NACCHO Aboriginal Health @AHCWA pioneering new ways of working in Aboriginal Health :Our Culture Our Community Our Voice Our Knowledge

NACCHO appreciates the work AHCWA has been doing constructively with all governments since 1997 and especially since the name change in 2005.

Your work to advance with one voice the development of Aboriginal Health in 22 ACCHSs in 7 regions of WA is not dissimilar to our work at a federal level.

It is commendable what you have achieved in such a short time frame. I love the passion, respect and commitment and am reinvigorated whenever I visit the state to discuss national advocacy issues.

Your youth policy program, health promotions, education and training programs are first rate.

As our Aboriginal population increases to one million people by 2030 I think we all should focus our increasing efforts to close the gap, have meaningful reconciliation in this nation and change aspects of our federal constitution.

NACCHO stands ready with you to be consulted, to provide advice and implement any urgent public awareness action plan as we now have 145 members with 6,000 staff in 304 health settings across the nation.

NACCHO believes there is no agenda more critical to Australia than enabling Aboriginal people to live good quality lives while enjoying all their rights and fulfilling their responsibilities to themselves, their families and communities.

Aboriginal people should feel safe in their strong cultural knowledge being freely practiced and acknowledged across the country.

This should include the daily use of our languages, in connection with our lands and with ready access to resources.

Aboriginal people should feel safe, free from racism, empowered as individuals and have health services to meet their needs and overcome health inequality and increase life expectancy “

Extracts from NACCHO CEO Pat Turner’s Key note for the WA Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector Conference Wednesday 11 April 2018 

Outlines the priorities for NACCHO moving forward and calls for the Sector to “exemplify evidence and best-practice in all that we do”

Mappa will actively help improve access for people living in regional and remote areas by showing them where their nearest health service is, even in the most remote communities. It will also better connect people with culturally appropriate healthcare closer to home.

AHCWA Chairperson Vicki O’Donnell see part 2 below

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) is hosting its annual two-day State Sector Conference this week at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle WA .

The 2018 State Sector Conference brings together representatives from AHCWA’s 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Member Services and key stakeholders and a range of disciplines and key portfolio areas, including representatives from Non-government, and State and Federal Government agencies.

More than 260 delegates, many who are Aboriginal leaders in health, will travel from all parts of the state to attend the state conference at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle on Wednesday, April 11 and Thursday, April 12.

Read Minister Wyatt’s recent Speech

Family key to Aboriginal Health

Highlights of the conference include an opening address by the Federal Indigenous Health Minister and Minister for Aged Care the Hon. Ken Wyatt AM and a keynote speech from National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chief Executive Officer Pat Turner.

Minister Wyatt opened the conference and return on day two to launch the Western Australia Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy 2018 – 2023, Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders.

Developed with and on behalf of young Aboriginal people in WA, the strategy is the culmination of almost a decade of AHCWA’s commitment and strategic advocacy in Aboriginal youth health.

AHCWA Chairperson Vicki O’Donnell said the conference was an opportunity for people involved in Aboriginal health to come together and share their professional experiences and knowledge, while engaging in frank, informed discussions about the health needs of Aboriginal people in WA.

The conference provides delegates with the opportunity to examine the successes and learning across the sector and to explore future strategic priorities and directions in Aboriginal health.

“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS), one of the largest employers of Aboriginal people in WA, are the also the largest provider of primary healthcare for Aboriginal people,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“Across Australia, these services provide more than 3 million episodes of care to 350,000 people each year.”

Located across geographically diverse metropolitan, rural, remote and regional locations in WA, ACCHS represent the most effective model of comprehensive primary health care for Aboriginal people and their communities.

The ACCHS model of care delivers comprehensive, holistic healthcare that reflects an understanding of the cultural needs of Aboriginal people, as well as the importance of connections to land, culture, spirituality, ancestry, family and community.

“We are very proud to be at the forefront of some of the most innovative projects and technological advancements in the Aboriginal health sector, Ms O’Donnell said.

“Our landmark projects will undoubtedly help improve access to vital healthcare for Aboriginal people and communities across Western Australia, particularly those living remotely.”

One of the highlights of the conference will be the launch of the innovative Mappa project, an adaptable browser-based mapping directory developed by AHCWA.

Mappa offers health service delivery information to help facilitate more seamless treatment options for rural and remote Aboriginal people to access services closer to home and during their patient journey in Perth. see Part 2 Below

ACHWA is also pleased to welcome Professor Charles Watson, Senior Health Advisor in the WA Office of the Chief Health Officer to the conference. Professor Watson will deliver a keynote address – The Hype and the Reality – on medical cannabis.

The dedicated staff of ACHWA’s member services will play a key role in the conference, delivering a range of thought-provoking and informative presentations. Among the topics will be Aboriginal men’s health, Balgo bush medicine, programs to tackle indigenous smoking in WA and the need for community led solutions in the rebuild of the Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service.

Leaders in Aboriginal youth health, including young achievers and two women who made it their lifelong mission to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal communities, will be recognised at the conference dinner on Wednesday night.

“This conference draws together some of the best minds and expertise so we can work together on culturally appropriate solutions to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“We are dedicated to addressing the health inequities in Aboriginal Health and doing all we can to close the gap, to ensure parity in the health outcomes and life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.”

Over the two days, 15 workshops and keynote speeches will be held. AHCWA will present recommendations from the conference in a report to the state and federal governments to highlight the key issues about Aboriginal health in WA and determine future strategic actions.

Wow, what a stage presence! The WA ACCHSs’ State-wide Tackling Indigenous Smoking Teams are presenting on the unique and evidence-based approach to address smoking in communities. They call it the ‘Western Australian Way!’. Awesome work by all!

The conference agenda can be found here

PART 2  LANDMARK MAPPING HELPS ALIGN PATIENTS WITH CARE CLOSE TO HOME

An innovative new health service mapping system developed by the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) will deliver better access to medical services and improved health outcomes for Aboriginal patients in regional and remote WA.

Mappa – Mapping Health Services Closer to Home is an adaptable browser-based mapping directory that integrates health services across WA with helpful information for all regional areas, including remote communities that do not register in Google searches.

The system, which is based on cutting-edge technology, was unveiled at AHCWA’s annual state sector conference at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle today. Data is available to primary and allied healthcare professionals through a free, public online map.

AHCWA Chairperson Vicki O’Donnell said Mappa offered comprehensive health service delivery information to help Aboriginal people living in regional and remote WA access services closer to home and improve their patient journeys in Perth.

“In Australia, people from all backgrounds and cultures routinely travel thousands of kilometres for healthcare with, at times, extremely sensitive and debilitating health issues,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“Through our expansive reach into regional and remote areas, AHCWA and our member services identified a severe lack of clarity in the types of health services available in country WA.

“For years, we have been hearing stories of Aboriginal people being flown to Perth for appointments and sent back home, only to be recalled to Perth two weeks later for a follow-up.

“In many cases, hospital staff do not realise that a patient’s journey home may involve a three or four day journey and travel by bus, train, plane, on unsealed roads and walking.

“We want to minimise patient dislocation by showing health professionals and patients what services are available in regional and remote WA so patients are closer to home, family, and country.

“Mappa is part of the solution to help bridge the gaps and bring greater cohesion around healthcare offerings.

“Mappa will actively help improve access for people living in regional and remote areas by showing them where their nearest health service is, even in the most remote communities. It will also better connect people with culturally appropriate healthcare closer to home.

“We hope this landmark tool will work to overcome the growing inability and inequality for Aboriginal people to access healthcare services, the unacceptably high rates of preventable health issues and the importance of culturally appropriate health care.”

Ms O’Donnell said it was likely that Mappa would also reduce costs to the public health system by decreasing non-attendance and costly unplanned re-admissions with extended lengths of stay.

“Not only will Mappa help to better connect Aboriginal people with appropriate healthcare, but we strongly believe it will also reduce costs associated with patient travel, regional and remote emergency responses and publicly funded specialist visits,” she said.

The conference agenda can be found here: http://www.cvent.com/events/aboriginal-health-our-culture-our-communities-our-voice-our-knowledge/agenda-d4410dfc616942e9a30b0de5e8242043.aspx

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Download @KenWyattMP speech to @CISOZ : The question of leadership and responsibility in Aboriginal health – addressing the Centre for Independent Studies

 ” Last year, we led a massive group listening program – the My Life My Lead consultations involved 600 people at 13 forums across Australia, plus more than 100 written submissions were received.

Seven priority areas were identified, and are informing the current Closing the Gap refresh agenda.

The priorities we heard from First Australians are:

  • Putting culture at the centre of change
  • Success and wellbeing for health through employment
  • Foundations for a healthy life
  • Environmental health
  • Healthy living and strong communities
  • Health service access, and
  • Health and opportunity through education

We need to be fully committed to sitting down and listening; hearing what’s being said, and continuing to invest in programs that do their work from the ground up.

Policies and services that reflect local voices and wisdom are more closely owned by the people they serve.”

