to ensure they include young Aboriginal people on advisory groups, to help empower them to take up future leadership roles.”

Youth forum recommendations included:

– Support for emerging young leaders, positive role models and mentoring

– The teaching in school of local culture and country traditions, the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and the importance of resilience

– Strong youth engagement and networking through sports, arts and local cultural activities

The roundtable also heard of the need for community-run “safe houses” for young people and the potential positive effects of having pairs of youth coordinators employed by Aboriginal community groups in towns across the Kimberley.

The steering committee will be co-chaired by Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Deputy CEO Rob McPhee and will report to the Kimberley Suicide Prevention Working Group.

Minister Wyatt commended everyone involved in the development of this work and is looking forward to returning to the Kimberley in November.

Part 2 Health Minister Greg Hunt Marking World Suicide Prevention Day

Marking World Suicide Prevention Day

 

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and this year’s theme, “Take a Minute, Change a Life”, captures the idea that each of us has a role to play in suicide prevention.

The same concept lies behind R U OK? Day, which will be marked next Thursday.

Just a simple, sincere question can show a distressed friend, colleague, family member or even a stranger that they are not alone and that help is available.

More than 3000 Australians take their own lives each year and sadly, the rate is increasing. This means that many of us have been touched by this tragedy, directly or indirectly.

But not everyone understands that they can help to reduce this number.

Results of a recent survey by Colmar Brunton show that almost one in five Australians believe that talking about suicide will make a depressed person more likely to take their own life.

More than one in three others surveyed were unsure whether talking about suicide was a good or bad thing to do.

In fact, at the personal level, asking someone who is depressed and suicidal, about their thoughts can be the most effective way to allow them to get perspective, find support and reach a solution.

The Turnbull Government is committed to improving our national suicide prevention effort through new regional approaches, innovative programs and research.

We are spending $34 million over three years on 12 national suicide prevention trials which will gather evidence on better suicide prevention in regional areas of Australia, and particularly, in high risk populations.

Specific areas of focus for the trials include Indigenous communities in the Kimberley and Darwin regions and the former Defence Force members in in Townsville.

Regions of Queensland, NSW, Victoria and SA have also been selected to trial strategies that better target people at risk of suicide and ensure a more integrated, regionally-based approach to suicide prevention.

To support the National Suicide Prevention Trials, we’re also providing $3 million to the Black Dog Institute.

This funding is enabling the Black Dog Institute to provide assistance with the development of local strategies and to share best practice.

We are providing $43 million in funding for national suicide prevention leadership and support activity to organisations across Australia, such as R U OK?, Mates in Construction Australia, Suicide Prevention Australia, United Synergies, Mindframe and Orygen.

Suicide Prevention Australia has also been selected to establish and manage our new $12 million suicide prevention research fund that will tell us what works and how to deliver effective support – to individuals, families and communities.

And to help care for those that care for us, we are providing $1 million to specifically support mental health and reduce suicide in the health workforce.

On 4 August 2017, the Commonwealth and State and Territory Health Ministers endorsed the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan and Implementation Plan.

The Turnbull Government will continue working together with the States and Territories to develop a national approach to address suicide prevention and to support health agencies to interact with other portfolios to drive action in this vital area.

The loss of a loved one to suicide is an immense tragedy and this is why the Turnbull Government is delivering on its commitment to provide a range programs and services that support local needs so we avoid this unnecessary loss of life now and into the future.

 

 

Part 3 My Daily fight I won’t give up

Have you ever heard the song  by Kate Miller-Heidke called ‘Last Day on Earth’? I’ll get to why it’s important shortly.

I have been in a real internal fight with myself recently. It has been for a few different reasons, triggers that set them off, but for the most part I believe it’s because I have been taking lower doses of my medication. I am doing this under the care of my psychiatrist so that I can go onto another medication.

For me, suicidal ideation is a daily battle. It might be intense for a little bit, then I use my coping mechanisms and strategies I have learnt and they pass. Lately however, the ideations have been crippling – to the point where I can’t get out of bed, I can’t talk to people and at times before one of my education sessions, I felt I couldn’t go on stage. I was behind the curtain sobbing like a baby – petrified to talk to anyone.

The past few months I have been in a real struggle, the biggest and most constant fight I have ever been in. That song I mentioned has been playing through my head, literally every morning as soon as I wake up. The chatter and noise starts in my mind and I have genuinely believed this will be my last day on earth. I have to fight the mental pain that wants to take me away.

With the effects of CTE and concussions over the years, there is every chance this illness I go through, these tough times, may get worse. But I am not ready to go out yet. I’m not ready for my life to be over. So I promise I will fight tooth and nail to make sure I am here; especially for my kids and my loved ones. I will stay in this fight!!

