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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressing the RUOK Breakfast 12 September

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

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

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

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

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

There is always time to start a conversation.

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

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

Opposition Leader  Bill Shorten addressing the RUOK Breakfast 12 September

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

Part 1 The cause bringing Turnbull and Shorten together

From SBS Report

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

He stopped at about seven.

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

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

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

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

“These are preventable deaths.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you very much.

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

Good morning everybody.

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

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

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

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

It really was a good set of words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there something you could have done differently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

And you do think about what you could have done.

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

Seven Australians – every day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Completely alienated and unsure of where they fit in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s about digging a bit deeper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is always time to

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

There is always time to start a conversation.

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health conferences and events #SaveAdate #NACCHOAgm2017 #OchreDay2017

3 September  : Clintons Walk for Justice arrives in Canberra

4 -10 September National Stroke Week, the Stroke Foundation’s annual awareness campaign is taking place

12 – 14 September SNAICC National Conference

13 September : Webinar Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services

20-23 September : AIDA Conference 2017

29 Sept : Closing the Prison Gap Focus on the Children Tweed Heads NSW

4- 5 October Aboriginal Male Health Ochre Day Darwin NT  

10 October  : CATSINAM Professional Development Conference Gold Coast

18 -20 October  : 35th Annual CRANAplus Conference Broome

20 October : ‘Most influential’ health leaders to appear in key forum at major rural medicine conference

18- 20 October First 1000 Days Summit Abstracts close August 11

26-27 October  :Diabetes and cardiovascular research, stroke and maternal and child health issues.

31 October2 Nov  :NACCHO AGM Members Meeting Canberra ABSTRACTS close 21st August 2017

14- 15 November  : 6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation.

15 -18 November  :National Conference on Incontinence Scholarship Opportunity close 1 September

27-30 November  :Indigenous Allied Health Australia : IAHA Conference Perth

11-12 April 2018  :6th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium  Canberra call for extracts

If you have a Conference, Workshop Funding opportunity or event and wish to share and promote contact

Colin Cowell NACCHO Media Mobile 0401 331 251

Send to NACCHO Social  Media

mailto:nacchonews@naccho.org.au

Noting Abstracts close 21st August 2017

NACCHO CONFERENCE WEBSITE

 

2017 Ochre Day Registration

Where: Darwin
When: 4th & 5th October 2017

This year NACCHO is pleased to announce the annual NACCHO Ochre Day will be held in Darwin during October 2017.

Beginning in 2013, Ochre Day is an important NACCHO Aboriginal male health initiative. Aboriginal males have arguably the worst health outcomes of any population group in Australia. NACCHO has long recognised the importance of addressing Aboriginal male health as part of Close the Gap by 2030.

All information provided in registering for the NACCHO Ochre Day remains entirely confidential and will only be used to assist with planning i.e. catering etc.

  • There is no registration cost to attend the NACCHO Ochre Day (Day One or Two)
  • All Delegates will be provided breakfast & lunch on Day One and morning & afternoon tea as well as lunch on Day Two.
  • All Delegates are responsible for paying for and organising your own travel and accommodation.

For further information please contact Kyrn Stevens:
Phone: 08 8942 5400
Email: naccho.ochre@ddhs.org.au

 Each Delegate is required to complete a separate applicatiom

REGISTER HERE 

3 September  : Clintons Walk for Justice arrives in Canberra

We all have come a long way and now it time we finish this off and do why we went on this journey in the first place.

I’m almost there at end of a amazing journey. It has been a great honour to walk in the foot step of my ancients and I walk with prouded for my people and walk on song line that my ancients made for us to follow and understand why they was created in the first place for my people.

I do not know what going to happen when I reach Canberra, but I do know in my heart an mind I must try because it need to be done to change this country and this world we live in. But I hope it well be something that this country will never forget and it well help change this country way to do better to build a better country and a better world we live in.

All that matter now is to speak the truth from the heart to make this men in suit and everyone else who live here to change they way and do better than they know them self now.

I hope in year to come people well talk about the walk for justice that a man who was just young walk across a land thought different country for his people and for everyone else. Walk all the way to the capital city call Canberra to speak the truth and send a message he collected from his people and from every one else on this journey that made him did it in the first place.

The walk well live on and the name the spirit walker well live on when I go and pass on. A man who walk across a country bring hope and change and all the way to capital city to tell men in suit to change they way because he believe and he believe in a dream could made a difference.

Clintons Facebook Page

4 -10 September National Stroke Week, the Stroke Foundation’s annual awareness campaign is taking place

National Stroke Week, the Stroke Foundation’s annual awareness campaign is taking place 4 to 10 September 2017.

Australians are being asked to join the FAST response team by knowing the signs of stroke. Paramedics, nurses and doctors can only treat stroke if Australians recognise the signs of stroke and call 000 immediately.

Could your community recognise the signs of stroke F.A.S.T?

Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms – Can they lift both arms?
Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these symptoms Act FAST and call 000.

Sharing the FAST message with those around you could save their life.

REGISTER online to get your FREE Stroke Week kit

Once you register you will be sent a FREE Stroke Week kit including posters, campaign booklet and resources to support your activity.

Click here to register now.

What does an awareness activity involve?

  • Set up a public awareness display in your local shopping centre.
  • Host a public morning/afternoon tea.
  • Organise a healthy event i.e. social walk around the park or a healthy bake sale.
  • You can also add a health check to your activity. We provide the tools to make this simple.

Visit www.strokefoundation.org.au/strokeweek for more details.

Join the FAST response team for National Stroke Week.

12 – 14 September SNAICC National Conference

Includes 2 pre-conference masterclasses, 3 plenaries, 56 concurrent sessions, and a social/cultural program.

Register now!

13 September : Webinar Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services

Developed in consultation with NACCHO and produced by the Mental Health Professionals’ Network a federally funded initiative

Join our interdisciplinary panel as we explore a collaborative approach to reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services.

The webinar format will include a facilitated question and answer session between panel members exploring key issues and impacts of incarceration on individuals, families and communities.

The panel will discuss strategies to enhance cultural awareness and develop responsive services for Indigenous communities affected by incarceration. Strategies to increase self-esteem and enhance emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing of individuals will also be explored.

When: Wednesday 13th September, 2017

Time: 4.30pm – 5.45pm (AEST)

Where: Online – via your computer, tablet or mobile

Cost: Free

Panel:

  • Dr Mark Wenitong (Medical Advisor based in QLD)
  • Dr Marshall Watson (Psychiatrist based in SA)
  • Dr Jeffrey Nelson (Clinical Psychologist based in QLD)
  • Julie Tongs (OAM) (CEO Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service – Narrabundah ACT)

Facilitator:

  • Dr Mary Emeleus (General Practitioner and Psychotherapist based in QLD)

Read more about our panel.

Learning Outcomes:

Through an exploration of incarceration, the webinar will provide participants with the opportunity to:

  • Describe key issues and impacts of incarceration on individuals, families and communities
  • Develop strategies to enhance culturally aware and responsive services for Indigenous people and communities affected by incarceration
  • Identify strategies to increase self-esteem and enhance emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing

Before the webinar:

Register HERE

 

20-23 September AIDA Conference 2017

The AIDA Conference in 2017 will celebrate 20 years since the inception of AIDA. Through the theme Family. Unity. Success. 20 years strong we will reflect on the successes that have been achieved over the last 20 years by being a family and being united. We will also look to the future for AIDA and consider how being a united family will help us achieve all the work that still needs to be done in growing our Indigenous medical students, doctors, medical academics and specialists and achieving better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This conference will be an opportunity to bring together our members, guests, speakers and partners from across the sector to share in the reflection on the past and considerations for the future. The conference will also provide a platform to share our individual stories, experiences and achievements in a culturally safe environment.

Conference website

29 Sept : Closing the Prison Gap Focus on the Children Tweed Heads NSW

  • Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson and Margaret Hayes will “Focus on the Children”, describing their work with young people excluded from mainstream schools due to their behaviour.
  • Leanne Phillips and Cathy Stillwell will talk about “Healing the Womyn Healing the Child”
  • Jyi Lawnton and Casey Bird will describe “Indigenous Policy and the Scientific Gaze”
  • Chris Lee and Associate Professor Helen Farley discuss “Making the Connection”, the use of technology to address the issues of literacy and numeracy in juvenile justice settings
  • Dr Anthea Krieg will talk about her work in Ceduna, South Australia, coordinating services to prevent incarceration of First Nations children.

More info bookings Website

30 Sept : The 2017 Human Rights Photography competition  Closes

The 2017 Human Rights Photography competition is now open to children and adults around the country, with a $600 camera prize up for grabs for the most outstanding image!

For almost a decade, the Australian Human Rights Commission has been holding photo competitions every couple of years. Our last competition attracted a record 450 entries.

Photography is a powerful medium with a long history in the promotion and advancement of human rights around the world. Photos foster empathy for the suffering and experience of others, community engagement and positive social change. No one can forget the impact of photos such as Nick Ut’s famous photo The Terror of War of child Kim Phuc after a napalm attack during the Vietnam War.

Our focus for this year’s competition will be the experiences of people at home. The theme for the 2017 competition is Home, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home…

The shortlisted and winning photos to be displayed at the 2017 Human Rights Awards on 8 December in Sydney.

So, what are you waiting for?

About the competition

  • Enter at https://photocompetition.humanrights.gov.au/
  • There will be two categories for entries: Under 18 and 18 & over.
  • Overall winners will receive their prizes at the 2017 Human Rights Awards on December 8 in Sydney. A selection of photos from the Competition will also be on display.
  • Main prizes worth $600.
  • The competition will close on 30 September 2017.

If you have a query about the competition, please email photocomp@humanrights.gov.au

Photo Credit: Nimboi’s Bat by Sean Spencer, from the 2011 competition.

4- 5 October Aboriginal Male Health Ochre Day Darwin NT  

2017 Ochre Day Registration

Where: Darwin
When: 4th & 5th October 2017

This year NACCHO is pleased to announce the annual NACCHO Ochre Day will be held in Darwin during October 2017.

Beginning in 2013, Ochre Day is an important NACCHO Aboriginal male health initiative. Aboriginal males have arguably the worst health outcomes of any population group in Australia.

NACCHO has long recognised the importance of addressing Aboriginal male health as part of Close the Gap by 2030.

All information provided in registering for the NACCHO Ochre Day remains entirely confidential and will only be used to assist with planning i.e. catering etc.

  • There is no registration cost to attend the NACCHO Ochre Day (Day One or Two)
  • All Delegates will be provided breakfast & lunch on Day One and morning & afternoon tea as well as lunch on Day Two.
  • All Delegates are responsible for paying for and organising your own travel and accommodation.