Minister Ken Wyatt MP speaking at Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney yesterday

Download full address or read below

FINAL Wyatt CIS speech 10 April 2018

Family the key to Indigenous health, says Ken Wyatt

Executive summary from the The Australian Stephen Fitzpatrick 

Good parenting rather than increased funding for programs and services is key to improving Indigenous health, the federal minister responsible for the sector has ­declared.

Warning that “doing more of the same is an option we can no longer afford”,

Aboriginal Liberal MP Ken Wyatt said the successes and the failures in indigenous health demonstrated that “responsible parents and families provide the most consistent and enduring interventions”.

“Funding for health programs and services, from public or private sources, will only ever be part of the currency of change,” Mr Wyatt said at a speech to the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney. “By far the greatest value will come from every mother, father, uncle, aunt and elder every day, taking responsibility for and contributing to better health.”

Calling for a declaration of “non-negotiable standards to be met from the bottom up”, Mr Wyatt said these standards must “reflect the pride of the oldest continuous culture on the planet” but should also extend “far beyond families, to health and community groups and organisations too”.

He said there had for too long been a “piecemeal approach” to indigenous health, with “inadequate accountability” for repeated programs and yet “every time there’s been a new issue or challenge, ­people say we need more money”.

Efforts to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous health outcomes would not succeed “until we eliminate the mindset that Aboriginal Australians could be, and even should be on occasions, dealt with differently”.

The current syphilis epidemic in northern Australian indigenous communities, which has prompted the Turnbull government to commit $8.8 million in an attempt to turn its tide seven years after it began, was a case in point.

“If this outbreak had occurred on Sydney’s north shore, in ­Cottesloe in Perth or Toorak in Melbourne — in any city or major town, in fact — there would have been a rapid response years ­earlier,” Mr Wyatt said.

However, he cautioned that there must also be a greater focus on strategies that clearly work, calling for governments and NGOs to “hear the voices of families, of mothers, fathers and community elders, not just the voices of those who are the strongest ­advocates for the establishment of organisations or services”.

He cited the work of Fitzroy Crossing women including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar in curbing the spectre of ­fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, saying it had “turned the town around and you now see strong families there, bound by the glue of love and caring”.

He had ordered his department to overhaul a Medicare provision designed for indigenous Australians that provides physical, psychological and social wellbeing assessments as well as preventive healthcare, education and other options to improve health.

He said only 217,000 people ­accessed this provision last year but he wanted this number to rise because “what I want to see is all First Nations people accessing all relevant (Medicare) items in the same way other Australians do”.

He praised the growing number of indigenous health professionals at all levels, “as doctors and nurses, in allied health, administration and management (and) in policy planning and research”.

Mr Wyatt said this was likely to be the best hope for the future, with more than 40 per cent of the 720,000-strong indigenous population aged under 24, so that many of this group were “set to make a big impact across many fields that may help to close the gap”.

Full Speech Minister Ken Wyatt


Download FINAL Wyatt CIS speech 10 April 2018

Thank you Tom, [Switzer, Executive Director, Centre for Independent Studies] for your introduction.

In West Australian Noongar language, I say kaya wangju – hello and welcome.

At the same time, I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

Today, I want to pose the question: “What is the currency of positive change for the health of First Nations people?”

Is it government or private investment; is it determination; is it personal motivation?

To begin, I’d like those of us who can remember, to think back to 1972.

Australia’s Helen Reddy was topping the international charts and we were getting out of Vietnam.

The Tent Embassy went up at Parliament House in Canberra on Australia Day that year, a symbolic foreign mission erected in the fight for land rights, after years of dashed hopes – an embassy that continues today in the fight for equality.

1972 was a potentially life-changing year for thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Prime Minister Gough Whitlam established the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs, ushering in an era of bold new promise, building on changes implemented by previous governments following the 1967 referendum.

Looking back – in so many different ways since then – we have come so far.

Yet, since 1972, we have not seen the broad, wholesale change that we would expect, especially given the significant funding and vast amount of good intentions that have been invested in Aboriginal affairs.

Yes, for the first time in several years, we are on track to reach three of the seven Closing the Gap targets – but what lies behind the statistics that still highlight health inequities today?

What have we got right – and wrong – since 1972?

As I travel our nation, I see and hear more and more inspiring stories of First People’s achievement and the journey to equality, from almost every corner of the country.

Perhaps I’m a bit old-fashioned, but I like to call these “jewels in the crown” – because they shine so brightly, and they exemplify the things that work.

One of these is a university college for Aboriginal students I recently launched in Perth.

Now doubling in size six years after it began, it boasts a 90 per cent retention rate, with almost 80 percent of students passing all their exams.

Head to remote communities in the Kimberley and the Pilbara and you’ll find the EON program, literally teaching children how to grow vegetables and good health.

This is especially close to my heart, because I approved the initial, modest, funding to help start the project 10 years ago.

Since then, EON’s employed scores of local Aboriginal people, worked with students and families to create dozens of school vegetable gardens and has run countless cooking classes, including bush tucker, too.

The compelling taste and health benefits of home grown food are one thing; but it’s the ownership, the healthy habits, the skills learned, and the pride that are also helping change young lives.

The EON program’s now in high demand, extending further south in WA and into the Northern Territory this year.

In the Western Desert, the Pintupi Luritja people saw the tragedy of kidney failure and decided it wasn’t going to be a one-way ticket off their beloved country, to being hooked up to dialysis in Alice Springs.

They took control, famously painted and sold precious artworks – and raised a million dollars to start realising their dream.

Eighteen years on, the Purple House project has treatment centres across their vast lands, a mobile dialysis truck and, just as important, a growing primary and preventive health care network.

Not surprisingly, the wraparound approach – from the ground and the street up – most often shows the common denominator of success.

This local impetus is being strongly supported, and replicated with careful community consultation, through significant Turnbull Government programs.

Better Start to Life and its care and family partnerships begin a child’s health journey before conception. We have funded 124 sites nationwide, and counting.

The results are showing fewer low birth weight babies, higher rates of breastfeeding and, in our Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program sites, 100 per cent immunisation rates, the highest in the nation.

At the same time, from Alice Springs to Port Augusta and from Doomadgee to Canberra, the Connected Beginnings program links parents, health care and education, so children are ready to start school, learn and grow into healthy teenagers and adults.

As Nelson Mandela rightly said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

But sometimes, I go into communities and I meet with organisations that tell me they are meeting their health targets — the key performance indicators.

I then get permission from Elders to walk around and chat with locals.

On one particular occasion, in the Kimberley, I met a significant Aboriginal artist.

We were walking along and a friend was talking with this painter and I noticed that her eyes looked opaque, so I asked her: How much can you see?

She said: “I can’t see very much at all, I’m hoping for my cataract surgery.”

At that time, it had been a two-year wait – yet the health organisation’s KPIs were being met. How could this be?

In a country as rich and advanced as Australia, how can this happen?

This is not an isolated incident.

Improving overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is, first and foremost, critical for the well-being and dignity of hundreds of thousands of First Australians.

But it is also fundamental to our nation’s commitment to equality, and our global health status.

The health of First Nations Australians is everyone’s business.

We must continually celebrate with Aboriginal communities and families the many milestones in health, education, careers and cultural achievement.

At the same time, it is crucial we look carefully at where poorer aspects of health and wellbeing remain.

In these cases, doing more of the same is an option we can no longer afford – the high cost in lives and lost futures is incalculable, and budgets are also under intense pressure.

First Nations knowledge is embedded in the memories of the living – knowledge that is imparted through teaching, storytelling, music, art and dance.

They are our living libraries and losing each individual means a precious book of knowledge is lost forever.

It is imperative that we enable people to be healthy and live longer.

For far too long in Aboriginal health there was a piecemeal approach; series upon series of programs, often with inadequate accountability.

Every time there’s been a new issue or challenge, people say we need more money.

Currently, there are two evaluations underway to identify opportunities to improve; access to quality and effective primary health care services; assess health gains; and identify the social returns and the broader economic benefits of the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program.

While Government investment in the program will continue to grow over the forward estimates, it is imperative – especially for those in greatest need – that we maximise the health value in every dollar.

To illustrate this point I want to look at the current challenges of Sexually Transmitted Infections and Blood Borne Viruses.

Recently, I was asked to approve significant special funding for a targeted program to tackle the increasing prevalence of STIs, particularly the alarming rise of syphilis in northern areas.

When I asked ‘What are the States and Territories doing about this?’ I was disturbed to find too little had been invested and too little done when the first warning signs appeared, almost seven years ago – certainly not to the extent I would have expected from the responsible jurisdictions.

There was still an overwhelming reliance on Commonwealth leadership and funding in order to address the spread of STIs across the Top End.

I committed $8.8 million dollars, to provide a surge approach that is currently ramping up, aiming to turn the tide of infection.

I also make the point that these First Nations people now struggling under the burden of this deadly disease are, first and foremost, citizens of Australia.

If this outbreak had occurred on Sydney’s North Shore, in Cottesloe in Perth, or Toorak in Melbourne – in any city or major town, in fact – there would have been a rapid response years earlier.

I believe there will not be complete success, in terms of Closing the Gap, until we eliminate the mindset that Aboriginal Australians could be, and even should be on occasions, dealt with differently.

