NACCHO Aboriginal Youth and Mental Health : Download Report from @MissionAust and @blackdoginst

 ” It is critical that responses to support a young person’s mental health be culturally sensitive and gender sensitive and that they address the structural issues that contribute to higher levels of psychological distress for young females and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

For example, we know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be adversely affected by racism, disconnection from culture, and the long history of dispossession. All of these factors contribute to poor mental health, substance misuse and higher suicide rates.

As a matter of priority, suicide prevention programs that are tailored to the needs of the whole community and focussed on prevention should be available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. All programs should be offered in close proximity to community and should be age appropriate as well as culturally sensitive.”

Download a copy of the Five-Year Youth Mental Health Report

 youth-mental-health-report

NACCHO Background References (1-4)

Ref 1:  Read / research the 250 NACCHO Articles

about Aboriginal Mental Health published in past 5 years

about suicide prevention in the past 5 years

Ref 2 :Download the Draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan at the link below:

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

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

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

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

PDF Copy fifth-national-mental-health-plan

You can download a copy of the draft plan;or see extracts below

Fifth National Mental Health Plan – PDF 646 KB
Fifth National Mental Health Plan – Word 537 KB

Ref 3: NACCHO Chairperson, Matthew Cooke see previous press Release

“Clearly Australia’s mental health system is failing Aboriginal people, with Aboriginal communities devastated by high rates of suicide and poorer mental health outcomes. 

Poor mental health in Aboriginal communities often stems from historic dispossession, racism and a poor sense of connection to self and community. It is compounded by people’s lack of access to meaningful and ongoing education and employment. Drug and alcohol related conditions are also commonly identified in persons with poor mental health.

While there was no quick fix for the crisis, an integrated strategy led by Aboriginal community controlled health services is a good starting point.

The National Mental Health Commission Review recommended the establishment of mental health and social and emotional wellbeing teams in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, linked to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist mental health services.

None of these can be fixed overnight but we can’t ignore the problems. We are on the brink of losing another generation of Aboriginal people to suicide, poor health and substance abuse.”

What we do know is the solution must be driven by Aboriginal leaders and communities – a model that is reaping great rewards in the Aboriginal Community Controlled health sector.

It must be a community based approach, backed up by governments of all levels.”

NACCHO Chairperson, Matthew Cooke

Ref 4 : Extra info provided by Tom Calma

Prof Pat Dudgeon and Tom Calma chair the ATSI Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group to the Commonwealth and Pat Chairs NATSIMHL, the group who created the Gayaa Dhuwi.

Bottom line is that the community should feel confident that all the major initiatives in mental health and suicide prevention are being lead by our people and more can be found at http://natsilmh.org.au

and http://www.psychology.org.au/reconciliation/whats_new/

and http://www.atsispep.sis.uwa.edu.au

Action urgently needed to stem rising youth mental illness

Last week Mission Australia released its joint Five-Year Youth Mental Health Report with Black Dog Institute, sharing the insights gathered about the mental health of Australia’s young people during the years 2012 to 2016.

Learning what young people think is so important to the work we do at Mission Australia. By checking in with them we discover their thoughts about their lives and their futures, and what concerns them most.

The Five Year Mental Health Youth Report presents the findings of the past five years on the rates of psychological distress experienced by young Australians, aged 15-19.

  • Almost one in four young people met the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness – a significant increase over the past five years (rising from 18.7% in 2012 to 22.8% in 2016).
  • Across the five years, females were twice as likely as males to meet the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness. The increase has been much more marked among females (from 22.5% in 2012 to 28.6% in 2016, compared to a rise from 12.7% to 14.1% for males).
  • Young people with a probable serious mental illness reported they would go to friends, parents and the internet as their top three sources of help. This is compared to friends, parents and relatives/family friends for those without a probable serious mental illness.
  • In 2016, over three in ten (31.6%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents met the criteria for probable serious mental illness, compared to 22.2% for non-Indigenous youth.

In light of these findings, Catherine Yeomans, Mission Australia’s CEO said: “Adolescence comes with its own set of challenges for young people. But we are talking about an alarming number of young people facing serious mental illness; often in silence and without accessing the help they need.

The effects of mental illness at such a young age can be debilitating and incredibly harmful to an individual’s quality of life, academic achievement, and social participation both in the short term and long term.

Ms Yeomans said she was concerned that the mental health of the younger generation may continue to deteriorate without extra support and resources, including investment in more universal, evidence-based mental health programs in schools and greater community acceptance.

Given these concerning findings, I urge governments to consider how they can make a major investment in supporting youth mental health to reduce these alarming figures, Ms Yeomans said.

“We need to ensure young people have the resources they need to manage mental health difficulties, whether it is for themselves or for their peers. Parents, schools and community all play a vital role and we must fully equip them with the knowledge and skills to provide effective support to young people.”

The top issues of concern for those with a probable serious mental illness were: coping with stress; school and study problems; and depression. There was also a notably high level of concern about other issues including family conflict, suicide and bullying/emotional abuse.

The report’s finding that young people with mental illness are turning to the internet as a source of help with important issues also points to prevailing stigma, according to Black Dog Institute Director, Professor Helen Christensen.

“This report shows that young people who need help are seeking it reluctantly, with a fear of being judged continuing to inhibit help-seeking,” said Professor Christensen.

“Yet evidence-based prevention and early intervention programs are vital in reducing the risk of an adolescent developing a serious and debilitating mental illness in their lifetime. We need to take urgent action to turn this rising tide of mental illness.

“We know that young people are turning to the internet for answers and our research at Black Dog Institute clearly indicates that self-guided, online psychological therapy can be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

“While technology can be a lifeline, e-mental health interventions must be evidence-based and tailored to support young people’s individual needs. More investment is needed to drive a proactive and united approach to delivering new mental health programs which resonate with young people, and to better integrate these initiatives across schools and the health system to help young people on a path to a mentally healthier future.”

Armed with this information we are able to advocate on their behalf for the support services they need, and for the broader policy changes.

Download the NACCHO Mental Health Help APP to find your nearest ACCHO

 The Five-Year Youth Mental Health Report shows some alarming results with almost one in four young people meeting the criteria for a probable serious mental illness (PSMI). That figure has gone up from 18.7 per cent in 2012 to 22.8 per cent in 2016.

Girls were twice as likely as boys to meet the criteria for having a PSMI, and this figure rose from 22.5% in 2012 to 28.6% in 2016, compared to a rise from 12.7% to 14.1% for boys.

An even higher number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents met the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness (PSMI ) at 31%.

These results make it clear that mental illness is one of the most pressing issues in our communities, especially for young people, and one that has to be tackled by the governments, health services, schools and families.

Three quarters of all lifetime mental health disorders emerge by the age of 24, but access to mental health services for this age group is among the poorest, with the biggest barriers being community awareness, access and acceptability of services.

What we need is greater investment in mental health services that are tailored to the concerns and help seeking strategies of young people and are part of a holistic wrap around approach to their diverse needs.

For young women, we know that a large proportion (64%) were extremely or very concerned about body image compared to a far smaller number of males (34.8%).

Such a finding suggests that social pressures such as discrimination based on ideals of appearance may need to be addressed to tackle this gender disparity in the levels of probable serious mental illness among girls.

And although girls are more likely to be affected negatively by body image issues, they are more likely to seek help when they need it than boys.

Clearly then, and for a variety of reasons, an awareness of gendered differences is a crucial component in the management of mental health issues.

We need to ensure that all young people, whether they live in urban areas or regional, have the resources they need to manage mental health difficulties, whether it is for themselves or for their peers. Parents, schools and community all play a vital role and we must fully equip them with the evidence-based knowledge and skills to provide effective support to young people.

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : @aihw Report #Alcohol and other #drug #treatment

 ” For the 25,200 clients receiving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health-care services, alcohol and cannabis were among the top 5 most common substance-use issues “

Read or download previous 170 + NACCHO Alcohol and other Drug article HERE

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: alcohol and other drug treatment

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health-care services provide a variety of health care services, including extended care roles (for example, diagnosis and treatment of illness and disease, 24-hour emergency care, dental/hearing/optometry services), preventive health care (for example, health screening for children and adults), health-related community support (for example, school-based activities, transport to medical appointments) and support in relation to substance-use issues.

Information on the majority of Australian Government-funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander substance use services are available from the Online Services Report (OSR) data collection.

While the number of treatment episodes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is reported through the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS), it does not represent all alcohol and other drug treatments provided to Indigenous people in Australia.

The OSR and AODTS NMDS have different collection purposes, scope and counting rules (see Box 1 for details).

Key data from the 2014–15 OSR relevant to substance-use issues are provided below.