Each day that I have this internal battle, it’s tough. I want it to go away and sometimes I get to the point where I’ve had enough. But it’s this battle that makes me who I am. That makes me resilient and a fighter.

I have to thank my friends who have been quite persistent in checking in and making sure I am ok lately, as I know I isolate and try do it alone.

During the tough times I know it’s beneficial to talk. I know it’s beneficial to get the mess out of my body and my mind – even writing it down helps; but it’s just so hard.

I can’t do it alone. I need my doctor, my friends and my loved ones to stay close – even though I push everyone away, I need them to stay close!! If it were up to me, I would push everyone away – but I know that’s not the right thing to do for me to stay well, I know that verbalising the pain helps.

Minute by minute, moment by moment, one day at a time – I promise to stay in this fight.

It may battle me; but it won’t beat me

 https://youtu.be/KhQ5seprs6s

Last Day On Earth – Kate Miller

 

Aboriginal Health and the @AusLawReform inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal peoples

 

” The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry ask the ALRC to consider laws and legal frameworks that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody.

ALRC Home page

Download this 236 page discussion paper

discussion_paper_84_compressed_no_cover

Full Terms of reference part B below

The ALRC was asked to consider a number of factors that decision makers take into account when deciding on a criminal justice response, including community safety, the availability of alternatives to incarceration, the degree of discretion available, and incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment

The Terms of Reference also direct the ALRC to consider laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Submissions close on 4 September 2017.

Make a submission

Part A Proposals and Questions

1. Structure of the Discussion Paper

1.40     The Discussion Paper is structured in parts. Following the introduction, Part 2 addresses criminal justice pathways. The ALRC has identified three key areas that influence incarceration rates: bail laws and processes, and remand; sentencing laws and legal frameworks including mandatory sentencing, short sentences and Gladue-style reports; and transition pathways from prison, parole and throughcare. These were the focus of stakeholder comments and observations in preliminary consultations.

1.41     Part 3 considers non-violent offending and alcohol regulation. It provides an overview of the detrimental effects of fine debt on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the likelihood of imprisonment in some jurisdictions. Fine debt can be tied to driver licence offending, and the ALRC asks how best to minimise licence suspension caused by fine default. Part 3 also looks at ways laws and legal frameworks can operate to decrease alcohol supply so as to minimise alcohol-related offending in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

1.42     Part 4 discusses the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. It contextualises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female offending within experiences of trauma, including isolation; family and sexual violence; and child removal. It outlines how proposals in other chapters may address the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and asks what more can be done.

1.43     Part 5 considers access to justice, and examines ways that state and territory governments and criminal justice systems can better engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to prevent offending and to provide better criminal justice responses when offending occurs. The ALRC places collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations at the centre of proposals made in this Part, and suggests accountability measures for state and territory government justice agencies and police. The remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpreters are also discussed. Alternative approaches to crime prevention and criminal justice responses, such as those operating under the banner of ‘justice reinvestment’, are also canvassed.

2. Bail and the Remand Population

Proposal 2–1        The Bail Act 1977 (Vic) has a standalone provision that requires bail authorities to consider any ‘issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality’, including cultural background, ties to family and place, and cultural obligations. This consideration is in addition to any other requirements of the Bail Act.

Other state and territory bail legislation should adopt similar provisions.

As with all other bail considerations, the requirement to consider issues that arise due to the person’s Aboriginality would not supersede considerations of community safety.

Proposal 2–2        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify service gaps and develop the infrastructure required to provide culturally appropriate bail support and diversion options where needed.

3. Sentencing and Aboriginality

Question 3–1        Noting the decision in Bugmy v The Queen [2013] HCA 38, should state and territory governments legislate to expressly require courts to consider the unique systemic and background factors affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

If so, should this be done as a sentencing principle, a sentencing factor, or in some other way?

Question 3–2        Where not currently legislated, should state and territory governments provide for reparation or restoration as a sentencing principle? In what ways, if any, would this make the criminal justice system more responsive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders?

Question 3–3        Do courts sentencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders have sufficient information available about the offender’s background, including cultural and historical factors that relate to the offender and their community?

Question 3–4        In what ways might specialist sentencing reports assist in providing relevant information to the court that would otherwise be unlikely to be submitted?

Question 3–5        How could the preparation of these reports be facilitated? For example, who should prepare them, and how should they be funded?

4. Sentencing Options

Question 4–1        Noting the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

(a)     should Commonwealth, state and territory governments review provisions that impose mandatory or presumptive sentences; and

(b)     which provisions should be prioritised for review?

Question 4–2        Should short sentences of imprisonment be abolished as a sentencing option? Are there any unintended consequences that could result?