Ensuring awareness and respect for First Nations people and culture throughout our health system may be critical to equality of access – but above all, there is a fundamental human right we must accord every one of our citizens, and that is the right to good health.

Picture this scenario.

A doctor based in Kintore – around 2,000 kilometres South-West of Darwin visited the community of Kiwirrkurra located in Western Australia’s sandhill country — the Gibson Desert.

This doctor reports meeting a group of nine nomadic Aboriginal people, and he says:

“…They were the most healthy people I have ever seen…They were literally glowing with health – not an ounce of superfluous fat. They were extremely fit…”

The year was 1984.

Today, we hear a different narrative too often: There is an alarming rise in obesity and diabetes, suicide levels are high, there is alcohol and drug misuse and the impacts of poverty leave many people with a sense of powerlessness.

Too often, First Nations people’s achievements are overshadowed by health and welfare stories of deep, and understandable, concern.

We’re seeing laudable improvements because of interventions, but they’re not always consistent enough, and they’re often not equivalent to results achieved by other sectors within multicultural Australia.

I’m strongly focussed on where we need to improve; on why – even after accounting for the social and environmental impacts on health – we’re still seeing better outcomes for non-Aboriginal people.

For almost 20 years now, the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) has included Item number 715 – a health assessment especially designed to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive primary care matched to their needs.

A 715 looks at a patient’s health — physical, psychological and their social wellbeing.

It also assesses what preventative health care, education and other assistance should be offered to improve health and wellbeing.

It’s holistic. Not body part, by body part. The whole body.

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is around 720,000.

Yet only 217,000 people in 2016-17 have been assessed under MBS Item 715.

At the same time, I see organisations such as the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, that according to their 2016-17 Annual Report have over 33,000 active patients, of which approximately 60 per cent have had their 715 health check.

In 2016-17, the organisations Members’ Network of 19 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Care Clinics generated more than $14.3 million in Medicare income, with all funds re-invested in the delivery of comprehensive health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in South East Queensland.

What I see here are significantly better results, through completion of a “cycle of care”, comprising the range of chronic disease and other MBS items.

The Institute has grown its clinics from 5 to 19 in the past nine years, with their 20th soon to open in the Moreton Bay region.

I’m excited by this work – the innovation and capacity to change, and the resolve not to accept the status quo of poorer health outcomes.

I look at some of the health disparities and think, why aren’t we as a nation case managing, fundamentally, 720,000 people in a way that would make a difference to so many chronic conditions?

I have asked my department for an overhaul of 715s – what I want to see is all First Nations people accessing all relevant MBS items in the same way that other Australians do.

A key Government focus is on the health of our children, from conception right through to their late teens, so they can grow into strong and healthy men and women who can be the best mentors for their own children.

With more than 1700 First Australians receiving kidney dialysis, and rheumatic heart disease affecting another 6,000 mainly younger people, this year I’ve also prioritised renal health and RHD, along with eye and ear health.

From four national roundtables, we’re now charting Australia’s first roadmaps to coordinate efforts to combat these debilitating and deadly conditions.

It’s absolutely intolerable that RHD among our First Nations people is happening at more than 50 times the rate of other groups in Australian society.

In parts of the Northern Territory, those horrific rates of RHD are doubled again.

And Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under the age of 55 are starting dialysis at twice the rate of non-Aboriginal Australians, with many showing danger signs in their teens.

The unfinished business of today is disappointing because we should be celebrating more successes.

And are community-controlled health organisations and other community groups established to service great need, sitting down enough and asking families and individuals what they know, what they want and what they think would work best?

They must ask: Where is the continuity of service for anyone who requires an intervention to prolong their life or to circumvent an illness?

Minor ailments like skin sores or strep throats, if treated consistently and effectively, won’t develop into early onset renal failure or rheumatic heart disease.

In the same way, neither will ear infections become impaired hearing, that can stunt a child’s learning capacity and their chances of a good job, or any job at all.

There is a need for a holistic approach to the health of each individual.

Some of the benefits flowing from Australia’s recent mining boom have been great employment opportunities, close to country, for thousands of First Nations people.

But the job hopes of many were hampered by deafness contracted in childhood, much to the frustration of mining companies committed to hiring keen local staff.

Hearing and communication are fundamental to fulfilling our life’s potential.

They’re also two of the most valuable commodities for sustainable change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Governments and non-government organisations across the board must listen to and hear the voices of families, of mothers, fathers and community Elders.

Not just the voices of those who are the strongest advocates for the establishment of organisations or services that, theoretically, should make a difference on the ground.

I say this with no political overtones – the Prime Minister and the Turnbull Government are committed to doing things with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, not to them.

Last year, we led a massive group listening program – the My Life My Lead consultations involved 600 people at 13 forums across Australia, plus more than 100 written submissions were received.

SEE NACCHO report

Seven priority areas were identified, and are informing the current Closing the Gap refresh agenda.

The priorities we heard from First Australians are:

Putting culture at the centre of change

Success and wellbeing for health through employment

Foundations for a healthy life

Environmental health

Healthy living and strong communities

Health service access, and

Health and opportunity through education

We need to be fully committed to sitting down and listening; hearing what’s being said, and continuing to invest in programs that do their work from the ground up.

Policies and services that reflect local voices and wisdom are more closely owned by the people they serve.

People are empowered, because they’ve been heard, and take responsibility because they’re respected and proud.

Around the nation there are many things that are working and I have seen programs and services where Aboriginal organisations, Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people are highly successful in the most difficult of circumstances.

I see June Oscar and her community’s work in Fitzroy Crossing, which has changed the whole dynamic of buying alcohol and curbed the local tragedy of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Together, they have turned the town around and you now see strong families there, bound by the glue of love and caring.

Alcohol and the bad behaviour of a few no longer defines Fitzroy Crossing, the strength and the story of the community does.

When I think about the successes, as well as the failures, I know that responsible parents and families provide the most consistent and enduring interventions.

Funding for health programs and services, from public or private sources, will only ever be part of the currency of change.

By far the greatest value will come from every mother, father, uncle, aunt and Elder every day, taking responsibility for and contributing to better health.

For over 65,000 years, First Nations people survived and thrived without a plethora of organisations – individual families and communities pulled together, to ensure the health and wellbeing of all.

Working and walking together with local communities, we collectively need to declare non-negotiable standards to be met, from the bottom up.

Standards that also reflect the pride of the oldest continuous culture on the planet.

This individual responsibility extends far beyond families, to health and community groups and organisations, too.

Everyone working to close the gap in health equality must look at themselves and say: Together, we have outcomes to achieve – what difference are we really making today and how can we do better?

We must constantly walk around the communities we serve and look for patterns of disparity.

If that’s what we’re seeing, the question should be: Are we fighting our own people? Are we listening enough?

Fortunately for the future, increasing numbers of young First Nations people are hearing the call to lead the next wave of change.

With more than 40 per cent of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged under 24, large groups – like the undergraduates I met recently at the university college – are set to make a big impact across many fields that may help close the gap.

Through concerted programs around the country, there’s also a growing number of First Nations health professionals at all levels – as doctors and nurses; in allied health, administration and management; in policy, planning and research.

My message to them and to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in communities across this nation, is that we are proud descendants of those who came here at least 65,000 years ago.

We have proven incredibly resilient, and we’ll continue that tradition of resilience, and respect for our country and for all Australians.

But the strength of our cultural identity will always remain the basis for our health – and what we strive for and live for.

Thank you.

 

Minister @KenWyattMP launches NACCHO @RACGP National guide for healthcare professionals to improve health of #Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients

 

All of our 6000 staff in 145 member services in 305 health settings across Australia will have access to this new and update edition of the National Guide. It’s a comprehensive edition for our clinicians and support staff that updates them all with current medical practice.

“NACCHO is committed to quality healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, and will work with all levels of government to ensure accessibility for all.”

NACCHO Chair John Singer said the updated National Guide would help governments improve health policy and lead initiatives that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

You can Download the Guide via this LINK

A/Prof Peter O’Mara, NACCHO Chair John Singer Minister Ken Wyatt & RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel launch the National guide at Parliament house this morning

“Prevention is always better than cure. Already one of the most widely used clinical guidelines in Australia, this new edition includes critical information on lung cancer, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and preventing child and family abuse and violence.

The National Guide maximises the opportunities at every clinic visit to prevent disease and to find it early.It will help increase vigilance over previously undiagnosed conditions, by promoting early intervention and by supporting broader social change to help individuals and families improve their wellbeing.”

Minister Ken Wyatt highlights what is new to the 3rd Edition of the National Guide-including FASD, lung cancer, young people lifecycle, family abuse & violence and supporting families to optimise child safety & wellbeing : Pic Lisa Whop SEE Full Press Release Part 2 Below

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) have joined forces to produce a guide that aims to improve the level of healthcare currently being delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and close the gap.

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Associate Professor Peter O’Mara said the third edition of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the National Guide) is an important resource for all health professionals to deliver best practice healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

“The National Guide will support all healthcare providers, not just GPs, across Australia to improve prevention and early detection of disease and illness,” A/Prof O’Mara said.

