NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health #F1000DA17 : International @First1000DaysOz Movement gets Aboriginal Make-Over

“We work to support parents in taking responsibility for our children, providing them with the best start in life and ensuring that the protective factors inherent in our culture and our strong family structures are evident in our work with families.

The work of First Thousand Days Australia is aimed at reducing chronic stressors for mums and dads, so that the focus is on healthy pregnancies and giving our parents the opportunity to provide their children the best start in life.

We welcome the support of Congress and note that both the recent Redfern and Uluru statements from the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership highlighted early childhood development and health as a major priority for Indigenous communities “

Professor Kerry Arabena, Chair of Indigenous Health (Pictured above ) at the University of Melbourne, who heads up the Australian initiative says her group is unique in that it’s an Indigenous designed and managed intervention.

“Some of our people are kept apart from us –by politics and power— and forced to live away from the people who care most about them,” she told the audience of child care workers, educationalists, health workers and researchers. “They are in prisons and in out-of-home care.

“As long as they exist separated from us, from their families, from our communities and from our society, we remain a people who are unable to exercise the right of self-determination.

Dr Huggins, Co-Chair of the National Congress of First Peoples, said that the lack of success in improving the outcomes for Indigenous infants and children was a source of deep anxiety for all Indigenous families see Part 2 Below

Read over 270 NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health Articles published over the pat 5 Years

International First Thousand Days Movement got an  ” Aboriginal Make-Over ” when national summit began in Brisbane this week

Brisbane  hosted one of Australia’s most significant gatherings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and maternal health experts and community leaders when the First Thousand Days Australia national summit convened this week .

The first 1,000 days of life – the time spanning roughly between conception and one’s second birthday – is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established.

In Australia this international movement has been broadened out, by a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health researchers and practitioners, from the original nutrition-focused international initiative to include child protection, early life literacy, the role and contribution of men and the range of other issues which impact on Indigenous parents and infants in Australia.

Professor Arabena said the Queensland Government had supported the initiative with a $1.5m grant to establish two trial sites in the state and other funds have been made available for ongoing research and evaluation.

“There is a sense of desperation in many of our communities and organisations that current efforts to give our kids the best possible opportunities in life are not having the impact we’d like; our children are being put into out-of-home-care at unprecedented rates and the COAG targets to close the gap on child mortality, school attendance and literacy and numeracy haven’t been met this year.

“It’s clear that we need new initiatives that give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities more control over developing strategies and First Thousand days Australia is aiming to do just that,” said Professor Arabena.

The First Thousand Days Australia National Summit will run from tomorrow until Friday 20 October

View the Summit program including abstracts and presenters’ bios here.

 Part 2 Australian Government has historic opportunity to build safety and health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children  

Aboriginal leader, Dr Jackie Huggins, has told a child and maternal health summit In Brisbane that Australia’s elevation to the UN Human Rights Committee should cause the Australian Government to ensure its domestic actions matches its international rhetoric on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

Speaking at the First Thousand Days Summit in Brisbane today Dr Huggins, Co-Chair of the National Congress of First Peoples, said that the lack of success in improving the outcomes for Indigenous infants and children was a source of deep anxiety for all Indigenous families.

“Some of our people are kept apart from us –by politics and power— and forced to live away from the people who care most about them,” she told the audience of child care workers, educationalists, health workers and researchers. “They are in prisons and in out-of-home care.

“As long as they exist separated from us, from their families, from our communities and from our society, we remain a people who are unable to exercise the right of self-determination.

The first 1,000 days of life – the time spanning roughly between conception and one’s second birthday – is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established.

In Australia this international movement has been broadened out, by a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health researchers and practitioners, from the original nutrition-focused international initiative to include child protection, early life literacy, the role and contribution of men and the range of other issues which impact on Indigenous parents and infants in Australia.

Dr Huggins said the Turnbull Government had an historical opportunity to engage with the Indigenous community on child health and safety through the Aboriginal-led First Thousand Days Australia initiative.

“Indigenous people are the experts when it comes to taking responsibility for, and looking after our children,” Dr Huggins said. “We have the right to develop and provide services which address inter-generational trauma. We have the right to teach our children in their languages and ensure they have a culturally appropriate education and have the right to deliver pre-natal services according to the needs of our communities.”

First Thousand Days Australia CEO, Professor Kerry Arabena, welcomed the support of Congress and said that both the recent Redfern and Uluru statements from the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership highlighted early childhood development and health as a major priority for Indigenous communities.

“We all need to start focusing on the strengths and resilience of our families and work with them to build on these strengths rather than the continued emphasis on the perceived weaknesses,” said Professor Arabena.

 

NACCHO MJA health news: Future initiatives to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Kerry Arabena _Leadership-opt-620x349

Article by: Kerry Arabena, Director and Chair of Indigenous Health,1 and Chair2 1 Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.2 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council, Canberra, ACT.

Continuing to close the health gap will require innovation; long-term, systematic approaches that improve the quality and integrity of data; collaborations and partnerships that reflect an ecological approach to health, and recognition of the proper place and contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australian society

At long last there are signs that the gaps between the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people are closing — but systematic, long-term action needs to continue both within and outside the health system to realise true health equality, and for us to know that we have achieved it.

According to the 2012 report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework, a number of positive trends in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health include:

  • the mortality rate has declined significantly (by 33%) between 1991 and 2010 among people living in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory combined;

  • deaths due to avoidable causes decreased significantly in WA, SA and the NT combined, down 24% between 1997 and 2010;

  • deaths from respiratory disease decreased significantly from 1997 to 2010, and the gap with non-Indigenous Australians has also narrowed; and

  • mortality among infants aged less than 1 year declined by 62% between 1991 and 2010, perhaps reflecting the benefits of immunisation, improved access to primary health care services, the use of antibiotics and earlier evacuation to hospital for acute infections.1

Of course there remain areas where the gap persists or in some cases has grown, including chronic disease, injury, cancer, disability and low birthweight babies. It appears that in some areas (such as cancer) improvements in the quality, accessibility and impact of treatment are resulting in significantly improved death rates for non-Indigenous Australians, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are missing out. The causes of this discrepancy seem to lie in disparities in stage at diagnosis, treatment received and survival rates.

Cutting across these trends are persistent gaps in the quality of data. Our inability to know whether large investments made in recent years in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health are paying off should be a major focus for future strategies. In general, our population does not seem to be benefiting from the same level of sophisticated population-level tracking, health assessment or data integrity that majority populations take for granted.2 Good data are crucial, not just to know the impact of what we have done, but to guide what we are doing.

In this context it is pleasing to see the recent process of developing a new national plan to guide future investments in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, developed through a collaborative process including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies, communities, services, researchers, advocates and clinicians.3 The new national plan needs to set directions for the next 10 years and expand and align with an ecological view of health, include concepts important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and influence other sectors that affect health, such as education, employment, housing and early childhood development. This multifocal approach could have implications for the design, implementation and evaluation of projects, and will necessitate a reconceptualisation of partnerships and collaborations, while fostering innovations and knowledge exchange.

Finally, we will need to redress some of the less palatable aspects of the health system that contribute to inequality, such as racism.4 Embodied in dubious practices, disparities in access and subtle variations in effort within health and other institutions and programs, racism has had and continues to have a real and damaging impact on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is clear that full health equality cannot be achieved until racism and other practices that deny our status and rights as the original and First Peoples of Australia can be overcome. My hope is that not only do we redress racism in health and other systems, but that this nation recognises and enables each and every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person the opportunity to rise to the full potential of our existence.