NACCHO funding news: $2.4 Million awarded for Aboriginal Health Research Centre

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NACCHO response

Professor Ngiare Brown, (pictured above being interviewed for SBSTV last week at the NACCHO summit) Executive Manager of Research for NACCHO and a co-Chief Investigator of the new centre, says:

“This is an exciting opportunity to work in collaboration with leaders in their field. Translation health is often overlooked but it will be critical in helping to address the biggest priorities in the Indigenous health gap.

“This centre will build leadership and capacity in Aboriginal health and the community controlled sector, and will support the development of culturally relevant services that will lead to positive change,” she says.

PRESS RELEASE

The University of Adelaide has won $2.48 million to establish a new national Centre of Research Excellence, in partnership with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the University of Wollongong.

The centre will use the best available evidence to prevent, manage and treat chronic disease among Indigenous people.

The funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has been awarded to the University of Adelaide’s Professor Alan Pearson AM, who is Chief Investigator of the new NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) for Translational Research in the Management of Chronic Disease in Indigenous Populations.

“The aim of our centre is clear: to improve health outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a chronic disease,” says Professor Pearson.

“As a population, Indigenous people have significantly poorer health than other Australians and typically die at much younger ages. We hope to save lives and improve people’s quality of life by translating science to better health practice.”

Professor Pearson has an international reputation in the field of translating evidence into policy and practice in health care. He is Head of the University of Adelaide’s School of Translational Health Science and Executive Director of the Joanna Briggs Institute.

“Our research will review existing knowledge about the prevention, management and treatment of chronic disease in Indigenous populations. Based on that information, we will conduct much-needed programs to translate and implement evidence into Indigenous health care,” Professor Pearson says.

“Importantly, to maximise outcomes, this work will be conducted in close collaboration with NACCHO and their member services.”

Professor Alex Brown, Leader of the Aboriginal Research Unit at SAHMRI and a co-Chief Investigator of the new centre, says chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease account for 80% of the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

“The reasons why Indigenous people suffer from high rates of chronic disease are extremely complex. Our work is aimed at making inroads into this massive problem on a clinical, policy and population level,” Professor Brown says.

Professor Ngiare Brown, Executive Manager of Research for NACCHO and a co-Chief Investigator of the new centre, says: “This is an exciting opportunity to work in collaboration with leaders in their field. Translation health is often overlooked but it will be critical in helping to address the biggest priorities in the Indigenous health gap.

“This centre will build leadership and capacity in Aboriginal health and the community controlled sector, and will support the development of culturally relevant services that will lead to positive change,” she says.

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Mike Brooks, says today’s announcement is further proof of the strong research collaborations that exist in Adelaide.

“The awarding of this new Centre of Research Excellence is a major vote of confidence in the quality of research being conducted in this State, and our researchers’ ability to translate their work into real health outcomes,” Professor Brooks says.

“Congratulations to all of the partners involved in this new centre, which has the opportunity to make a significant impact on a national scale.”

Media Contacts:

Professor Alan Pearson

Head, School of Translational Health Science

Executive Director, Joanna Briggs Institute

The University of Adelaide

Phone: 08 8313 6157

Mobile: 0408 727 624

David Ellis

Media and Communications Officer

The University of Adelaide

Phone: 08 8313 5414

Mobile: 0421 612 762

NACCHO Job Opportunity: Policy Manager – applications close 9 September 2013

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POSITION: POLICY MANAGER

APPOINTMENT: PERMANENT ONGOING

SALARY: $120,000 BASE – SALARY PACKAGING AVAILABLE

ACCOUNTABLE TO: CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

 

Position summary

DOWNLOAD FULL JOB DESCRIPTION AND INFORMATION HERE

An exciting opportunity exists for an energetic and motivated individual to join the NACCHO team in Canberra. The Policy Manager will provide leadership particularly in Aboriginal public health policy areas, while developing partnerships and facilitating the effective engagement of key stakeholders and Aboriginal Health Services with regard to various policy and public health activities.

CLOSING DATE: Monday 9 September 2013

NACCHO Job Opportunity: Ear Health Trainer and/or Assessor – applications close Friday 30 August 2013

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POSITION: EAR HEALTH TRAINER AND/OR ASSESSOR

ACCOUNTABLE TO: WORKFORCE MANAGER

RESPONSIBLE FOR: TRAINING AND ASSESSMENT

TERM: 9 Sep – 4 October 2013

SALARY/CONTRACT VALUE: Will be negotiated with the successful applicant

NACCHO is seeking a person (or two people to work as a team) on a short-term consultancy or employment contract to provide training and assessment of the Ear & Hearing Health Skills Set – Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander primary health care.

The NACCHO Ear and Hearing Training for the Aboriginal Health Worker Workforce Project is funded under the Australian Government’s Improving Eye and Ear Health Services for Indigenous Australians for Better Education and Employment Outcomes COAG measure, and supports implementation of this measure.  The overall measure aims to improve the early detection and treatment of eye and ear health conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, leading to improved education and employment outcomes.

CLOSING DATE: FRIDAY 30 August 2013

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND THE SELECTION CRITERIA PLEASE CLICK HERE

NACCHO Job Opportunities: Workforce Manager and QUMAX Program Officer

NAC-31-35-B

Position Title: WORKFORCE MANAGER

APPOINTMENT: ONGOING

SALARY: $120,000 BASE – SALARY PACKAGING OPTIONS AVAILABLE

ACCOUNTABLE TO: Corporate Services Manager

Position Summary

The Workforce Manager provides management and advice that ensures that NACCHO maintains organisational and national leadership in the development and management of innovative and effective projects, workforce practices and health services for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities that support the stated and emerging philosophies, policies and objectives of NACCHO.

Special conditions

This is a Canberra-based position that may require occasional interstate travel.

CLOSING DATE: 30 August 2013

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND THE SELECTION CRITERIA PLEASE CLICK HERE

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POSITION TITLE: QUMAX, PROGRAM OFFICER

APPOINTMENT: FIXED TERM CONTRACT (3 MONTHS)

SALARY: $75,000 BASE – SALARY PACKAGING MAY BE AVAILABLE

ACCOUNTABLE TO: WORKFORCE MANAGER

Position Summary

The QUMAX Program Officer will manage the Quality Use of Medicines Maximised for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (QUMAX) Program.

Special Conditions:

This is a Canberra based position which requires interstate travel.

CLOSING DATE: 30 August 2013

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND THE SELECTION CRITERIA PLEASE CLICK HERE

NACCHO Blueprint 2013- 2030 news – AMA supports important initiatives to Improve the health of Aboriginal Males

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DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE BLUEPRINT HERE

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Blueprint – Male Healthy Futures for Generational Change – contains important initiatives in national efforts to improve the health of Aboriginal men.

Dr Hambleton welcomed the focus on the health of Aboriginal men as part of broader approach to improving Indigenous health.

“Much of the health inequality between Aboriginal Australians and other Australians is due to the poor health and lower life expectancy of Aboriginal men,” Dr Hambleton said.

“The NACCHO Blueprint outlines a set of practical and achievable proposals for the delivery of culturally appropriate comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal men.

“The AMA urges governments to support these proposals with long-term funding.

“The mental health of Aboriginal men must be a priority.

“Programs and services that address emotional and social wellbeing and suicide prevention
must be supported and enhanced.

“The AMA believes that mainstream health services should be attuned to the cultural needs of Aboriginal men.

“In mainstream health services where there is a significant potential Aboriginal patient population, governments should fund appropriate facilities to accommodate the cultural needs of Aboriginal male patients.

“The AMA congratulates NACCHO for producing this Blueprint and for its ongoing commitment to improving the health of Aboriginal Australians,” Dr Hambleton said.

CONTACT: John Flannery 02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761
Kirsty Waterford 02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753
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DOWNLOAD A COPY OF NACCHO’s PRESS RELEASE HERE

NACCHO Eye Health: Vision 2020 Q&A with Lisa Briggs CEO NACCHO

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In the fourth interview of our Q&A series Vision 2020 Australia talks to The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s (NACCHO) CEO, Lisa Briggs, about Investing in Healthy Futures for generational change: NACCHO 10 Point Plan 2013-2030, comprehensive primary health care and the people who have inspired her during her career.

Ms Briggs (pictured above) has a wealth of experience in the field of Aboriginal health, predominantly within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

Q1) Ms Briggs, as you know, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a burden of disease 2.5 times higher that of other Australians, as well as lower health and life expectancy rates.Can you explain the role of NACCHO in improving Indigenous health in Australia?

NACCHO is the national authority on comprehensive Aboriginal primary health care with a membership base of over 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.  NACCHO’s role is to provide national, high level and strategic direction and advice to inform all policies which impact Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Q2) NACCHO recently released the Investing in Healthy Futures for generational change: NACCHO 10 Point Plan 2013-2030, what are the goals that guided the development of this plan?

In 2008, NACCHO was one of the leading key stakeholders to sign up to the flagship document Close the Gap Statement of Intent.  NACCHO was also a key member of the national Close the Gap Committee which developed a set of key targets which later formed the CoAG CTG measure of reducing child mortality rates and increasing the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  While the NACCHO 10 point plan is clearly built upon with these foundational documents, the NACCHO Plan has been designed specifically to address the long term strategic focus of our Affiliates and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector through to 2030.

The Plan’s goals are aligned to existing targets and measures with the flexibility to adapt and monitor over time.  The goals are also reflective of NACCHO principles and our sector’s commitment to holistic health care – not just service delivery.  The NACCHO 10 point plan provides a clear framework for NACCHO, the Affiliates and our member services to utilise as an accountability tool to ensure that we are able to reach our targets through to 2030.

The NACCHO 10 point plan can be accessed here.

Q3) Do you support the World Health Organisation’s view that comprehensive primary health care instead of a disease focused approach is central to achieving health benefits? Can you explain why?

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector philosophy is based upon the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition of comprehensive primary health care.   Therefore, the design and implementation of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services focuses upon achieving holistic health benefits rather than simply addressing the task of reducing disease.  Recently NACCHO launched its inaugural “Healthy Futures for generational change” – Report Card which demonstrated the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services model of service and delivery has been able to achieve a 66% reduction in Child Mortality with an overall reduction of overall mortality by 33%.  This evidence suggests the best practice model of service to achieve health gains is to be found within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector

Q4) With the Federal Election looming, what key eye health / health messages do you want the Australian Government and the Coalition to take notice of and commit to?

NACCHO is seeking support for the development and adoption of a range of Eye Health Targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which will form an important part of the existing Closing the Gap reporting to Parliament delivered by the Prime Minister.

Q5) NACCHO advocates the need to provide Aboriginal people ownership of their own health at a local community level; can you explain why this important?

NACCHO’s principle philosophy of Aboriginal Community Control is founded upon a rights based model which ensures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the right to determine our own holistic health needs as well as the service delivery systems and models to address them.  Please refer to the NACCHO website for more information on what community control means across the health sector.

Q6)Ms Briggs, what inspired you to work in the area of Aboriginal health and whathas been a highlight for you in your role as NACCHO CEO?

There are so many people who have inspired me to work in Aboriginal health over my life!  Here are just some of them:

Aunty Alma Thorpe Victorian Elder – the longest servicing CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal health service in Melbourne.  Aunty Alma’s incredible passion for the rights of her people put me on the path that I am on today.  Her daughter Glenda Thorpe was an Aboriginal health worker who treated me when I was 12 years old when I had never been treated in a clinic by an Aboriginal person before. I felt very proud. From that day on, I wanted to be like her and do what she does: helping her own people.

Culturally, my mother and father provided me with the teaching and learnings along my life journey that provided me with an identity, connection to my homelands and a strength and sense of belonging that builds a strong foundation. My parents instilled in me the knowledge and practice of keeping myself socially and emotionally well.  They also gave me a sense that anything was possible!

Professor Hugh Taylor, the eminent Australian ophthalmologist, has shown me how non-Indigenous Australians are able to work effectively with commitment and passion alongside Aboriginal people resulting in significant gains for the whole of Australian society.

When Aiden Ridgeway became the leader of the Democrats, I was both proud and inspired.  This was a crucial moment for me in Aboriginal history and a testament that we as a Aboriginal people can be at the head of political parties.  Since then we have seen more Aboriginal people in Parliament.  I consider Aiden to be a trail blazer as he worked against all the odds through intense commitment and made me think that passion and drive can get you there in the end.

I also have to mention Aunty Naomi Mayers, the CEO of Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service, who established the first Aboriginal Medical Service in the country. NACCHO now has 150 members, and it all started because this remarkable woman decided she had seen enough of her people dying younger and getting sicker because of their lack of access to comprehensive primary health care.

Finally, I have been CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Heath Organisation (NACCHO) for just less than 12 months and am passionate about the huge impact Aboriginal people can have if they control their own health outcomes.

Q7) And finally, on a personal note, can you tell us something that most people don’t know about you / or would be surprised to know about you (it could be a hobby, non-work related achievement or something similar!)

I am a Gunditjmara Aboriginal woman from the western district of Victoria and readers may be interested to know that I am an Aboriginal Health Worker by trade and have worked in the health field for the past 25 years, predominantly within the Aboriginal community controlled health sector.

My mantra is ‘nothing stops me!’

NACCHO launches Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint 2013-2030

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Deputy NACCHO chair Matthew Cooke, Chair Justin Mohamed and board member John Singer launching Blueprint

Photo Wayne Quilliam

NACCHO has long recognised the importance of an Aboriginal male health policy and program to close the gap by 2030 on the alarming Aboriginal male mortality rates across Australia.

Aboriginal males have arguably the worst health outcomes of any population group in Australia.

To address the real social and emotional needs of males in our communities, NACCHO proposes a positive approach to Aboriginal male health and wellbeing

NACCHO, its affiliates and members are committed to building upon past innovations and we require targeted actions and investments to implement a wide range of Aboriginal male health and wellbeing programs and strategies.

We call on State, Territory and Federal governments to commit to a specific, substantial and sustainable funding allocation for the NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint 2013-2030

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DOWNLOAD THE BLUEPRINT HERE

This blueprint sets out how the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector will continue to improve our rates of access to health and wellbeing services by Aboriginal males through working closely within our communities, strengthening cultural safety and further building upon our current Aboriginal male health workforce and leadership.

We celebrate Aboriginal masculinities, and uphold our traditional values of respect for our laws, respect for elders, culture and traditions, responsibility as leaders and men, teachers of young males, holders of lore, providers, warriors and protectors of our families, women, old people, and children

The NACCHO 10-Point Blue print Plan is based on a robust body of work that includes the Close the Gap Statement of Intent and the Close the Gap targets, the National Framework for the Improvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health (2002), NACCHO’s position paper on Aboriginal male health (2010)  the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP), and the NACCHO Healthy futures 10 point plan  2013-2030

These solutions have been developed in response to the deep-rooted social, political and economic conditions that effect Aboriginal males and the need to be addressed alongside the delivery of essential health care.

Our plan is based on evidence, targeted to need and capable of addressing the existing inequalities in Aboriginal male health services, with the aim of achieving equality of health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal males and non-Aboriginal males by 2030.

This blueprint celebrates our success so far and proposes the strategies that governments, NACCHO affiliates and member services must in partnership commit to and invest in to ensure major health gains are maintained into the future

NACCHO, our affiliates and members remain focused on creating a healthy future for generational change and the NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint 2013-2030 will enable comprehensive and long-term action to achieve real outcomes.

To close the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal males and non-Aboriginal within a generation we need achieve these 10 key goals

1. To call on government at all levels to invest a specific, substantial and sustainable funding allocation for the, NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint plan 2013-2030 a comprehensive, long-term Aboriginal male Health plan of action that is based on evidence, targeted to need, and capable of addressing the existing inequities in Aboriginal male health

2. To assist delivering community-controlled ,comprehensive primary male health care, services that are culturally appropriate accessible, affordable, good quality, innovative to bridge the gap in health standards and to respect and promote the rights of Aboriginal males, in urban, rural and remote areas in order to achieve lasting improvements in Aboriginal male health and well-being

3. To ensure Aboriginal males have equal access to health services that are equal in standard to those enjoyed by other Australians, and ensure primary health care services and health infrastructure for Aboriginal males are capable of bridging the gap in health standards by 2030.

4. To prioritise specific funding to address mental health, social and emotional well-being and suicide prevention for Aboriginal males.

5. To ensure that we address Social determinants relating to identity culture, language and land, as well as violence, alcohol, employment and education.

6.To improve access to and the responsiveness of mainstream health services and programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health  services are provided commensurate Accessibility within the Primary Health Care Centre may mean restructuring clinics to accommodate male specific areas, or off-site areas, and may include specific access (back door entrance) to improve attendance and cultural gender issues

 7.To provide an adequate workforce to meet Aboriginal male health needs by increasing the recruitment, retention, effectiveness and training of male health practitioners working within Aboriginal settings and by building the capacity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.

8 To identified and prioritised (as appropriate) in all health strategies developed for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) including that all relevant programs being progressed in these services will be expected to ensure Aboriginal male health is considered in the planning phase or as the program progresses. Specialised Aboriginal male health programs and targeted interventions should be developed to address male health intervention points across the life cycle continuum.

9. To build on the evidence base of what works in Aboriginal health, supporting it with research and data on relevant local and international experience and to ensure that the quality of data quality in all jurisdictions meets AIHW standards.