“The prevention and early detection of disease and illness can improve people’s lives and increase their lifespans.

“The National Guide will support healthcare providers to feel more confident that they are looking for health issues in the right way.”

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said the RACGP is committed to tackling the health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“The National Guide plays a vital role in closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health disparity,” Dr Seidel said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have equal access to quality healthcare across Australia and the National guide is an essential part of ensuring these services are provided.

“GPs and other healthcare providers who implement the recommendations within the National Guide will play an integral role in reducing health disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and ensuring culturally responsive and appropriate healthcare is always available.”

The updated third edition of the National Guide can be found on the RACGP website and the NACCHO website.

 

Free to download on the RACGP website and the NACCHO website:

http://www.racgp.org.au/national-guide/

and NACCHO

Part 2 Prevention and Early Diagnosis Focus for a Healthier Future

The critical role of preventive care and tackling the precursors of chronic disease is being boosted in the latest guide for health professionals working to close the gap in health equality for Indigenous Australians

The critical role of preventive care and tackling the precursors of chronic disease is being boosted in the latest guide for health professionals working to close the gap in health equality for Indigenous Australians.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, today launched the updated third edition of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Prevention is always better than cure,” said Minister Wyatt. “Already one of the most widely used clinical guidelines in Australia, this new edition includes critical information on lung cancer, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and preventing child and family abuse and violence.

“The National Guide maximises the opportunities at every clinic visit to prevent disease and to find it early.

“It will help increase vigilance over previously undiagnosed conditions, by promoting early intervention and by supporting broader social change to help individuals and families improve their wellbeing.”

The guide, which was first published in 2005, is a joint project between the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners RACGP).

“To give you some idea of the high regard in which it is held, the last edition was downloaded 645,000 times since its release in 2012,” said Minister Wyatt.

“The latest edition highlights the importance of individual, patient-centred care and has been developed to reflect local and regional needs.

“Integrating resources like the national guide across the whole health system plays a pivotal role in helping us meet our Closing the Gap targets.

“The Turnbull Government is committed to accelerating positive change and is investing in targeted activities that have delivered significant reductions in the burden of disease.

“Rates of heart disease, smoking and binge drinking are down. We are on track to achieve the child mortality target for 2018 and deaths associated with kidney and respiratory diseases have also reduced.”

The National Guide is funded under the Indigenous Australian’s Health Programme as part of a record $3.6 billion investment across four financial years.

The RACGP received $429,000 to review, update, publish and distribute the third edition, in hard copy and electronic formats.

The National Guide is available on the RACGP website or by contacting RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health on 1800 000 251 or aboriginalhealth@racgp.org.au.

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #EarlyChildhood Health @AHCSA : #Indigenous Health Minister @KenWyattMP launches Connected Beginnings’ at the Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service @CKAHSAC

“The Connected Beginnings program is extremely important for Ceduna mums, dads, babies and children – we have 148 babies and children between the ages of zero and four years old, and we want to make every effort to help children have the best start in life,

I encourage all families especially mums and dads, to bring their babies and children to Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service to be screened, and they will be followed up with specialists, where and when necessary.

It is essential that Ceduna’s expanded holistic service model embraces everyone, and we continue to work consistently together to support our families who may be experiencing other challenges in their life

I have no doubt each and everyone of us want our children to be strong and healthy, to be educated, and to grow up to be leaders in their own community “

CKAHS chief executive officer Zell Dodd said they had received federal funding last year and once they were able to secure staff with specific skills to work on the program it commenced.

“The first five years of life is a critical time that ultimately helps shape every child’s future and is fundamental to closing the gap in health equality.

I know Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service has worked hard to attract professionals to fill five new positions to help support the program and local families.”

Connected Beginnings helps children enjoy good health, to set them on the way to academic success and a lifetime of better opportunities,

It works by providing children and their families with holistic support through existing and expanded local services.”

Minister Wyatt said the program aimed to have healthy families and improved school readiness

Download Minister Wyatt’s Press Release HERE

NACCHO Ken Wyatt Press Release Ceduna SA visit

Member for Flinders Peter Treloar, Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service chief executive officer Zell Dodd, Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt, Senator for South Australia David Fawcett and Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey at the official launch on Wednesday. Picture: Luca Cetta

FROM HERE

Ceduna families are benefiting from a program linking health care and early childhood education.

The ‘Connected Beginnings’ program was officially launched by Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt today at the Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service (CKAHS), as part of a national rollout, where it has been helping to build better, stronger lives.

The federal government has committed $12 million over three years from the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program to implement the health component of Connected Beginnings, plus around $10 million per year from the Community Child Care Fund to support the education component.

 Through Connected Beginnings, Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health service provides health checks to women, babies and children up to school age.

“This means mothers and children in this community are being referred to specialist services including paediatricians, ear and eye specialists, dentists, occupational and speech therapists and dieticians,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The social and emotional wellbeing team here also provide much-needed support for mums experiencing anxiety and depression, plus an environmental health program that targets everyday housing and community living conditions, essential to maintain health and prevent disease transmission.”

 Ms Dodd said the program was designed to regularly screen to pick up any health concerns early on that may impede on learning capabilities.

“We work in partnership with Ngura Yadurirn Child and Family Centre, who are the lead agency in Ceduna for this program,” she said.

“We also work very closely with the Ceduna District Health Service management, in particular the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Care (AMIC) worker, Aboriginal Patient Pathway Officer and the Step Down Manager.

“The Rural Doctors Workforce Agency also plays a key role in supporting CKAHS health services with visiting specialists.”

Senator for South Australia David Fawcett welcomed the extension of the program to Ceduna.

“Wrapping services including early childhood education, maternal and child health, and family services helps families now and will help generations to come,” he said.

“Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service has a strong working relationship with the Ceduna District Health Service through a memorandum of understanding, and works closely with the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Care worker.”

Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey congratulated Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service and Ngura Yadurirn Children and Family Centre for their leadership and dedication to give local children the best start possible.

Run jointly by the Department of Education and Training and the Department of Health, the program is also underway in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Galiwin’ku, Port Augusta, Mildura, Doomadgee and Doonside, along with a health-only program in Canberra.

Opportunities are being investigated to establish the program in further locations.

Ms Dodd said CKAHS also had other complimentary services on offer such as the social and emotional wellbeing team and the environmental health team, with an individual or family able to be referred to these programs for additional support.

“It is essential that Ceduna’s expanded holistic service model embraces everyone, and we continue to work consistently together to support our families who may be experiencing other challenges in their life,” she said.

“I commend the efforts of the key staff at Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health, Ngura Yadurirn and Ceduna District Health Service

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : @KenWyattMP #MyLifeMyLead Report: Tackling #SocialDeterminants and Strengthening Culture Key to Improving #Indigenous Health

“My Life My Lead is an opportunity to build on the work we are doing and the progress we have made, for instance in cutting smoking, reducing infant mortality and chronic disease deaths, and achieving higher immunisation rates.

Seven priority areas have been identified in My Life My Lead, which will be integral to the next iteration of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan. It will also help inform our Closing the Gap refresh agenda.

While governments have a critical role in setting policies and implementing programs, true and lasting gains are made when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a say in those areas that impact on their health and wellbeing.”

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM

The Turnbull Government has released ( December 21 2017 ) results of national consultations that highlight the importance of culture and tackling the social determinants of health, to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, said the wide-ranging My Life My Lead: Opportunities for strengthening approaches to the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous health (My Life My Lead) report will help inform the whole-of-government approach to better Indigenous health.

 The seven priorities are:

    1. Culture at the centre of change
    2. Success and wellbeing for health through employment
    3. Foundations for a healthy life
    4. Environmental health
    5. Healthy living and strong communities
    6. Health service access
    7. Health and opportunity through education

Report

My Life My Lead: Opportunities for strengthening approaches to the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous Health: Report on the national consultations December 2017 – PDF 4.7 MB

My Life My Lead: Opportunities for strengthening approaches to the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous Health: Report on the national consultations December 2017 – Word 13 MB

Infographics – PDFs only, these are available via the report in word and PDF

Priority Area One: Culture at the centre of change – PDF 413 KB
Priority Area Two: Success and wellbeing for health through employment – PDF 483 KB


Priority Area Three: Foundations for a health life – PDF 496 KB
Priority Area Four: Environmental health – PDF 479 KB


Priority Area Five: Healthy living and strong communities – PDF 464 KB
Priority Area Six: Health service access – PDF 515 KB
Priority Area Seven: Health and opportunity through education – PDF 517 KB

The report was compiled from wide-ranging community consultations conducted during March-May 2017. Approximately 600 people attended 13 forums across Australia, and more than 100 written submissions were received. The report was also informed by literature reviews.

“A consistent theme from the consultations was the importance of including parents, Elders and Aboriginal communities in maintaining our people’s connections with culture and country,” Minister Wyatt said.

“While governments have a critical role in setting policies and implementing programs, true and lasting gains are made when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a say in those areas that impact on their health and wellbeing.

“To have strong, healthy children who grow into healthy adults leading fulfilling and long lives, we need to have effective and accessible childhood health care and education, wrapped with positive employment, housing and economic development opportunities.”