For further information please contact Kyrn Stevens:
Phone: 08 8942 5400
Email: naccho.ochre@ddhs.org.au

Each Delegate is required to complete a separate applicatiom

REGISTER HERE 

10 October CATSINAM Professional Development Conference Gold Coast

catsinam

Contact info for CATSINAM

18 -20 October 35th Annual CRANAplus Conference Broome

We are pleased to announce the 35th Annual CRANAplus Conference will be held at Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa in Broome, Western Australia, from 18 to 20 October 2017.

THE FUTURE OF REMOTE HEALTH AND THE INFLUENCE OF TECHNOLOGY

Since the organisation’s inception in 1982 this event has served to create an opportunity for likeminded remote and isolated health individuals who can network, connect and share.

It serves as both a professional and social resource for the Remote and Isolated Health Workforce of Australia.

We aim to offer an environment that will foster new ideas, promote collegiate relationships, provide opportunities for professional development and celebrate remote health practice.

Conference Website

18- 20 October First 1000 Days Summit

 

The First 1000 Days Australia Summit is a three-day event that will bring together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, researchers, community members, front- line workers and policy makers involved in areas relevant to the work of First 1000 Days Australia. Lectures, panel discussions and workshops will address topics such as caring and parenting, infant and child development, family strengthening, implementation and translation, as well as a number of other areas.

The theme for the Summit is ‘Celebrating our leadership, strengthening our families’. We invite interested presenters to submit abstracts for oral presentations, workshops and posters that align with the aims, principles and research areas of First 1000 Days Australia, and of First 1,000 Days international.

20 October : ‘Most influential’ health leaders to appear in key forum at major rural medicine conference 


‘Most influential’ health leaders to appear in key forum at major rural medicine conference

RMA Presidents’ Breakfast
Friday 20 October 2017
Pullman Albert Park, Melbourne


www.ruralmedicineaustralia.com.au

Australia’s most influential health leaders will discuss critical health policy issues in a key Presidents’ Breakfast forum at the Rural Medicine Australia 2017 conference, to be held in Melbourne in October.Dr Ewen McPhee, President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), will host the forum and will be joined on the panel by Associate Professor Ruth Stewart, President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM); Dr Bastian Seidel, President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP); and Dr Tony Bartone, Vice President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

26-27 October Diabetes and cardiovascular research, stroke and maternal and child health issues.

‘Translation at the Centre’ An educational symposium

Alice Springs Convention Centre, Alice Springs

This year the Symposium will look at research translation as well as the latest on diabetes and cardiovascular research, stroke and maternal and child health issues.  The event will be run over a day and a half.
The Educational Symposium will feature a combination of relevant plenary presentations from renowned scientists and clinicians plus practical workshops.

Registration is free but essential.

Please contact the symposium coordinator on 1300 728 900 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm) or via email at events@baker.edu.au  

31 October2 Nov NACCHO AGM Members Meeting Canberra

We welcome you to attend the 2017 NACCHO Annual Members’ Conference.

On the new NACCHO Conference Website  you find links to

1.Registrations now open

2. Booking Your Accommodation

3. Book Your Flights

4. Expressions of Interest Speakers, case studies and table top presentations Close

5. Social Program

6.Conferences Partnership Sponsorship Opportunities

7.NACCHO Conference HELP Contacts

The NACCHO Members’ Conference and AGM provides a forum for the Aboriginal community controlled health services workforce, bureaucrats, educators, suppliers and consumers to:

  • Present on innovative local economic development solutions to issues that can be applied to address similar issues nationally and across disciplines
  • Have input and influence from the ‘grassroots’ into national and state health policy and service delivery
  • Demonstrate leadership in workforce and service delivery innovation
  • Promote continuing education and professional development activities essential to the Aboriginal community controlled health services in urban, rural and remote Australia
  • Promote Aboriginal health research by professionals who practice in these areas and the presentation of research findings
  • Develop supportive networks
  • Promote good health and well-being through the delivery of health services to and by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people throughout Australia.

Where :Hyatt Hotel Canberra

Dates : Members’ Conference: 31 October – 1 November 2017
Annual General Meeting: 2 November 2017

CLICK HERE

14-15 November : 6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, are proud to be co-hosting the 6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation.

This partnership indicates an alignment of priorities and a strong commitment from our two institutions to deliver a measurable, positive impact on the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples.

Under the theme “The Butterfly Effect: Translating Knowledge into Action for Positive Change”, the Symposium will be an opportunity to bring relevant expertise to the business of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research translation and put forward Indigenous perspectives that inform the most effective policies and programs. It will also be a forum to share knowledge of what successful research looks like at community level and what the key elements of success are.

We look forward to the participation of delegates with community, research and policy expertise, including outstanding keynote speakers Dr Carrie Bourassa (Canada) and Sir Mason Durie (New Zealand). We are confident that through our joint commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, the Symposium will make a significant contribution to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, families and individuals. This commitment also signals the importance of working together as equal partners, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

More info HERE

15 -18 November  :National Conference on Incontinence Scholarship Opportunity close 1 September

The Continence Foundation of Australia is offering 10 scholarships to support health professionals to attend the 26th National Conference on Incontinence. The conference will be held in Sydney on 15-18 November 2017.  The conference program and registration brochure can be found here.
This scholarship program is open to registered nurses and physiotherapists with an interest in continence care working in rural and remote areas of Australia. The scholarship includes full conference registration, including clinical workshops and social events, flights and accommodation. The top applicant also has the opportunity to participate in a placement at a Sydney continence clinic. Previous unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to apply.
Applications close Friday 1 September.
Applications are being taken online. Click here to find out more and to apply.  

27-30 November Indigenous Allied Health Australia : IAHA Conference Perth

iaha

Abstracts for the IAHA 2017 National Conference are now open!

We are calling for abstracts for concurrent oral presentations and workshops under the following streams:
– Care
– Cultures
– Connection

For abstract more information visit the IAHA Conference website at: https://iahaconference.com.au/call-for-abstracts/

11-12 April 2018 6th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium  Canberra call for extracts

About the Symposium

Drawing upon a tradition which commenced with the first rural and remote health scientific conference ‘Infront Outback’ held in Toowoomba in 1992, the 6th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium will be held in Canberra, 11-12 April 2018.

The Symposium will celebrate 20 years since the establishment of the first university department of rural health in 1997 and will highlight the research and knowledge that followed this innovation.

Outback Infront will celebrate the leadership that has emerged from the rural and remote health research community, while at the same time, support early career academics and the next generation of rural health researchers.

The Symposium will focus on rural and remote health research that informs strategic health policy and health service challenges in rural and remote Australia.

The Symposium will provide an opportunity to share and develop research that seeks to understand and deliver innovative change through building evidence that has the potential to transform health outcomes and service delivery.

Who should attend

The Symposium program will be designed to engage academics, policy makers, expert researchers in rural and remote health and clinician-researchers, as well as emerging and early career researchers.

It will also be relevant to policy makers, university departments of rural health, rural clinical schools, research collaborations and bodies, rural workforce organisations and health services delivery networks and providers.

Program

As well as key presentations from respected researchers in rural and remote health the Symposium will also feature Rogano presentations (scholarly debate on a current research project that answer “how to” questions and encourage scholarly thinking and debate) and a return of the popular Lightning Talk presentations to support early career academics and the next generation of rural health researchers.

Abstracts are now being sought for general presentations, Lightning talks and Rogano presentations

NACCHO Research Alert : @NRHAlliance Aboriginal health risk factors #rural and #remote populations

 ” Health risk factors like smoking, excessive drinking, illicit drug use, lack of physical activity, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake and overweight have powerful influences on health, and there are frequently clear inter-regional differences between the prevalence of these.

While it can be argued that there is some degree of personal choice involved in whether individuals have a poor health risk profile, there is clear evidence that external factors such as environment, opportunity, and community culture each have very strong influences.

For example, access to affordable healthy food can often be poor in smaller communities and this, coupled with lower incomes in these areas, adversely affects the quality of peoples’ diets, the prevalence of overweight, and consequently the prevalence of chronic disease.”

From the National Rural Health Alliance Research View HERE

National data pertaining to personal health risk factors typically comes from the ABS National Health Survey and the AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS). Some State and Territory Health Departments run their own health surveys (which cannot be aggregated nationally with each other or with the ABS survey because of the different methodologies and definitions used (think different State rail gauges). Consequently data describing aspects of health in regional and especially remote areas can be thin (ie with imprecise estimates in some or all areas).

Example 1

Table 14: Fruit and vegetable consumption, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15+ years, 2012-13

Roughly 60% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians 15+ in Major cities and regional/rural areas have inadequate fruit intake, closer to 50% in remote areas (compared with around 50% of all Australians 18+ in major cities and regional/rural areas).

Roughly 95% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians 15+ in Major cities and regional/rural areas have inadequate vegetable intake, perhaps higher (98%) in Very remote areas (compared with around 90%-94% of all Australians 18+ in major cities and regional/rural areas).

Example 2

NACCHO provided graphic

Table 16 Below : Overweight and Obesity, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15+ years, 2012-13

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in rural/regional and Remote areas (29%-33%) were a little more likely to be overweight than those in Major cities (28%), with those in Very Remote areas (26%) least likely to be overweight.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Inner regional areas (41%) were more likely to be obese than those in Major cities (38%), but those in Outer regional (36%) and remote areas (~33%) were less likely to be obese.

Overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Inner Regional areas were most likely to be overweight/obese (70%), those in Major cities, Outer Regional and Remote areas were less likely to be overweight/obese (~66%), while those in Very Remote areas were the least likely to be overweight/obese (59% )

At the time of writing, the most recent National Health Survey was conducted in 2014-15[1], while the most recent AIHW NDSHS[2] was conducted in 2016, with most recently available results from the 2013 NDSHS. The most recent ABS Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey[3] was conducted in 2012-13.

Some organisations (eg the Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU)) have calculated modelled estimates for small areas (eg SLA’s and PHN’s), where the prevalence of some risk factors has been predicted based on the age, sex and socioeconomic profile of the population living there.

Some sites (eg ABS) present risk factor data as crude rates, other sites (eg PHIDU) present risk factor data as age-standardised rates.  The advantage of the age-standardised rates is that the effect of age is largely removed from inter-population comparisons.

For example, older populations (eg those in rural/regional areas) would be expected to have higher average blood pressure than younger (eg Major cities) populations even though the underlying age-specific rates happened to be identical in both populations (because older people tend to have higher blood pressure than younger people).

While crude rates for the older population will be higher, the age-standardised rates in such a comparison would be the same – indicating a higher rate that is entirely explainable by the older age of one of the populations.

Both crude and age standardised rates are useful in understanding the health of rural and remote populations.