Question 4–3        If short sentences of imprisonment were to be abolished, what should be the threshold (eg, three months; six months)?

Question 4–4        Should there be any pre-conditions for such amendments, for example: that non-custodial alternatives to prison be uniformly available throughout states and territories, including in regional and remote areas?

Proposal 4–1        State and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to ensure that community-based sentences are more readily available, particularly in regional and remote areas.

Question 4–5        Beyond increasing availability of existing community-based sentencing options, is legislative reform required to allow judicial officers greater flexibility to tailor sentences?

5. Prison Programs, Parole and Unsupervised Release

Proposal 5–1        Prison programs should be developed and made available to accused people held on remand and people serving short sentences.

Question 5–1        What are the best practice elements of programs that could respond to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples held on remand or serving short sentences of imprisonment?

Proposal 5–2        There are few prison programs for female prisoners and these may not address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners. State and territory corrective services should develop culturally appropriate programs that are readily available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners.

Question 5–2        What are the best practice elements of programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female prisoners to address offending behaviour?

Proposal 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole should apply in all states and territories.

Question 5–3        A statutory regime of automatic court ordered parole applies in NSW, Queensland and SA. What are the best practice elements of such schemes?

Proposal 5–4        Parole revocation schemes should be amended to abolish requirements for the time spent on parole to be served again in prison if parole is revoked.

6. Fines and Driver Licences

Proposal 6–1        Fine default should not result in the imprisonment of the defaulter. State and territory governments should abolish provisions in fine enforcement statutes that provide for imprisonment in lieu of unpaid fines.

Question 6–1        Should lower level penalties be introduced, such as suspended infringement notices or written cautions?

Question 6–2        Should monetary penalties received under infringement notices be reduced or limited to a certain amount? If so, how?

Question 6–3        Should the number of infringement notices able to be issued in one transaction be limited?

Question 6–4        Should offensive language remain a criminal offence? If so, in what circumstances?

Question 6–5        Should offensive language provisions be removed from criminal infringement notice schemes, meaning that they must instead be dealt with by the court?

Question 6–6        Should state and territory governments provide alternative penalties to court ordered fines? This could include, for example, suspended fines, day fines, and/or work and development orders.

Proposal 6–2        Work and Development Orders were introduced in NSW in 2009. They enable a person who cannot pay fines due to hardship, illness, addiction, or homelessness to discharge their debt through:

  • work;
  • program attendance;
  • medical treatment;
  • counselling; or
  • education, including driving lessons.

State and territory governments should introduce work and development orders based on this model.

Question 6–7        Should fine default statutory regimes be amended to remove the enforcement measure of driver licence suspension?

Question 6–8        What mechanisms could be introduced to enable people reliant upon driver licences to be protected from suspension caused by fine default? For example, should:

(a)     recovery agencies be given discretion to skip the licence suspension step where the person in default is vulnerable, as in NSW; or

(b)     courts be given discretion regarding the disqualification, and disqualification period, of driver licences where a person was initially suspended due to fine default?

Question 6–9        Is there a need for regional driver permit schemes? If so, how should they operate?

Question 6–10      How could the delivery of driver licence programs to regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be improved?

7. Justice Procedure Offences—Breach of Community-based Sentences

Proposal 7–1        To reduce breaches of community-based sentences by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, state and territory governments should engage with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to identify gaps and build the infrastructure required for culturally appropriate community-based sentencing options and support services.

8. Alcohol

Question 8–1        Noting the link between alcohol abuse and offending, how might state and territory governments facilitate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, that wish to do so, to:

(a)     develop and implement local liquor accords with liquor retailers and other stakeholders that specifically seek to minimise harm to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, for example through such things as minimum pricing, trading hours and range restriction;

(b)     develop plans to prevent the sale of full strength alcohol within their communities, such as the plan implemented within the Fitzroy Crossing community?

Question 8–2        In what ways do banned drinkers registers or alcohol mandatory treatment programs affect alcohol-related offending within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities? What negative impacts, if any, flow from such programs?

9. Female Offenders

Question 9–1        What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and improve criminal justice processes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female defendants and offenders?

10. Aboriginal Justice Agreements

Proposal 10–1       Where not currently operating, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to renew or develop Aboriginal Justice Agreements.

Question 10–1      Should the Commonwealth Government develop justice targets as part of the review of the Closing the Gap policy? If so, what should these targets encompass?

11. Access to Justice Issues

Proposal 11–1       Where needed, state and territory governments should work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to establish interpreter services within the criminal justice system.

Question 11–1      What reforms to laws and legal frameworks are required to strengthen diversionary options and specialist sentencing courts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Proposal 11–2       Where not already in place, state and territory governments should provide for limiting terms through special hearing processes in place of indefinite detention when a person is found unfit to stand trial.