Minister Wyatt extended his deep gratitude and respect to the hundreds of individuals and organisations who contributed to the consultations, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from so many parts of Australia, who often travelled significant distances to participate.

Copies of ‘My Life My Lead’ can be found at www.health.gov.au/mylifemylead

Aboriginal Health #Workforce : @KenWyattMP Congratulates 5000th placement under the successful Remote Area Health Corps program : Working together with communities

I congratulate RAHC on its outstanding record of providing high-calibre, clinically competent and culturally sensitive health workers for the Northern Territory.

Without this initiative, and dedicated professionals many people would have to go without, or delay health care attendance or have to travel long distances to access care.

While health is its highest priority, the program is also fostering lasting friendships and strengthening links between urban and remote Australia.”

At the RAHC 5000th placement event in Canberra , Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt, said programs like RAHC were making a big difference to the lives of Aboriginal people.

 ” Several RAHC health professionals have enjoyed their placement in the picturesque community of Areyonga or Utju. Despite its relatively small population, there are some vital services in the area such as a community arts centre, swimming pool, outdoor basketball court, sports ovals, a community store and the Lutheran Church.

Utju Health Service is a remote clinic of Central Australia Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) that provides 24 hours, 7 days a week acute/emergency response through health staff on call and primary health care to the community.

To learn more about this community or any other communities in the Territory, click here

https://www.rahc.com.au/where-we-work.

A successful program to help overcome critical health workforce shortages in the Northern Territory has placed its 5000th health professional.

The Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) has given thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ready access to much-needed health care, from general practice to hearing services.

Presenting Victorian Audiologist Dr Vikki Tselepis with the 5000thplacement certificate, Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM with Warren Snowdon MP NT , said the RAHC played a pivotal role in addressing the shortfall in heath service delivery in remote NT communities. Photo Oliver Tye NACCHO

“This highly successful initiative continues to grow, attracting, recruiting and supporting health professionals to undertake short-term placements,” Minister Wyatt said.

“I congratulate RAHC and Aspen Medical on this significant milestone and for their dedication to providing quality care.

“Without the RAHC, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would have to go without, or delay health care services, or travel considerable distances to access care.

“Delivering affordable and sustainable universal healthcare for all Australians is a Turnbull Government priority, and we must work together to address the cultural and systemic barriers that exist.

“This means investing in a system that is equipped and able to provide culturally safe and respectful care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Since 2008, the RAHC program has expanded from 100 health professional placements annually to more than 660 in 2016–2017. Current Turnbull Government funding is $18 million (2015-16 to 2017-18).

Dr Tselepis says she has a profound respect for Aboriginal people and their culture and is inspired by her role in helping children grow up feeling strong and empowered.

“There is no doubt the program’s expansion has been helped by the 80 per cent repeat rate, with the majority of these mainly urban-based health workers regularly returning to undertake additional placements across the Territory,” said Minister Wyatt.

“For instance, Vikki has undertaken 17 RAHC placements, including the centres of Galiwinku, Gapuwiyak, Santa Teresa and Wadeye.

“While I am confident more local indigenous health professionals will be trained and live on country, it is vital that health staff like Vikki continue their work, making a huge practical contribution to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @IndigMaraProjct : 10 Indigenous runners #RunSweatInspire to finish the #NewYorkMarathon

 “I’m hoping to show other Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders that anything is possible when you put in the hard work

I joined a walking to running program and this is a great example of what you can achieve out of something as small as that.

Growing up I wasn’t a sport person but it’s not all about sport, it’s about a holistic view and making a change for the better, I want people to think ‘if Cara can do it than so can I’.”

Queanbeyan mother Cara Smith has just completed a remarkable journey at the New York marathon on Sunday (see her Story Part 2 below )

“The running the New York Marathon  has given me a lot of discipline.

The main reason why I joined the squad was to be a positive role model for my family and for my community. People see me doing this and hopefully it gets them on the right; if you put in hard work you get rewarded for it.”

Speaking from Central Park New York Roy Tilmouth said the IMF running project had inspired him to be a positive role model for his community in Alice Springs.(see story Part 1 Below )

Update 9.00 am good news all 10 completed #NYM

Background news coverage Part 1 of 2

GROUP of indigenous Australians planning to participate in this weekend’s New York City marathon say the terror attack in Manhattan will not deter them from the race.Indigenous Marathon Foundation director Rob de Castella said the squad never considered pulling out.

“Absolutely not – I refuse to change my way of life and my aspirations and dreams based on what some radical, rat bag people do because once you start doing that, then terrorism wins,” he said.

The IMF project turns indigenous Australians from beginners to marathon runners within six months in an effort to promote healthy lifestyle choices, resilience and success.

“Most of them have done no running and they’ve gone from struggling to run three kilometers or five kilometers to six months later running 42 kilometers non-stop,” he said.

Participants also have to complete an education component, which this year featured an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and First Aid course.

De Castella said the runners, many from remote and regional areas, have experienced profound transformations as a result of the program.

“They realize that they’re so much stronger than what they were,” he said. “They want to make life better for their community because they are exposed to so much dysfunction and suicide, loss, suffering, abuse and alcoholism and they want it to stop.

“They realize that it has to start with them so this experience transforms them and makes them realize they are strong and that they have the capacity to drive change and address those issues they want stopped,” he said.

Twelve indigenous Australians will run in the world-famous New York City marathon, thanks to de Castella’s mentoring program. In the lead up to the marathon, the participants had to complete several challenges, including a 30-kilometere run in Alice Springs.

Speaking to News Corp Australia in Central Park before a practice run, Roy Tilmouth said the IMF running project had inspired him to be a positive role model for his community in Alice Springs.

“The running has given me a lot of discipline,” he said.

“The main reason why I joined the squad was to be a positive role model for my family and for my community. People see me doing this and hopefully it gets them on the right; if you put in hard work you get rewarded for it.”

Another mentee of De Castella, Layne Brown, said that his daughter had inspired him to prove something to himself.

“I’ve lost 20 kilos on this journey and I’m trying to live a better way than I have in the past,” he said.

“I stuffed a lot of things up and I want to be a better person and keep working towards that and running has been my vehicle for that over last six months”.

For Perth’s Luke Reidy, the running project offered an avenue to tackle his depression.

“I had a few deaths in the family and got depressed and I just want to highlight how physical exercise can also help with mental exercise,” he said.

Mr Reidy said he was humbled by the amount of people who had followed his progress and given their support throughout the process.

“The amount of people that watch your journey that you don’t know and they come up to you – it’s really humbling.”

Queanbeyan mother Cara Smith will complete a remarkable journey at the New York marathon on Sunday. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Smith has been part of a gruelling six-month training program under the tutelage of Australian marathon legend Rob de Castella as part of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation.

The 30-year-old was one of 12 people selected from more than 150 applicants after sharing her story with de Castella of wanting to fight a long family history of diabetes and obesity.

Smith has braved 4am training sessions in the the Canberra winter said she has herself through it to be part of something special and inspire her one-year-old son.

Smith said she was couldn’t wait to arrive in New York and soak up the atmosphere ahead of one of the biggest challenges of her life.

“I’ve been looking forward to this all year, I’m super excited and really nervous too so it’s a good mix but I just want to get started,” Smith said.

“I don’t know what to expect but I just want to soak up atmosphere and I can’t wait see my son’s face when I show him the New York marathon medal and talk to him about it one day.”

There will be unprecedented security at the event following the recent terrorist attack in New York which claimed six lives.

Smith prepared with five training camps which included a 30km effort in Alice Springs last month, the longest the group have run in preparation for the 42km epic.

“The final 12km will be pure willpower, I have a strong purpose and that is my son and setting up a healthy active lifestyle for him to aspire to,” Smith said.

“I want to set an example and I’ve done the training so I’m confident I’ll get there, I know it’s going to be tough but I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

“I want to see what the infamous wall throws at me, I’m really pumped for the final hurdle and I just hope the body and mind will hold up.”

De Castella said Smith’s sense of purpose is what will carry her the final 12km when her body is screaming to stop.

“In the marathon you always get to a point when you ask yourself ‘why am I doing this’ and it’s really important to have a really strong answer to that question,” de Castella said.

“The marathon doesn’t start until 30 km and that’s as far as they’ve ever run so they just have to get themselves to starting line and then it’s about hitting the wall and pushing through soreness and fatigue and blisters and exhaustion and pain.

“The only reason you keep going because is the reason of why you’re doing it and Cara’s reason is she wants to be a great model for her child and a leader for the community.

“These are everyday people, mums and dads and single parents, they’re not elite athletes, not high-flying academics and doctors and lawyers, they’re just everyday people that have basically had a gutful of all of the struggles and the problems in life and they just want to be part of a change going forward.”

Smith hopes her performance will inspire those in the indigenous community who are looking to make positive changes in their lives.

“I’m hoping to show other aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders that anything is possible when you put in the hard work,” Smith said.

“I joined a walking to running program and this is a great example of what you can achieve out of something as small as that.

