NACCHO Aboriginal Childrens Heath : Ngaoara set to improve child and adolescent wellbeing

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We believe that repeated traumatic experiences in childhood – including exposure to violence, abuse, removal, neglect – contribute to a significant proportion of the disparities in morbidity and mortality experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. But we can do something about it.”

“We want to end violence against children.

There is no greater privilege than a child. Our children may be our future, but they are also our present and our most sacred responsibility “

Senior Aboriginal clinician and researcher, Professor Ngiare Brown.

A passion to improve Aboriginal child and adolescent wellbeing is the key driving force behind the launch of Ngaoara, a not-for-profit recently established by senior Aboriginal clinician and researcher, Professor Ngiare Brown.

Ngaoara is committed to supporting Aboriginal communities, organisations and service providers to develop and deliver child centric, trauma informed and whole of community responses to complex social issues, and to work to eliminate violence against children.

“Whilst there is a growing rhetoric around trauma and trauma informed care, there are too few Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations supported to lead the discussion, or deliver tangible responses,” says Ngaoara Founding Director, Professor Ngiare Brown.

Statistics confirm that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adolescents continue to experience higher rates of poor health, community violence, removal and incarceration than other Australian children. Ngaoara was established to help stop these trends.

See NACCHO TV for recent interview with Dr Ngiare Brown when she worked at Winnunga

“We know that adverse exposures during childhood can significantly affect how our children grow up, and can significantly impact outcomes across the life course – from bonding and attachment; emotional and behavioural regulation; learning; and social engagement and interpersonal skills; through to school performance; risk taking behaviours and chronic disease (including cancers, heart disease and mental health issues).”

“We believe that repeated traumatic experiences in childhood – including exposure to violence, abuse, removal, neglect – contribute to a significant proportion of the disparities in morbidity and mortality experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. But we can do something about it.”

“We want to end violence against children. We find that the conversations about family violence are usually focused on adults, with the voice of children being largely absent from discussions. Ngaoara’s focus is on Aboriginal children and adolescents and prioritising support for their social, cultural and clinical needs.”

“Ngaoara is willing to provide a platform whereby we can give voice to the very difficult conversations and not be afraid to talk about the hard issues when it comes to childhood wellbeing. We want all of our children to know what it is to grow up being loved and valued unconditionally.

“Utilising strength based approaches, Ngaoara aims to connect and reconnect our children and young people with their culture in order to promote a positive sense of self and identity, build resilience, and improve outcomes for health, education and social participation,” says Professor Brown.

Ngaoara was established in 2015, and in 2016 was successful in receiving Department of Health seed funding to begin work on the Trauma Assessment, Referral and Recovery Outreach Teams (TARROT) project, a ‘lighthouse’ initiative currently being modelled in the ACT, northern NSW, and SA/NT. The TARROT modelling involves establishing multidisciplinary in-reach and outreach teams to provide primary care, allied health and specialist services, and intensive case management to children and their families through local schools and Aboriginal Health Services.

“The Ngaoara team is working in partnership with community members and service providers to build locally responsive, child centric programs with the support of qualified specialists, and the TARROT project has been developed to provide more timely access to specialist teams with expertise in trauma; to provide children and carers with individualized care and support plans; and to develop whole of community wellbeing partnerships to manage the impacts of trauma.

“We aim to be able to translate best research into best practice. We also hope that over time the TARROT modeling activities will help build the evidence base for clinical, social and cultural best practice approaches for at risk children and their families, and be better placed to inform policy, resourcing and service delivery decision-making.”

“There is no greater privilege than a child. Our children may be our future, but they are also our present and our most sacred responsibility.”

For more information on Ngaoara and its programs, visit www.ngaoara.org.au.

You can also sign up to the Ngaoara newsletter.

NACCHO political alert: ‘Cut the cash and we won’t close the gap’ says Dr Ngiare Brown

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“I know that it has been said within the Coalition that health and education will have to take some funding hits,” Dr Brown said. “We cannot possibly progress this nation unless we are investing more in health and education, public health and education, so that we all have an equal opportunity at what that represents. I will absolutely be pushing the health bandwagon.”

Dr Ngiare Brown, Warren Mundine’s deputy on the government’s indigenous council, says ‘it’s often the layers of red tape and bureaucracy that suck up the resourcing’. Source: News Corp Australia Exclusive: Patricia Karvelas Photo: Ray Strange

ABORIGINAL doctor Ngiare Brown and  NACCHO  Executive Research Manager has vowed to use her new role as deputy head of Tony Abbott’s indigenous council to argue that cuts to indigenous health or education would be detrimental to efforts to close the disadvantage gap.

Dr Brown, who was in one of the first groups of Aboriginal medical graduates in Australia and previously an indigenous health adviser to the Australian Medical Association, was yesterday appointed as Warren Mundine’s deputy after receiving the backing of council members and the Prime Minister.

In an interview with The Australian, Dr Brown said she supported the priorities of the new council to boost school attendance and enhance economic independence. Given her background in health, she would also articulate the need for better health for indigenous people.

Mr Mundine said Dr Brown was a fantastic choice for deputy.

“I’m glad that all the council members and the PM support this move,” he said. “She’s very well experienced and she’s a great asset as deputy chair.”

In January, Mr Mundine said it was unrealistic to expect indigenous affairs spending to be immune from expected budget cuts and that, despite being the head of Mr Abbott’s indigenous advisory council, he could not cast a “force field” to exempt Aborigines from the broader budget agenda.

Dr Brown said she believed existing funding could be better spent, with less on bureaucracy, but urged that there be no net reduction in health and education.

“It is about school attendance but also performance and successful completion, pathways into opportunities into employment and further education,” she said.

“Being economically stable, too, all of those things we can’t do unless we are healthy. And the best model that we have for health service delivery in this country and comprehensive primary care are the Aboriginal community control health services.”

She said she was “absolutely” worried about cuts.

“I know that it has been said within the Coalition that health and education will have to take some funding hits,” Dr Brown said. “We cannot possibly progress this nation unless we are investing more in health and education, public health and education, so that we all have an equal opportunity at what that represents. I will absolutely be pushing the health bandwagon.”

She said if targets were to be achieved, cuts should not come from indigenous affairs.

“They should not be coming from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” she said. “They should not be coming from the public health system in particular nor the public education system. Because every child, every individual, every citizen has a right to those systems and they should be supported by government.”

She said waste on bureaucracy was concerning. “I am all about effectiveness and efficient spend,” she said. “But I am also about investment and if you look at community-based services they are extraordinary exemplars of how we can do it well and, in many instances, it’s often the layers of red tape and bureaucracy that suck up the resourcing.”

You can hear Dr Ngiare Brown speak at the NACCHO SUMMIT

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The importance of our NACCHO member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHS) is not fully recognised by governments.

The economic benefits of ACCHS has not been recognised at all.

We provide employment, income and a range of broader community benefits that mainstream health services and mainstream labour markets do not. ACCHS need more financial support from government, to provide not only quality health and wellbeing services to communities, but jobs, income and broader community economic benefits.

A good way of demonstrating how economically valuable ACCHS are is to showcase our success at a national summit.

SUMMIT WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO

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Dr Ngaire Brown:Real stories of real people who are working to deliver better health outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Ngiare Brown has always wanted to be a doctor.

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Dr Ngiare Brown pictured above is currently a NACCHO Public Health Medical Officer

Download Ngiare’s poster

Do you know an Aboriginal person employed in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisation working to deliver better health outcomes for Aboriginal people. NACCHO would like to share thier “real” story.Send details to media@naccho.org.au

This story is reproduced from  Real stories of real people

“From a very young age – seven or eight years old – I really wanted to be a doctor,” she says. “My parents said ‘we don’t mind what you do, as long as you do your best, do what you love, and love what you do.’ I have always seen myself working in health. Lucky for me, my family agreed.”

And lucky for Australia, too, because Ngiare has gone on to become one of the first Aboriginal doctors in the nation – as well as a vibrant, committed and passionate advocate for quality patient care and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy, research, workforce and education.

Two things drive Dr Ngiare Brown – pride and commitment: pride in being an Aboriginal woman which, along with the importance of education, was instilled in her by her parents; and commitment to making a difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through improved health.