Question 11–2      In what ways can availability and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services be increased?

Proposal 11–3       State and territory governments should introduce a statutory custody notification service that places a duty on police to contact the Aboriginal Legal Service, or equivalent service, immediately on detaining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.

12. Police Accountability

Question 12–1      How can police work better with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to reduce family violence?

Question 12–2      How can police officers entering into a particular Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community gain a full understanding of, and be better equipped to respond to, the needs of that community?

Question 12–3      Is there value in police publicly reporting annually on their engagement strategies, programs and outcomes with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that are designed to prevent offending behaviours?

Question 12–4      Should police that are undertaking programs aimed at reducing offending behaviours in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities be required to: document programs; undertake systems and outcomes evaluations; and put succession planning in place to ensure continuity of the programs?

Question 12–5      Should police be encouraged to enter into Reconciliation Action Plans with Reconciliation Australia, where they have not already done so?

Question 12–6      Should police be required to resource and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment strategies, where not already in place?

13. Justice Reinvestment

Question 13–1      What laws or legal frameworks, if any, are required to facilitate justice reinvestment initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Part B The Term of reference

ALRC inquiry into the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

I, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General of Australia, refer to the Australian Law Reform Commission, an inquiry into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons.

It is acknowledged that while laws and legal frameworks are an important factor contributing to over‑representation, there are many other social, economic, and historic factors that also contribute. It is also acknowledged that while the rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and their contact with the criminal justice system – both as offenders and as victims – significantly exceeds that of non‑Indigenous Australians, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people never commit criminal offences.

Scope of the reference

  1. In developing its law reform recommendations, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) should have regard to:
    1. Laws and legal frameworks including legal institutions and law enforcement (police, courts, legal assistance services and prisons), that contribute to the incarceration rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and inform decisions to hold or keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody, specifically in relation to:
      1. the nature of offences resulting in incarceration,
      2. cautioning,
      3. protective custody,
      4. arrest,
      5. remand and bail,
      6. diversion,
      7. sentencing, including mandatory sentencing, and
      8. parole, parole conditions and community reintegration.
    2. Factors that decision-makers take into account when considering (1)(a)(i-viii), including:
      1. community safety,
      2. availability of alternatives to incarceration,
      3. the degree of discretion available to decision-makers,
      4. incarceration as a last resort, and
      5. incarceration as a deterrent and as a punishment.
    3. Laws that may contribute to the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples offending and including, for example, laws that regulate the availability of alcohol, driving offences and unpaid fines.
    4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their rate of incarceration.
    5. Differences in the application of laws across states and territories.
    6. Other access to justice issues including the remoteness of communities, the availability of and access to legal assistance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language and sign interpreters.
  2.  In conducting its Inquiry, the ALRC should have regard to existing data and research[1] in relation to:
    1. best practice laws, legal frameworks that reduce the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration,
    2. pathways of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the criminal justice system, including most frequent offences, relative rates of bail and diversion and progression from juvenile to adult offending,
    3. alternatives to custody in reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and/or offending, including rehabilitation, therapeutic alternatives and culturally appropriate community led solutions,
    4. the impacts of incarceration on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including in relation to employment, housing, health, education and families, and
    5. the broader contextual factors contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration including:
      1. the characteristics of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison population,
      2. the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration and inter‑generational trauma, loss of culture, poverty, discrimination, alcohol and drug use, experience of violence, including family violence, child abuse and neglect, contact with child protection and welfare systems, educational access and performance, cognitive and psychological factors, housing circumstances and employment, and
      3. the availability and effectiveness of culturally appropriate programs that intend to reduce Aboriginal; and Torres Strait Islander offending and incarceration.
  3. In undertaking this Inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consider other reports, inquiries and action plans including but not limited to:
    1. the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,
    2. the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (due to report 1 August 2017),
    3. Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration’s Inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Experience of Law Enforcement and Justice Services,
    4. Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs’ inquiry into Indefinite Detention of People with Cognitive and Psychiatric impairment in Australia,
    5. Senate Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs inquiry into Harmful Use of Alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities,
    6. reports of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
    7. the ALRC’s inquiries into Family violence and Family violence and Commonwealth laws, and​
    8. the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

The ALRC should also consider the gaps in available data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration and consider recommendations that might improve data collection.

  1. In conducting its inquiry the ALRC should also have regard to relevant international human rights standards and instruments.

Consultation

  1. In undertaking this inquiry, the ALRC should identify and consult with relevant stakeholders including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations, state and territory governments, relevant policy and research organisations, law enforcement agencies, legal assistance service providers and the broader legal profession, community service providers and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Timeframe

  1. The ALRC should provide its report to the Attorney-General by 22 December 2017.