“Growing up I wasn’t a sport person but it’s not all about sport, it’s about a holistic view and making a change for the better, I want people to think ‘if Cara can do it than so can I’.”

Press release from Federal Government

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Evaluation Alert : Minister @KenWyattMP engages consultants to evaluates the #IAHP Indigenous Australians’ Health Program

Independent consultants have been engaged to conduct evaluations of the Australian Government’s Indigenous Australians’ Health Program (IAHP).

Our focus is on closing the gap and, while we are making gains, we need to accelerate progress and in some cases, just doing more of the same is not going to achieve that,

We need to know what is working well so we can best target our investment in, and support of, health programs.

The consultants will work closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and key consumer, primary health care and government organisations, The subsequent implementation of the agreed evaluation design will be a separate, four-year project.”

The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, said the two projects were part of a wide ranging approach to monitor and examine the IAHP.See NACCHO background below Part 2 and 3

1.A longer term evaluation of comprehensive primary health care will be co-designed with stakeholders over 9 months, by consultants Allen and Clarke.

2.In addition, a health economics analysis will be undertaken by Deakin University.

This project will consider the IAHP’s return on investment and the relative costs of providing comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through Indigenous specific and non-Indigenous health care services.

“Improved health results, social returns and broader economic benefits will be assessed,” said Minister Wyatt.

“This economic evaluation will inform future IAHP investments, to improve efficiency and drive better health outcomes.

“Both studies will be supported by an Evaluation Advisory Group comprised of key stakeholders and health experts, to ensure a wide range of perspectives are taken into account.

“This work aligns with the Turnbull Government’s commitment to a more strategic, long-term approach to Indigenous health and Indigenous affairs as a whole.”

Part 2 NACCHO Background : IAHP Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme

The Indigenous Health Division is responsible for the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme, which commenced on 1 July 2014.

This Programme consolidated four Indigenous health funding streams: primary health care base funding; child and maternal health activities; Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory (Health); and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Chronic Disease Fund.

The following themes comprise the Programme:

  • Primary Health Care Services;
  • Improving Access to Primary Health Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People;
  • Targeted Health Activities;
  • Capital Works; and
  • Governance and System Effectiveness.

The Guidelines for the Programme provide an overview of the arrangements for the administration of, and activities that may be funded under, the Programme.

PDF version: Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme Guideline – PDF 501 KB

Part 3 NACCHO background history February 2016

NACCHO $ Aboriginal Health Funding alert :Federal Goverment’s Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme

1.Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme – Tackling Indigenous Smoking Innovation Grants

The Australian Government has made available $6.3 million over three financial years from June 2016 to June 2018 for innovation grants. These projects will offer innovative and intense activities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to reduce smoking prevalence in remote areas, for pregnant women and for young people vulnerable to entrenched cultural norms of smoking.

It is expected that successful grant recipients will work in collaborative partnerships of research organisations and service providers to seek solutions to reduce rates of smoking that have been resistant to reduction. This arrangement will improve the evidence on how to reduce smoking rates in areas or groups of high need and interventions will be evaluated in context to add to existing understanding of what works and what does not work in what circumstances.

This will be a competitive, open process for which various health service providers and research organisations may apply

2.Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme – Service Maintenance Programme

The Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme’s Service Maintenance Programme (SMP) is providing Commonwealth funded Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) a total of up to $2 million (GST exclusive) in grant funding in 2015-16. SMP grants will provide for the priority repair and upgrade of clinics and staff housing facilities run by organisations which aim to improve access to services and improve health outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

3.Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme – Primary Health Care Activity

The Department of Health has released two Invitations to Apply for the continuation of Primary Health Care and New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP) in selected communities and regions across Australia for two years from 2016-17. IAHP Primary Health Care Activity aims to improve access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to effective and high quality health care services essential to improving health and life expectancy, and reducing child mortality. New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services Activity aims to improve the health of Indigenous Australians by improving access to antenatal care and maternal and child health services by Indigenous children, their mothers and families.

4.Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme – New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services Activity

The Department of Health has released two Invitations to Apply for the continuation of Primary Health Care and New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP) in selected communities and regions across Australia for two years from 2016-17. IAHP Primary Health Care Activity aims to improve access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to effective and high quality health care services essential to improving health and life expectancy, and reducing child mortality. New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services Activity aims to improve the health of Indigenous Australians by improving access to antenatal care and maternal and child health services by Indigenous children, their mothers and families

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Our ACCHO Members #Deadly good news stories #NT #NSW #QLD #WA #SA #VIC #TAS

1.1 NACCHO CEO Pat Turner to build on the success of Aboriginal Community Control Health Services

1.2 National : 2017 NACCHO Members’ Conference and AGM Registrations : Only 28 days to go

2. Vic : VAHS ACCHO Healthy Lifestyle Team love supporting the Fitzroy Stars Netball Club

3.NSW : In the Shoalhaven region Aboriginal Health is everyone’s business

4.NT : Ken Wyatt opens our NACCHO #OchreDay2017 summit in Darwin

5. QLD : Inquiry into service delivery in remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities : Draft report consultation

6.ACT : NACCHO/Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service mental health webinar  in conjunction with the Mental Health Professionals Network

7.WA : Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking team to create Anti Smoking Ads

8. Tas : Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre to celebrate our communities journey of breast cancer & raise awareness

9.SA : Aboriginal Health Council of SA  and South Australian Aboriginal Chronic Disease Consortium

10. View hundreds of ACCHO Deadly Good News Stories over past 5 years

How to submit a NACCHO Affiliate  or Members Good News Story ? 

 Email to Colin Cowell NACCHO Media    

Mobile 0401 331 251

Wednesday by 4.30 pm for publication each Thursday

1.1 NACCHO CEO Pat Turner to build on the success of Aboriginal Community Control Health Services

Pat Turner has been appointed for a further three years until July 2020 by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Board.

NACCHO Deputy Chairperson, Sandy Davis welcomed Ms Turner’s appointment highlighting her extensive life experiences in Aboriginal affairs, government, academia and corporate practice.

Sandy also ‘acknowledged her invaluable record of public service achievements and that her leadership style comes at an important time for NACCHO with new governance arrangements to be discussed with members’ at our Annual General Meeting in Canberra in November.

Pat will help create real, meaningful and lasting change for NACCHO that will strengthen community control and keep Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands’ he said.

Pat recently finalised a new network funding agreement for supporting community controlled Aboriginal health service with the Commonwealth. This will allow for better, more targeted investment in efforts to close the health gap for Aboriginal people. Pat has consistently said that ‘governments at all levels must do more to join the dots between education, housing, employment and other social determinants if we are to significantly improve health outcomes for our people and Close the Gap they have spoken about for the best part of a decade.’

Pat has been delivering on the Board’s agenda to consult with members to update our NACCHO Constitution and she has spent the last few months criss-crossing Australia to obtain the views and opinions of our Members and Affiliates about NACCHO constitutional changes.

She will continue to work on strengthening and expanding the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector, maintaining its strategic directions, cutting unnecessary red tape and building a closer relationship between all our organisations. ‘We want to build on the success of community control in improving health outcomes for our people’ she said.

Pat is of Arrernte and Gurdanji descent and was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) in 1990 for her contribution to public service.

1.2 National : 2017 NACCHO Members’ Conference and AGM Registrations : Only 28 days to go

On Tuesday 2 October there was only 28  days to go and due to high demand  the conference AGM is nearly booked out

This is an opportunity to show case grass roots best practice at the Aboriginal Community Controlled service delivery level.

In doing so honouring the theme of this year’s NACCHO Members’ Conference ‘Our Health Counts: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’.

Download NACCHO 2017 Members Conference and AGM Draft

NACCHO Conference Website

2. Vic : VAHS ACCHO Healthy Lifestyle Team love supporting the Fitzroy Stars Netball Club

Photos above : Introducing the Fitzroy Stars Junior Netball Carnival Teams!

The VAHS Healthy Lifestyle Team love supporting our Fitzroy Stars Football/Netball Club netballers.

These girls and boys are representing the Healthy Lifestyle Values and doing us proud today! Well done everyone on being deadly team players and making healthy choices!

Check out their other healthy lifestyle tips below. HERE

#vahsHLT #StaySmokeFree #BePositive #BeDeadly #BeAware #Lovethegame

3.NSW : In the Shoalhaven region Aboriginal Health is everyone’s business

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) has joined local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, the Primary Health Network and the University of Wollongong in committing to work together to bring about positive changes to Close the Gap on health inequalities for our Aboriginal communities.

From Here

A partnership agreement was formally signed on Friday by leaders of the South Coast Aboriginal Medical Service; Oolong House – Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre; Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service; Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation; University of Wollongong; COORDINARE – South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network; and Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.

A special ceremony, including a corroboree, smoking ceremony and performances by the Doonooch Dancers led by Joe Brown-McLeod and Larry McLeod,

and a stirring welcome to country by Uncle Tom Moore preceded the official signing of the agreement.

ISLHD Chief Executive Margot Mains said the agreement aims to support, promote and strengthen the existing local relationships and strong ties that have been developed over many years.

“The signing of the partnership agreement marks a new beginning for our journey in working collaboratively to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal Australians,” Ms Mains said.

