“As mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and daughters, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women continue to play a pivotal role in leading and supporting communities, providing support for those around them and guiding the next generation and this is celebrated with the 2018 NAIDOC week theme: Because of her, we can!
Increasing numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are becoming empowered through education while embracing their cultural heritage. They strengthen and support their communities, and provide a stimulating environment for the next generation of children.
In 2014–15, there were 231,100 women in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 15 years and over “
” In our culture, our mothers, sisters aunties and grandmothers are highly respected and are the key to keeping families and culture strong. Education is giving us women and our communities hope and opportunities to be even stronger.
We dare to dream now “
Fiona Northern Territory
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are increasingly engaging in formal education and are achieving higher academic levels that ever before. In 2014-15, almost half (47%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 15 years and over had achieved a Certificate, Diploma or Degree.
This represents a 45% increase from 2008 (up from 33% Figure 1.1)
The proportion of women whose highest (non school) educational attainment was a Certificate doubled between 2002 and 2014 (up from 17%to 34%). Similarly, the proportion of women holding a Diploma level or higher qualification increased from 7% in 2002 to 12% in 2014-15. Engaging in learning can lead to better employment, health and social outcomes, with the transition from education to work often smoother for higher education graduates than those entering the workforce directly from school.
Providing care and support both within and outside of the household, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women play an enormous role in strengthening social and family networks in the community.
Support to those in need
In 2014-15, three out of ten women (30%) cared for someone in need (with a disability, a long-term health condition or old age). Women in the age group 45-54 years were among the most likely (35%) to have provided care to a person in need. Women living in Remote areas were more likely to provide care than those in other areas (36% compared with 28%, reflecting a combination of factors such as reduced access to services, closer family networks and strong communities relationships.
Additionally, three out of five women (61%) provided support to someone living outside of their household. Almost two thirds (61) of these women lived in a household with dependent children.
Raising the next generation
” Because of her, we can’ is a very powerful message, which makes all the stars girls and any Indigenous female feel very proud. It makes you think about who created us, how fare back it goes. They created us, we make the change. We continue to grow and make those who created us proud.”
Raising the next generation
Women are most commonly the main carers for their community’s children and therefore play a key role in a child’s learning pathway. In 2014–15, almost two-thirds (65%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–14 years had a main carer who was an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander female. As children grow, the positive experiences they have with their main carer (and other prominent people in their lives) influence development and often lead to better outcomes as they mature into young adults.
The vast majority (95%) of children aged 0–14 years, whose main carer was an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander female, spent time engaged in informal learning with that carer. Between 2008 and 2014 there were increases in the proportion of women engaging with a child in playgroups, and also those assisting with homework or educational activities (increases of 52% and 17%, respectively).
Time spent with a child taking part in cultural or informal learning activities is an investment in their future, and can boost a child’s confidence academically and socially.
It takes a community to raise a child
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities work together to educate, nurture and support children. In 2014–15, most children (69%) aged 3–14 years, whose main carer was an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander female, participated in selected cultural activities in their community. Popular activities included hunting, fishing or gathering local foods (59%), and creating Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander arts or crafts (25%).
Connection to culture
Yesteryear, our grandmother regularly invited women into her house on Coranderrk Aboriginal Station Healesville. One of the mission management rules was to say prayers in the evening. Jemima closed the door and pulled the hessian curtains across the window. The women all spoke in their traditional Aboriginal languages.Today my granddaughter sings in public places our ‘Call to Country’ in our Woiwurrung language.Resistance, resilience and pride prevail – because of her we can.Aunty Joy,
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have an important role in passing on knowledge and leading successive generations through their cultural journey. In 2014–15, 85% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women participated in, watched, or attended a cultural event or activity. Three-quarters (75%) of women aged 15 years and over recognised an area as homelands or traditional country and three-fifths of women (63%) identified with clan, tribal or language group.
In 2014–15, most (73%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women either lived on or had access to homelands. Of those with access to homelands, almost half (48%) did so at least once per year. Between 2002 and 2014–15, the proportion of women reporting a connection to homelands has steadily increased (Figure 1.3), suggesting that over time women are increasingly embracing and connecting with their spiritual and cultural heritage.