“I am incredibly proud to be an Aboriginal woman,” she says. “I want my children – I have two daughters – to be incredibly proud to be Aboriginal women. And I want every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island person to feel that pride in themselves and their culture.

“I want to be able to contribute to raising tens of thousands of beautiful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in an environment where they will feel safe and proud.

“There is a lot to be done and I just hope I am doing enough and doing it right.”

Ngiare graduated from the University of Newcastle, obtained a Masters of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and has held a range of positions including Indigenous Health Advisor to the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales and the Australian National University, Manager of Preventative Indigenous Health Programs for World Vision Australia, and foundation Chief Executive Officer for the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association in 2002-2003. In 2005, she was awarded the AMA’s Woman in Medicine for her major contribution to the medical profession. She has recently commenced as Medical Officer for the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

Having followed her destiny with energy and conviction, she’s now encouraging others to get involved with Aboriginal health, either as a change in career direction, or as a brand new career. Do so, she says, and you could be making the most personally and professionally rewarding decision of your life.

Ngiare’s vision is for her people to achieve equity, justice, respect and acknowledgment – and one of the pivotal ways to do this is through better health.

This is why she is an enthusiastic advocate of the Australian Government’s campaign to attract more people into careers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. She knows that improvement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health cannot happen without having in place an appropriately resourced and trained health workforce. It’s a two-fold challenge. Over time, the challenge is to attract more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into health careers. In the short term, the need is to increase the number of experienced professionals working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is everybody’s business,” Ngiare says. “We need to create an environment where people are aware of the issues in attracting people, both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous, into health careers. We need to support and promote the aspirations of young Aboriginal people, acknowledge the role of people currently in the workforce, and provide incentives and rewards for those who choose to work in Aboriginal health.

“For experienced professionals, there are many options in Indigenous health. It might mean working as a locum with an Aboriginal Medical Service, doing a short term clinical placement, or relocating to a regional or remote area.

“To my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters who are working in health related roles, I say: we come from a long and proud tradition of storytelling. By sharing our stories, we can encourage more of our mob to join our ranks. We can also help current and future generations of health care providers to get to know us and better understand what it is like for our families and communities.”

With her diversity of training and experience, there’s not much Ngiare doesn’t know about Aboriginal health. “I guess I’m a Jack of all trades, master of none,” she says. “There are many things that I don’t know or am yet to learn, but I think I do have a real diversity of experience. That has been really important for me in terms of developing a broad perspective and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.”

Ngiare has seen first-hand both the challenges involved in Aboriginal health, and some of the triumphs in meeting those challenges. And, she believes, things are getting better.

“In terms of Aboriginal health and our desire for participation, the fact that we have been able to establish community-controlled health organisations, establish peak bodies for doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, psychologists and other allied health professionals – we have about 150 Aboriginal doctors and the same number of students – that kind of progress has been amazing,” she says. “These sorts of achievements have been made in the last 30, 40 or 50 years – that’s not bad given the historical context in this country, but we can do so much better.

“Some of the most significant barriers remain in the system itself. We need to get that long-term and sustainable commitment to changing the political, electoral and funding cycles.”

For all her own accomplishments, Ngiare doesn’t really see herself as a role model. But if others choose to, that’s not a problem. “I don’t stand up and say I am a role model,” she says. But I do know that it is important to lead by example, to be positive – and I do know that my actions should reflect what I am trying to achieve. If that encourages someone else to be involved in Aboriginal health, that would be wonderful.”

So what sort of people should we be looking to attract into Aboriginal health? “There will be a lot of people who will self-select,” Ngiare says. “There are a great many students and qualified practitioners in a range of disciplines who would be really interested in engaging – some may just not know how to make that first contact.

“To engage other people who may be less interested is more of a challenge – I think they need to have the right attributes and attitude: have an open mind with no pre-conceived notions. Be respectful in any role or relationship. Be able to acknowledge the contribution of others. Have an understanding of the cultural and social aspects that exist through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. And have clinical confidence, because often you are it 24/7.

“I can tell you – the experience you have in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health will certainly be among the most rewarding and enriching that you could possible envisage, both in a professional sense and in your personal growth and cultural understanding.

“There are plenty of opportunities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. You just need to start the conversation.”

Download Ngiare’s poster