4.NT : Ken Wyatt opens our NACCHO #OchreDay2017 summit in Darwin

Losing his nephew to the same preventable disease that afflicts so many Aboriginal Australians galvanised Ken Wyatt to make indigenous men’s health a “top priority” of his political agenda.

Read full speech here NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health @KenWyattMP Speech ” Men’s health, our way. Let’s own it!” – is a powerful conference theme

Read NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health #OchreDay2017 Conference Press release

@KenWyattMP and @jpatto12 raising awareness of issues in Aboriginal men’s health

The Federal Indigenous Health Minister says his nephew was a promising musician but died in June, aged just 35, after a battle with diabetes and chronic renal and heart disease.

“One of Jason’s killers was kidney failure, the same devastating condition that claimed the life of beloved musician, Dr G Yunipingu,” Mr Wyatt told a national men’s health conference in Darwin.

“His close family and friends are now working on a media project to fulfil his dying wishes – to get the word out to indigenous men in particular, to take their health seriously, to own it.”

Aboriginal men have the poorest health of any group within the Australian population, which Mr Wyatt says is “nothing short of a national tragedy”.

They suffer kidney health problems at five times the rate of their non-indigenous counterparts, and are dying more than 10 years younger.

Winner of the Jaydons Adams Award 
From the left, Mr Mark and Mrs Lizzie Adams with Nathan Cubillo-Jones and AMSANT CEO John Paterson
 He’s just graduated this year from his studies as an Indigenous health practitioner and in between playing local Aussie rules and Rugby league, he worked tirelessly with Danila Dilba health service and has recently been appointed manager of the new Malak clinic.

5. QLD : Inquiry into service delivery in remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities : Draft report consultation

The draft report is scheduled to be released in early October 2017.
We are seeking your comments and views on the draft report, and will be undertaking further consultation during October and early November.

The Commissioner Bronwyn Fredericks will be briefing and consulting with stakeholders in the following locations:

  • 9 October 2017 (1pm to 3pm) – Cairns, Doubletree Hilton Hotel
  • 10 October 2017 – Yarrabah
  • 11 October 2017 – Kowanyama
  • 12 October 2017 – Lockhart River
  • 13 October 2017 – Aurukun
  • 16 October 2017 – Gladstone (LGAQ conference)
  • 17 October 2017 – Woorabinda
  • 20 October 2017 – Brisbane

Further consultations will be scheduled in the coming weeks at Mt Isa, Mornington Island, and Thursday Island – details will be published on the QPC website as they become available.

Consultations will include round tables in Cairns, Mt Isa, Thursday Island and Brisbane.

Please register your interest to attend a consultation or round table here.
If you would like to meet with the Commissioner or the inquiry team either as part of the consultation rounds or via teleconference, please contact us on (07) 3015 5111 or enquiry@qpc.qld.gov.au

6.ACT : NACCHO/Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service mental health webinar  in conjunction with the Mental Health Professionals Network 

On Wednesday the 13th of September 2017, NACCHO facilitated a mental health webinar in conjunction with the Mental Health Professionals Network as part of its professional development work.

This mental health webinar focused on reducing the mental health impacts of indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services.

The discussion was conducted by an Indigenous interdisciplinary panel (see below for further details). A post-discussion Q&A was also conducted between the panel and guests, recordings of which can be accessed below.

THE PANEL

Julie Tongs OAM                      (CEO Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service)

Dr Louis Peachey                      (Rural Generalist)

Dr Marshall Watson                 (Psychiatrist)

Dr Jeff Nelson                            (Psychologist)

Facilitator: Dr Mary Emeleus (General Practitioner and Psychotherapist).

7.WA : Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking team to create Anti Smoking Ads

The project, organised by Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking team, will be carried out with funding from a Healthway Indigenous Health Promotion grant and the Federal Government’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program.

Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service regional tobacco coordinator Danika Tager said smoking rates in the East Pilbara were exceptionally high and more needed to be done to support communities to address tobacco addiction.

Filmmakers will work with youth in four remote Aboriginal communities in the East Pilbara to shed light on the personal stories of local smokers and warn about the perils of the deadly habit.

Young people, assisted by a professional production team, will create a series of short films as part of the “you CAN quit” project, to document the stories of community members who have successfully kicked the habit and those who have been affected by smoking-related illnesses in Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu and Kunawarritji.

Statistics from the Federal Department of Health show that tobacco smoking is responsible for one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths, with the number substantially higher in remote areas.

“Smoking rates in remote East Pilbara communities are as high as 80% and tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in this population,” Ms Tager said.

“Through this important film project we hope to encourage people in these communities to quit smoking, as well as air the many benefits of quitting and where they can find help and support.”

Filming of the four short films will start September 19. It is expected the films will be screened in each community on completion and also be aired on indigenous television stations and social media.

Ms Tager said the project was unique in that the films would be entirely community owned and directed, giving young people the opportunity to actively make a difference in their community.

“Youth will be responsible for all aspects of researching, shooting, editing and promoting the films” she said.

“All too often NGOs will come into a community with a health message that may or may not be relevant, and expect it to change people’s behaviour,” she said.

“What we are doing here is empowering the community to send its own messages and fight tobacco-related harm using its own experience and stories.”

The project will also involve a series of posters to celebrate non-smokers in the communities, and offer education sessions and details about the availability of support programs.

The Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) is a community controlled health organisation that provides primary health care, 24-hour emergency services and preventative health and education programs in the communities of Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu and Kunawarritji.

8. Tas : Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre to celebrate our communities journey of breast cancer & raise awareness

Please join us at piyura kitina (Risdon Cove) on Thursday, 12th October at 1.30pm, to celebrate our communities journey of breast cancer & raise awareness of this disease.
Afternoon tea, will be provided, please contact Emma on
6234 0777 or Freecall 1800 132 260 if you require transport.

9.SA : Aboriginal Health Council of SA  and South Australian Aboriginal Chronic Disease Consortium

The South Australian Aboriginal Chronic Disease Consortium (the Consortium) was launched on 18 May 2017, as a collaborative partnership formed between the South Australian Aboriginal Health Partnership (comprising of SA Health, Aboriginal Health Council of SA and Department of Health – Commonwealth) and the South Australian Academic Health Science and Translation Centre.The Translation Centre represents a partnership between SA Health, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), University of Adelaide, Flinders University, University of South Australia, Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, Health Consumers Alliance of South Australia, Adelaide Primary Health Network, Country SA Primary Health Network and Cancer Council SA. The Translation Centre has 9 priority areas of which one is Aboriginal Health.
Consortium Vision

The Consortium’s vision is to reduce the impact of chronic disease experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in South Australia through the successful implementation of the priorities identified within 3 plans: The South Australian Aboriginal Cancer Control Plan 2016-2021, the South Australian Aboriginal Heart and Stroke Plan 2017-2021 and the South Australian Aboriginal Diabetes Strategy 2017-2021.How will the Consortium Work

The responsibility to oversee the implementation activity of the SA Aboriginal Chronic Disease Consortium rests within its governance structures. The Consortium has 5 active working groups including an Executive Group, an Aboriginal Community Reference Group and three condition-specific leadership groups representing Diabetes, Cancer and Heart and Stroke. We refer to the people and organisations on these groups as our members.

Who is working in the Consortium Coordinating Centre?

The team comprises of two full time staff. Wendy Keech is the Senior Research Translation Manager and Executive Officer. Wendy is supported by Douglas VJ Clinch, in a Project Officer role overseeing and supporting the various governance groups of the Consortium. Strategic policy and cultural advice and support is being provided by Kim Morey and Neville Fazulla both on a part-time basis to the team, and have particular focus on supporting the community reference group. Andrea McKivett, has been providing her clinical, technical and cultural support to the team since the inception of the Consortium, with Katharine McBride recently joining the team to provide technical support one day a week. The team come from various backgrounds and disciplines required to support the work of the Consortium, and all are passionate people with a strong commitment to making a difference to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in South Australia.
If you would like any further information please don’t hesitate to contact Wendy Keech, on (08) 81284228, email: wendy.keech@sahmri.com or Doug VJ Clinch, on (08) 81284893 or email: douglas.clinch@sahmri.com.

NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health #OchreDay2017 Conference @KenWyattMP and @jpatto12 raising awareness of issues in Aboriginal men’s health

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men experience a number of additional challenges compared with non-Indigenous youth and have much higher rates of high/very high levels of psychological distress.

The 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework report paints a disconcerting picture of mental health issues among Aboriginal men, highlighting the need for holistic and culturally appropriate programs to tackle the epidemic,”

John Patterson, Executive Officer, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT), said Australia is currently in the grips of a suicide epidemic, which disproportionately affects young Aboriginal men :

Pictured below with the Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt and Conference Facilitator Dr Mick Adams

see John’s full speech part 2 below

“ Ochre Day aims to raise awareness of issues in Aboriginal men’s health, celebrate the work being done by Aboriginal medical services on the ground in our communities, and encourage indigenous males to have their health checked and seek support,”

Addressing gaps in male Aboriginal health is a key step in reaching the seven targets set by the Council on Australian Governments (COAG) to close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians,”

Patrick Johnson, Leadership Project Officer, Aboriginal Medical Service Alliance NT said he hoped the two-day policy summit would assist in identifying gaps in male Aboriginal health care and the development and adoption of a national men’s health strategy

NTGPE Senior Cultural Educator Richard Fejo conducted the Welcome to Country.With Onemobdance group linking arms acknowledging their support of eliminating violence against women.