Recently, Australian Indigenous leaders have set out a blueprint for action in the Redfern Statement.
This blueprint acknowledges that Aboriginal people have provided viable, holistic solutions.
Without a change in leadership attitudes, governance and administration, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will continue to be disadvantaged, and their health will continue to suffer.
It is high time that Australian policymaking recognized the above issues and acted with integrity on the deficits because we will not have equality until Australia recognizes the impact of the political determinants of health as identified throughout this paper.
Australia will never be a whole, functioning society until institutionalised oppression ceases. ”
The role of government policy is to support its citizenry to thrive. By this measure, Australian policy is failing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and women are bearing the brunt of failed policy through seriously compromised health and wellbeing. “
In this analysis, Vanessa Lee from the University of Sydney applies a lens of political determinants of health to illuminate policy failure for Indigenous women and their communities, and calls for the government to be held accountable to the outcomes of generations of harmful policy.
Paternalism is compromising the health of Indigenous women
When it comes to Australian policy, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are not being supported. Rather, a long history of paternalistic government decisions created barriers towards Indigenous women achieving equivalent health and wellbeing measures when compared to non-Indigenous women.
The manifestation of colonisation has included a displacement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a history of segregation and apartheid, and a breakdown of culture and cultural values through the impact of missionaries and government legislation, Acts and policies.
These political determinants of health breech human rights conventions, lack an evidence base, and are profoundly damaging across generations. Better policy could be and should be implemented but there appears to be a lack of political will.
What this means is that Indigenous women have a cultural and family relationship with their social and economic world.
The breakdown in life circumstances are evident today across employment and education where 39 per cent of the Indigenous females were employed compared to 55 per cent of the non-Indigenous females; and 4.6 per cent overall of the Indigenous compared to 20 per cent of the non-Indigenous people have completed a bachelor degree or higher degree.
Educational attainment and employment are intrinsically linked to economic opportunity, with higher levels of education reducing societal disadvantage. Failure to address these fundamental social determinants in early life contributes to life-long disadvantage.
When the British colonized Australia, they did so under a paternalistic ideology that remains evident today as Australian federal, state, territory and local governments continue to implement paternalistic policies. Paternalistic policies are those that restrict choices to individuals, ostensibly in their ‘best interest’ and without their consent.
The justification of such policies is often to change individuals’ damaging behaviours; for example gambling, smoking, consumption of drugs and alcohol, or the reliance on welfare payments. Given the etymology of the word ‘paternalism’, it is little wonder that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have been the victims of extraordinarily high levels of sexism, domestic violence, marginalization, work-place lateral violence and racism.
Especially since the policies were developed and implemented from colonisation, with little or no evidence to support the need to change behaviours of the First Nations women of Australia. The response to the impact of these paternalistic policies has resulted in an increase in prevalence in pain and trauma based behaviours such as substance abuse.
Social determining factors
Social determinants of health are about “the cause of the cause.” Poorer health outcomes are not narrowed to individual lifestyle choice or risky behaviour. Understanding the social determinants of health requires looking at the relationship between cause, social factors and health outcomes. Social factors are those societal factors that influence health throughout life and include housing, education, access to healthcare and family support.
The diagram below highlights an example of the circular relationship between the causes of the social factors and the social factors themselves across a person’s life stages. The unborn Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander child of parents with high drug and/or alcohol intake, low income and low education will be born into an environment influenced at the macrosocial level by history, culture, discrimination and the political economy.
This first stage of inequality can manifest in increasing risky behaviours such as smoking, drinking, unhealthy eating, and lack of exercise or imprisonment. These behaviours have been associated with intellectual impairment that continues through all life stages.[ii] Quite often the continuous exposure to drugs and alcohol from adults becomes part of the child’s assumption of the normality of risk-taking behaviour and the cycle continues.
he imprisonment of women causes an upheaval in their lives and that of their families and for Indigenous women it also creates a breakdown in their world view and to all that is connected to their world view.
Diagram 1: Relationship between ‘the cause’ and life stages
Relationship between causes, social factors and life stages
This truth epitomizes the gross inequalities that continue to exist in Australian society. Inequities in health are heightened because social class not only includes education, employment and income but also differential access to power. Social class structures are characterized by factors including race, sex/gender, ethnicity, Indigeneity and religion. Fundamentally, it is structural issues of class and political disadvantage that place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women close to the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.
Denial of a human right directly violates a person’s right to self-determination. These rights should be protected by a covenant to which Australia is a signatory—The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) (The Covenant). It states that “all peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development” (Article 1 Section1).
The level of Australia’s commitment to this covenant became questionable with the implementation of The Northern Territory National Emergency Response (the Intervention) in 2007. This was a federal government action that ignored one of its own government-funded reports highlighting the critical importance of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the design and implementation of initiatives for their communities. In less than six months, following the politically motivated “Intervention” that was introduced just prior to an election, the Australian parliament introduced a complex legislative package consisting of five Bills, all 450 pages long and passed in parliament on the same day.
The bills were primarily associated with welfare reform. In 2008, a national emergency response by the Australian government took effect and was administered across all of the Northern Territory using the political rationale ‘to protect Aboriginal children’. This appeared to be an excuse to further erode Indigenous self-determination rather than to address the safety of children; as one critic pointed out, “we have witnessed the abandonment of consultation with Indigenous people, diminishing use of available statistical and research evidence and increased marginalization of the experts – especially if their views diverge from national leadership.” (p. 7)
The impact on health outcomes
Welfare data published in 2016 show that Indigenous children in the Northern Territory were being removed from families at 9.8 times more often than that of non-Indigenous children based on ‘reforms’ in the five new ‘welfare reform’ Bills.
The Northern Territory Indigenous death rates are still 2.3 times higher than those of non-Indigenous people, and Indigenous people experience assault victimization at six times the rate of non-Indigenous people (see here).
The 2014/2015 Social Survey found that fewer than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were employed, and males were more than twice as likely as females to be working full time.
The deplorable outcomes of these politically motivated policies are most clearly illustrated by the understanding that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women between the ages of 20 and 24 years are four times more likely to commit suicide than are the other woman and between 70-60% of Indigenous women in prisons are due to them being victims of domestic violence.
Holding government accountable to policy outcomes
These outcomes demonstrate the political failure of Australian governments at national, state, territory and local levels to work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the lack of integrity surrounding equitable policy administration, leadership and governance.
Many policies developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over a long period of time have contributed to the shameful inequity in Australian society between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. This level of inequity is even more dramatic with regard to Indigenous women.
The Covenant is neither the first Human Rights Charter that Australia has signed nor the first it has violated to the disadvantage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, their health and well-being (and of the entire Indigenous population). Australia played a key role as one of eight nations involved in developing the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, when Australian Dr HV Evatt was the President of the United Nations General Assembly.
Until a referendum allowed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become citizens, there was scant regard to Article 2: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”. The Australian government is disregarding its own stated ideals when it disregards the rights of Indigenous Australians.
The gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians is becoming more apparent, leading to calls for a new and more effective response. The effects of discriminative policies are now being exposed more often – thus, they become more visible. Non-Indigenous services account for 80 per cent of Indigenous expenditure, and there is a lack of transparency and clarity evaluating how these organizations address policies developed by government for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Fifty per cent of the Indigenous Australian population is under the age of 22and their health, as that of their elders, remains dire. Without understanding their cultural ways of doing and knowing and without working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in making policy decisions, there will be no progress in achieving health equality for this population group.
Australian Indigenous leaders have set out a blueprint for action in the Redfern Statement.
This blueprint acknowledges that Aboriginal people have provided viable, holistic solutions. Without a change in leadership attitudes, governance and administration, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will continue to be disadvantaged, and their health will continue to suffer.
It is high time that Australian policymaking recognized the above issues and acted with integrity on the deficits because we will not have equality until Australia recognizes the impact of the political determinants of health as identified throughout this paper. Australia will never be a whole, functioning society until institutionalised oppression ceases.
In 2018 the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO is leading a national conversation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls to hear their priorities, challenges and aspirations for themselves, their families and their future.
National talks started in the regional city of #Mildura in north-west Victoria on Monday and will be heading to Melbourne on Wednesday -Friday then will continue throughout the year, visiting more than 30 locations
NAIDOC Week 2018 will also celebrate the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and continue to make – to our communities, our families, our rich history and to our nation.
And finally just a reminder applications to present a workshop at the National NAIDOC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Woman’s Conference 11-12 July 2018 in Sydney need to be submitted by COB this Friday 23 February 2018.
In this week’s NACCHO Save a date we feature these 3 major Women’s Business events
June Oscar Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices)
NAIDOC 2018: Because of her, we can!
Part 3 National NAIDOC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Woman’s Conference
As CEO of NACCHO Patricia Turner is at the forefront of community efforts to #ClosetheGap in health outcomes.
Follow #nwhs18 to learn how she and other top influencers want to shape Australia’s women’s health at the National Women’s Health Summit
Part 1 June Oscar Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices)
A MESSAGE FROM THE ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMISSIONER
I am the first Aboriginal woman appointed to the role of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.
It is my role to raise awareness of the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to provide guidance to Government on how to promote and protect these rights.
Fighting for the rights of the most vulnerable people in our communities, including our women and children, have been at the core of my advocacy and remains a core focus of my role.
It has been a little over 30 years since the findings from national consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were published in a report called, ‘Women’s Business’.
This report represents the first time that the views of Aboriginal women were directly sought by the Commonwealth Government.
I hope to continue this important work, and to hear from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women over the next 18 months so that their voices can shape their futures.
I strongly encourage all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls, as well as those who support us, to engage in these national conversations.
This process belongs to you all, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls and I look forward to hearing from you.
June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.
June Oscar AO is a proud Bunuba woman from the remote town of Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. She is a strong advocate for Indigenous Australian languages, social justice, women’s issues, and has worked tirelessly to reduce Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
The Commissioner has indicated that her term will place a strong emphasis on:
Championing community voices;
Promoting strengths-based community-driven approaches to addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage; and
ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls have the enabling conditions to fully participate in policies, programs and decisions that affect them.
the needs, challenges and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls today
the key achievements in relation to the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls over the past 30 years
ways to enhance the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls so that they can lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives
ways to promote and protect culture.Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) will run from late 2017 and throughout 2018 and will speak with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls from across the country either at a series of community meetings or via our online submission process.
If you want any further information concerning this project or if you have any issues which may be related to your involvement in the project, you can contact the Commission by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone: 02 9284 9600
Pictures from Mondays #WomensVoices workshop in Mildura
Mildura – Session 2
Tuesday 20th February 2018
9:30am – 12:30pm
Quality Hotel Mildura Grand, Seventh Street, Mildura 3500
Statement by National NAIDOC Co-Chairs Dr Anne Martin & Mr Ben Mitchell
NAIDOC Week 2018 will celebrate the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and continue to make – to our communities, our families, our rich history and to our nation.
Under the theme – Because of her, we can! – NAIDOC Week 2018 will be held nationally from Sunday 8 July and continue through to Sunday 15 July.
As pillars of our society, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played – and continue to play – active and significant roles at the community, local, state and national levels.
As leaders, trailblazers, politicians, activists and social change advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women fought and continue to fight, for justice, equal rights, our rights to country, for law and justice, access to education, employment and to maintain and celebrate our culture, language, music and art.
They continue to influence as doctors, lawyers, teachers, electricians, chefs, nurses, architects, rangers, emergency and defence personnel, writers, volunteers, chief executive officers, actors, singer songwriters, journalists, entrepreneurs, media personalities, board members, accountants, academics, sporting icons and Olympians, the list goes on.
They are our mothers, our elders, our grandmothers, our aunties, our sisters and our daughters.
Sadly, Indigenous women’s role in our cultural, social and political survival has often been invisible, unsung or diminished.
For at least 65,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have carried our dreaming stories, songlines, languages and knowledge that have kept our culture strong and enriched us as the oldest continuing culture on the planet.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were there at first contact.
They were there at the Torres Strait Pearlers strike in 1936, the Day of Mourning in 1938, the 1939 Cummeragunja Walk-Off, at the 1946 Pilbara pastoral workers’ strike, the 1965 Freedom Rides, the Wave Hill walk off in 1966, on the front line of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972 and at the drafting of the Uluru Statement.
They have marched, protested and spoken at demonstrations and national gatherings for the proper recognition of our rights and calling for national reform and justice.
Our women were heavily involved in the campaign for the 1967 Referendum and also put up their hands to represent their people at the establishment of national advocacy and representative bodies from the National Aboriginal Congress (NAC) to ATSIC to Land Councils and onto the National Congress for Australia’s First Peoples.
They often did so while caring for our families, maintaining our homes and breaking down cultural and institutionalised barriers and gender stereotypes.
Our women did so because they demanded a better life, greater opportunities and – in many cases equal rights – for our children, our families and our people.
They were pioneering women like Barangaroo, Truganini, Gladys Elphick, Fannie Cochrane-Smith, Evelyn Scott, Pearl Gibbs, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Celuia Mapo Salee, Thancoupie, Justine Saunders, Gladys Nicholls, Flo Kennedy, Essie Coffey, Isabel Coe, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Eleanor Harding, Mum Shirl, Ellie Gaffney and Gladys Tybingoompa.
Today, they are trailblazers like Joyce Clague, Yalmay Yunupingu, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Nova Peris, Carol Martin, Elizabeth Morgan, Barbara Shaw, Rose Richards, Vonda Malone, Margaret Valadian, Lowitja O’Donoghue, June Oscar, Pat O’Shane, Pat Anderson Jill Milroy, Banduk Marika, Linda Burney and Rosalie Kunoth-Monks – to name but a few.
Their achievements, their voice, their unwavering passion give us strength and have empowered past generations and paved the way for generations to come.
Because of her, we can!
The National NAIDOC poster competition and award nominations will open in the coming weeks. Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander artists aged 13+ are encouraged to start working on artwork which reflects the 2018 theme. Keep an eye on the website and the National NAIDOC Facebook page for more details.
Part 3 National NAIDOC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Woman’s Conference
Just a reminder applications to Present a Workshop at the National NAIDOC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Woman’s Conference 11-12 July 2018 in Sydney need to be submitted by COB this Friday 23 February 2018.
Whilst the Speakers Agenda to the main Forum is full there is an opportunity for you to participate and share your knowledge and promote the fabulous work you are doing in your workplace by Presenting a Workshop.
We know our woman are doing incredible work in a number of areas such as Aboriginal organisations, Indigenous Woman in Business, Health, Aboriginal Education, Resource Sector, Hospitality, Govt/ non Govt sector, Indigenous Employment, Finance, Law, Universities, CEO’s, Writers and Cultural Workshops, Aboriginal Art/ Craft Sector, STEM, Children in Care, Aboriginal Tourism, Indigenous Leadership, Stolen Generation, Religious groups, Community organisations particularly NFP’s to name a few.
We would love you to come and share that knowledge so
if you wish to Present a Workshop please email email@example.com who will email you the paperwork to complete. Applications will then be assessed and you will be advised if it is accepted.
Just a reminder of the format:
Day 1 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Woman only
Day 2- Open to all Woman to attend.
NB: Non-Indigenous woman are strongly encouraged to co-present with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Woman if Presenting a Workshop on Day 2.
So you may also wish to nominate either Day 1 or Day 2 to Present your Workshop on your application. Where possible we will attempt to ensure this happens but we can’t guarantee it due to the huge volume of Workshop applications received.
There will be approximately 20 Workshops running concurrently over 3 different time slots after lunch each day@ 45 mins each
This is an official NAIDOC Event, the Conference organisers Christine Ross Consultancy and Sharon Kinchela and Chris Figg from Ngiyani Pty Ltd will be in Sydney next week to finalise the venue and meet with potential Sponsors.
We will be announcing the Conference venue next Monday 26 February 2018. But a heads up is given we will have hundreds of Woman from across Australia attending this historic Conference it will be held at one of the large Universities in Sydney.
We will release information on accomodation surrounding the University when official Registrations open end of March 2018.
Just a reminder cost pp to attend is $350 for 2 days, or $175 for 1 day, this covers coffee/ tea/ morning/ afternoon tea and lunch over the 2 days and venue hire.
We are still urgently seeking Sponsorship so if your Company has a RAP that celebrates NAIDOC week, Diversity Program, Gender Equity Program then we welcome you as a Sponsor.
We need Sponsors to ensure this conference happens. So please contact
firstname.lastname@example.org for a Sponsorship Package or ring 0417462213
There will be a Conference Dinner on Wednesday 11 July 2018, additional cost to attend approx $80 pp. This is optional with details to follow.
Conference organisers are Christine Ross Consultancy and Ngiyani Pty Ltd – organised by Aboriginal woman for Aboriginal woman.
“We have to keep reminding ourselves that Aboriginal women are the most disadvantaged group in Australia,”
Antoinette Braybrook from the Family Violence Legal Prevention Service told BuzzFeed News Indigenous women are often forgotten about in the national conversation around family violence.
“Aboriginal mothers die from external causes like accidents, suicides and homicides at a rate over six times higher than other mothers in Western Australia.
And in most cases they left behind very young children, with traumatic results.
Policies, interventions and health promotion that promote healthy mental wellbeing, prevent and manage substance abuse, reducing domestic violence, and the stresses associated with the persistent marginalisation of Aboriginal people in present day Australian society, are all likely to protect mothers and their children from these preventable events,”
Head of Aboriginal Research Development Mr Glenn Pearson
“Maternal loss can have a particularly traumatic impact on children and their development,” said one of the study’s authors, Dr Carrington Shepherd.
“This can include prolonged periods of grief, depression, stress, anxiety, problems with identity development, the difficulties associated with the transition to out-of-home care, and the onward elevated risks of substance abuse and suicide in later life.”
The study, published in BMC Public Health, also found:
Aboriginal mothers are 17.5 times more likely to die of homicide
They are 3.5 times more likely to suicide
They often leave behind a child under five
Poverty and housing go to explaining half of these excess risks
For children left behind, studies on the impact of life stress, including parental loss, show that trauma in early life can lead to substance abuse, self-harming, suicide, anti-social behaviour, and other adversities into adulthood
These four women below are just a handful of the Indigenous women who have endured horrific family violence. Some were murdered by their partners, while others survived violent relationships and are now using their stories to raise awareness. From Buzz Feed Allan Clarke
Aboriginal woman Andrea Pickett, a mother of 13 children, was killed by her estranged husband Charles Pickett who stabbed her 17 times in North Beach, Western Australia, in 2009.
Andrea was terrified of her estranged husband, who she had left in 2008. At the time of her death, she had a restraining order in place making it illegal for him to come near her. Charles was on parole from a previous charge for threatening to kill Andrea when he found her. He stabbed her repeatedly in front of one of their younger children.
The day before she was murdered, Andrea had called the Crisis Care hotline, run by the WA Department of Child Protection, seeking safe accommodation to protect her and the seven children in her care.
Lani Brennan survived years of unimaginable abuse at the hands of her former partner Joseph Timbery. Lani was routinely tortured, raped and assaulted. In 2000, Lani was subjected to almost a year of frenzied attacks, which including being stabbed multiple times with a knife and a chisel, having her jaw smashed, being hit in the head with an iron bar and almost dying several times while being held captive.
After leaving Timbery, Lani complained to the police in 2002. Despite the police having substantial amounts of evidence against him, he was not sent to trial until 2006. Lani says she felt like she was on trial and had to fight to have a suppression order of her name lifted so she could speak out against family violence.
Adeline Yvette Rigney-Wilson
In May this year, Aboriginal woman Adeline Yvette Rigney-Wilson and her two children, aged five and six, were found dead at their Hillier home in South Australia.
Steven Graham Peet, Wilson’s partner, has been charged with the triple homicide. Police described the deaths at the time as a domestic incident.
Lynette Daley died on 10 Mile Beach on the NSW north coast on Australia Day in 2011 from blood loss following severe genital tract trauma, allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend and his friend. Lynette, a mother of seven, was heavily inebriated at the time of her death and was more than likely unconscious during the sexual acts. A forensic pathologist likened her injuries to someone who had given birth.
Manslaughter charges against the pair were dropped after the Director of Public Prosecutions said there was not enough evidence to convict. The men have since been re-charged.
The study concluded that more research should be done on the risk factors associated with these potentially preventable deaths so better health strategies could be rolled out.
Head of Aboriginal Research Development Mr Glenn Pearson said the findings were compelling and confirmed the need for researchers, health professionals and policy makers to continue to work together to implement evidence based solutions.
Jean Hailes for Women’s Health is proud to announce the development of a new online health information hub for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers.
This exciting initiative is being announced at the National Indigenous Women’s Health Workshop being held at Monash Medical Centre on 25-26 October 2013, an event designed to establish key priorities, inform research and provide evidence to inform policy and practice in the field of Indigenous women’s health.
Developed in partnership with the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (AIH), the new online resource aims to provide health workers with access to evidence-based key information about a variety of women’s reproductive life stages.
“We are delighted to be partnering with HealthInfoNet to provide a relevant and accessible online resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers across Australia,” said Jean Hailes project leader, Louise Browne. “Together, our organisations have combined research translation, expertise, knowledge transfer and community education and outreach to be able to provide the highest quality information on women’s health.”
Topics include the menstrual cycle, contraception, pregnancy planning, fertility issues, polycystic ovary syndrome and menopause.
“These topics were chosen with input from health workers and a range of health professionals working in the area of Indigenous health as the issues most relevant to their communities,” said Louise. “They provide important information for all women at various ages and life stages.”
It is hoped the information will assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to help women understand and manage important aspects of their health, contributing to improved health outcomes and better quality of life. Health professionals and others working in women’s health may also find this online resource useful.
“We hope to build on this resource in the future to broaden the topics around other areas of need in women’s health and wellbeing,” said Louise.
NACCHO is supporting Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association and FARE’s campaign on alcohol labelling in Australia – we are now asking you to join us.
A year ago, Australian and New Zealand Food and Health Ministers decided to place the alcohol industry in charge of developing and implementing their own health warning labels.
Food and Health Ministers indicated that after two years they would move to regulating a pregnancy health warning label. eg of labelling
However, eight months later there has been no mention of how the Government intends to do this.
Last week FARE released a commissioned independent audit of the alcohol industry’s voluntary DrinkWise warning labels, and it’s no surprise that the result has been nothing short of a joke.
To date, only a small proportion (16%) of alcohol products carry the industry’s labels and when the label is applied, it’s barely noticeable with 98% of the messages taking up less than 5% of the label or face of the packaging.
As a result of the Government’s inaction on this issue, FARE has mounted a campaign to ensure that the Government keeps to its word by letting them know that labelling is too important to be left in the hands of the alcohol industry.
A key component of the campaign is an online petition to the Chair of Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation, the Hon Catherine King, calling for an evidence-based alcohol labelling regime, which will be delivered to her office on Monday 3 September.
The petition has now been signed by over 400 people, including a number of national not-for-profit leaders, health researchers, clinical psychologists, mums and dads, and even journalist and comedian, Julie McCrossin.
The campaign has also been featured in the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC TV, ABC News Radio, Nine MSN, AAP, and across a wide range of online media.
FARE is aiming to gain 1000 signatures by the end of the month, and one of the most powerful actions you can take to help us reach this goal is to ask your friends to sign the online petition
An independent audit of the alcohol industry’s DrinkWise warning labels has found that a full year after the voluntary initiative was launched, fewer than one in six (16%) alcohol products carry the consumer information messages.
The evaluation conducted by IPSOS Social Research Institute also found most DrinkWise messages are largely hidden, with 98 per cent of the messages taking up less than 5 per cent of the label or face of the packaging.
Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) Chief Executive, Michael Thorn, says the IPSOS audit demonstrates the abject failure of the voluntary industry regime and shows the industry isn’t serious about labelling.
“It’s impossible to see the audit results as anything but a complete failure on industry’s part. Twelve months on, and for the most part the DrinkWise messages have simply not been adopted. In the case of the few products that do carry the messages, they are so inconspicuous as to be worthless,” Mr Thorn said.
The audit also highlighted a total lack of uniformity and consistency on labelling. When used, industry’s Drinkwise messages were applied selectively. Confusingly, many products were found to have consumer messages from overseas jurisdictions such as the alcohol industry’s United Kingdom’s ‘Drinkaware’ campaign.
The audit also found that messages on alcohol products such as the vodka brand that suggests ‘Enjoy with Absolut Responsibility’, were little more than glib advertising tag lines that do nothing to educate and inform consumers about responsible drinking.
“The IPSOS audit brings into sharp relief the fundamental weaknesses of industry’s voluntary scheme. What we need are evidence-based warning labels that are applied consistently across all alcohol products. That’s something industry’s half-baked voluntary scheme can clearly never deliver,” Mr Thorn said.
In December 2011, Australian and New Zealand Food and Health Ministers recommended that the alcohol industry would be given two years to voluntarily implement alcohol warning labels, after which time the government would move to mandate pregnancy alcohol warning labels.
In the eight months since, Government has shown no interest in evaluating the progress of the alcohol industry’s voluntary efforts, entrusting industry to set its own targets and assess its own progress.
“Delaying the introduction of mandatory labels for two years was a mistake, but the government’s current hands-off approach borders on negligence. Industry might wish to set the bar low, fail to clear it, and still award itself a passing grade, but this audit puts paid to that industry spin,” Mr Thorn said.
Rather than correct the mistake, Mr Thorn says the Commonwealth now plans on rewarding the alcohol industry further with a tax-payer-funded handout, with the Department of Health and Ageing set to provide DrinkWise with funding to promote its flawed labelling regime.
“What is surprising is that in the face of industry failure, the Government seems content to not only let industry continue to take the lead in such an important national health initiative, but now is prepared to throw public funds at industry to promote a largely non-existent labelling initiative,” Mr Thorn said.
FARE is an independent, charitable organisation working to prevent the harmful use of alcohol in Australia. Since 2001, FARE has invested over $115 million in research and community projects to minimise the impact of alcohol misuse on Australians. Through its national grants program and commissioned research, FARE has established itself as a leading voice on alcohol and other drugs issues. FARE works with community groups, all levels of government, police, emergency workers, research institutions and the private sector to address alcohol-related problems. For further information visit FARE’s website: http://www.fare.org.au
A new campaign to raise awareness among Aboriginal women about the risks of drug and alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been launched today by Minister for Mental Health and Healthy Lifestyles, Kevin Humphries.
Mr Humphries said the
Aboriginal Prenatal Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Campaign emphasises the role partners, families and communities can play in supporting pregnant Aboriginal women in making healthy lifestyle choices.
“The shame, stigma and often a lack of knowledge about mental health and drug and alcohol issues during and after pregnancy are often a major barrier preventing people seeking professional help,” Mr Humphries said.
“One of the key messages of this campaign is ‘stay strong and healthy – it’s worth it’ which is a reminder that healthy choices during pregnancy mean a stronger and healthier baby.
“The campaign will reach Aboriginal women through a mix of print and radio advertisements as well as online support through social media like Facebook.”
The campaign also aims to raise awareness of services available to pregnant Aboriginal women and their families across NSW.
These services include 11 new specialist mental health, drug and alcohol services co-located in Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Health Services in Shellharbour, Taree, Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Gosford, Narellan, Coffs Harbour, Mount Druitt, Dubbo, Walgett and Broken Hill.
Aboriginal Obstetrician, Dr Marilyn Kong, said research shows that nine per cent of Aboriginal women will experience depression in pregnancy and this increases to 16 per cent in the year following the birth.
“Drinking alcohol, smoking and drug taking during pregnancy often causes serious problems for many Aboriginal women and ultimately impacts the health and development of their unborn child,” Dr Kong said.
“Childhood health services can provide important advice and support to new mothers and families as well as advice on vaccinations and other important baby development checks.”
The campaign will run until October 14, 2012.
Information on drug and alcohol services is available via the Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) on (02) 9361 8000 or 1800 422 599.
Information on support services for individuals experiencing depression is available by contacting the Perinatal and Antenatal Depression Association (PANDA) helpline on 1300 726 306 or Lifeline on 131 114.