Substance use issues

The 5 most common substance-use issues reported by organisations providing substance-use services in 2014–15, in terms of staff time and organisational resources, were alcohol, cannabis or marijuana, amphetamines, multiple drug use and tobacco or nicotine (Table 1). In 2014–15, almost all (96%) of 67 organisations reported alcohol as one of their 5 most common substance-use issues and 88% reported cannabis or marijuana. Organisations reporting amphetamines as a common substance-use issue increased from 45% in 2013–14 to 70% of organisations in 2014–15. This pattern was consistent across remoteness areas.

Table 1: Number of organisations reporting common substance-use issues, by remoteness area, 2014–15
Substance use issue Major
cities
Inner regional Outer regional Remote Very
remote
Total
Alcohol 15 8 12 13 16 64
Cannabis/marijuana 13 6 12 13 15 59
Amphetamines 12 8 14 5 8 47
Multiple drug use 11 7 13 4 8 43
Tobacco/nicotine 7 3 8 10 10 38

Note: Organisations were asked to report on their 5 most important substance-use issues in terms of staff time and organisational resources.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2016. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online Services Report—key results 2014–15. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services report No. 7. IHW 168. Canberra: AIHW.

Continued here

Alcohol and other drug treatment National Minimum Data set (AODTS NMDS 2015–16)

Key findings

Alcohol and other drug treatment services assist people to address their problematic drug use through a range of treatments. Treatment objectives can include reduction or cessation of drug use as well as improvements to social and personal functioning. Assistance may also be provided to support the family and friends of people using drugs.

Following are highlights from the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS).

AODTS NMDS data cubes

Data cubes for 2015–16 are now available.

The data cubes are a set of interactive tables. They provide a comprehensive set of data from which the majority of the variables in the AODTS NMDS can be interrogated, allowing users to create their own custom data tables, or to re-create data presented in this report.

In the following web pages, where data—either in text or in a Figure—relate to a data cube, a link has been provided to the relevant data cube for your reference.

Note, there is a small set of supplementary tables containing information on treatment setting and length by principal drug of concern. This information is not provided in the data cubes to ensure client confidentiality.

Key findings in 2015–16


 

Agencies

  • A total of 796 publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies provided services to clients seeking treatment and support for alcohol and other drug problems, an increase of 17% over the 5-year period to 2015–16.

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Clients

  • An estimated 133,895 clients received just over 206,000 treatment episodes from alcohol and other drug treatment agencies.
  • 2 in 3 clients were male (67%), just over half were aged 20–39 (55%), and around 1 in 7 clients were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (14%).
  • The AOD client group is an ageing cohort, with a median age of 33 years in 2015–16, up from 31 in 2006–07. Since 2006–07 there has been a decline in the proportion of 20–29 year olds being treated (from 33% to 28% of treatment episodes), while the proportion of those aged 40 and over rose from 26% to 32%.
  • The proportion of episodes where clients were receiving treatment for amphetamines (23%) has continued to increase over the last 10 years, from 12% of treatment episodes in 2006–07, and from 20% in 2014–15.

Trendline shows 40% growth in closed treatment episodes from 147,325 in 2006-07 to 206,635 in 2015-16.

Treatment

  • There was an increase in the number of closed treatment episodes between 2006–07 and 2015–16, from 147,325 to 206,635—a 40% increase over the 10-year period. While for Indigenous clients the number of episodes has almost doubled, with a 90% increase over the same period (from 14,823 to 28,410).
  • In 2015–16, the top principal drugs that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (32% of treatment episodes), amphetamines (23%), cannabis (23%) and heroin (6%).
  • Across most states and territories, alcohol was also the top principal drug of concern that led clients to seek treatment, except for SA and WA where amphetamines were the highest reported (36% and 35% of episodes) and Qld where it was cannabis (39%).
  • Treatment for the use of amphetamines increased over the 5 years to 2015–16 (from 11% of closed treatment episodes to 23%).
  • Over the 10 years since 2006–07, treatment types received by clients have not changed substantially, with counselling, assessment only, support and case management only, and withdrawal management being the most common types of treatment—this was the same for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients.

Table of contents

Data sources

The AODTS NMDS

The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS) is the primary source used in this analysis. It provides information on the treatment provided by publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in Australia. These services are available to people seeking treatment for their own drug use and people seeking treatment for someone else’s drug use. Data are available from 2003–04 onwards.

In the AODTS NMDS, the main counting unit is a closed treatment episode, which is defined as a period of contact between a client and a treatment provider (or team of providers) that is closed when treatment is completed or has ceased, or there has been no further contact between the client and the treatment provider for 3 months. Since 2012–13, a statistical linkage key (SLK) has been collected which means the number of clients receiving treatment can now be estimated .

Other data sources

A number of other data sources include information not available in the AODTS NMDS. Using these additional data sets supports more comprehensive reporting of alcohol and other drug treatment in Australia. These include the National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data Collection (NOPSAD), the National Hospital Morbidity Database, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online Services Report Database, the Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) Collection and the National Prisoner Health Data Collection (NPHDC).

In 2014–15:

In 2015, of the 1,011 prison entrants in the National Prisoner Health Collection (NPHDC), two-thirds (67%) reported using illicit drugs in the previous 12 months—1 in 2 (50%) reported using methamphetamines, and 2 in 5 (41%) cannabis.

Aboriginal Health #racism and #cancer #WCPH2017 : The inoperable, unstoppable @Proudblacksista Colleen Lavelle and other strong stories

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,

but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

These strong words are so true. I look at how my behaviour has changed with the brain tumour. I shudder when I think of the things I have said to my children.

I think it was about eight or nine years ago I was diagnosed with a brain tumour,

The reason I’m vague on it is I actually don’t think it’s a day to remember. It’s not a celebratory day.

Thinking about my four children motivates me to keep going

I’ll be buggered if I am going to have the [child safety] department or someone like that come in and take care of my kids.”

Cancer is a leading cause of death among Indigenous Australians, but fear, stigma and shame mean it is rarely spoken about.

Ms Colleen Lavelle’s a Wakka Wakka woman, from Queenslandknown as @Proudbacksista  tumour has been deemed inoperable, which means it’s considered terminal.

Hear or Download hear her Radio National Interview 

Or

Watch ABC TV report

Photo above from previous NACCHO News Alert

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Death by #racism: Is bigotry in the health system harming Indigenous patients ?

NACCHO and Cancer over 60 articles

NACCHO Cultural Safety

Federal Government Website

Cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia

Colleen lives in Brisbane and through her blog she has become a support person for other Aboriginal people facing cancer, helping them with practical matters and being a friendly voice on the other end of a phone line.

She also accompanies some patients to hospital appointments and would like to see it made easier for Aboriginal volunteers to do such work.

“If you come from the Torres Strait and you’ve come down here and someone’s speaking to you really fast, rattling off all these medical things you’ll kind of be going, ‘what?’,” she said.

“If you’ve got someone, one of your own mob there it makes it easier.”

 Recently Colleen wrote for Croakey /We Public Health

Close the Gap should be so much more than a photo opportunity or a morning tea. There are ways that everyone can help. I am going to share ten simple ones that I have been trying to get happening for years.

  1. More Indigenous hospital liaison officers – Whatever title you use, we need more people in the hospital working for us. Big hospitals often only employ two, that is not even close to being enough. They should be employed around the clock.
  2. Indigenous hospital volunteers – Hospitals need to have a separate army of volunteers, who deal exclusively with Indigenous patients, to spend time with the person from a remote area in a city hospital. To sit with someone having a long treatment. Just a friendly face in an alien environment.
  3. Cultural Awareness Training (CAT) – Should be compulsory with all hospital staff, from the cleaner to the director. This training should address the issues and problems in health, but also needs to be localised to have the Traditional Owners from the area to share their knowledge. To truly let people understand, I am not talking a one of two-hour session a year, but a long, fully-formed training, with refresher courses each year. All medical and Allied Health professionals should do, and be assessed on, Cultural Awareness on a regular basis, and this needs to be registered. It is not good enough when a health professional does one course on Indigenous People and 20 years later still think that was enough. General Practice also need to have CAT, even if they are not signed on to CTG, because they are going to be seeing Indigenous patients.
  4. General Practice incentive payments – GPs must lose their incentive payments if they sign on for the incentive and, during that time they don’t see an Indigenous patient. Again, they should lose the bonus if they are signed up and do not annotate the prescriptions for patients.
  5. Indigenous people have the right of choice – We should be able to see a private GP or the local Indigenous Medical Service, or both if we want, but some funding seems to steer us towards the Indigenous Medical Service. This can be hard if it’s a long way from your home and you have to depend on public transport.
  6. Employ more Indigenous people in the health sector, not just  doctors – It can be as simple as a receptionist, who makes a difference.
  7. Indigenous patients must be heard – Not just in the surgery but on national committees. Our experiences must be more than just fodder for researchers or funding applications.
  8. Buck-passing – PHNs, Division of General Practices and other organisations, must stop handing over Indigenous units to others. You have patients that see so many doctors, you have to be responsible. Handing units over to Indigenous Medical Services etc, is passing the buck. It takes away our free choice. It is a way of saying you are not interested in our wellbeing.
  9. Respect – Invite Elders to your hospital, clinic, whatever, on a regular basis, consider having an Elder in residence at your local hospital.
  10. Recognise and celebrate our important dates – It smacks of racism if a hospital is decked out in green and shamrocks everywhere for St Patrick’s day and come NAIDOC, there is a morning tea, hidden away, with only a few people involved. Share it. Don’t even get me started on Australia Day. (Okay, just a little bit) Understand that we don’t think it’s great to wave the flag or want to be in your premises when you have complete overkill of decorations and start talking about how wonderful it is.

The unspoken illness: Cancer in Aboriginal communities

Cancer is a leading cause of death among Indigenous Australians, but fear, stigma and shame mean it is rarely spoken about.

Aboriginal Australians are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer, but significantly more likely to die of the disease.

Often, symptoms and diagnoses are ignored because of the fear surrounding cancer.

Cancer in Aboriginal communities:

  • Indigenous Australians have a slightly lower rate of cancer diagnosis than non-Indigenous Australians
  • The Aboriginal cancer mortality rate is 30 per cent higher
  • Indigenous Australians are more likely to be diagnosed when cancer is advanced
  • They are less likely to participate in cancer screening programs
  • Lung cancer is the most common cancer among Indigenous Australians

Lateline spoke to some Aboriginal people about how they dealt being diagnosed and how they’re trying to break down taboos in their communities.

Rodney Graham: Bowel cancer

Rodney

Rodney Graham literally ran away from his diagnosis in 2015.

For seven months he didn’t go back to his doctor after he was told he had bowel cancer.

Eventually though, he mustered the courage to deal with the diagnosis and get treatment.

He had to travel 700 kilometres from his community of Woorabinda, in central Queensland, to Brisbane to be operated on.

“A big city like that, I don’t even like going to [Rockhampton] really. I can’t stand Rocky. But Brisbane that was a step up you know,” he said.

Now Mr Graham is happy to talk about his illness and wants to help others in his community face up to cancer.

“It might happen to someone else and they say, ‘Well we’ll go see Rodney, he knows all about it’,” he said.

“I’ll give them some advice and see how it goes from there.”

Mr Graham gave up drinking years ago and he said it probably saved his life.

“I think if I was still drinking I wouldn’t be here, you know what I mean,” he said.

Aunty Tina Rankin: Cervical cancer

Aunty Tina has survived cancer, but seen several close relatives succumb to the disease.

“One minute you’re sitting down there with that person, that person is so healthy, and then the next time you see them they’re that sick, they’re that small you can hardly recognise them,” she said.

“People think of it as the killer disease.

“They see people in cancer wards and to look at those people it puts them into a depressed state, and they go home thinking that they’re going to end up like that.”

Aunty Tina said people need to know there is help available for cancer sufferers.

She is part of the Woorabinda Women’s Group who are working to raise awareness in the community about cancer so sufferers don’t feel isolated.

“When you’re well and up and running, you’ve got that many friends,” she said.

“All of a sudden you get sick, you find out you’ve got cancer, you’ve got nobody, it feels as if you’re on your own.

“There were times when I just wanted to go and commit suicide through the depression.

“But I sit down and think about things, I pull myself out of that deep hole.”

Sevese Isaro: Lost his father to cancer

Sevese Isaro, or Tatay as he’s known locally, is Woorabinda’s radio host.

He knows first-hand how hard it can be to talk about cancer, having lost his father to the disease just a few years ago.

“Everyone just tried to stop talking about it,” he said.

“I fell back into drinking, everybody just went their own way.”

He said many people don’t go to the doctor when they suspect they could have cancer.

“They know that there’s something wrong with them, but they don’t want to go because they’re frightened of the answer,” he said.

“I guess people once they hear the word cancer they start getting frightened and they automatically give up hope.”

If you or anyone you know needs help contact your local ACCHO or call

Aboriginal #Earlychildhood #Obesity Study : We need to reduce the prevalence of overweight/obesity in the first 3 years of life

“People who are obese in childhood are at increased risk of being obese in adulthood, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, diabetes, and arthritis,”

Research found reducing consumption of sugary drinks and junk food from an early age could benefit the health of Indigenous children, but that this is just one part of the solution to improving weight status.

“We know that Indigenous families across Australia – in remote, regional, and urban settings – face barriers to accessing healthy foods. Therefore, efforts to reduce junk food consumption need to occur alongside efforts to increase the affordability, availability, and acceptability of healthy foods,”

 Ms Thurber, PhD Scholar, from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU.

A major study into the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children has found programs and policies to promote healthy weight should target children as young as three.

Lead researcher Katie Thurber from The Australian National University (ANU) said the majority of Indigenous children in the national study had a health body Mass Index (BMI), but around 40 per cent were classified as overweight or obese by the time they reached nine years of age.

Download the Report Here Thurber BMI Trajectories LSIC

Latest national figures show obesity rates are 60 per cent higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

In 2013, around 30 per cent of Indigenous children were classified as overweight or obese, and two thirds of Indigenous people over 15 years old were classified as overweight or obese.

Key messages

•  The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children nationally have a healthy Body Mass Index
•  However, more than one in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Footprints in Time were already overweight or obese at 3 years of age, and there was a rapid onset of overweight/obesity between age 3 and 9 years
•  We need programs and policies to reduce the prevalence of overweight/obesity in the first 3 years of life, and to slow the onset of overweight/obesity from age 3-9 years
•  Reducing children’s consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and high-fat foods is one part of the solution to improving weight status at the population level
•  To enable healthy diets, we need to (1) create healthier environments and (2) improve the social determinants of health (such as financial security, housing, and community wellbeing). Creating healthy environments is complex, and will require both increasing the affordability, availability, and acceptability of healthy foods and decreasing the affordability, availability, and acceptability of unhealthy foods
•  Programs and policy to promote healthy weight need to be developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
•  Despite higher levels of disadvantage, most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children maintain a healthy weight; we need programs and policies that cultivate environments and circumstances that will enable all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to have a healthy start to life
 

Ms Thurber said improving weight status would have a major benefit in closing the gap in health between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“Obesity is a leading contributor to the gap in health,” Ms Thurber said.

“We want to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities, as well as policy makers and service providers, to think about what will work best to promote healthy weight in those early childhood years.

“We want to start early, and identify the best ways for families and communities to support healthy diets, so that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can have a healthy start to life.”

The research used data from Footprints in Time, a national longitudinal study that has followed more than 1,000 Indigenous children since 2008. It is funded and managed by the Department of Social Services.

Professor Mick Dodson, Chair of the Steering Committee for the Footprints in Time Study and Director of the ANU National Centre for Indigenous Studies, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children deserve the best possible start in life.

“This study shows just how important it is to support them, their families and their communities to provide a healthy diet and opportunities for physical activity,” Professor Dodson said.

Ms Thurber said using the Footprints in Time study, researchers for the first time were able to look at how weight status changes over time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, enabling them to identify pathways that help children maintain a healthy weight.

The research has been published in Obesity.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Smoking : @KenWyattMP announces $35.2 million funding #ACCHO Anti-smoking programs

These health services are all delivering frontline services to prevent young Indigenous people taking up smoking and to encourage existing smokers to quit.

Reducing smoking rates is central to the Government’s efforts to close the gap in life expectancy, but requires a consistent, long-term commitment”

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt

Over 100 NACCHO Articles about smoking

REDUCING INDIGENOUS SMOKING TO CLOSE THE GAP

The Australian Government will provide $35.2 million next financial year to continue anti-smoking programs targeted to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in regional and remote areas.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, said the Government had approved the continuation of funding to 36 Aboriginal Community ControlledHealth Services and one private health service.

“These health services are all delivering frontline services to prevent young Indigenous people taking up smoking and to encourage existing smokers to quit,”  .

“Reducing smoking rates is central to the Government’s efforts to close the gap in life expectancy, but requires a consistent, long-term commitment.

“Smoking causes the greatest burden of disease, disability, injury and earlydeath among Indigenous people and accounts for 23 per cent of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”

Under the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Healthcare Agreement, all governments have committed to halving the 2008 adult daily smoking rate among Indigenous Australians, of 44.8 per cent, by 2018.

“The rate of smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is still far higher than among other Australians and is damaging their health in many ways,” Minister Wyatt said.

It’s unlikely now that we will meet the COAG target, but we are making progress.

“It’s important that anti-smoking programs are meaningful for Indigenous people and changes made in recent years have ensured that only programs which are evidence based and effective are receiving grants.”

Continued funding for the 37 health services follows a preliminary evaluation of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program which found that it was operating effectively and using proven approaches to changing smoking behaviour.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Our #ACCHO Members Good News Stories from #NT #WA #VIC #SA #NSW #QLD @KenWyattMP

1. NSW Jullums , Bullinah and Bulgarr Ngaru ACCHO/AMS

2. NSW Wellington Aboriginal Corporation AMS

3. South Australia Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service 

4.Western Australia : Aboriginal Health Council of WA.

5.Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS)

6. NT 6. NT Katherine West Health Board

7. QLD Deadly Choices and  Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service

 For NACCHO the acceptance that our Aboriginal controlled health services deliver the best model of integrated primary health care in Australia is a clear demonstration that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person should have ready access to these services, no matter where they live.

 Lets celebrate and share our ACCHO’s success

How to submit a NACCHO Affiliate

or Members Good News Story ? 

 Email to Colin Cowell NACCHO Media     Mobile 0401 331 251

Wednesday by 4.30 pm for publication each Thursday

 

1.Jullums (Lismore), Bullinah (Ballina), Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (Casino, Maclean and Grafton) Clinic’s

The idea of these workshops is to raise awareness around the different signs and symptoms of heart disease, and also around prevention and management of the disease.

“This is a new, collaborative approach to addressing this issue, but we’re also working together with existing avenues such as healthy lifestyle and exercise programs to assist participants to make the most of what they’ll be learning.”

Aboriginal Chronic Care Officer with NNSWLHD, Anthony Franks

A series of workshops is being held in Northern NSW to raise awareness of the risk factors for heart disease and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women on ways to reduce their chances of becoming one of the statistics.

Download dates and venues Northern NSW Workshops dates and Venues

ABORIGINAL and Torres Strait Islander women are at least three times more likely to be hospitalised due to heart disease than their caucasian counterparts.

Heart disease is the leading single cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The program consists of three one-day workshops, with the first being held in March at various sites across the North Coast.

The participants will attend each of the three workshop days in March, May and July, with the aim of continuing the education and providing feedback and follow up at the later meetings.

The workshops are a collaboration between the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD), local Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS), North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN), Solid Mob, and the NSW and Queensland Government health coaching services, Get Healthy and On Track. They are funded by the National Heart Foundation.

Workshops are being held in Grafton, Muli, Casino, Ballina, Maclean, Goonellabah and Tweed Heads.

2. Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service 

Health expo to change bad habits in men

The Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service hosted the QuiBFit Aboriginal Men’s Health Expo in Dubbo.

About 120 men participated from across the region which includes Orange, Coonabarabran, Walgett, Wellington, Dubbo, Parks and Goodooga.

A major focus was tackling Indigenous smoking and mental health and wellbeing.

Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service chief executive Darren Ah See said a lot of th e focus in the Indigenous health sector is on “mums and bubs”.

“It’s good to have an event like this for men because they are the reluctant ones about getting their health checks”, he said.

“We want to try to change that norm and get men to take responsibility not only around their health and wellbeing but to be the leaders of their communities and families.

“It’s all about social and health wellbeing but it is also about mentorship and trying to encourage families and individuals to head in the right direction”.

The expo culminated with a corroboree, with more than 300 people attending.

Western NSW Local Health District Aboriginal health and wellbeing director Brendon Cutmore said it was extremely important to focus on preventive health at the expo.

“It is really our opportunity as Aboriginal men to take control of our lives, whether that be through eliminating some of the negative habits people have, things such as smoking, drugs and alcohol, “he said.

“Coming to these types of event sand having discussions around how to make your life healthier, how to be a leader in the community and how to be a leader in your family and how your actions reflect on the people around you – that’s a big take home message.

 3.Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Whyalla SA

 “ I encouraged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to attend the gathering in Whyalla to benefit from the stories and experiences of their peers.

It is important that these gatherings to take place in regional areas so Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women living outside of Adelaide have the chance to network and share community news.

Previous gatherings have been very successful and attracted many participants from across the state.

These events are also an opportunity for the State Government to strengthen ties with local service providers and gain insight into matters affecting the community.

Status of Women Minister Zoe Bettison

Co-facilitator’s Kimberley from OfW and Zena Wingfield for the in Whyalla today

The first State Aboriginal Women’s Gathering for 2017 was held in Whyalla this week

The gathering took place on Tuesday 28 March at Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service, Whyalla Stuart.

The gatherings gave Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women an opportunity to discuss a range of issues and share news from their communities.

Guest speakers presented information on topics including health, women’s legal services, sports and recreation, mental health and wellbeing, and caring support.

Status of Women Minister Zoe Bettison said the gatherings give women the opportunity to learn from each other, share experiences and discuss issues, in a safe and supportive environment.

The Office for Women has partnered with Whyalla’s Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service to convene this event.

Background

In 2016, five separate State Aboriginal Women’s Gatherings were held across the state to make it easier for women in regional areas to participate.

Whyalla was identified as a significant location for the first gathering of 2017 as a way to provide support and information to Aboriginal women in the region.

Gatherings have also been planned for 2017 in the Far West Coast and the South East.

For more information about the State Aboriginal Women’s Gatherings visit www.officeforwomen.sa.gov.au

4. Aboriginal Health Council of WA.

“ The prevalence of ear disease and hearing loss in Aboriginal kids has a major effect on their speech and educational development, social interactions, employment and future wellbeing,

While many children are vulnerable to chronic ear disease, in WA it represents a significant burden for Aboriginal children who can experience their first onset within weeks following birth.

Aboriginal children can also have more frequent and longer lasting episodes compared to non-Aboriginal children.”

AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox said poor ear health was a significant problem among Aboriginal people, particularly children.

Training program to improve ear health among Aboriginal people

A training program to assist Aboriginal Health Workers to provide ear health care to their communities is being delivered around the state by the Aboriginal Health Council of WA.

The two week ear health training program was delivered in four different locations last year, and 23 Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs) have graduated from the course so far.

The program is scheduled to be delivered in at least four more locations this year including Perth, Broome and Kalgoorlie. More trainings will be scheduled for the second half of the year.

The program teaches AHWs how to manage ear infections, carry out screening, identify risk factors and plan ear health promotion and strategies.

AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox said poor ear health was a significant problem among Aboriginal people, particularly children.

“The prevalence of ear disease and hearing loss in Aboriginal kids has a major effect on their speech and educational development, social interactions, employment and future wellbeing,” she said.

“While many children are vulnerable to chronic ear disease, in WA it represents a significant burden for Aboriginal children who can experience their first onset within weeks following birth.

“Aboriginal children can also have more frequent and longer lasting episodes compared to non-Aboriginal children.”

Ms Nelson-Cox said people in regional areas were more susceptible to ongoing ear problems.

“Children living in remote communities have some of the highest rates of chronic ear disease in the world,” she said.

“We want to spread the message in regional communities that early detection and treatment of ear diseases in children is vital to ensure optimum development of speech, language, and to minimise the long term effects on educational performance.”

AHCWA has also launched a giant inflatable ear to be used as an interactive teaching tool among Aboriginal communities.

Koobarniny, which means ‘big’ in the Noongar language, is believed to be the first of its type in Australia.

Koobarniny is currently being used at different events around the metropolitan area, but it’s hoped it will travel to regional areas in the future.

 5. Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS)
 
 7. QLD Deadly Choices and  Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service

It’s been a great couple of days in the North with today’s visit by Steve Renouf, Lote Tiquiri & Brisbane Broncos James Roberts at the DC Yarrabah Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation

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Aboriginal Health ” managing two worlds ” : How Katherine Hospital, once Australia’s worst for Indigenous health, became one of the best

 

” Katherine Hospital in the Northern Territory has gone from one of the worst facilities in the country when it comes to Indigenous health care to one of the best.

Their secret: engaging with Indigenous patients and supporting doctors.”

Dr Quilty his high level of specialist training has meant that patients who would have had to be evacuated to Royal Darwin Hospital can now receive treatment in Katherine. Full Story below

Photo above : Gaye is a 50 year-old cancer patient from Mataranka in the NT. Supplied: Simon Quilty

NACCHO support INFO

Aboriginal Patient Journey Mapping Tools Project:

Communicating complexity

The Managing Two Worlds Together project aims to add to existing knowledge of what works well and what needs improvement in the system of care for Aboriginal patients from rural and remote areas of South Australia (and parts of the Northern Territory). It explores their complex patient journey.

The relationship between patients and health care providers is the foundation of care and requires communication across cultures, geography and life experiences. As a staff member in one rural Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service put it: ‘It’s like managing two worlds together, it doesn’t always work’.

Download Stage 3 Study Managing Two World Study Report

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert :

Do we need to close the gap on Aboriginal hospital experiences ?

How Katherine Hospital, once Australia’s worst for Indigenous health, became one of the best

As published ABC NEWS  By Hagar Cohen for Background Briefing

When physician Simon Quilty arrived at the hospital, it was going through a major crisis.

“What had happened in 2010 is that the hospital found itself in a situation where things were falling apart,” he says.

A number of doctors complained to the NT Medical Board about a lack of supervision and the impractical workload. The hospital was on the verge of shutting down.

More than one in four Indigenous patients left Katherine Hospital before completing treatment, often without informing staff, the worst rate in the nation. These “take own leave” cases are complex, but one factor is Indigenous patients’ perception of inadequate treatment.

It’s an issue plaguing the health system nationally: a 2014 Federal Health Department report found that racism contributes to the low rates of access to health services by Aboriginal people.

Similarly, the number of patients who “discharge against medical advice” is recorded and recognised by health departments as a key indicator for the quality of Aboriginal healthcare.

In the NT, 11 per cent of all Indigenous patients discharge themselves against medical advice.

“These people have very complex illnesses,” says Dr Quilty. “Many of them are highly likely, if not treated well, to resolve in significant injury or death. Hospitals in remote locations really need high expertise to deal with the very sick patients that turn up here.

“Thirteen and 15-year-olds are developing type 2 diabetes, they’ve got kidney impairment by the time they’re 22 and they’re on dialysis in their early 30s. It’s a bit terrifying really.”

Back from the brink

The NT Department of Health conducted an investigation into the staffing crisis at the Katherine Hospital. Its findings weren’t released publicly.

Background Briefing can reveal that the final report concluded that there were “significant deficiencies in nearly all the essential dimensions of safe clinical service provision”, adding that the “root cause is that the medical service model is unsustainable and becomes more unsustainable with each passing year”.

Six years ago, a new general manager and a group of new doctors arrived with an ambition to turn things around.

Katherine Hospital

They’ve brought highly trained specialist doctors who are invested in the community, interpreters are used regularly and families of Indigenous patients are consulted on complex treatment plans.

In the past, interpreters were available but rarely used. Families weren’t a part of the consultation process. Many of the doctors were junior, and staff turnover was high.

The new management has made huge inroads in the way the hospital cares for Aboriginal patients.

This year, only 4 per cent of the Indigenous patients “took own leave”, making Katherine one of the best performing hospitals in the nation when it comes to caring for Aboriginal patients.

Systematic use of interpreters

In 2006, when respected Indigenous lawman Peter Limbunya, from the remote community of Kalkarindji, stayed in the hospital for 10 days, he did not have access to an interpreter, despite not speaking English.

At the end of his treatment, Mr Limbunya, who was part of the legendary Wave Hill walk off in the 60s, was flown to a remote airstrip 5 kilometres away from his community.

His family wasn’t told he’d be back that day and nobody was there to meet him. He died of dehydration.

During the inquest into his death, the coroner found that interpreters were not in use at the hospital.

His cousin, lifetime activist and advocate for Aboriginal people Josie Crawshaw, remains outraged. She says her uncle would have known “absolutely nothing” about his treatment and what was going on.

But things have come along way since then. The hospital’s Aboriginal liaison officer, Theresa Haidle, says improving the way doctors communicate is the key to developing Indigenous patients’ trust in their treatment plans.

Regular use of interpreters has been an essential part of Ms Haidle’s work. She says they’ve been key in making sure patients understand their illnesses and treatment options.

“English isn’t their first language. It may not even be their second or third either. If there’s any doubt, we get interpreters in, or even on the phone.”

The systematic use of interpreters is a big change at Katherine Hospital.

Ms Haidle says the hospital has a lot further to go when it comes to providing a culturally safe environment, but overall, the relationship with the Aboriginal community is getting better all the time.

“It’s like a big learning process for everybody,” she says.

“We have to break it down as simple as we can,” she says. “There’s not an Aboriginal word that means cancer, so how do you explain those things?

“I remember one day a lady had this fungus, and there’s no words for those things on women’s bodies, or inside. So I heard the interpreter telling her: ‘You know, like mushrooms growing?’ They got her to stay and get it treated.”

Changing doctors’ attitudes

Pip Tallis, who is training to be a physician at Katherine Hospital, has worked in hospitals in Alice Springs and Darwin, where she says many of her Indigenous patients left before their treatment was complete.

“I found it really hard to understand why,” she says.

“It was frustrating as a doctor, and there was a lot of frustration among the staff and no-one really took the time to understand why people were taking their own leave, or really did anything to change it.

“I think, there was a bit of hands up in the air. ‘Whatever, what can we do about it? It’s their problem.'”

The NT town of Katherine, seen from the air

Dr Tallis says that her perspective has changed since coming to work at Katherine Hospital.

“I’ve spent six months working with the team here and observing how they engage with the patients, and I think that they do significant things to result in people not taking their own leave,” she says.

“Previously I was very inflexible. Now I spend a lot more time appreciating why people take their own leave.

“I’m also picking up the subtle signs on a patient who’s starting to not engage. I’ll sit down with them and explore their issues. And if they say they want to just go for a walk, you just say, ‘Would you like to take some medicine with you just in case you don’t come back?'”

Care plans to lower ‘take own leave’ rates

The introduction of weekly meetings to go over care plans for the Indigenous patients means everyone in the hospital can keep up with what’s happening with individual patients

These meetings are attended by social workers, doctors, nurses and admin staff.

At one such meeting, Dr Tallis mentions Jason, a 30-year-old patient from the remote community of Ngukurr, 330 kilometres south-east of Katherine.

Jason has tuberculosis, and has left the hospital during treatment once before. His family has convinced him to return. Dr Tallis explains at the meeting that Jason doesn’t like the hospital food, and that special food is being provided for him.

“We tried really hard to engage him,” she says. “We even got bacon and eggs for him in the mornings so he doesn’t complain about porridge, he’s got a DVD player, USB drive, he got pizza the other day. So we tried really hard to make it possible.”

But there’s still a cultural divide. At the end of the meeting, Jason explains to another doctor that he thinks “white fella” medicine is too slow.

“I want to go back to bush medicine,” he says. “It’s better and works fast because we learned it from old people.”

More support for staff

The hospital’s general manager, Angela Brannelly, says the 2010 investigation into the staffing crisis recommended major changes to the way the hospital operates, its level of staffing and supervision.

She says supporting the medical staff was one of her first priorities.

“We took it very seriously and made some really serious changes to the way that the medical team was supported here. It was around ensuring that someone’s got their back,” she says.

Dr Quilty, who joined the hospital in 2012, was the first physician to have ever been employed at the hospital. Last year he won the Royal Australian College of Physicians’ medal for clinical service in rural and remote areas.

A dark-skinned doll

His high level of specialist training has meant that patients who would have had to be evacuated to Royal Darwin Hospital can now receive treatment in Katherine. Since 2012, there has been a decrease of 43 per cent in the number of total aeromedical evacuations to Darwin.

Many Indigenous patients who live in remote communities don’t like going to Darwin to receive medical treatment because it’s far from family and the hospital is bigger and less personal.

Gaye, 50, a cancer patient who was transferred to Darwin for chemotherapy says she felt lonely in Darwin. “In Darwin I was always sad and crying a lot,” she says.

No-one in Darwin had realised that Gaye was deaf, which made communication with medical staff virtually impossible. In Katherine her deafness was recognised by the nurses and she was given a hearing aid, which she says made a huge difference to her mental health.

Katherine Hospital now employs two full-time physicians.

Still no Aboriginal doctors

Katherine Hospital employs 24 doctors but none of them are Indigenous.

Ms Brannelly admits the hospital hasn’t done enough to attract Aboriginal doctors.

“That’s good advice for us, and it’s probably where we need to go in that space around seeking out Aboriginal medical officers to come and work for us,” she says.

“I think we have some work to do there, absolutely.”

Aboriginal Health #obesity : 10 major health organisations support #sugartax to fund chronic disease and obesity #prevention

Young Australians, people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and socially disadvantaged groups are the highest consumers of sugary drinks.

These groups are also most responsive to price changes, and are likely to gain the largest health benefit from a levy on sugary drinks due to reduced consumption ,

A health levy on sugary drinks is not a silver bullet – it is a vital part of a comprehensive approach to tackling obesity, which includes restrictions on children’s exposure to marketing of these products, restrictions on their sale in schools, other children’s settings and public institutions, and effective public education campaigns.

We must take swift action to address the growing burden that overweight and obesity are having on our society, and a levy on sugary drinks is a vital step in this process.”

Rethink Sugary Drink campaign Download position statement

health-levy-on-sugar-position-statement

Read NACCHO previous articles Obesity / Sugartax

Amata SA was an alcohol-free community, but some years earlier its population of just under 400 people had been consuming 40,000 litres of soft drink annually.

See NACCHO Story

SBS will be showing That Sugar Film this Sunday night 2 April at 8.30pm.

There will be a special Facebook live event before the screenings

 ” The UK’s levy on sugar sweetened beverages will start in 2018, with revenue raised to go toward funding programs to reduce obesity and encourage physical activity and healthy eating for school children.

We know unhealthy food is cheaper and that despite best efforts by many Australians to make healthier choices price does affect our decisions as to what we buy.”

Sugar tax adds to the healthy living toolbox   see full article 2 below

 ” Alarmingly, with overweight becoming the perceived norm in Australia, the number of people actively trying to lose weight is declining.   A recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that nearly 64 per cent of Australians are overweight or obese.  This closely mirrors research that indicates around 66 per cent of Americans fall into the same category.

With this apparent apathy towards personal health and wellbeing, is it now up to food and beverage companies to combat rising obesity rates?

Who is responsible for Australia’s waistlines?  Article 3 Below

Ten of Australia’s leading health and community organisations have today joined forces to call on the Federal Government to introduce a health levy on sugary drinks as part of a comprehensive approach to tackling the nation’s serious obesity problem.

The 10 groups – all partners of the Rethink Sugary Drink campaign – have signed a joint position statement calling for a health levy on sugary drinks, with the revenue to be used to support public education campaigns and initiatives to prevent chronic disease and address childhood obesity.

This latest push further strengthens the chorus of calls in recent months from other leading organisations, including the Australian Medical Association, the Grattan Institute, the Australian Council of Social Services and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Craig Sinclair, Chair of the Public Health Committee at Cancer Council Australia, a signatory of the new position statement, said a health levy on sugary drinks in Australia has the potential to reduce the growing burden of chronic disease that is weighing on individuals, the healthcare system and the economy.

“The 10 leading health and community organisations behind today’s renewed push have joined forces to highlight the urgent and serious need for a health levy on sugary drinks in Australia,” Mr Sinclair said.

“Beverages are the largest source of free sugars in the Australian diet, and we know that sugary drink consumption is associated with increased energy intake and in turn, weight gain and obesity. Sugary drink consumption also leads to tooth decay.

“Evidence shows that a 20 per cent health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages in Australia could reduce consumption and prevent thousands of cases of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke over 25 years, while generating $400-$500m in revenue each year to support public education campaigns and initiatives to prevent chronic disease and address childhood obesity.

“The Australian Government must urgently take steps to tackle our serious weight problem. It is simply not going to fix itself.”

Ari Kurzeme, Advocacy Manager for the YMCA, also a signatory of the new position statement, said young Australians, people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and socially disadvantaged groups have the most to gain from a sugary drinks levy.

The Rethink Sugary Drink alliance recommends the following actions to tackle sugary drink consumption:
• A public education campaign supported by Australian governments to highlight the health impacts of regular sugary drink consumption
• Restrictions by Australian governments to reduce children’s exposure to marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages, including through schools and children’s sports, events and activities
• Comprehensive mandatory restrictions by state governments on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages (and increased availability of free water) in schools, government institutions, children’s sports and places frequented by children
• Development of policies by state and local governments to reduce the availability of sugar-sweetened beverages in workplaces, government institutions, health care settings, sport and recreation facilities and other public places.

To view the position statement click here.

Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between major health organisations to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption. Visit www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au for more information.

The 10 organisations calling for a health levy on sugary drinks are:

Stroke Foundation, Heart Foundation, Kidney Health Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Diabetes Australia

the Australian Dental Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia,  Parents’ Voice, and the YMCA.

Sugar tax adds to the healthy living toolbox 

Every day we read or hear more about the so-called ‘sugar tax’ or, as it should be more appropriately termed, a ‘health levy on sugar sweetened beverages’.

We have heard arguments from government and health experts both in favour of, and opposed to this ‘tax’. As CEO of one the state’s leading health charities I support the state government’s goal to make Tasmania the healthiest population by 2025 and the Healthy Tasmania Five Year Strategic Plan, with its focus on reducing obesity and smoking.

However, it is only one tool in the tool box to help us achieve the vision.

Our approach should include strategies such as restricting the marketing of unhealthy food and limiting the sale of unhealthy food and drink products at schools and other public institutions together with public education campaigns.

Some of these strategies are already in progress to include in our toolbox. We all have to take some individual responsibility for the choices we make, but as health leaders and decision makers, we also have a responsibility to create an environment where healthy choices are made easier.

This, in my opinion, is not nannyism but just sensible policy and demonstrated leadership which will positively affect the health of our population.

 Manufacturers tell us that there are many foods in the marketplace that will contribute to weight gain and we should focus more on the broader debate about diet and exercise, but we know this is not working.

A recent Cancer Council study found that 17 per cent of male teens drank at least one litre of soft drink a week – this equates to at least 5.2 kilograms of extra sugar in their diet a year.

Evidence indicates a significant relationship between the amount and frequency of sugar sweetened beverages consumed and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  We already have 45,000 people at high risk of type 2 diabetes in Tasmania.

Do we really want to say we contributed to a rise in this figure by not implementing strategies available to us that would make a difference?

I recall being quite moved last year when the then UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said that he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t act on reducing the impact of sugary drinks.

“I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament, doing this job and say to my children’s generation… I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem with sugary drinks…..But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing.”

The UK’s levy on sugar sweetened beverages will start in 2018, with revenue raised to go toward funding programs to reduce obesity and encourage physical activity and healthy eating for school children. We know unhealthy food is cheaper and that despite best efforts by many Australians to make healthier choices price does affect our decisions as to what we buy.

In Mexico a tax of just one peso a litre (less than seven cents) on sugary drinks cut annual consumption by 9.7 per cent and raised about $1.4 billion in revenue.

Similarly, the 2011 French levy has decreased consumption of sugary drinks, particularly among younger people and low income groups.

The addition of a health levy on sugar sweetened beverages is not going to solve all problems but as part of a coordinated and multi-faceted approach, I believe we can effect change.

  • Caroline Wells, is Diabetes Tasmania CEO

3. Who is responsible for Australia’s waistlines? from here

Alarmingly, with overweight becoming the perceived norm in Australia, the number of people actively trying to lose weight is declining.   A recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that nearly 64 per cent of Australians are overweight or obese.  This closely mirrors research that indicates around 66 per cent of Americans fall into the same category.

With this apparent apathy towards personal health and wellbeing, is it now up to food and beverage companies to combat rising obesity rates?

Unfortunately it is not clear cut.  While Big Food and Big Beverage are investing in healthier product options, they also have a duty to shareholders to be commercially successful, and to expand their market share. The reality is that unhealthy products are very profitable.  However companies must balance this against the perception that they are complicit in making people fatter and therefore unhealthier with concomitant disease risks.

At the same time, the spectre of government regulation continues to hover, forcing companies to invest in their own healthy product ranges and plans to improve nutrition standards.

The International Food and Beverage Alliance (a trade group of ten of the largest food and beverage companies), has given global promises to make healthier products, advertise food responsibly and promote exercise. More specific pledges are being made in developed nations, where obesity rates are higher and scrutiny is more thorough.

However companies must still find a balance between maintaining a profitable business model and addressing the problem caused by their unhealthy products.

An example of this tension was evident when one leading company attempted to boost the sale of its healthier product lines and set targets to reduce salt, saturated fat and added sugar.  The Company also modified its marketing spend to focus on social causes.  Despite the good intentions, shareholders were disgruntled, and pressured the company to reinstate its aggressive advertising.

What role should governments play in shaping our consumption habits and helping us to maintain healthier weights? And should public policy be designed to alter what is essentially personal behaviour?

So far, the food and beverage industry has attempted to avoid the burden of excessive regulation by offering relatively healthier product lines, promoting active lifestyles, funding research, and complying with advertising restrictions.

Statistics indicate that these measures are not having a significant impact.  Subsequently, if companies fail to address the growing public health burden, governments will have greater incentive to step in.  In Australia, this is evident in the increased political support for a sugar tax.  The tax has been debated in varying forms for years, and despite industry resistance, the strong support of public health authorities may see a version of the tax introduced.

Already, Australia’s food labelling guidelines have been amended and tightened, and a clunky star rating system introduced to assist consumers to make healthier choices. Companies that have worked to address and invest in healthy product ranges must still market them in a responsible way. Given the sales pressure, it is tempting for companies to heavily invest in marketing healthier product ranges.  However they have an obligation under Australian consumer law to ensure products’ health claims do not mislead.

We know that an emboldened Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking action against companies that deliberately mislead consumers.  The food industry is firmly in the its sights, with a case currently underway against a leading food company over high sugar levels in its products. This shows that the Regulator will hold large companies to account, and push for penalties that ‘make them sit up and take notice.’

At a recent Consumer Congress, ACCC Chair Rod Sims berated companies that don’t treat consumers with respect.  He maintains that marketing departments with short-term thinking, and a short-sighted executive can lead to product promotion that is exaggerated and misleading.  All of which puts the industry on notice.

With this in mind, it is up to Big Food and Big Beverage to be good corporate citizens.  They must uphold their social, cultural and environmental responsibilities to the community in which they seek a licence to operate, while maintaining a strong financial position for their shareholders. It is a difficult task, but there has never been a better time for companies to accept the challenge.

Eliza Newton, Senior Account Director

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Closing the Gap #justjustice : PM overturns Government’s opposition to target Indigenous imprisonment

             This post contains 7 articles on the issue of reducing Indigenous Incarceration rates  #JustJustice

“I am pleased that COAG has agreed to progress renewed targets in the year ahead.

A cornerstone of the refresh will be engaging meaningfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and organisations, including at a local level to make sure the agenda reflects their needs and aspirations for the future.”

 

1.Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has overturned his Government’s staunch opposition to establishing a target for reducing Indigenous imprisonment rates.

 ” The Labor Party is encouraged by reports today that the Prime Minister might finally overturn his government’s ridiculous opposition to implementing justice targets under the Closing the Gap framework.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has long ignored the calls for justice targets, despite repeated urgings from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and expert bodies.

If Malcolm Turnbull is ready to accept that his Minister is wrong, and to adopt Labor’s policy, that is excellent news.

National justice targets will allow us to focus on community safety, particularly the protection of women and children, preventing crime and reducing incarceration rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

2.The Hon Bill Shorten LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS or read in full below

Download Press Release 25 March Labor CTG Prison Rates

 

 ” Lives can be changed, hope can flourish and outcomes achieved but the helping hand is needed – pre-release and post-release. As a society we should be doing everything possible to keep people out of prison – and not everything we can to jail people, but where incarceration is the outcome, then everything must be done to help the people within them.

“They look at us like we are nothing or we are animals,” Former prisoner

It is better I am here so my children can have some hope,” Prisoner

“There is nothing for us to do inside except to keep our heads down and avoid trouble,” Prisoner

We need to invest in education opportunities while people are incarcerated in Juvenile Detention and in adult prisons and from effectively as soon as someone is incarcerated. What is on the outside can also be on the inside – prisons do not have to be vile dungeons of psychological torment. They can be communities of educational institutions, places of learning, social support structures.

3.Transform Australia’s prisons by Gerry Georgatos from Stringer

4.NACCHO

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #prisons #JustJustice : Terms of references released Over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in our prisons

 ” It’s a record, but not one to be proud of: one in four prisoners in NSW jails are Indigenous, a statistic that has risen by 35 per cent since the Coalition government came to power in 2011.

The Minister for Corrections David Elliott conceded “it is a tragedy”. Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders represented 24 per cent of the prison population in October 2016, up from 22 per cent in March 2011 “

5. NSW See Article here

” We know being incarcerated affects someone’s health and yet it is not one of the Closing the Gap targets. It’s Close the Gap Day and the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee’s Progress and Priorities report 2017 has been released.

The 2017 report calls for a social and cultural approach and covers many issues, including justice. This is the forth report from the Steering Committee to call for Justice Targets.

Since 2004, there has been a 95 per cent increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody. Over the same time, we have seen the crime rates decrease across the country.

Urgent action is required to reduce incarceration if we are ever to see life expectancy parity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.”

6.Summer May Finlay from Just Justice Croakey : Read Full report HERE Or Below

7.Dan Conifer for ABC TV reports from here

Despite making up just 3 per cent of the general population, about a quarter of Australia’s prison population is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

The Greens, Labor, the Australian Medical Association, lawyers and other groups have long urged the Coalition to add a federal justice target to the Closing the Gap goals.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert last month renewed her push in a letter to Mr Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull recently replied, indicating the target would be considered amid a current review of the decade-old targets.

“I am pleased that COAG has agreed to progress renewed targets in the year ahead,” Mr Turnbull wrote.

“A cornerstone of the refresh will be engaging meaningfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and organisations, including at a local level to make sure the agenda reflects their needs and aspirations for the future.

“I have invited the Opposition and the crossbench to participate, particularly all of our Indigenous members of Parliament.”

Conspicuously, Mr Turnbull did not rule out the target.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has repeatedly rejected the idea of a federal justice target.

“The Commonwealth can’t have a justice target,” Senator Scullion said in September last year.

“It does absolutely nothing because we have none of the levers to affect the outcomes in terms of incarceration or the justice system but the states and territories do.”

Mr Turnbull reports to Parliament every year on seven Closing the Gap targets, such as Indigenous school attendance and life expectancy.

Senator Siewert said she was now more hopeful of change.

“I’m a little bit more optimistic that in fact they’re now looking at it a bit more favourably and see the sense in having a justice target,” she said.

“I hope they move swiftly on it and I’m looking forward to progress.”

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young people are over 20 times more likely to be in jail than their peers.

The rate of Aboriginal women going to prison has more than doubled since 2000.

And fresh statistics from New South Wales show there has been a 35 per cent increase in Aboriginal inmates in the state’s prisons since 2011 — from 2,269 to 3,059.

‘I find it embarrassing’: Wyatt

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he was glad the door had been opened to the idea.

“That’s very heartening, especially as we go through a [youth detention] royal commission process,” he said.

“We are talking with the Commonwealth about what that may mean as a future investment into the broken youth justice system here in the territory.”

Mr Gunner said if a federal target was not implemented, the Territory would go it alone.

West Australian Labor’s Ben Wyatt is the nations’ first Indigenous Treasurer.

He has backed the federal target, but knows it is states that control the levers which make a difference.

“I would support anything that focuses the mind of a Government to reduce the rate of Indigenous incarceration,” he said.

“Western Australia is the worst in the nation, we need to have a strong, powerful look at how we go about reducing the number of Aboriginal people we have in our prisons.

“I find it embarrassing and personally distressing that my state continues to do that.”

2.TURNBULL MUST ACT ON INCARCERATION RATES & SUPPORT JUSTICE TARGETS : Labor Press Release

The Labor Party is encouraged by reports today that the Prime Minister might finally overturn his government’s ridiculous opposition to implementing justice targets under the Closing the Gap framework.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has long ignored the calls for justice targets, despite repeated urgings from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and expert bodies.

If Malcolm Turnbull is ready to accept that his Minister is wrong, and to adopt Labor’s policy, that is excellent news.

National justice targets will allow us to focus on community safety, particularly the protection of women and children, preventing crime and reducing incarceration rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The targets should be developed in cooperation with state and territory governments, law enforcement agencies, legal and community services, and guided by community leaders, Elders and Aboriginal representative organisations.

There has to be as much focus on the factors that can help prevent the high levels of incarceration, as well as what happens to individuals once in the criminal justice and corrective services system.

A young Indigenous man today is more likely to go to jail than university, and an Indigenous adult is 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than a non-Indigenous adult.

These appalling numbers demand action, including the reversal of the Government’s cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, further examination of noncustodial options and alternatives to mandatory detention, as well as a focus on justice reinvestment.

We call on the Prime Minister to urgently confirm this report, and work with Labor to make justice targets a reality.

The Turnbull Government can’t keep ignoring the Indigenous incarceration crisis. It must start showing national leadership and confront this challenge. Business as usual will not work. If we continue with the same approach, we’ll get the same results.

SATURDAY, 25 March

6.What gets measured gets managed

Summer May Finlay writes:

We know being incarcerated affects someone’s health and yet it is not one of the Closing the Gap targets. It’s Close the Gap Day and the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee’s Progress and Priorities report 2017 has been released.

The 2017 report calls for a social and cultural approach and covers many issues, including justice. This is the fourth report from the Steering Committee to call for Justice Targets.

Since 2004, there has been a 95 per cent increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody. Over the same time, we have seen the crime rates decrease across the country.

Urgent action is required to reduce incarceration if we are ever to see life expectancy parity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Despite the urgency of the need, and the calls by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations for an urgent response to this need, there has been no indication that governments are responding with the level of urgency required.

While governments fail to measure justice targets at the national level, there can be no management of the issues.

It’s been 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and very few of the recommendations have been implemented. It should be no surprise then that in the four years the Close the Gap Steering Committee have been calling for Justice targets that the Federal Government is moving at a glacial pace.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion had resisted the calls for Closing the Gap justice targets. Until late 2016, there appeared to be no consideration that the federal government might even have a role to play in reducing incarceration.

In September 2016, Minister Scullion said he would push the states and territories to introduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice targets. He said it is a state/territory responsibility and that the Federal government doesn’t have any of the levers to reduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration. This demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of the issues that drive incarceration, such as violence rates, including social determinants such as poverty and socio-economic disadvantage.

We have yet to hear whether Minister Scullion was able to work with the states and territories and see them introduce targets.

The Steering Committee reports are not the only reports which address the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates.

Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull was handed the Redfern Statement by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders at a breakfast at Parliament House last month. It calls for a focus on targets addressing incarceration and access to justice.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders want to see solutions which are evidence-based with a focus on prevention and early intervention.

Despite the Prime Minister being handed the Statement, the Federal Government do not appear to even seriously consider the inclusion of a justice target. At the Redfern Statement breakfast, the Prime Minister said:

“My Government will not shy away from our responsibility. And we will uphold the priorities of education, employment, health and the right of all people to be safe from family violence.”

He made no mention of incarceration and justice.

The Redfern Statement represented the unified voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in health, justice, children and families, disability and family violence sectors. Eighteen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations were the drivers. These organisations have a wealth of knowledge and experience that should not be dismissed. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations’ core business is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. They know what works in our communities.

The Federal Government can act quickly when they want on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice issues. After Four Corners aired video footage of an Aboriginal boy Dylan Voller hooded and strapped to a chair in the youth detention centre Don Dale, Prime Minister Turnbull initiated a Royal Commission into youth detention and child protection in the Northern Territory.

Our people are continuing to die way too young and one of the contributing factors is incarceration; the Federal Government is either ignoring the issue, or hoping someone else deals with it.

How many more people do we need to lose before they look to address all factors contributing to a reduced life expectancy, including #JustJustice?

• Download, read and share the 2nd edition of #JustJustice – HERE.


 

3.Transform Australia’s prisons

The more west we journey across the nation the higher the arrest rates, the higher the jailing rates. In the last two decades Australia’s prison population has doubled. The national prison population is nearly 40,000. More than 85 per cent of inmates have not completed a Year 12 education, more than 60 per cent have not completed Year 10, while 40 per cent did not get past Year 9. More than half were not in any paid employment when they were arrested, while half had been homeless.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015), Tasmanian prisons incarcerated 519 inmates, the Australian Capital Territory 396, NSW 11,797, Queensland 7,318, Victoria 6,219, South Australia 2,732, the Northern Territory 1,593 and Western Australia incarcerated 5,555. There are 5 prisons in Tasmania, one in the ACT, 34 in NSW, 10 in Queensland, 13 in Victoria, 8 in South Australia, 4 in the Northern Territory and 16 in Western Australia.

As the prison population has increased so has the number of privately managed prisons – 2 in NSW, 2 in Queensland, one in South Australia and 2 in Western Australia. The national prison population may double again but it appears this will only take ten years. Privately managed prisons will increase. The majority of the prison population is comprised of males but the female prison population is increasing. Ten per cent of Queensland’s prison population is comprised of women, 9 per cent in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

More than 10,000 inmates are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders – 28 per cent of the total prison population. 94 per cent of the Northern Territory prison population is comprised of Aboriginal peoples, 38 per cent in Western Australia, 32 per cent in Queensland, 24 per cent in NSW, 23 per cent in South Australia, 19 per cent in the ACT, 15 per cent in Tasmania and 8 per cent in Victoria. Non-Aboriginal Australians are incarcerated at less than 200 per 100,000 adults but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders adults are incarcerated at 2,330 per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults. It is worst in Western Australia where Aboriginal adults are incarcerated at close to the world’s highest jailing rate – 2nd highest at 3,745 per 100,000. But Western Australia enjoys the nation’s highest median wage – one of the world’s highest but not so for its Aboriginal peoples. If you are born Black in Western Australia you have a two in three chance of living poor your whole life.

If you are born Black in the Northern Territory you have a three in four chance of living poor your whole life. One in 8 of the nation’s Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders have been to jail. One in 6 has been to jail in Western Australia and for the Northern Territory. Poverty, homelessness, racism sets up people for failure, for prison, for reoffending. The situational trauma of incarceration is compounded by its ongoing punitive bent – and the majority of people come out of prison in worse condition than when they went in.

Art programs alone and some recreation will not transform the lives of the majority in the significant ways that matter. The prison experience is one of dank concrete cells, of isolation, of a constancy of trauma and anxieties, of entrenching depression and for many a degeneration to aggressive complex traumas. Australian prisons are not settings for healing, trauma recovery, restorative therapies, wellbeing, educational opportunities and positive future building. But they should be and can be.

Lives can be changed, hope can flourish and outcomes achieved but the helping hand is needed – pre-release and post-release. As a society we should be doing everything possible to keep people out of prison – and not everything we can to jail people, but where incarceration is the outcome, then everything must be done to help the people within them.

They look at us like we are nothing or we are animals,” Former prisoner

It is better I am here so my children can have some hope,” Prisoner

There is nothing for us to do inside except to keep our heads down and avoid trouble,” Prisoner

We need to invest in education opportunities while people are incarcerated in Juvenile Detention and in adult prisons and from effectively as soon as someone is incarcerated. What is on the outside can also be on the inside – prisons do not have to be vile dungeons of psychological torment. They can be communities of educational institutions, places of learning, social support structures.

There are 10, 11 and 12 year olds in Juvenile Detention facilities – child prisons – and the situational trauma of incarceration should not be allowed to degenerate these children into serious psychological hits. These are critically at-risk children who need support and not the rod. The majority of the children will respond to the helping hand, as long as they are validated and not denigrated.

With Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children, nearly 80 per cent will be jailed again after release from their first stint in Juvenile Detention. The punitive with all its associated denigrations is not working. The psychosocial self has been humiliated, debilitated, stressed by traumas. It is positive that there is an increased onus on post-prison mentoring, healing and education and work programs. There should be much more of this but we should not be waiting for this as post-prison options only and that all this should be in place from the commencement of incarceration. This would assist in reducing depression, anxieties and the building up of a sense of hopelessness. I am advocating for all so-called correctional facilities to be significantly transformed into communities of learning and opportunity. This is what any reasonably-minded society would support.

In NSW, 48 per cent of adult prisoners released during 2013 returned to prison within two years. In Victoria, 44 per cent returned within two years. In Queensland it was 41 per cent. In Western Australia it was 36 per cent. Western Australia incarcerates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at 17 times the non-Aboriginal rate while for Queensland, NSW and Victoria it is 11 times. In South Australia 38 per cent of adult prisoners released during 2013 returned within two years. South Australia incarcerates Aboriginal people at 13 times the non-Aboriginal rate. In Tasmania 40 per cent were returned within two years. In the ACT 39 per cent were returned and Aboriginal people were 15 times more likely to be incarcerated. In the Northern Territory 58 per cent were returned and Aboriginal people were 14 times more likely to be incarcerated. Australia’s prisons – no different in my experience with child protection authorities – carry on as if people cannot change. Australian prisons are administered by the States and Territories and therefore the onus for change must be argued to them although the Commonwealth can galvanise change and argue an onus on the humane, educative, transformational instead of the punitive which has led to the building of more ‘correctional facilities’ and the filling of them.

 

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

As soon as we are locked up there should be plans for us to better us,” Former prisoner

Too many of us come out with less hope than ever before,” Former prisoner

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Reform : @KenWyattMP Shortfall on Indigenous health targets prompts new reform drive

 

” The Department of Health has moved to evaluate the effectiveness of primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including the $3.4 billion Indigenous Australians’ Health Program, established in 2014 as a key component of a 10-year health plan

A focus on how well the health system is working for consumers is critical to inform and bring about real change to improve service delivery and health outcomes

There also remain potentially significant groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who are not receiving access to the services they need … If health equality is to be achieved, the speed and scale of transformational change needs to considerably increase.”

A department spokeswoman told The Weekend Australian Picture above Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt. Picture: Kym Smith

The government has moved to target the socio-economic ­determinants of health for policy revisions. Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt has called on communities to contribute to discussions through the My Life, My Lead consultations.

Further reforms are likely from next year

The Australian Government is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and communities, and other stakeholders to improve progress against the goals to improve health outcomes for Indigenous Australians, and is  welcoming participation in the IPAG Consultation 2017 from a broad range of stakeholders.

You can have your say by taking part in the online submission to the IPAG consultation 2017.

The online submission will be open from Wednesday 8 March 2017 and will close 11.59 pm Sunday 30 April 2017.

The failure to adequately improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health has prompted the Turnbull government to order a sweeping review of its multibillion-dollar primary health programs.

Malcolm Turnbull’s recent update on Closing The Gap initiatives showed little improvement in indigenous health and a consistently dire outlook, at a time health systems and budgets are under strain.

The target of closing the life expectancy gap — 16 years for ­indigenous women and 21 years for indigenous men — will not be reached by 2031. While the chronic diseases death rate has improved, cancer deaths still rise and smoking rates are too high.

Documents provided to companies interested in conducting the independent review reveal the department’s frustration at the lack of improvement and the need to reassess the approach to serving indigenous communities.

“While some inroads are being made, Australia is not on track to achieve the COAG targets to close the gap — either in health or a number of other related areas,” the documents state. “There also remain potentially significant groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who are not receiving access to the services they need … If health equality is to be achieved, the speed and scale of transformational change needs to considerably increase.”