Pictures Normie Gee

Hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and health leaders from across Australia will be meeting  in Darwin for a two-day policy summit on the 4th and 5th October to raise awareness of the suicide epidemic and a plethora of other issues in Aboriginal male health.

Mental health and suicide prevention will be among the key issues addressed at this year’s Ochre Day Policy Summit, which will hear from a number of prominent policy makers and public health experts.

The 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework report cites the 2015 Youth Survey which found that 18% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people surveyed had high levels of concern about suicide (compared with 11% non-Indigenous), 18% were concerned about discrimination (compared with 10% non-indigenous) and one in five reported bullying and emotional abuse as a concern.

The same survey found that young Indigenous males were more likely to report very low levels of happiness (10%) than Indigenous females (5%) or non-Indigenous youth (1.2%).

“Aboriginal people are six times likely to commit suicide than non-Aboriginal people, with the Kimberley region in Western Australia recording one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

“We are talking about whole generations of young Aboriginal men and women who are born into families where suicide is normalised and where the grief from suicide persists across multiple generations,” said Mr Patterson.

The first Ochre Day was held in Canberra in 2013.

This year’s Ochre Day, will feature a major address from The Hon Ken Wyatt MP, Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, who will present on the five most serious health problems facing Aboriginal men today and what needs to be done to readily address them.

View full Program

final 2017-Ochre-Day-Program

Other presentations at the policy summit include an overview of Aboriginal men’s health, sexual health, intergenerational trauma, family violence, anger management, youth detention, addiction solutions and healing circles.

Mr Johnson said he hoped the two-day policy summit would assist in identifying gaps in male Aboriginal health care and the development and adoption of a national men’s health strategy.

“Addressing gaps in male Aboriginal health is a key step in reaching the seven targets set by the Council on Australian Governments (COAG) to close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians,” said Mr Johnson.

“Aboriginal men must have the same access to health care as other Australians and in particular, tailored, culturally appropriate programs must be developed to address mental health, social and emotional well being and suicide prevention.

“We need to invest more in grassroots programs delivered by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people, if we want to have a fighting chance to turn around the harrowing statistics which have seen too many of our sons, fathers and uncles die young.

“We have made great strides already, however there is much more work to be done before we reach the point where a new generation of young Aboriginal men emerges where issues such as suicide are no longer entrenched and normalised,” said Mr Johnson.

National Ochre Day Opening Remarks – AMSANT CEO, John Paterson

Darwin, 4 October 2017

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge we’re meeting today on Larrakia traditional land and thank Richard and Tony for their welcome.

I would also like to welcome participants to this national Ochre Day event, and to acknowledge dignitaries here with us today

This is an important gathering as it is too seldom that we are able to come together as a group of Aboriginal men to work on how we want to address the health challenges that continue to confront Aboriginal men in Australia today.

NACCHO is to be congratulated for developing Ochre Day as a national opportunity for us to do this.

Over the next two days we will explore our theme “Men’s Health, Our Way. Let’s Own It!” The theme reminds us that we do have to take ownership of our health and, just as importantly, provide leadership in telling government what is needed to bring the health of Aboriginal men up to where it should be.

I don’t need to tell any of you that the state of Aboriginal male health is not good. The gap in life expectancy alone remains far too great. Nationally, while life expectancy for Aboriginal men has increased from just over 67.5 years in 2005-07 to 69.1 years in 2011-12, the gap between Aboriginal men and non-Aboriginal men is still too large at 10.6 years. However, if we look at the gap between Aboriginal men in the Territory and national male life expectancy, the gap is 16.4 years!

It’s important, gathering where we are here in Darwin, in the Northern Territory, that we acknowledge just how significantly worse the health of Aboriginal Territorians is than the health of Aboriginal people nationally. For Aboriginal men in the Territory this translates to a life expectancy that is on average 4 years less than for Aboriginal men nationally.

Overall, the mortality rate for Aboriginal Territorians is 50% higher when compared with Indigenous people interstate, and 85% higher than non-Aboriginal Territorians.

And for Aboriginal men in the Territory, we experience a 10-15% higher mortality than our Aboriginal women.

Clearly, there is a long way to go in closing the health gap for Aboriginal men and achieving the standard of health and wellbeing that we would all like to see.

This raises an important issue. Beyond just the statistics, what does health and wellbeing mean for us as Aboriginal men?

The Aboriginal concept of health is not just an absence of illness. It is not just the physical well-being of an individual. It refers also to the social, emotional, spiritual and cultural well-being of the whole Community. It means each individual being able to achieve their full potential as a human being and contributing to the total well-being of their Community. It is a whole of life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.

So, when we talk about “Our way” and about “Let’s own it”, we’re talking as much about our spiritual and psychological health as we are about our physical health.

For us to achieve our full potential as human beings, we must deal with the legacies of our own lives, and also the lives of our fathers and grandfathers and the generations before them. Some of these are heavy legacies.

Aboriginal men have been wounded by the impacts since colonisation which devalued our cultures, dispossessed and dislocated our families and communities and introduced diseases.

Our elders lost their roles with authority and status, and young males lost their role models.

This has diminished the status, self-esteem and sense of purpose of Aboriginal males and contributed to alcohol abuse, self-harm and violence.

It has caused trauma to successive generations, and that trauma continues.

The impacts of trauma will be discussed later this morning, but I wanted to raise here one source of impact from recent years that has impacted heavily on Aboriginal men in the Territory – the NT Intervention.

This top-down, punitive attack on Aboriginal communities in the NT, maliciously targeted Aboriginal men as child abusers, as corrupt and devoid of basic humanity. It was used to strip us of our dignity and as an excuse to subject us to coercive controls on our lives and on our communities.

The extent of the damage to communities caused by the Intervention will probably never be fully known, but I do know that every Aboriginal Territorian man in this room will have felt its impact in some way.

As a policy, its failure is perhaps most evident in the billions of dollars spent with so little to show in terms of positive outcomes.

And only in the last couple of years has the tide begun to turn, with governments at both Commonwealth and Territory levels starting to recognise the need to positively re-engage and to work with us. To bring us back into engagement over policy design and decision-making, and hopefully increasingly into delivering our own services to our communities. As we are doing successfully in the Aboriginal community controlled health sector.

Such rethinking by government I’m sure is also mindful of the ongoing failure of recent policy approaches and funding to improve the structural and social factors or the social determinants of health, that underlie poor health outcomes. Housing, education, employment, access to services, unacceptable rates of imprisonment and children in care.

The inescapable fact, as evidenced by the painfully slow progress on Closing the Gap targets, is that a fundamental change in approach must occur. Such change must start with improving support for the positive social determinant enablers: control, empowerment, and the strength of culture and connection with land.

Being healthy builds on strengths and Aboriginal men have many strengths. We are fathers, husbands, brothers and our communities rely on us. We are resilient and we have the opportunity to use that resilience both for the current generation and for young males and the next generations.

It is important that Aboriginal males continue to be active participants in defining our social roles, both within our own communities and in the broader Australian society.

We need to take back responsibility for traditional practices, parenting and spirituality, as these will contribute to better health.

We have to find ways to contribute our knowledge, skills and authority to initiatives and interventions that concern our health.

Events like Ochre Day and putting together Aboriginal Men’s health strategies are one way we can do this.

We will have a significant focus during this Ochre Day conference on issues related to trauma, social and emotional wellbeing and suicide. These are not easy issues to talk about but they are so important to men’s health.  Suicide continues to be a major and avoidable cause of death for Aboriginal men and an issue that we must talk about. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men between 25 and 29 have the highest suicide rates in the entire world, according to a study of youth health released last year.

If anyone is feeling upset or distressed about these conversations, staff from Danila Dilba Health Service are here and you can talk to them about any support you might need. Joseph Knuth is the best person to approach if you need any support at all.

The Conference though will be positive, we will be working on solutions and ideas for the future. We will be taking control!

Today we will hear about men’s health issues and about some of the services that have been developed here in the Northern Territory to bring men into health services in appropriate ways and to empower men to take control of their own health.

We will hear from the top Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal experts in men’s health.

Tomorrow, we will take what we have learned today and start to work towards the future, towards our own solutions and strategies.

We are fortunate to have Dr Mick Adams with us to facilitate discussions towards developing a national Aboriginal men’s health strategy.

This has been a long-held aim in Aboriginal health and has met with considerable difficulty in getting government buy in and commitment.

But we won’t give up, a national strategy is a necessary first step in closing the health gap and building on the strengths of Aboriginal men, families and communities.

I look forward to Dr Adams’ advice and direction on how we might move forward to achieve this.

There will be a lot of opportunity to work together and for all voices to be heard so I encourage everyone to take these opportunities and speak up over the next two days.

Thank you.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: