“The commitment of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to live longer, healthier lives by providing a wide range of preventative men’s programs that address critical social and emotional issues that our men face.
The overall aim is reduce the rate of hospitalisations, which is almost three times higher than for other Australian men and to reduce the number of Aboriginal men in prison who are imprisoned at 11 times the rate of the general male population.”
I would urge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to focus on their overall health after these two-three months of isolation and get a comprehensive annual 715 health check at their nearest ACCHO. Annual health checks are crucial in picking up little things before they become worse, give peace of mind, and they are free.”
On the occasion of National Men’s Health Week, NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has long recognised the importance of addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health as part of the Close the Gap initiatives.
” Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO has for many years been a national leader in Aboriginal health, not only through its male-only comprehensive primary health care service providing a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services, but through the emphasis that the service places on preventative health with annual 715 health check and weekly engagements, servicing over 1,000 men every year.
See case study part 1 below : Photo above : Left right Terry Braun , John Liddle Manager , David Galvin , Wayne Campbell , Ken Lichleitner
The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO), Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Mark Wenitong, has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to improve their overall health and mental health.
His expertise and experience have led to his involvement in health reform with the Cape York Aboriginal communities with a dedicated team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male workers, who are getting great traction with their community men.
“The strength-based men’s programs delivered by Apunipima continue to see rise in participation rates and better outcomes for Cape York men. Though we still have a long way to go, more of the men are taking control and utilising our programs to support improving their mental health and overall wellbeing,” said Dr Wenitong.
Dr Mark Wenitong on what works in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s health
Part 1 Case Study Ingkintja Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO in Alice Springs
Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress that takes the lead in providing cultural activities and social and emotional wellbeing services for male health for many years.
The ACCHO delivers a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services with emphasis on preventative health with annual 715 health check, servicing over 1,000 men every year.
Ingkintja takes the lead in supporting men in cultural activities across central Australia by providing equipment and medical support when requested by community leaders.
Incorporated into the male-only service are washing facilities (showers and laundry facilities), a gym and ‘Men’s Shed’.
Congress’ decentralisation of social and emotional well-being services meant that a psychologist and Aboriginal care management worker are available through Ingkintja, allowing therapeutic care (counselling, violence interventions), brief interventions, cultural and social support to men.
Ingkintja also delivers the Jaila Wanti prison to work program, which provides support to Aboriginal prisoners 90 days prior to release and also post release to reintegrate back into community through the coordination of health, wellbeing and social support services.
Male prison transitional care coordinators work with clients on health and wellbeing, and facilitate linkages with employment and training provider. Through the program, Ingkintja deliver regular visits to Aboriginal prisoners in the Alice Springs Correctional facility; conducting sessions with Aboriginal prisoners on their holistic health and wellbeing including health promotions with a focus on staying off the smokes and grog.
Sessions also focus on cultural roots and family connections to rebuild cultural identify and self-worth, and to reinforce positive behaviours while also reflecting on the consequences of impulsivity and violent behaviours.
The team establish trust and respect and assist in reconnecting the men with family and culture and to reintegrate into community. Corrections staff have provided encouraging feedback on the positive impact that these visits have on the Aboriginal prisoners, noting changed attitudes and behaviours as the men reflect on the impact of their actions and ask for the next Ingkintja session.
The Inkintja men’s wash facilities were recently upgraded and continue to be a vital and highly accessed service, especially for men living rough. The facility gives men the obvious benefit of being able to wash and gain self-worth, and provides a critical engagement opportunity for the team to perform health checks, medical follow-up and other necessary referrals to services to improve their health and wellbeing.
The Ingkintja men’s shed and gym has regular sessions that enable males, both young and old, to come together and access valuable skills, such fitness, comradery and practical life skills.
Ingkintja have also been equipped with a men’s health truck, currently being fitted out with three consult rooms, which will increase the reach of the service’s holistic approach further to remote communities in a culturally responsive – and mobile – way.
Nathan Appo from Innisfail / Mamu / Goreng Goreng / Bundjalung /Living in Brisbane and working with Deadly Choices
Men’s health charity, Movember, has launched its 2019 campaign for its annual month of moustache-growing.
This year, the campaign’s tagline is ‘Whatever you grow will save a bro’, acknowledging the variety of shapes and styles of moustache that are grown during Movember.
UK-based creative agency, MATTA, was behind the campaign. The ad was voiced by comedian Dave Lawson, and features testicular cancer survivor Harvee Pene, prostate cancer survivor Charlie Jia and mental health advocate Nathan Appo.
” Training isn’t always about physical health and strength. I exercise to stay mentally healthy, mentally fit. #MovemberMotivation What’s your Deadly Choice? Says Nathan
“It’s amazing to see so many different faces from all over the world featured in the Movember campaign this year,” Jia said.
“As well as being a lot of fun to shoot and highlighting that anyone can grow a Mo, ‘Whatever you grow will save a bro’ has put Indigenous men’s health front and centre. It also shows that background, colour and beliefs don’t matter, because prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues won’t discriminate.”
A second video released shows Pene recount his story with testicular cancer to his barber.
Movember’s chief marketing officer, Juliette Smith, said: “‘Whatever you grow will save a bro’ arose from the insight that some men want to support the charity, but feel embarrassed by their facial hair, or its perceived inadequacy.
It also nods to the fact that the landscape of male grooming has changed, where the ask for many is no longer ‘grow a moustache’ but increasingly more often ‘shave your beard’, adding another layer of vulnerability for the grower.
” No matter if it’s patchy, lopsided or just kind of…furry, like mine! Every Mo has the power to save lives. My father Neily Apps is the reason why I participate in Movember, it’s a chance to educate and support our fellow men ” Says Nathan Appo
“The campaign aims to dispel these anxieties, demonstrating the ultimate importance of Movember; that the wider awareness of our charity and its causes; prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health, can change lives for better.”
MATTA’s design and production director, Tom Allwood, said: “Movember is so important in raising often un-talked about issues among men. We found a way of bringing people together from all backgrounds, showing that we’re all unique, but focusing throughout on the integral message of the movement.”
” Ochre Day is an important event for reflecting on these issues, and for hearing stories of hope and empowerment, and learning what is working in our communities – of strategies that are successful in engaging our men to take better care of their health and wellbeing.
It is good to see that other presentations will also be illustrating the connections between culture, sense of place and wellbeing, and the importance of supporting Aboriginal men to become leaders, role models and mentors within their communities. ”
Opening address by John Paterson, AMSANT CEO August 29
Good Morning everyone and welcome to the NACCHO Ochre Day Men’s Health Conference.
My name is John Paterson, I am a Ngalakan man from the Roper River Region of the NT. I am the CEO of AMSANT, the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health peak body in the Northern Territory, and I have been invited to speak to you today on behalf of NACCHO.
I would like to acknowledge that the land we meet on today is the traditional lands for the Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung (Wurnundjeri) peoples of the Kulin Nation. Their cultural and heritage beliefs are still as important to the living Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung (Wurnundjeri) people today.
This is also true for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that are here this morning. We draw on the strength of our lands, our Elders past and on the lived experience of our community members.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank our hosts, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.
And finally, I would like to acknowledge and welcome our Mr Phillip Matsamato of Broome who has been our patron since 2013
Ochre Day was first held in 2013.
It is an important initiative that seeks to bring a positive approach to male health and wellbeing that celebrates Aboriginal masculinities, and uphold our traditional values of respect for our laws, respect for Elders, culture and traditions, responsibility as leaders and men, teachers of young males, holders of lore, providers, warriors and protectors of our families, women, old people, and children.
Finally, NACCHO’s commitment is to support Aboriginal males to live longer, healthier lives as males for themselves.
The goals of Ochre Day are to:
Provide an opportunity to ‘showcase’ examples of best practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health service delivery;
Raise awareness of issues that have an impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health and social, emotional wellbeing; and
Enable the exchange of information among delegates on initiatives that are focused on improving male health and wellbeing.
This year’s Ochre Day program has been developed around three main themes, – In Control, Influence and Innovation. They focus on strategies that:
Enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to take control of their health;
Influence new health behaviours; and
Highlight new innovations in Aboriginal men’s health.
The three main themes sit comfortably with the Ochre Day logo – Men’s Health Our Way – Let’s Own it.
This year marks the seventh Ochre Day. The concept of Ochre Day was developed in 2013 by Mark Saunders and Colin Cowell to launch the NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10-Point Blueprint Plan 2013 -2030.
Deputy NACCHO chair Matthew Cooke, Chair Justin Mohamed and board member John Singer launching Blueprint 2013
The 2013 one day event was held in a marque in front of Parliament House Canberra to highlight the positive work of Aboriginal males in our sector and communities
We do not need another top down Federal Government strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Men’s health when we already have the foundations with this Blue Print.
As we say its Men’s Health Our Way – Let’s Own it.
Speaking of the history of Ochre Day I would also like to acknowledge the great work of Mark Saunders who managed on very tight budgets the first four Ochre Days held in Canberra , Brisbane , Perth and Adelaide.
See OCHRE DAY history HERE
So why is it important to hold an annual conference specifically focusing on men’s health?
When NACCHO first conceived the idea of an Ochre Day, it was in response to what we were hearing in the Aboriginal Community Controlled health sector, backed up by evidence-based research that suggested our men have the worst health outcomes of any group in Australia.[i]
Our men have an unacceptable higher rate of fatal and non-fatal burden for almost every health condition, and we also have a higher prevalence of risk factors and risk-taking behaviours. We are overrepresented in mental health statistics and are three times more likely to die prematurely than other Australian men.[ii]
Help seeking behaviour is important for addressing health issues. Sadly, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are much less likely than our women to seek help from health professionals.[iii] It is not surprising, then, to learn that our rate of preventable hospitalisations is almost three times higher than for other Australian men.
These statistics paint a disturbing picture of the state of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.
Ochre Day is an important event for reflecting on these issues, and for hearing stories of hope and empowerment, and learning what is working in our communities – of strategies that are successful in engaging our men to take better care of their health and wellbeing.
We are looking forward to hearing from Lomas Amini and Ernie Dingo on how Camping on Country, which has been designed around the principle that culture is an integral part of health, is achieving great outcomes in communities.
It is good to see that other presentations will also be illustrating the connections between culture, sense of place and wellbeing, and the importance of supporting Aboriginal men to become leaders, role models and mentors within their communities.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men make up one of the nine priority population groups of the National Men’s Health Strategy. We will have an opportunity to learn more about the goals of this important strategy later in the program, including how we can become involved in key activities.
We all know the devastating effects of social and emotional wellbeing issues in our communities, and the Ochre Day program includes several presentations on culturally appropriate interventions for engaging with young people and identifying persons with depression and possibly at risk of self-harm.
Sadly, nearly half of our men continue to smoke. This is in comparison with about 17% of non-Indigenous men. As you are aware, smoking is one of the biggest causes of death. It will be good to learn about how a Smoking in Prisons project is being rolled out in SA.
Culturally appropriate health promotion interventions are vital for engaging our men and changing health behaviours. I am looking forward to discovering more about what is working and what doesn’t work. It will also be good to learn more about Aboriginal Health Television, which plays important messages in the reception areas of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
Making sure that we have the information we need to help us improve our health outcomes is also important, and it will be good to hear about a national longitudinal study of culture, health and wellbeing that has been designed by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people.
I am sure that you agree that an excellent program has been put together again. I am confident that the presentations will interest and inform; and I am looking forward to our discussions over the next two days.
I sincerely hope that the knowledge gained from Ochre Day will energise you to continue your ongoing and important contributions to men’s health in your communities.
I HEREBY DECLARE THE SEVENTH ANNUAL NACCHO NATIONAL OCHRE DAY CONFERENCE OPEN
[i] Commonwealth Department of Health. 2019. National Men’s Health Strategy 2020-2030. Canberra.
“So I get to talk about a lot of stuff like that with a lot of people in similar situations and it’s making me stronger.
“It’s a good thing for me as well to be able to listen to people going through the same stuff that I’m going through and realise, not so much just zip it up and keep working, but actually spending time talking to people and making yourself feel better.”
He urged men struggling with problems to seek help.
“Don’t leave it too long, you can’t let things fester — it’s better to carry the scar than carry the the wound ”
“It’s important to understand the importance of healing in our work. While mainstream focus on behaviour, which is understandable, we’re trying to address both healing and behaviour.
It’s a different space. Aboriginal people carry a big weight, issues like racism, colonisation and the stolen generation. We’re trying to address all those issues as well as change the cycle of violence.
It’s only once we address this trauma that we can move onto accountability and responsibility,”
said Alan Thorpe, Director of Dardi Munwurro
Before men can stop being violent Alan Thorpe, Director of Dardi Munwurro and Lionel Dukakis Programs Manager ofNgarra Jarranounith Placebelieve men must heal the trauma in their life.
Picture above (L-R) Lionel Dukakis, John Byrne and Alan Thorpe
They will be one of the many presenters at this year’s OCHRE DAY, Men’s Health Conference in Melbourne who will touch upon one of our key focus areas for this year – Innovative: identifying gaps in service delivery, considering new ideas and testing new approaches towards continuous quality improvement.
Background Dardi Munwurro: Bringing out the best in Aboriginal men, for stronger communities article fromNo To Violence Website
Established in the year 2000, Dardi Munwurro provides group leadership training programs in Family Violence, specifically tailored to Aboriginal men and youth.Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women lead and support their families, communities and fellow Australians every week of every year.
It’s because of these women and their children, that organisations like Dardi Munwurro, who work directly with men to stop their use of violence, now exist. ‘Building stronger families and safer communities’ is indeed the Dardi Munwurro vision.
A vision best achieved by connecting with the heart and mind of an Aboriginal man who uses violence.
For Alan Thorpe, Director of Dardi Munwurro and Board Member of ‘No to Violence’, tackling a problem head on is an approach he’s used well both on and off the sporting field, having played in the AFL in the early 1980s for both Sydney and Footscray.
Not long after football, Alan sought after a deeper meaning, for both himself and the men in his community. With not much else but a mobile phone and a car, Alan began visiting Aboriginal men that had lost their way in life, men disconnected with their identity and angry with the world and those around them. The approach, which has naturally been refined over the years, was simple: Heal the man, stop the violence.
Over countless kilometres and conversations, Alan and John have little by little accumulated the support and trust of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people working to break the cycle of violence in communities.
Most of the team are men’s healing and behaviour change facilitators who work regularly with Indigenous and non-indigenous psychologists, family violence advisory councils and legal services.
Lionel Dukakis, a Gunditjmara man from southwestern Victoria, is Programs Manager of Ngarra Jarranounith Place – a residential healing program for Aboriginal men using violence – a world first.
Supported by the Victorian Government and the Collingwood Football Club, the 12-16 week program uses therapeutic family violence and personal development programs to engage men, while supporting women and children to safely restore their own lives.
“Mainstream services aren’t yet equipped to address cultural losses in a safe environment” says Alan. “I know of a situation where a discussion in a men’s behaviour change program that ran during Australia Day week, caused conflict between Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants. Because of that conflict, four Aboriginal men left the group and never came back. That right there is the difference” says Alan.
‘No to Violence’ is working with Aboriginal experts in men’s family violence in the development of the new practice manual for Men’s Behaviour Change Program (MBCP) facilitators and will be developing new training courses in the coming months to support the culturally safe delivery of MBCPs.
Dardi Munwurro sees the rebuilding of cultural identity and the identification of emotional strength among its participants as central to its programs. Men in these Healing and Behaviour Change Programs attend camps where they participate in therapeutic healing circles, work with Elders and learn the skills to plan for a future with healthy, respectful relationships.
Researchers say a new app has the potential to more accurately reflect the nation’s drinking habits.
The ADAC and app researchers hoped the app would be available to download by the end of the year.
Key points :
App developers say it will get a more accurate drinking history than a face-to-face interview with a trained health professional
The Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council says the app could replace the National Drug Strategy Household Survey
Researchers say alcohol consumption among Aboriginal women is under-represented by up to 700 per cent in national surveys
The Grog App was designed for use by Indigenous Australians but could be used by anyone.
Dr Kylie Lee, a senior research fellow at the Centre of Research Excellence in Indigenous Health and Alcohol who was also involved in the app’s development, said the new technology would create a more accurate database.
“Aboriginal women, their drinking is under-represented in the national surveys by up to 700 per cent and 200 per cent in men.
“Undeniably we need to do better … this app offers a great opportunity to do that.”
Participants answer a range of broad and specific questions on the app about alcohol and based on that information, they are allocated into a category on a sliding scale from ‘non-drinker’ to ‘high risk’.
Dr Lee said immediate feedback was very helpful.
She said the app could alleviate issues in the way alcohol data was typically collected, for example participants were more likely to be asked about standard drinks but not non-standard containers.
“Like a soft drink bottle, a juice bottle, a sports bottle et cetera so the app has facilities to show how much you put in the bottle,” Dr Lee said.
“It’s very exciting the level of detail you’re going to get.”
Professor Kate Conigrave, the app’s chief investigator and an addiction specialist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, agreed the new technology could provide greater clarity.
“I’m aware of the traps,” she said.
“One patient I saw had been recorded by a doctor as drinking three standard drinks a day but when I took a drinking history I said, ‘what do you drink them out of?’, and he showed me a sports bottle,” Professor Conigrave said.
“He was drinking three full sports bottles of wine a day, so that’s about 30 standard drinks a day.”
Professor Conigrave said the national health survey often contained “tiny” numbers from Indigenous communities.
“The sample sizes are so small, it’s hard to get a meaningful picture,” she said.
She said the app would provide a level of comfortability and anonymity which may lead to more accurate data, than an interview with a trained health professional.
“People can be a bit embarrassed about what they’re drinking and it can be a bit hard to admit to someone you know, ‘when I drink I have 12 cans of beer,'” she said.
Taking it to the communities
The app is in its second phase of testing.
In the first phase, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in remote, regional and urban parts of South Australia and Queensland were asked to describe their drinking habits.
Research on the app has now progressed to the second round, during which the focus was on the technology’s validity as an on-the-ground survey tool.
Scott Wilson, who was leading the development of the app at the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (ADAC), said the second phase was a “major prevalence study” which would include participants from the local hospital and prison.
The location for the trial has not been made public.
“In the big major surveys people in those areas are always excluded,” Mr Wilson said.
“When you consider that I might be in hospital for an alcohol-related illness or I might be in jail because of an alcohol or drug-related crime, my voice or results are never included.”
The ADAC and app researchers hoped the app would be available to download by the end of the year.
In the meantime, they planned to have discussions with the government over the future use of the app and pursue grant opportunities.
Dr Lee said she was excited for the potential of the new technology.
“Eventually I think it would be a great tool to roll out nationally … using it in the same way as the National Drug Strategy Household Survey,” she said
changed the way it looks and works so it’s easier to use
reorganised our content so it’s easier to find
rewritten our content so it’s easier to understand
improved navigation and search
begun consolidating our other Health websites into this one, so more of our information is in one place
Department Press Release
The new website has been developed through comprehensive research and testing with our stakeholders.
Health.gov.au users told us they couldn’t find what they were looking for and when they did, it was often out of date and hard to read. Content was also often replicated and spread across more than 90 Health-owned websites.
The new website has better functionality and content has been written in plain English to improve the experience of all users.
An improved search function will search the new and old website during the transition period to ensure all relevant content is picked up. Better analytics will help us understand our users and continue to respond to their needs.
This project has been, and will continue to be, a major exercise. We expect it will take up to 12 months to completely rewrite our content.
In the meantime, Health topics that have not yet been fully revised will have a short introduction on the new site and links to old content for detail. Links to the old website will still work until we decommission our old website.
We won’t decommission the old site until we are satisfied the new website is complete.
1.3 National : NACCHO support of Adam Goodes 2014-2019 ” Aboriginal Health and Racism “#TheFinalQuarter
In 2015 NACCHO supported our good friend of NACCHO Adam Goodes with a ” Racism is a driver of Aboriginal ill health ” campaign that attracted a record 50,000 Likes and shares on our Facebook page reaching 846,848 followers
2.1 Armajun Aboriginal Health Service Armidale hold NAIDOC Week celebration
More than 40 people attended the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service in Armidale on Thursday morning, but it had nothing to do with anything medical and everything to do with their NAIDOC Week morning tea.
Armajun program manager Deb Green said the day was fantastic.
“As the day gets on, we’ll get more community members who will just wander in,” she said.
“There will be an area left open so they can just come in and have a meal, and have a chat if other people are around.
“The whole week has been absolutely brilliant. We should be very, very proud of our community, and every service provider that has hosted an event over the last two weeks, it’s just been amazin
2.2 NSW : AHMRC The July Edition of Message Stick is out now!
Read about AH&MRC staff celebrating NAIDOC Week 2019, wrap-ups for Yarn Up, Your Health Your Future and the Dubbo Symposium and an update on the 2019 flu season.
Read about it here >> http://bit.ly/2XQldhR
2.3 NSW : Barrier between NSW Indigenous patients and hospital staff: report
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in NSW hospitals have reported being treated with less respect and dignity than non-Indigenous patients.
The Bureau of Health Information surveyed about 36,000 patients in hospitals and emergency rooms between 2017 and 2018.
The bureau’s chief executive, Diane Watson, said nearly all of the 1,000 First Nation patients were happy with their overall care, but some clear trends emerged.
Director for Aboriginal Health Geri Wilson-Matenga said new training programs would be designed to help medical staff with cultural communication and understanding.
3.1 VIC : VACCHO to co-host 2019 OCHRE DAY Men’s Health Conference in Melbourne
The NACCHO Ochre Day Health Summit provides a national forum for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male delegates, organisations and communities to learn from Aboriginal male health leaders, discuss their health concerns, exchange share ideas and examine ways of improving their own men’s health and that of their communities.
REGISTER and other information on this years Ochre Day Men’s Health Conference
3.2 VIC : Aboriginal Victorians are twice as likely to be hospitalised for mental health issues, compared to the wider population
A history of marginalisation and cultural dispossession has contributed to lower emotional and social wellbeing among Aboriginal Victorians, the state’s mental health royal commission has heard.
Aboriginal Victorians are twice as likely to be hospitalised for mental health issues, compared to the wider population
Almost half of the state’s Aboriginal population has a relative who was removed under the policies which lead to the Stolen Generations
One elder told the commission the western concept of mental health was neither familiar, nor helpful for Aboriginal people
Wemba Wemba elder Auntie Nellie Flagg ( Pictured above ) described the mental anguish that accompanied the relentless racism she experienced growing up in the north-west Victorian town of Swan Hill in the 1960s. See Full Report
Helen Kennedy, from the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, said: “They’re losing their life to suicide at twice the rate.”
“We’re not seeing improvements.”
Ms Kennedy told the commission part of the problem was a lack of recognition of the profound trauma arising from a long history of marginalisation and the dispossession of land, culture and children.
Almost half of all Aboriginal Victorians have a relative who was removed under policies which lead to the Stolen Generations.
“These impacts have been brutal,” Ms Kennedy said.
“They have left a legacy of enduring trauma and loss that continues to affect Aboriginal communities, families and many individuals is in many compounding ways.”
Culturally appropriate services critical
Ms Kennedy told the inquiry that developing culturally appropriate services staffed by Aboriginal people was critical.
She said Victoria had only eight Aboriginal mental health workers statewide.
“We are lagging behind other states,” she said.
“We need a massive reinvestment to support a growing skilled Aboriginal workforce.”
Ms Kennedy said one approach proving successful elsewhere was the creation of trauma-informed community “healing centres” aimed at helping individuals build stronger connections to culture, community, family, spirituality, their mind and emotions.
“What we’re doing now is not working. We have to have a different approach,” she said.
“Looking after people’s social and emotional wellbeing and supporting protective factors … we know that works.”
4.1 Qld : QAIHC welcomes Minister Ken Wyatt to their new offices in Brisbane
QAIHC CEO Mr Neil Willmett was pleased to welcome Ken Wyatt MP to their new office this week. They discussed a range of topics including the great work QAIHC Members were doing, the work QAIHC leads in the Sector, and the importance of strong partnerships with government and stakeholders.
4.2 QLD : Renee Blackman CEO of Gidgee Healing ACCHO Mt Isa on fact finding road trip
Setting off yesterday to Burketown to meet with Council, Aboriginal Land Council and Consumers re health services. Robust discussions- great feedback – NWHHS, Gidgee Healing and WQPHN working with the community to improve health outcomes
6.WA : AHCWA : Derby Aboriginal Health Service (DAHS) in Derby completed their final block of training in our Cert II Family Wellbeing Training Course
Last month, students from the Derby Aboriginal Health Service (DAHS) in Derby completed their final block of training in our Cert II Family Wellbeing Training Course, all graduating successfully with ease. The course runs over a 4 day period and is part of the Family Wellbeing program at AHCWA that aims to support the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people and their communities within WA. The aim of the program is to increase awareness of the contributing factors that impact on family wellbeing and identify strategies to help build better foundations to overcome these factors.
Congratulations to the students from DAHS!
For more information on the training please contact our Family & Wellbeing Program Coordinator, Ken Nicholls on (08) 9227 1631 or email ken.nicholls at ahcwa.org.
7.1 NT : Team AMSANT traveled to Sydney this week for national NACCHO workshop
7.2 : NT Katherine West Health Board traveling with our friend Healthy Harold to the schools talking about smoking
We have been traveling with our friend Healthy Harold to the schools in the Katherine West region. Healthy Harold has been yarning to the kids about their dreams when finishing school and how smoking could affect their dreams.
8. ACT : Julie Tongs CEO Winnunga ACCHO Canberra congratulates Aunty Thelma Weston the 2019 National NAIDOC Female Elder of the Year
Thelma Weston, a descendant of the Meriam people of the Torres Strait, is like no other. Her life is a story of survival, achievement, hope, love and celebration.
Despite only having a limited education, Aunty Thelma trained as a nurse and became a fully qualified health worker.
At age 83, Aunty Thelma still works full time at Winnunga Aboriginal Health and Community Services in Canberra, using her skills to manage the needle exchange program.
She has a long history of outstanding involvement and achievements in the community and has sat on a number of local and national committees and boards.
Aunty Thelma is on the board of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) and regularly travels across Australia to attend board meetings.
As a breast cancer survivor, Aunty Thelma has worked with Breast Cancer Network Australia to encourage other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to connect, seek support and information about the disease.
Aunty Thelma is much loved, admired and well respected, not only in her workplace and amongst her clients, but in the wider ACT community and across Australia. She is a wonderful example of a wise and caring Torres Strait Islander woman who has achieved much for her family and community.
9. Tas: Tasmanian NAIDOC Aboriginal award winners
Congratulations Rob Braslin Aboriginal of the year. Congratulations Zack Riley-youth of the year; Adam Thompson-artist of the year; Taylah Pickett-scholar of the year (award accepted on her behalf by Raylene); Sherrin Egger-sportsperson of the year. Congratulations to all nominees and all award winners 🖤💛❤️
Only 7 weeks to the NACCHO OCHRE Day in Melbourne and registrations are open
Between now and the 29-30 August National men’s Conference NACCHO will be publishing each Monday articles about Men’s Health and contributions from an amazing line up of speakers: Our first contribution from Trevor Pearce Acting CEO VACCHO
” For so many of the men at Ochre Day, healing had come about through being better connected to their culture and understanding, and knowing who they are as Aboriginal men. Culture is what brought them back from the brink.
We’ve long known culture is a protective factor for our people, but hearing so many men in one place discuss how culture literally saved their lives really brought that fact home.
It made me even more conscious of how important it is that we focus on the wellbeing side of Aboriginal health. If we’re really serious about Closing the Gap, we need to fund male wellbeing workers in our Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.
In Victoria, the life expectancy of an Aboriginal male is 10 years less than a non-Aboriginal male. Closing the Gap requires a holistic, strength- based response. As one of the fellas said, “you don’t need a university degree to Close the Gap, you just need to listen to our mob”.
I look forward to this year’s Ochre Day being hosted on Victorian country, and for VACCHO being even more involved.”
Ernie Dingo believes light moments are important even when talking about serious topics. In one candid exchange with a man who insisted doctors were unnecessary, Dingo shared the story of his decision to allow a doctor to examine his prostate.
“I told the men that I thought ‘Ah well, who is going to know?’ and they had a good laugh,” he said.
Dingo remains vigilant about his health. A dad of six, including three-year-old twin boys, he said being a father and grandfather made him want to encourage men to take care of themselves.
“We have to be around for our kids, and their kids,”
Actor Ernie Dingo has created a confronting, humorous and bracingly honest reality series about Indigenous men that has captured the attention of federal Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt.
Dingo, a Yamitji man from the Murchison region of Western Australia, became a household name in Australia as the presenter of lifestyle program The Great Outdoors between 1993 and 2009. But his retreat from public life coincided with a struggle against depression that he said made him want to help other Indigenous men.
A new health initiative that places culture and traditional knowledge systems at the centre of its program aims to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and ensure they have a strong voice in health and wellbeing services in their own communities.
The Federal Government will provide $1 million over two years to Bush TV Enterprises to deliver its Camping On Country program, to address health and wellbeing challenges in a culturally safe and meaningful way.
Speaking at the launch on the Beedawong Meeting Place in WA’s Kings Park: (From left) Murchison Elder Alan Egan; Ernie Dingo; Ken Wyatt; Kununurra Elder Ted Carlton.
Respect for culture has a fundamental role in improving the health of our men, who currently have a life expectancy of 70 years, more than 10 years shorter than their non-Indigenous counterparts.
Camping On Country is based on the premise that working with local men as the experts in their own health and community is critical in Closing the Gap in health equality.
We need every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man to take responsibility for their health and to be proud of themselves and their heritage — proud of the oldest continuous culture on Earth, and the traditions that kept us healthy for the past 65,000 years.
Each camp will focus on specific topics including:
Alcohol and drug dependency
Smoking, diet and exercise
Mental health and suicide
A traditional healer and an Aboriginal male health worker are assigned to each camp to conduct health checks and provide one-on-one support to men, which includes supporting men through drug or alcohol withdrawals.
Traditional yarning circles are used to discuss health and wellbeing issues as well as concerns about employment, money, housing and personal relationships.
Well-known actor, television presenter and Yamatji man Ernie Dingo developed the Camping On Country program with his BushTV partner Tom Hearn, visiting 11 communities and conducting small camps with groups of men at four sites across remote Australia in 2018.
The plan is to conduct 10 camps a year, with the initial focus on communities in need in Central Australia, the Kimberley, Arnhem Land, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the APY Lands.
The program puts culture and language at the centre of daily activities and also uses the expertise and knowledge of local men’s groups, traditional owners and local Aboriginal organisations.
A video message stick will be produced during each camp and made available to all levels of government associated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
The message stick information will also be used by health providers to develop holistic, culturally appropriate programs with men and their communities.
The $1 million funding will also support Bush TV Enterprises to partner with a university and Primary Health Alliances to conduct research to track improvements in remote men’s health and enhance health and wellbeing services.
Bush TV Enterprises is an Aboriginal-owned community agency specialising in grassroots advocacy and producing and distributing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories.
Our Government has committed approximately $10 billion to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over the next decade, working together to build strong families and communities.
Dingo, a Yamitji man from the Murchison region of Western Australia, became a household name in Australia as the presenter of lifestyle program The Great Outdoors between 1993 and 2009. But his retreat from public life coincided with a struggle against depression that he said made him want to help other indigenous men.
The 62-year-old has partnered with documentary-maker Tom Hearn to make four short films from fireside yarns with indigenous men in some of Australia’s most remote towns and communities.Mr Wyatt believes the program, called Camping on Country, has the potential to change lives. He has commissioned 20 more camps around Australia over the next two years at a cost of $1 million.
“We talk about everything,” Dingo told The Australian. “You want to see the way the men sing and talk once they feel safe.”
Camping On Country could ultimately drive health policy, as Dingo listens to men talk about alcohol and drug dependency, smoking, diet, exercise, mental health and suicide. Mr Wyatt will announce his support for the camps today and hopes that they can help close the health gap between indigenous and non-indigenous men. Aboriginal men die an average 10 years earlier than other Australian men, and generally their rates of cancer, heart disease and mental illness are higher.
An Aboriginal male health worker will be at each camp providing health checks and support, including to anyone experiencing drug or alcohol withdrawals. Dingo and Hearn will make a short film of each camp through production company Bush TV. The federal funding of $1 million covers an independent assessment of the overall program, including whether it makes a difference to the health of men who take part.
“As background to this development, the National Mental Health Commission has published its sixth national report – Monitoring Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Reform: National Report 2018 – which provides an analysis of the current status of Australia’s core mental health and suicide prevention reforms, and their impact on consumers and carers.”
Engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in regional planning
” One of the priorities for PHNs is engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and community controlled organisations in co-designing all aspects of regional planning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention services.
There has been some early success in building partnerships between PHNs and Aboriginal community controlled organisations (see Case study). In contrast, some PHNs have primarily commissioned mainstream providers rather than community controlled health services to provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Leading Aboriginal organisations consider this approach to be flawed, and believe it will result in poorer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
It is important for PHNs to recognise and support the cultural determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, in addition to clinical approaches.26 Recent research by the Lowitja Institute highlights the need for a specific definition of mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as mental illness is more likely to occur when social, cultural, historical and political determinants are out of alignment.27
” The Government has announced a new Productivity Commission Inquiry into the role of mental health in the Australian economy.
This move is significant recognition of the considerable impact of mental health challenges on individuals and the wider community.”
The Productivity Commission’s inquiry will take 18 months and will scrutinise mental health funding in Australia, which is estimated at $9 billion annually across federal, state and territory governments. Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed 3,128 people committed suicide in 2017, which is up from 2,866 people in 2016.
The commission will be expected to recommend key priorities for the Government’s long-term mental health strategy and will accept public submissions. AHCRA looks forward to meaningful and authentic consumer engagement by the Inquiry.
The inquiry was welcomed by many, including Labor’s mental health spokeswoman, Julie Collins. Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman also praised the inquiry. “There have been numerous investigations and reviews into mental health in Australia, but this is the first time the Productivity Commission will take the lead. It is a significant step forward and one that has the potential to drive real change,” Ms Harman said in a media release.
AHCRA highlights the 2018 Report as a valuable source of information that outlines the size of the problem and the prevalence and impact of mental illness and suicide in Australia.