 


[1] http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4364.0.55.001

[3] http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4727.0.55.0012012-13?OpenDocumentSmoking

Table 1: Smoking status, by remoteness, 2013 and 2014-15

MC

IR

OR/Remote

Percentage

Current daily smoker (18+) (crude) 2014-15 (a)

13.0

16.7

20.9

Current smoker (18+) (Age standardised) 2014-15 (b) (includes daily, weekly, social etc smoking)

14.6

19.0

22.4

MC

IR

OR

Remote+ Very Remote

Current smoker (daily, weekly, or fortnightly) 14+ (crude) 2013 (c)

14.2

17.6

22.6

24.6

Current smoker (daily, weekly, or fortnightly) 14+ (Age standardised) 2013 (d)

14.2

18.6

23.6

24.4

Mean number of cigarettes smoked per week, smokers aged 14 years or older 2013 (e)

85.9

113.1

109.4

126.2

Sources:

Compared with Major cities (13%), the prevalence of daily smoking by people 18 years and older in Inner regional (17%) and Outer regional/Remote areas (21%) is higher.

The NDSH survey reflects these trends albeit with a slightly different age group (14+) and a different definition of smoking (daily plus less frequently), but the NDSH survey adds detail for remote areas where smoking rates are higher again (around 25% versus around 23% in Outer regional).

In addition, the average number of cigarettes smoked by each smoker is higher in regional/rural areas (~110/week) than in Major cities (86/week), and higher again (126/week) in remote areas.

 

Smoking – exposure, uptake, establishment, quitting

Table 2: Smoking characteristics by Remoteness, 2013, 2014 and 2014-15

MC

IR

OR

remote

8.8

17.8

19.3

27.8

Proportion of pregnant women who gave birth and smoked at any time during the pregnancy (2013, crude, National Perinatal Data Collection, exposure tables, Table 5.1.2 )

8.5

17.0

18.9

27.5

Proportion of pregnant women who gave birth and smoked in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy (2013, crude, National Perinatal Data Collection) exposure tables, Table 5.2.2)

3.6

3.1

4.1

*9.4

Proportion of dependent children (aged 0–14) who live in a household with a daily smoker who smokes inside the home (2013, crude, NDSHS exposure tables, Table 6.3)

2.5

2.0

2.7

*2.9

Proportion of adults aged 18 or older who live in a household with a daily smoker who smokes inside the home (2013, crude, NDSHS, exposure tables, Table 7.3)

16.2

15.4

14.7

15.5

Average age at which people aged 14–24 first smoked a full cigarette (2013, crude, NDSHS, uptake tables, Table 9.3)

17.8

22.7

17.8

28.3

Proportion of 12–17 year old secondary school students smoking at least a few puffs of a cigarette (2014, crude, Australian Secondary Students Alcohol and Drug Survey 2014, uptake tables, Table 10.3

54.7

61.1

64.9

67.2

Proportion of persons (aged 18 or older) who have smoked a full cigarette (2013, crude,  NDSHS, uptake tables, Table 10.8)

2.5

3.4

2.5

3.7

Proportion of secondary school students (aged 12–17) who have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime (2014, crude, Australian Secondary Students Alcohol and Drug Survey 2014, transition tables, Table 2.3)

20.2

25.9

44.1

45.2

Proportion of young people (aged 18–24) who have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime (2013, crude, NDSHS, transition tables, Table 2.6)

21.3

16.8

19.0

15.5

Quitting: Proportion successfully gave up for more than a month (2013, crude, NDSHS, cessation tables, Table 4.3)

29.2

34.2

31.7

32.9

Quitting, Proportion unsuccessful (2013, crude, NDSHS, cessation tables, Table 4.3)

46.3

48.0

47.4

45.2

Quitting: Proportion any attempt (2013, crude, NDSHS, cessation tables, Table 4.3)

35.2

36.3

36.1

36.0

Mean age at which ex-smokers aged 18 or older reported no longer smoking (2013, crude, NDSHS, cessation tables, Table 11.2)

53.1

51.5

46.3

45.0

The proportion of ever smokers aged 18 or older who did not smoke in the last 12 months (2013, crude, NDSHS, cessation tables, Table 12.3)

4.9

6.0

4.8

7.0

Proportion of secondary school students (aged 12–17) who were weekly smokers (2014, crude, Australian Secondary Students Alcohol and Drug Survey 2014, established tables, Table 1.3)

6.9

9.3

6.8

10.4

Proportion of secondary school students (aged 12–17) who were monthly smokers (2014, crude, Australian Secondary Students Alcohol and Drug Survey 2014, established tables, Table 13.3)

13.0

16.7

21.2

18.8

Proportion of adults aged 18 or older who are daily smokers (2014-15, crude, ABS NHS, established tables, Table 3.3)

10.9

7.8

2.9

n.p.

Proportion of smokers aged 18 or older who are occasional smokers (smoke weekly or less than weekly) (2014-15, crude, ABS NHS, established tables, Table 14.3)

40.1

44.7

42.3

52.7

Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 or older who are daily smokers (2012-13, crude, ABS Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2012–13, established tables, Table 8i.3)

Source: http://www.aihw.gov.au/alcohol-and-other-drugs/data/ (sighted 11/7/17)
Note: Those estimates above with asterix have large standard errors and should be treated carefully.

Women in rural and remote areas were much more likely to smoke during pregnancy, with 28% of women in remote areas smoking during pregnancy, compared with 18-19% in regional/rural areas, and 9% in Major cities.

It is unclear whether exposure to environmental tobacco smoke varies by remoteness.

Young people outside major cities appeared to have their first cigarette at an earlier age (~15 years as opposed to ~16 years in Major cities.

Secondary school students in Inner regional (~23%) and remote (~28%) areas were more likely to have had at least a few puffs of a cigarette than those in major cities (~18%).

While 20% of young people in Major cities had smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, 26%, 44% and 45% of young people in Inner regional, Outer regional and remote areas had done so.

People outside Major cities were as likely or slightly more likely to have attempted to quit smoking, but were less likely to be successful (and more likely to be unsuccessful).

A higher proportion of secondary students outside Major cities were weekly or monthly smokers (6%, 5% and 7% in IR, OR and remote areas versus 5% in Major cities weekly, 9%, 7%, and 10% in IR, OR and remote areas versus 7% in Major cities monthly).

Table 3: Current daily smoker, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15+ years, by Remoteness, 2012-13

MC

IR

OR

R

VR

Crude Percent

Current daily smoker

36.2

40.9

39.8

47.4

51.1

Source: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4727.0.55.0012012-13?OpenDocument Table 2 (sighted 12/7/17)

Prevalence of smoking amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15 years and older is around 35%-40% in Major cities and regional/rural areas, and close to 50% in remote areas. Note that while the pattern is similar in Table 2 and Table 3 above, the figures for 18+ and 15+ year olds are slightly different.

Smoking Trends

Table 4: Comparison of declines in smoking rate estimates across remoteness areas, people 18+, based on ABS NHS surveys, 2001 to 2011-12

Survey year

MC

IR

OR/Rem

Australia

Crude percent daily smokers

2001

21.9

21.9

26.5

22.4

2004-05

19.9

23.0

26.2

21.3

2007-08

17.5

20.1

26.1

18.9

2011-12

14.7

18.3

22.2

16.1

2014-15

13.0

16.7

20.9

14.5

Source: ABS National Health Surveys

From Table 4 above, rates of smoking have clearly declined in Major cities areas, but have been slower to decline in Inner regional and Outer regional/Remote areas. Rates of smoking in rural areas, apparently static last decade, now appear to be declining. Rates in Major cities and Inner regional areas have declined to 0.59 and 0.76 times the 2001 rates in these areas. The 2014-15 rate in Outer regional areas is 0.79 times the 2001 rate.

Figure 1: Daily smokers 18 years and older, 2007-08, 2011-12 and 2014-15, NHS

Figure 1: Daily smokers 18 years and older, 2007-08, 2011-12 and 2014-15, NHS

Source: ABS NHS http://www.aihw.gov.au/alcohol-and-other-drugs/data/ established tables, Table 3.3 (sighted 11/7/17)

Figure 2: Smokers 14 years and older, 2007, 2010 and 2013, NDSHS

Figure 2: Smokers 14 years and older, 2007, 2010 and 2013, NDSHS

Source: AIHW NDSHS http://www.aihw.gov.au/alcohol-and-other-drugs/data/ tobacco smoking table S3.12 (sighted 11/7/17)

Note: Smokers include daily, weekly and less frequent smokers.

Figures 1 and 2 above both show clear declines in Major cities and Inner regional areas, but the trend in Outer regional and Remote areas is less clear, with ABS data showing a decline in daily smoking rates for people aged 18+ between 2007-8 and 2014-15, but NDSHS data showing little change in smoking rates for people 14+ between 2007 and 2013.

Alcohol

Table 5: Alcohol risk status, by remoteness, 2013 and 2014-15

Alcohol consumption

MC

IR

OR/Rem

Exceeded 2009 NHMRC lifetime risk guidelines, people 18+, crude %, 2014-15 (a)

16.3

18.4

23.4

Exceeded 2009 NHMRC lifetime risk guidelines, people 15+, age standardised %, 2014-15 (b)

15.7

17.4

22.0

Exceeded 2009 NHMRC single occasion risk guidelines, people 18+, crude %, 2014-15 (a)

42.7

48.5

46

MC

IR

OR

R/VR

Abstainer/ex-drinker, crude %, 14+, 2013 (c)

23.1

18.9

20.5

17.5

Low lifetime risk, crude %, 14+, 2013 (c)

60.2

62

56.9

47.6

High lifetime risk, crude %, 14+, 2013 (c)

16.7

19.1

22.6

34.9

low single occasion risk, crude %, 14+, 2013 (c)

40.4

41.8

38.1

30.8

Single occasion risk less than weekly, crude %, 14+, 2013 (c)

23.5

24.4

23.6

22.8

Single occasion risk at least weekly, crude %, 14+, 2013 (c)

13

14.9

17.8

28.9

Sources:

Table 6: Alcohol consumption against 2009 NHMRC guidelines, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15+ years, by Remoteness 2012-13

MC

IR

OR

R

VR

Percent

Exceeded lifetime risk guidelines

18.0

18.7

18.2

22.5

14.3

Exceeded single occasion risk guidelines

56.7

57.4

50.7

59.0

41.4

Source: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4727.0.55.0012012-13?OpenDocument Table 2 (sighted 12/7/17)

The figures in Table 6 are not strictly comparable with those for the total population in Table 5, because  Table 6 refers to people who are 15 years and older, while Table 5 refers to people who are 18 years and older.

The percentage of the 15+ ATSI population exceeding 2009 NHMRC Lifetime risk guidelines is around 15-20% with little apparent inter-regional variation, compared with, for the total population 18+,  16% in Major cities, increasing to 23% in Outer regional/remote areas.

The percentage of the 15+ ATSI population exceeding the 2009 single occasion risk guidelines is around 50-60%, and around 40% in Very remote areas, compared with, for the total population 18+,  40-50% in Major cities, rural and regional areas.

Alcohol trends

Table 7: Type of alcohol use and treatment for alcohol, by remoteness area (per 1,000 population)

MC

IR

OR

R/VR

single occasion risk (monthly) 2004

287

304

321

370

2007

285

292

312

437

2010

274

312

329

413

2013

250

273

315

422

lifetime risk 2004

200

215

234

262

2007

199

210

238

314

2010

189

225

251

310

2013

167

191

226

349

very high risk – yearly 2004

167

185

206

243

2007

172

183

206

288

2010

161

183

218

266

2013

151

166

194

258

very high risk – monthly 2004

77

84

104

130

2007

78

89

100

153

2010

79

94

113

154

2013

70

70

100

170

very high risk – weekly 2004

21

27

41

38

2007

24

28

24

50

2010

37

43

54

78

2013

27

28

38

70

Closed treatment episodes 2004–05

61

72

60

58

2007–08

76

84

80

129

2010–11

69

96

87

135

2013–14

68

79

93

155

Source: NDSHS,  http://www.aihw.gov.au/alcohol-and-other-drugs/data/  alcohol -supplementary data tables, Table S18

Notes:
Single occasion risk (monthly): Had more than 4 standard drinks at least once a month
Lifetime risk: On average, had more than 2 standard drinks per day
Very high risk (yearly): Had more than 10 standard drinks at least once a year
Very high risk (monthly): Had more than 10 standard drinks at least once a month
Very high risk (weekly): Had more than 10 standard drinks at least once a week

There is a clear increase in the prevalence of people who drink alcohol in such a way as to increase their single occasion risk (eg from car accident, assault, fall, etc) and their lifetime risk (eg from chronic disease – liver disease, dementia, cancer etc) as remoteness increases.

In 2013, single occasion risk ranged from 25% of people 14 years or older in major cities to 42% of people in remote areas, while lifetime risk increased from 17% in major cities to 35% in remote areas.

In 2013, The prevalence of people who drank more than 10 standard drinks in one sitting at least once per week, increased from just under 3% in Major cities to 7% in remote areas.

In 2013-14, there were just under 70 closed treatment episodes per 1,000 people living in Major cities, increasing to around 80 and 90 per 1,000 population in Inner and Outer regional areas, to 155 per 1,000 people living in remote Australia.

 

Illicit drug use 2013

Table 8: Illicit drug use, “recent users” 14+, 2013

MC IR OR remote

Crude percent

Cannabis

9.8

10.0

12.0

13.6

Ecstasy

2.9

1.5

1.6

*1.8

Meth/amphetamine

2.1

1.6

2.0

*4.4

Cocaine

2.6

0.8

*1.1

*2.5

Any illicit drug

14.9

14.1

16.7

18.7

Source: AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2013. http://www.aihw.gov.au/alcohol-and-other-drugs/data/  Illicit drug use (supplementary) tables S5.6, S5.11, S5.17, S5.21, S5.26.

Note: * indicates large standard error (therefore some degree of uncertainty)

Illicit drug use appears to be higher in Outer regional and remote areas compared with Major cities and Inner regional areas, in large part due to higher rates of cannabis use in these areas, but with apparent lower use of ecstasy and cocaine in regional areas compared with Major cities.

 

Physical activity

Table 9: Physical inactivity, people 18+, 2014-15

MC

IR

OR/Remote

Percentage of people aged 18+ who undertook no or low exercise in the previous week (crude) (a)

64.3

70.1

72.4

Percentage of people aged 18+ who undertook no or low exercise in the previous week (age standardised) (b)

64.8

68.6

71

Sources:
(a) ABS NHS (http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4364.0.55.0012014-15?OpenDocument Table 6.3)
(b) PHIDU (ABS NHS data) (http://phidu.torrens.edu.au/social-health-atlases/data#social-health-atlas-of-australia-remoteness-areas) sighted 18/7/2017

Note that level of exercise is based on exercise undertaken for fitness, sport or recreation in the last week.

Physical inactivity appears to be more prevalent with remoteness, increasing from 65% of people in Major cities to 71% in Outer regional/remote areas.

Table 10: Average daily steps, 2011-12

MC

IR

OR/Rem

Average daily steps, 18+ years, 2011-12 (a)

7,393

7,388

7,527

Average daily steps, 5-17years, 2011-12 (b)

9,097

9,266

9,160

Sources:

In 2011-12, adults living in Outer regional/Remote areas took slightly more steps than those living in Major cities or Inner regional areas, while the number of steps taken by children and adolescents in regional/Remote areas was slightly greater compared with those in Major cities.

Table 11: Average time spent on physical activity and sedentary behaviour by persons aged 18+, 2011-12

MC

IR

OR/Remote

Australia

Hours

Physical activity(a)

3.9

3.4

3.9

3.8

Sedentary behaviour (leisure only)(b)

29.3

28.0

27.9

28.9

Sedentary behaviour (leisure and work)(b)

40.2

35.2

36.0

38.8

Notes:
(a) Includes walking for transport/fitness, moderate and vigorous physical activity.
(b) Sedentary is defined as sitting or lying down for activities.

Source: ABS 2011-12 Australian Health Survey (Physical activity) http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4364.0.55.0042011-12?OpenDocument  Table 5.1

Adults living in Inner regional and Outer regional/Remote areas were about as likely as (or very slightly less likely than) those in Major cities to be sedentary in their leisure time, but appeared to be slightly less likely to be sedentary overall (ie their work involved a greater level of physical activity).

Table 12: Whether children aged 2-17 years met physical and screen-based activity recommendations, 2011-12

MC

IR

OR/Rem

Crude percentage

Met physical activity recommendation on all 7 days(a)(b)

27.5

34.3

34.2

Met screen-based activity recommendation on all 7 days(b)(c)

28.0

29.7

31.0

Met physical activity and screen-based recommendations on all 7 days (a)(b)(c)

9.7

10.9

14.2

Notes:
(a) The physical activity recommendation for children 2–4 years is 180 minutes or more per day, for children 5-17 years it is 60 minutes or more per day. See Physical activity recommendation in Glossary.
(b) In 7 days prior to interview.
(c) The screen-based recommendation for children 2–4 years is no more than 60 minutes per day, for children 5-17 years it is no more than 2 hours per day for entertainment purposes.

Source:
ABS 2011-12 Australian Health Survey (Physical activity) http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4364.0.55.0042011-12?OpenDocument  Table 14.3

Children in rural and regional Australia appeared more likely (34% vs 28%) to meet physical activity recommendations and slightly more likely (30%vs 28%) to meet screen-based activity recommendations than their Major cities counterparts.

 

Fruit and vegetable consumption

Table 13: Fruit and vegetable consumption, people 18+ years, by remoteness, 2014-15

MC

IR

OR/Remote

Crude Percentage

Inadequate fruit consumption(a)

50.0

50.6

51.2

Inadequate fruit consumption(b)

50.4

48.3

48.0

Inadequate vegetable consumption(a)

93.4

93.5

89.3

Inadequate vegetable consumption(b)

n.p.

n.p.

n.p.

Sources:
(a) ABS NHS (http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4364.0.55.0012014-15?OpenDocument Table 6.3)
(b) PHIDU (ABS NHS data) (http://phidu.torrens.edu.au/social-health-atlases/data#social-health-atlas-of-australia-remoteness-areas) sighted 18/7/2017

Note that adequacy of consumption is based on comparison with 2013 NHMRC guidelines.

Half of adult Australians eat insufficient fruit, with little clear difference between major cities and regional/rural areas.

Around 90% of adult Australians ate insufficient vegetables, with little clear difference between major cities and regional/rural areas.

Table 14: Fruit and vegetable consumption, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15+ years, 2012-13

MC

IR

OR

R

VR

Crude Percent

Inadequate daily fruit consumption (2013 NHMRC Guidelines)

59.0

60.6

56.9

54.9

49.1

Inadequate daily fruit consumption (2003 NHMRC Guidelines)

62.1

63.6

59.8

58.3

51.6

Inadequate daily vegetables consumption (2013 NHMRC Guidelines)

95.9

93.5

93.6

94.5

97.9

Inadequate daily vegetables consumption (2003 NHMRC Guidelines)

93.8

90.6

90.5

91.2

96.1

Source: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4727.0.55.0012012-13?OpenDocument Table 2 (sighted 12/7/17)

Roughly 60% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians 15+ in Major cities and regional/rural areas have inadequate fruit intake, closer to 50% in remote areas (compared with around 50% of all Australians 18+ in major cities and regional/rural areas).

Roughly 95% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians 15+ in Major cities and regional/rural areas have inadequate vegetable intake, perhaps higher (98%) in Very remote areas (compared with around 90%-94% of all Australians 18+ in major cities and regional/rural areas).

 

 

Overweight and Obesity

Table 15: Overweight and Obesity, people 18+ years, by remoteness, 2014-15

MC

IR

OR/Remote

Crude Percentage

Persons, overweight/obese (a)

61.1

69.2

69.2

Age standardised percentage

Males overweight (b)

43.8

41.1

34.3

Males obese (b)

25.8

33.1

38.2

Females overweight (b)

28.9

28.3

30.1

Females obese (b)

25.0

32.4

33.7

People  overweight (b)

36.2

34.4

31.4

People obese (b)

25.4

32.6

35.8

Sources:
(a) ABS NHS (http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4364.0.55.0012014-15?OpenDocument Table 6.3)
(b) ABS NHS http://phidu.torrens.edu.au/social-health-atlases/data#social-health-atlas-of-australia-remoteness-areas

Adults in rural/regional areas are more likely to be overweight or obese than people in Major cities (69% vs 61%).

However, there were inter-regional BMI and gender differences:

  • Compared with those in Major cities, males in Inner regional and especially Outer-regional areas were less likely to be overweight (41% and 34%, vs 44%) but much more likely to be obese (33% and 38% vs 26%).
  • Compared with those in Major cities, females in Inner regional and Outer-regional areas were about as likely to be overweight (~29%) but much more likely to be obese (~33% vs 25%).

 

Table 16: Overweight and Obesity, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15+ years, 2012-13

MC

IR

OR

R

VR

Crude Percent

Overweight

27.5

28.8

30.1

32.5

26.4

Obese

37.9

41.3

36.2

33.1

32.3

Overweight/obese

65.4

70.1

66.2

65.6

58.8

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in rural/regional and Remote areas (29%-33%) were a little more likely to be overweight than those in Major cities (28%), with those in Very Remote areas (26%) least likely to be overweight.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Inner regional areas (41%) were more likely to be obese than those in Major cities (38%), but those in Outer regional (36%) and remote areas (~33%) were less likely to be obese.

Overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Inner Regional areas were most likely to be overweight/obese (70%), those in Major cities, Outer Regional and Remote areas were less likely to be overweight/obese (~66%), while those in Very Remote areas were the least likely to be overweight/obese (59%).

These figures compare with 61% – the prevalence of overweight/obesity for (predominantly non-Indigenous) people living in Major cities.

 

High blood pressure

Table 17: High blood pressure, people 18+, by Remoteness, 2014-15

MC

IR

OR/Remote

Percentage

Crude % (a)

21.9

27.1

24

Age standardised % (b)

22.7

24.6

22.1

Sources:

(a) ABS NHS (http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4364.0.55.0012014-15?OpenDocument Table 6.3)
(b) ABS NHS http://phidu.torrens.edu.au/social-health-atlases/data#social-health-atlas-of-australia-remoteness-areas

Age for age, people in rural/regional Australia appeared to be as likely, or very slightly more likely to have high blood pressure than their counterparts in Major cities (~23% vs ~24%). However, because people in rural/regional areas are older (on average), the prevalence of people with high blood pressure is higher (~26% vs 22%) than

Updated 31/07/2017
To view archived Risk Factors click here

Aboriginal Health #NRW2017 : @AHCSA_ and @PAFC @AFL to support new @DeadlyChoices Aboriginal health checks in South Australia

 

” The Deadly Choices program’s intent is to provide a measurable difference in addressing Aboriginal health issues. 

“Aboriginal people have far higher mortality rates than the average population and die at much younger ages. Despite government intentions to ‘close the gap’, the problem isn’t getting any better,

Chronic disease and preventable health conditions are taking a toll on our communities and we need to find innovative ways to move the dial toward better health outcomes.

We hope, with support from the Port Adelaide Football Club, our Deadly Choices initiative will encourage our young people to take responsibility and stop smoking, stay active and look after their own wellbeing, and that of their families.”

Aboriginal Health Council of SA chairperson John Singer

Port Adelaide has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia Ltd (AHCSA) to deliver Deadly Choices – a program that will build awareness of healthy lifestyle choices and encourage regular health checks.

‘Deadly’ is a common term used to express positivity or excellence within Aboriginal communities, and Deadly Choices is designed to help improve the excellent health choices made by Aboriginal people in South Australia.

Gavin Wanganeen ( right ) won the 1993 Brownlow Medal. Wanganeen is a descendant of the Kokatha Mula people.

The program is based on a successful model used in Queensland since 2009 with the Brisbane Broncos, developed by Adrian Carson and his team and staff at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.

That program led to a 1300 per cent increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people undergoing health checks.

Deadly Choices provides participants with limited edition merchandise in exchange for taking part in educational programs and undergoing regular health checks.

The merchandise is provided as a ‘money can’t buy’ incentive, with revenue from undergoing health checks used to fund subsequent stages of the program.

Port Adelaide players will support the promotion of the program and encourage participants to take part in the eight-week education program to receive their Deadly Choices footy guernsey.

As part of the program:

  • Education programs will be launched in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands) in collaboration with the Nganampa Health Council in June, in support of Port Adelaide’s WillPOWER program.
  • Curriculum will cover leadership, chronic disease, tobacco cessation, nutrition, physical activity, harmful substances, healthy relationships, access and health checks.
  • Health checks will be provided in the first stage of Deadly Choices by AHCSA-aligned members, which already provided comprehensive primary health care in SA.
  • Long-term partnerships with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) are being explored to established metropolitan clinics to provide health check services.

Port Adelaide chief executive officer Keith Thomas said the decision to partner with AHCSA is a continuation of Port Adelaide’s commitment to helping forge tangible outcomes for Aboriginal communities in South Australia.

In his CEO Update, Thomas reflected on the fact 70% of Aboriginal deaths are related to chronic disease, while the life expectancy for an Aboriginal person is on average, 10 years less than the wider population.

“We are proud to partner with AHCSA to deliver Deadly Choices across South Australia,” said Mr Thomas.

“The Deadly Choices program perfectly links to the healthy lifestyle messages we promote through WillPOWER and the Aboriginal Power Cup programs.

“We’re very excited to be making a contribution to the health agenda in Aboriginal communities around South Australia.”

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Alcohol : Draft terms of reference for a another comprehensive review of alcohol policy in the #NT

 ” The Northern Territory has the second highest alcohol consumption in the world. Misuse of alcohol has devastating health and social consequences for NT Aboriginal communities.

APO NT believes that addressing alcohol and drug misuse, along with the many health and social consequences of this misuse, can only be achieved through a multi-tiered approach.

APO NT supports evidence based alcohol policy reform, including:

  • Supply reduction measures
  • Harm reduction measures, and
  • Demand reduction measures.

To address alcohol and drug misuse within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the social and structural determinants of mental health must be addressed,

Parliamentary Inquiry into the Harmful use of Alcohol in Aboriginal Communities

On 17 April 2014, APO NT submitted their written evidence to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs on the Inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities.

The APO NT submission made 16 recommendations to the committee: SEE INFO Here

Read  NACCHO Alcohol and other drugs 164 Articles over 5 years HERE

RESPONSIBLE ALCOHOL POLICY =

A SAFER COMMUNITY :  NT Government Press Release 10 March 2017

The Health Minister Natasha Fyles today released draft terms of reference for a comprehensive review of alcohol policy in the Northern Territory.

Minister Fyles said the Government was determined to tackle the cost of alcohol abuse on our community and the review will give all Territorians an opportunity to have their voices heard.

“We recognise that, while everyone has the right to enjoy a drink responsibly, alcohol abuse is a significant cause of violence and crime in our community,” Ms Fyles said.

“All Territorians have the right to feel safe, to have their property, homes and businesses secure from damage and theft.

“They also have the right to access health, police and justice services, without having critical resources diverted by the crippling effects of alcohol abuse.

“That’s why Territory Labor has consistently advocated, and implemented, a range of policies to reduce the harm caused by alcohol abuse.

“When last in Government we implemented the Banned Drinker Register (BDR), described by Police as the best tool they had to fight violent crime.

“In Opposition we were clear we would reinstate the BDR and impose a moratorium on new takeaway licences.

“Since coming to Government we have:

  • worked efficiently across agencies to bring back the BDR by September 1
  • imposed a moratorium on new takeaway liquor licences (except in exceptional circumstances) – October 2016
  • strengthened legislation to ensure Sunday trade remains limited – November 2016
  • limited the floor space for take away alcohol stores – December 2016
  • introduced new Guidelines for liquor licensing to allow for public hearings – 2 February 2017

“While some of these policies aren’t popular, their effectiveness is backed by evidence.

“This review is an important chance for the community to have their say and to ensure that all facets of alcohol policy complement our determination to make the Territory safer.

“An expert panel will be commissioned to look at alcohol policies and alcohol legislation, reporting to government on:

  • evidence based policy initiatives required to reduce alcohol fuelled crime
  • ensuring safe and vibrant entertainment precincts
  • the provision of alcohol service and management in remote communities
  • decision-making under the Liquor Act
  • the density of liquor licences (concentration, type, number and location of liquor licences ) and the size of liquor outlets

“Broad public consultation will be undertaken as part of the review, with multiple avenues for interested people, groups and communities to put forward their views.

“I look forward to hearing from not only the loudest and most powerful voices in our community, but also the many women, children, families and communities who all too often bear the cost of alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory.”

The review will start in April with a report and recommendations delivered to government in late September 2017.

The government will then develop a response to the recommendations for the development of the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy and legislative reform agenda.

These will be released publicly along with the Expert Advisory Panel’s final report.

To view the draft terms of references go to: https://health.nt.gov.au/professionals/alcohol-and-other-drugs-health-professionals/alcohol-policies-and-legislation-review

Submissions are now being accepted at:  AODD.DOH@nt.gov.au

NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health : How Redfern’s Sol Bellear prevented a massive life-threatening heart attack

sol-4-copy

 ” I’ve been part of campaigns urging Aboriginal men to lead healthy lifestyles and get regular medical checks, but I didn’t follow my own advice.

If there’s one legacy I leave, I want it to be that Aboriginal men more regularly present for check-ups.”

“We need to take responsibility. We owe this to our families and our communities. We don’t need to keep dying too early from preventable heart disease.”

As the long-term Chair of the Aboriginal Medical Service and a Board member since 1975, Sol didn’t practice what he preached when it came to his own health.

Originally published by Our Mob 22 Dec 2017

Watch recent NACCHO TV Interview with Sol Bellear

All images in this story: Courtesy of the Bellear family

Land Rights legend Sol Bellear considers himself one of the lucky ones.

A decision Sol made some nine months ago to lead a healthier lifestyle not only saved his life but made him more determined to lead the campaign for men’s health.

A few months before he was to die from a massive heart attack, Sol decided to change his life.

While driving back together from a New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) meeting in West Wyalong, Sol’s colleague, Acting CEO, Cal Davis told him about a diet he had started to control his diabetes.

“Sol was pretty interested in the diet and said he wanted to try it out,” Cal says.

“So I got him some books and he started to get his calories down and eat more low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean-style meals.”

The diet immediately brought results. Within eight weeks, Sol had lost seven kilos. But then his weight plateaued. When he started to do some light exercise he found he was short of breath after only a few steps.

Sol’s doctor referred him to cardiologist, Dr Raj Puranik who for seven years has conducted monthly clinics at the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service.

“We took an ultrasound and I was concerned that an area of Sol‘s heart muscle wasn’t working,“ Dr Puranik said.

“After we did an angiogram (or x-ray of the heart), we found that two of his coronary arteries were 100 percent blocked and the other was 90 percent blocked.  So he was surviving on just ten percent blood flow.”

Sol could have suffered a life-threatening heart attack at any time.

How Sol Bellear prevented a massive life-threatening heart attack

A member of the surgical team that operated on Sol later told him that he was just three to four weeks away from a massive heart attack that would most likely have killed him.

Sol was rushed to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where surgeons performed an emergency coronary bypass operation.

Surgeons split his chest open and grafts were used to bypass the blockages in his arteries.

After four hours the operation was a success and Sol woke to see his concerned family huddled around his bed.

“You wake up in the Intensive Care Unit and all your family are there.  And you look at their faces and see all their grief.  You think, so this is what I’ve put them through,” he said.

As the long-term Chair of the Aboriginal Medical Service and a Board member since 1975, Sol didn’t practice what he preached when it came to his own health.

“I’ve been part of campaigns urging Aboriginal men to lead healthy lifestyles and get regular medical checks, but I didn’t follow my own advice.”

Sol was a keen sportsman who played rugby league for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Redfern All Blacks, but after he retired from football he didn’t maintain regular exercise or watch his diet.

“I was working long hours, drinking too much and eating too many rubbish foods.”

Although he spent a large part of his life at the Aboriginal Medical Service, Sol, like many men, didn’t prioritise a visit to the doctor.

“It’s an ego thing. We think we’re bullet proof … it will never happen to me. But it did happen.”

Since his brush with death, Sol has been struck by how many of his friends and colleagues have had heart bi-passes.

“They say to me: ‘Brother, you’re now a member of the zipper club.’  But this isn’t a club where we want any new members.”

However, Sol knows that he is one of the lucky ones. After the operation he was at home recovering and feeling bored so he got out some old photos from his playing days.

There was one that was of the Redfern All Blacks team from 1978.

There are 20 young men in the photo including the ball boys.

Now all but six of them are dead, many from heart disease.

sol-1978-team

“The greatest tragedy is that many of the deaths of these young men were preventable,” Sol says.

“The only thing separating me from them is luck.”

Dr Puranik says that Australia will never close the mortality gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people without action on heart disease.

“Heart disease is the number one driving factor behind the gap. It’s the number one killer but 90 percent of cardiac disease is preventable,” he says.

His years at the Redfern AMS have convinced Dr Puranik that getting the model of health care delivery right is crucial to overcoming the problem.

“We need to take our clinics to Aboriginal people in their community-controlled medical services and show through images rather than just tell them how their heart muscle is working.”

The secret, he says, is patience and building trust.

“When we first started out at Redfern in June 2009 we had a no show rate of around 90 percent.  Now we have seen more than 6,000 patients and the number of people who don’t turn up for appointments is down to 10 percent.”

Sol says that Aboriginal men can’t just leave it to the doctors to solve the problem.

“We now have some of the best doctors in the world at our Medical Services, but only we can change the way that we live by having regular check-ups and a healthier lifestyle,” he says.

Sol says that when you hit 40, you need to start getting regular check-ups – even if you play regular sport and feel fit and healthy.

“By the time you move through your 50s and 60s you should have a clear idea of your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

You don’t want to leave it as long as I did – where you’re playing Russian roulette with your heart.”

Sol urges Aboriginal men to adopt a healthier lifestyle by not smoking, cutting down on alcohol and keeping weight down through healthy foods and regular exercise.

Dr Puranik says that there are some clear warning signs that indicate you should seek urgent medical attention.

These include pain to the left side of the central chest, neck or arm pain – particularly related to exercise, dizzy spells or blackouts, chest pain that wakes you up from sleep as well as breathlessness or palpitations.

Incredibly, given how close he came to death, just one month after surgery Sol’s normal heart function had been fully restored.

A veteran of the Aboriginal Land Rights movement and a pioneer of Aboriginal media, sports legal and health services, Sol says that nothing now matters as much to him as overcoming heart disease amongst Aboriginal men.

“If there’s one legacy I leave, I want it to be that Aboriginal men more regularly present for check-ups.”

“We need to take responsibility. We owe this to our families and our communities. We don’t need to keep dying too early from preventable heart disease.”

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For NACCHO Media Contact

Colin Cowell Editor 0401 331 251

Email mailto:nacchonews@naccho.org.au

NACCHO #HIV #AIDS2016 : Fears for Indigenous HIV epidemic as diagnosis rates rise in Australia

HIV

” The potential exists for HIV to escalate rapidly in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population – as has been the experience in other Indigenous populations globally. This potential is due to three main issues:

  • very high rates of other sexually transmissible infections (STIs) exist in many communities, and the presence of these increases the chances that HIV can be transmitted
  • increasing rates of injecting drug use – including increasing rates of methamphetamine (ice) use in Aboriginal communities, and
  • the close proximity of Papua New Guinea (PNG) to the Torres Strait Islands, and the mobility and interaction of PNG nationals and Torres Strait Islanders. PNG has the highest recorded rates of HIV in the Asia-Pacific”

Associate Professor James Ward is Head, Infectious Diseases Research Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health at South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and a guest editor of HIV Australia.U And Me Can Stop HIV (article second)

“Public health authorities are warning that Australia could be on its way to an HIV epidemic in Indigenous communities.

We know that Indigenous Australians have poorer health overall and often have poorer access to health services, so just getting diagnosed can be a real problem, Support structures for HIV infection are not always in place in Indigenous communities.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community traditionally hasn’t had high levels of HIV, so there’s still a lot of stigma and fear,

‘The young people we’ve diagnosed have known very little about HIV, so we have a lot of education to do for them, their sexual partners and sometimes their families if they’re willing to involve their families, which often they’re not.

Cathy Van Extel reports on the latest figures from far north Queensland.

“Research into a cure for HIV has been gathering momentum. Global investment in cure research has more than doubled in the last four years, in contrast with investment in other HIV programs.

Given the effectiveness of antiretroviral drugs in both treating and preventing HIV infection, however, cure research raises a range of important questions about priority setting in global health.

Curing HIV – or at least achieving long-term remission – is possible, under the right circumstances.”

Author Lecturer in ethics, HIV prevention, UNSW Australia: The Conversation Remind me again, how close are we to a cure for HIV?

Image above : To acknowledge #AIDS2016 Conference in South Africa NACCHO  presents an update on Indigenous Australia : Today, there are 36.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the world and more than 95% of those living with HIV are in developing countries where access to effective health care is often challenging. SEE WEBSITE http://www.aids2016.org/

In the same week that Australia declared AIDS was no longer a public health issue, doctors have raised the alarm about a spike in new HIV cases involving Indigenous Australians in far north Queensland.

If we don’t act soon, there could be a whole lot of misery ahead for a lot of people.

Darren Russell, Cairns Base Hospital

Cairns normally records one or two new cases of HIV infection annually. This year, however, there have been nine diagnoses to date—and all have been Indigenous patients.

Dr Darren Russell, the director of sexual health at Cairns Base Hospital, says the spike comes on the back of a small increase in new cases in north Queensland last year.

‘We’re up to nine cases so far this year and we are only halfway through the year,’ he says.

‘We are concerned about it, and although we don’t think things are out of control, we are a bit worried.’

North Queensland a HIV hotspot

Nationally, homosexual men account for around 85 per cent of HIV cases, compared to 65 per cent among Indigenous people.

The new HIV infections in Cairns primarily involve younger gay or bisexual men, aged in their 20s and 30s.

While Cairns has emerged as a hotspot for new HIV infections, there is concern the virus could spread.

‘A lot of these people are very young and very mobile so there is the potential for spread to occur outside of Cairns,’ Russell says.

Health authorities are worried that Australia could follow Canada in experiencing an HIV epidemic in its indigenous population.

‘The Canadian epidemic came out of nowhere and has been a huge problem,’ Russell says.

‘If we don’t adequately address issues around Indigenous sexual health the same thing could happen here.

‘We don’t want to be too alarmist but at the same time if we don’t act soon there could be a whole lot of misery ahead for a lot of people.’

Indigenous access to services a factor

Russell says there are a range of challenges in managing HIV in Indigenous populations.

‘We know that Indigenous Australians have poorer health overall and often have poorer access to health services, so just getting diagnosed can be a real problem,’ he says.

He says support structures for HIV infection are not always in place in Indigenous communities.

‘The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community traditionally hasn’t had high levels of HIV, so there’s still a lot of stigma and fear,’ he says.

‘The young people we’ve diagnosed have known very little about HIV, so we have a lot of education to do for them, their sexual partners and sometimes their families if they’re willing to involve their families, which often they’re not.

‘In order to address those issues we need to reduce the stigma, get more people tested and diagnosed, and we need to enable them to stay on their medications.

‘They are all big challenges for anyone, let alone the Indigenous population.’

What’s behind the increase?

Doctors believe the increase in HIV infections in Cairns is linked to a syphilis epidemic, which has affected Indigenous communities across northern Australia for several years.

‘There are probably a few factors that are leading to this increase,’ Dr Russell says.

‘We have a syphilis epidemic across far north Queensland along with the Northern Territory and north-west Australia at the moment and we’re seeing a lot of syphilis where previously we had it almost under control.

‘Syphilis makes it much easier to acquire HIV so that could be one of the factors driving it.’

HIV infections by the numbers

The actual number of Indigenous HIV diagnoses each year remains small compared to the overall national figure.

In 2014, of the 1081 new cases of HIV around Australia, 33 involved Indigenous Australians.

Worryingly, the rate of HIV diagnosis among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is now higher than the rate for non-Indigenous Australians. In 2014 it was 5.9 per cent compared to 3.7 per cent.

The Kirby Institute reported in its 2015 Annual Surveillance Report that the HIV diagnosis rate in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has increased in the past five years and ‘requires a strengthened focus on prevention in this vulnerable population’.

The Kirby Institute also found that the rate of syphilis infection in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in 2014 was four times higher than the rate in the non-Indigenous population.

According to Russell, the number of syphilis infections appears to have plateaued or decreased in some areas such as Cape York and Torres Strait but continues to rise in other northern regions, particularly among younger Indigenous Australians.

Syphilis rates remain a concern in the Top End of the Northern Territory, and are increasing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. There is also a danger of the syphilis epidemic spreading to Indigenous communities in Central Australia.

The role of government

The federal government is under pressure to act to prevent a sexual health crisis. Russell has described the federal response to date as disappointing.

‘We have a Closing the Gap scheme that is really silent on the issue of sexual health and sexually transmitted infections, and yet one of the health factors that could really cause a huge amount of damage to Indigenous Australians is poor sexual health including syphilis and HIV,’ he says.

‘They’re not getting the priority that they should.

‘I’m not suggesting we de-prioritise other chronic health conditions, but we do need to have more focus federally, and more funding and support when it comes to sexual health and HIV.’

U And Me Can Stop HIV December 2015

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) is an annual program of events that seeks to raise awareness about the impact of HIV among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Although the inaugural event was only held twelve months ago, it is already well recognised as key event for raising awareness and mobilising action to address HIV among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

HIV diagnoses among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is increasing, yet for many years now there has been little or no investment by governments targeted at enhancing our communities’ knowledge and awareness of HIV.

While the number of annual HIV diagnoses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is fairly low at present (around 30 new diagnoses per year), in 2014 the notification rate of newly diagnosed HIV infection was 1.6 times higher for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population compared to the non Indigenous population (5.9 vs 3.7 per 100,000 in 2014).

The potential exists for HIV to escalate rapidly in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population – as has been the experience in other Indigenous populations globally. This potential is due to three main issues:

  • very high rates of other sexually transmissible infections (STIs) exist in many communities, and the presence of these increases the chances that HIV can be transmitted
  • increasing rates of injecting drug use – including increasing rates of methamphetamine (ice) use in Aboriginal communities, and
  • the close proximity of Papua New Guinea (PNG) to the Torres Strait Islands, and the mobility and interaction of PNG nationals and Torres Strait Islanders. PNG has the highest recorded rates of HIV in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the five year period 2010–2014, when comparing rates of new HIV infection among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population with the non- Indigenous Australian born population, a higher proportion of notifications were attributed to injecting drug use (16% vs 3%); heterosexual sex (20% vs 13%); and 22% vs 5% of new HIV diagnoses were among females.

Based on CD4+ cell counts at diagnosis, in 2014 a third (30%) of the new HIV diagnoses among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population were determined to be late.

ATSIHAW events

The 2015 ATSIHAW  launched at the Wuchopperen Aboriginal Health Service in Cairns on the 30 November.

Speakers included Assoc Professor James Ward, SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute), Dr Mark Wenitong, Apunipima Cape York Aboriginal Health Council, HIV-positive speakers, and youth and elders from the Cairns region and community.

The launch was followed by a training day on Tuesday the 1 December for health service staff working in the Cairns region, to learn about updates on HIV diagnosis, risk factors, prevention strategies, treatment updates, care and management of people living with HIV and outbreak management – including privacy confidentiality stigma and discrimination.

On 2–3 December, ATSIHAW, in partnership with the HIV Foundation Queensland, ASHM (Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, hosted a high level summit in Brisbane to discuss strategies and actions for moving forward an agenda that is urgently required.

The Summit, opened by the Queensland Health Minister, the Hon Cameron Dick MP, was held in recognition of the need to urgently address the fact that STIs and blood borne viruses are part of our communities’ overwhelming burden of disease, particularly:

  • for remote communities – STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomonas), as well as hepatitis B
  • for urban and regional areas – hepatitis C and chlamydia
  • emerging HIV transmission risks from drugs such as methamphetamines (‘ice’) – both due to unsafe injecting and condomless sex.

During ATSIHAW, community events were held across Australia at over 30 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in most jurisdictions and at other HIV organisations such as AIDS Councils, aimed at raising awareness of HIV in our communities.

ATSIHAW also recruited high profile Ambassadors to help spread the word about HIV in our communities and the roles all individuals can play in stopping HIV.

Our ATSIHAW Ambassadors include Prof Pat Anderson AM, Prof Kerry Arabena, Dr Marlene Kong, and Mr Dion Tatow, to name a few.

View profiles of some of our ATSIHAW Ambassadors


Associate Professor James Ward is Head, Infectious Diseases Research Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health at South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and a guest editor of HIV Australia.

 

NACCHO #HealthElection16 : AMA launches Key Health Issues / Aboriginal Health policy for 2016 Federal Elections

Brian

” The gap in health and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is still considerable, despite the commitment to closing the gap.

The AMA sees progress being made, particularly in reducing early childhood mortality rates, and in addressing major risk factors for chronic disease, such as smoking. However, to close the gap in Indigenous health, Government must commit to improving resourcing for culturally appropriate primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the health workforce.

Including increased investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health organisations. Such investment must support services to build their capacity and be sustainable over the long term;

Brian Owler AMA President pictured above Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO at recent NACCHO Event Parliament House Canberra : The Aboriginal Policy is part of a 16 Page AMA Health Issues Document  

“The Medicare freeze is not just a co-payment by stealth – it is a sneaky new tax that punishes every Australian family,”

Professor Owler said, with the elderly and chronically ill among those most affected see press release here AMA LAUNCHES NATIONAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE MEDICARE REBATE FREEZE (FED)

Putting Health First

Download the 16 Pages here AMA Key Health Issues Federal Election 2016

Health policy will be at the core of the 2016 Federal Election.

The AMA is non-partisan. It is our role during election campaigns, as it is throughout the terms of governments, to highlight the issues we think will be of greatest benefit to the health system, the medical profession, the community, and patients.

As is customary, the AMA will focus on the respective health policy platforms presented by the major parties in the coming weeks.

The next Government must invest significantly in the health of the Australian people.

Investment in health is the best investment that governments can make.

We must protect and support the fundamentals of the health system.

The two major pillars of the system that mean most to the Australian people are quality primary health care services, led by general practice, and well-resourced public hospitals.

The AMA has advocated strongly and tirelessly on these issues for the term of the current Government.

General practice and public hospitals are the priority health issues for this election.

The AMA is calling on the major parties to lift the freeze on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) patient rebate. The freeze was extended until 2020 in the recent Budget. The freeze means that patients will pay more for their health care. It also affects the viability of medical practices.

We also need substantial new funding for public hospitals. The Government provided $2.9 billion in new funding in the Budget, but this is well short of what is needed for the long term.

We must build capacity in our public hospitals. Funding must be better targeted, patient-focused, and clinician led.

The AMA is also calling for leadership and effective policy from the major parties on Indigenous health, medical workforce and training, chronic disease management, and a range of important public health measures.

The AMA will release a separate Rural Health Plan, responding to the unique health needs of people in rural and regional Australia, later in the election campaign.

Elections are about choices. The type of health system we want is one of those crucial decisions.

In this document, Key Health Issues for the 2016 Federal Election, the AMA offers wide-ranging policies that build on what works. We offer policies that come from the experience of doctors who are at the coalface of the system – the doctors who know how to make the system work best for patients.

The AMA urges all political parties to engage in a competitive and constructive health policy debate ahead of the election on 2 July.

Indigenous Health Policy Continued

Despite the recent health gains, progress remains frustratingly slow and much more needs to be done. A life expectancy gap of around 10 years remains between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, with recent data suggesting that Indigenous people experience stubbornly high levels of treatable and preventable conditions, high levels of chronic conditions at comparatively young ages, high levels of undetected and untreated chronic conditions, and higher rates of co-morbidity in chronic disease. This is completely unacceptable.

It is not credible that Australia, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, cannot address health and social justice issues affecting just three per cent of its citizens. The Government must deliver effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and develop and implement tangible strategies to address social inequalities and determinants of health.

Without this, the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians will remain wide and intractable.

The AMA calls on the major parties to commit to:

  • correct the under-funding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services;
  • establish new and strengthen existing programs to address preventable health conditions that are known to have a significant impact on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people such as cardiovascular diseases (including rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease), diabetes, kidney disease, and blindness;
  • increase investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health organisations. Such investment must support services to build their capacity and be sustainable over the long term;
  • develop systemic linkages between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health organisations and mainstream health services to ensure high quality and culturally safe continuity of care;
  • identify areas of poor health and inadequate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and direct funding according to need;
  • institute funded national training programs to support more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become health professionals to address the shortfall of Indigenous people in the health workforce;
  • implement measures to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s access to primary health care and medical specialist services;
  • adopt a justice reinvestment approach to health by funding services to divert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from prison, given the strong link between health and incarceration;
  • appropriately resource the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan to ensure that actions are met within specified timeframes; and
  • support for a Central Australia Academic Health Science Centre. Central Australia faces many unique and complex health issues that require specific research, training and clinical practice to properly manage and treat, and this type of collaborative medical and academic research, along with project delivery and working in remote communities, is desperately needed.

Australian Medical Association joins campaign against Medicare rebate freeze

AMA POSTER

Download the AMA Press Release

AMA LAUNCHES NATIONAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE MEDICARE REBATE FREEZE (FED)

Article below originally published here

Tens of thousands of specialist doctors are joining GPs’ war against the Turnbull government’s extended freeze on Medicare rebates, increasing pressure on the Coalition’s health record ahead of the federal election.

The Australian Medical Association has distributed posters to its members, warning patients that they will be out of pocket because the cost of running the medical practice will continue to rise as Medicare rebates stay frozen until 2020.

“You will pay a new or higher co-payment every time you visit your GP, every time you visit other medical specialists, every time you need a blood test, and every time you need an X-ray or other imaging,” it says, alongside a photo of a woman comforting a crying child.

It comes a week after the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners announced its 32,000 members would urge their patients to lobby local MPs against the move. The groups share about 8000 members, adding about 22,000 more specialist doctors to the campaign.

The AMA’s campaign similarly encourages patients to contact their local MPs and election candidates, but goes further to directly blame the Turnbull government for the extra cost: “The government has cut Medicare and wants you to pay for it.”

While pathologists on Friday agreed to retain bulk-billing rates in exchange for reduced regulatory pressure on rents under a deal with Health Minister Sussan Ley, the AMA maintains that they and diagnostic imaging services will remain under pressure to charge patients, with the government’s cuts to bulk-billing incentive payments deferred till later in the year.

The AMA’s president, Professor Brian Owler, said many doctors had absorbed costs but the extension “has pushed them over the edge”. They may charge patients a $30 co-payment to cover costs associated with moving to a private billing system, more than triple the Abbott government’s failed and deeply unpopular $7 GP co-payment, he said.

“The Medicare freeze is not just a co-payment by stealth – it is a sneaky new tax that punishes every Australian family,” Professor Owler said, with the elderly and chronically ill among those most affected.

While most specialists (about 70 per cent) already charged patients a co-payment, having had their rebates frozen for decades, the extended freeze could reduce the bulk-billing rate further, an AMA spokesman said.

Labor froze indexation for eight months in 2013, lifting it briefly for GPs in 2014-15. The Coalition extended it for four years in 2014, and this year extended it a further two years to 2020, to save $925.3 million.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor opposed the extended freeze at the leaders’ debate on Friday, but would not say whether it would commit to lifting it if elected.

Thirty per cent of 400 GPs surveyed by the College said they would stop all bulk-billing, including for concession card holders, due to the extended freeze. Another 18 per cent said the practice would start charging a co-payment, but cap annual out-of-pocket fees for concession card holders.

Thirty per cent said they would maintain a mixed billing policy, and 10 per cent would continue to bulk bill all patients. Twelve per cent said they were already privately billing all their patients.

The Turnbull government plans to cut bulk-billing incentives for pathology and diagnostic imaging services to save $650 million over four years. Pathology Australia, which had warned this would lead more doctors to charge patients for pap smears, blood and urine tests, has agreed to drop its public campaign against the cuts.

Ms Ley said: “The Coalition will increase Medicare investment to $26 billion per year by 2020-21, while introducing revolutionary reforms such as Health Care Homes that cement a GP’s role at the centre of patient care.”

While she appreciated many GPs’ efforts to keep costs down during the indexation freeze, she was disappointed that “there’s no reciprocal offer to assist taxpayers with the immediate financial challenges our budget faces while [Health Care Homes are] implemented”.

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NACCHO #HealthElection16 , it’s time to encourage all political parties to focus on Aboriginal health

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With an early Federal Election looking likely, it’s time to encourage all political parties to focus on Aboriginal health and the critical role of the community controlled sector in improving services and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Turnbull Government has flagged it will call a Double Dissolution Election on July 2 if the Senate refuses to pass the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) Bill, targeting unions. The Prime Minister has until May 11 to call the poll.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper available as a FREE lift out in Koori Mail 6 April  or as Download HERE or on the Koori Mail APP (see below)

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A decade after governments agreed to bipartisan support for the Close the Gap agreement, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chairperson, Matthew Cooke, said long term commitment from politicians to strengthen and grow the community controlled sector, through partnership with it, must be a priority for all political parties.

“One of the principles that is espoused by all levels of government on Aboriginal issues is that engagement with Aboriginal communities and organisations is the only way to successfully close the gap,” Mr. Cooke said.

“Time and again we see evidence that supports that principle.

“Our own sector, managed by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people, is making the biggest in-roads against the Closing the Gap health targets.

“Our services provide over two million episodes of care nationally each year and have made the biggest gains against the targets to halve child mortality and improve maternal health. “

“Indeed, our services have successfully contributed to the Close the Gap targets that have reduced child mortality rates by 66% and overall mortality rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by 33% over the last two decades.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Healthy Futures Report Card (2015) also highlights ACCHOs’ continued improvement in other areas that measure good practice in primary health care.

Those improvements include increasing the proportion of regular patients who are recorded as having an MBS health assessment; patients with existing conditions who are immunised against influenza; and, patients with Type 2 Diabetes receiving MBS General Practice Management Plans and MBS Team Care Arrangements.

“The fact is, Aboriginal people prefer health care that is holistic and provided in a culturally sensitive environment and that’s why our service delivery model works,” Mr Cooke said.

“Too many Aboriginal people have experienced racism and judgement in the mainstream health system, along with a very clinical approach to health care that doesn’t recognise connections to community and country.

“The holistic approach to health that operates in the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector takes a broader look, considers the range of complex issues affecting health and includes educating patients and preventative measures.

“And it works.”

Mr Cooke said he’d like all parties to commit to a roadmap to extend the reach of Aboriginal health services to ensure more Aboriginal people in more areas can access Aboriginal Community Controlled health care.

“Our services are struggling to meet the demand,’ Mr Cooke said.

“We know many Aboriginal people are driving many kilometers, often past several mainstream service providers, to access the culturally safe care offered by our services.

“Many miss out altogether as they don’t have access to a service where they live.

“Expanding the Aboriginal community controlled network would help improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal people.

“It would mean refocusing the heath system a bit – and a better allocation  of the funding pie, ensuring long-term funding certainty, fairer tendering processes and faster decision making by government departments.”

“I believe there’d be real rewards in terms of better health outcomes for Aboriginal people for that effort. ”

Mr Cooke said that approach is confirmed by the Productivity Commission Report released at the end of last year on the National Indigenous Reform Agreement Performance Assessment 2013-14.

“That Report showed mainstream services have not proved they can deliver better outcomes than our sector,” he said.

Mr Cooke said Aboriginal people would also be looking closely at commitments around the Government’s controversial Indigenous Advancement Strategy, which saw the transfer of important Aboriginal health programs to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

See story Page 4 :Indigenous Advancement Strategy report: Abbott-era indigenous cuts went too far, Senate inquiry

That Strategy’s tendering process drew heavy criticism from respondents to a recent Senate Inquiry.

“The Aboriginal controlled health sector is not afraid of contestability, in fact it welcomes it,” Mr Cooke said. “Yet that was a patently unfair process that didn’t consider results on the ground.”

Mr Cooke said overall he was optimistic about the possible outcomes an election could bring.

“There is a real opportunity in an election campaign to hear the commitments of future governments to Aboriginal people.

“We are hopeful all parties will make Aboriginal health a priority and work with us toward reducing the persistent health gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.”

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*The National Diabetes Scheme is an initiative of the Australian Government administered by Diabetes Australia.

 

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NACCHO chair encourages our award winning health services

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Youngsters at the Indigenous Governance Awards winning Institute for Urban Indigenous Health: Photo Wayne Quilliam

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Chair Matthew Cooke is encouraging all of its 150 member services to enter this year’s Indigenous Governance Awards (IGA).

This year the awards will celebrate organisations that are developing local solutions to local problems with culture as a source of strength and innovation and no one does it better than our Aboriginal community controlled health services said Mr Cooke.

One of the NACCHO/QAIHC members, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health in Brisbane, became a finalist last year for its ‘Work it Out’ and ‘Deadly Choices’ programs, which was a major achievement giving they were only in their fifth year of operation. This recognised how the programs impacted on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in South-East Queensland,” he said.

This is only one of many potential award winning health services that should be encouraged to enter these prestigious awards “ Mr Cooke said : Applications for the Awards close on May 20 : visit www.reconciliation.org.au/iga/ for more information

 

NACCHO #CTG10 Reports : NT intervention ‘fails on human rights’ and closing the gap

NT

“There have been some improvements to Indigenous child mortality with this target on track to be met by 2018. However, despite narrowing the gap in life expectancy, the rate of improvement is far too slow to close the gap. The situation is particularly bad for Indigenous people living in the Northern Territory, whose life expectancy is nearly 15 years shorter than non-Indigenous Australians

SEE HEALTH AND LIFE EXPECTANCY REPORT CARD

The Northern Territory intervention has failed to deliver substantial reform in any of the areas covered by the Close the Gap goals and has also failed to meet Australia’s international human rights obligations, an independent report has found.

 in The Guardian reports

Nearly a decade after the Northern Territory intervention, residents of Indigenous town camps in Alice Springs are fighting to regain control of their lives as they wrestle with longstanding social problems

Photo above: Aboriginal children playing at one of the town camps in Alice Springs when the intervention started in 2007. An independent report shows the strategy has failed to deliver substantial reform in any target area. Photograph: Anoek de Groot/AFP/Getty Images

The report, by the Castan Centre for Human Rights at Monash University, rated the intervention, which was rebadged in 2012 and now operates as the “stronger futures” policy, four out of 10 for its general human rights performance and failed it against seven other human rights measures, including the right to self-determination.

It also gave fail marks to every Close the Gap measure except education – which it scored at five out of 10 for improvements in primary school attendance – and urged the government to include incarceration rates as a new Close the Gap target, pointing to an “increasing and inordinate amount of Indigenous Australians being incarcerated”.

Malcolm Turnbull is set to deliver his first update on the Closing the Gap targets on Wednesday.

The national targets were set by the Council of Australian Governments in 2008, a year after the NT intervention began, and, according to the most recent update delivered by the then prime minister Tony Abbott in February 2015, most are not on track to be met.

The target of getting all Indigenous four-year-olds in remote communities into early childhood education was missed in 2013, with just 85% instead of the target of 95% enrolled.

The 2015 update, which Abbott described as “profoundly disappointing”, said the targets of closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation, halving the gap in literacy and numeracy by 2018, and halving the gap in employment outcomes by 2018 were not on track. Literacy and numeracy rates had not improved since 2008 and Indigenous employment had fallen.

Two more targets, to halve the gap in child mortality rates by 2018 and to halve the gap in year 12 completion rates by 2020, were listed as on track.

However, the author of the Castan Centre report said it appeared unlikely that any of the targets would be met in the Territory.

Close the Gap and Closing the Gap – what’s the difference?

Two similarly named programs are working towards the same goal of reducing inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

“The intervention was meant to improve the lives of Indigenous people in the Northern Territory, but at this rate the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people may never close in many areas,” Dr Stephen Gray said.

He urged the government to adopt a new target of reducing Indigenous incarceration rates, as was recommended by the Close the Gap steering committee in 2014.

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Indigenous people made up 3% of the population but 27% of the prison population, and 52% of all young people in detention. In the NT, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make up 86% of the adult prisoner population and 96.9% of young people in detention. Incarceration rates are up 41% since the start of the intervention.

In November, the Australian Medical Association called rates of Indigenous imprisonment a “health and justice crisis”.

“I think there’s a perception that because family violence is such a crisis, because assault rates and child abuse are at such a crisis, we should not be always going on about Aboriginal imprisonment rates,” Gray said. “That sense that you can’t improve one without worsening the other is false.”

Amnesty International agreed, telling Guardian Australia that “any efforts at Closing the Gap cannot ignore these areas of massive inequality and the role that law and justice policy play in disadvantage.”

Reports of child abuse in the NT have decreased since 2010, but there has been a 500% increase in reports of self harm or suicide by Indigenous children and a sharp rise in the number of Indigenous children in care.

Gray said it was difficult to unpick the complicated mass of policy that governed the lives of Indigenous people in the NT, and that made it difficult to evaluate.

The intervention began with bipartisan support under the Howard government in 2007 as a response to a report about horrific levels of child sexual abuse in some Aboriginal communities, and was delivered as a complex suite of laws that altered everything from welfare payments to land tenure.

There was this presumption of rampant child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities,” Gray told Guardian Australia. “It has been the excuse for a large number of other reforms that don’t really relate to child sexual abuse or family violence at all, like land reforms. It’s got very little to do with the original goals of the intervention.”

In 2008, the Rudd government reshaped it to focus on the new Closing the Gap targets but punitive measures remained, including more police, the removal of customary law and cultural practices from consideration in sentencing, quarantining welfare payments of those judged to have “neglected” their children, and tough penalties for possessing alcohol or pornography, as did the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act expired in 2012 and was extended by the Gillard government until 2022, under the new name of the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act. The Racial Discrimination Act was reintroduced but the percentage of an individual’s welfare payments that could be quarantined under the BasicsCard increased to 70%, and penalties for possessing porn or alcohol in dry communities, including a single can of beer, increased to six months’ jail.

By then the government had produced 98 reports and seven parliamentary inquiries into the intervention, a weight of information Gray said obscured its negative effects, particularly the impact on human rights.

“There’s a danger that things get out of check because of the swift pace of apparent change,” he said. “Because wheels keep turning, another policy gets rebadged, funding gets moved, but the real pace of life in Aboriginal communities remains the same.”

The result, the report said, was that many of Australia’s international human rights obligations, including the right of Indigenous peoples to self-determination, continued to be “directly and knowingly violated or ignored”.

Prof Jon Altman, from the Alfred Deakin Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, said the Castan Centre’s evaluation of the intervention was too generous. The government deserved a zero out of 10, he said, for its attempts to improve education, and a negative score on employment rates which had gone backwards since the decision to abolish the community development employment projects (CDEP) program, which employed about 33,000 Indigenous people, particularly in remote communities.

Altman, who has spent 40 years working in Aboriginal communities in the NT in particular, said the services previously delivered by community-led CDEP organisations were now being done by non-Indigenous organisations, while many who had worked under CDEP remained on “passive welfare”.

Aboriginal people are exceptional. When we can all acknowledge that, the gap will close

Chris Sarra

 

Despite the dire outcomes of the Closing the Gap report, there is great potential in Indigenous communities. Our greatest challenge might be in believing that

“The state needs to admit that it’s actually doing worse than Aboriginal community-based organisations,” he said

Altman argued the Close the Gap program should be abolished, saying it was assimilationist, had alienated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and had produced no significant benefits.

“It’s all based on a policy, an ideology, that progress in closing the gap will require people to adopt western norms,” he told Guardian Australia. “And that’s a pretty hard line. It really doesn’t leave people much wiggle room if they don’t want to be changed.

“My advice to the prime minister is to stop talking about closing the gap and start talking about improving people’s wellbeing and livelihoods, because those things are taking a hammering.”