10. To measure, monitor, and report on our joint efforts in accordance with benchmarks and targets – to ensure that we are progressively reaching our shared aims.

About NACCHO and Aboriginal Male health:

NACCHO is the national authority in comprehensive primary Aboriginal healthcare .

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is the national peak Aboriginal health body representing 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS).

This is achieved by working with our  Affiliates, the State and Territory peak Aboriginal Community Controlled Health bodies, to address shared concerns on a nationally agreed agenda for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and social justice equality.

NACCHO and the Aboriginal community controlled comprehensive primary health care services, which are NACCHO members are enduring examples of community initiated and controlled responses to community issues.

NACCHO’s Strategic Directions focus on three central areas that are consistent with its constitutional objectives.

  • Strategic Direction 1: Shape the national reform of Aboriginal health.
  • Strategic Direction 2: Promote and support high performance and best practice models of culturally appropriate and comprehensive primary health care.
  • Strategic Direction 3: Promote research that will build evidence-informed best practice in Aboriginal health policy and service delivery.

The NACCHO HEALTHY FUTURES 10-point plan 2013-2030 provides our sector, stakeholders, partners and governments with a clear set of priorities and strategies that will result in improvements in Aboriginal health outcomes and is the foundation for this NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint plan 2013-2030

 

NOTE : Throughout this document the word Male is used instead of Men. At the inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Gathering-Alice Springs 1999, all delegates present agreed that the word Male would be used instead of the word Men. With the intention being to encompass the Male existence from it’s beginnings in the womb until death.

Throughout this document the word Aboriginal is used instead of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This is in line with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) being representative of Aboriginal People. This does not intend to exclude nor be disrespectful to our Brothers from the Torres Strait Islands.

 

 

 

NACCHO health report card news: Aboriginal babies’ health improving, but concerns remain over immunisation

WayneQuilliam

DOWNLOAD THE AIHW and NACCHO REPORT CARD HERE

Stuart Rintoul article The Australian

ABORIGINAL community health services have called for more frontline spending on doctors and health workers as they released a report card showing improvements in infant birthweights, but continuing concerns around child immunisation, coronary heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Data derived from 53 Aboriginal health services that participate in the federal government’s Healthy for Life initiative showed that the average birthweight of indigenous babies rose by 66 grams from 2007-08 to 2010-11 and the proportion with normal birthweight increased from 81.5 per cent to 84.2 per cent.

The number of pregnant women recorded as not smoking or consuming alcohol in the third trimester more than doubled and the number recorded as not using illicit drugs almost tripled, although 51.2 per cent of women smoked, 14.8 per cent drank alcohol and 15.9 per cent used illicit drugs.

The findings closely follow the first publicly released Healthy for Life report, in March, which found that the proportion of expectant mothers who smoked, consumed alcohol and used illicit drugs was lower during third trimester antenatal visits (52.4 per cent, 17.9 per cent, 17.2 per cent) than first trimester visits (55.1 per cent, 25.0 per cent, 23.8 per cent).
The report finds that immunisation of Aboriginal children fell between 2007 and 2011 and is an area requiring “improvement”.

In March, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that only 70 per cent of Aboriginal children aged 12-24 months, 68 per cent of children aged 24-36 months and 56 per cent of children aged 60-72 months were fully immunised.

It found that children aged 12-24 months in very remote areas were far more likely (91 per cent) to be immunised than children in major cities (42 per cent). It found that only 26 per cent of Aboriginal children aged 24-36 months in major cities were fully immunised.

The number of indigenous people with type 2 diabetes who had a GP management plan increased between 2007-08 and 2010-11 by about 50 per cent, from 1492 to 2156, while the number who had blood sugar tests rose from 2797 to 3610. The number of clients with coronary heart disease with a management plan rose from 405 to 750.

Lisa Briggs, chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, said the report, by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, showed the need for a stronger focus on frontline services.

“When you deliver comprehensive care, particularly to the most vulnerable and those who have the highest burden of disease and disadvantage, you get health gains,” she said.

NACCHO chairman Justin Mohamed said the report showed the importance of health services delivered “by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people”. He said longer-term data showed a 33 per cent decline in overall mortality and a 62 per cent decline in infant mortality from 1991-2010.

The Healthy for Life program focuses on mothers, babies and children; early detection and management of chronic disease; and long-term health outcomes. Indigenous health spending was $4.5 billion in 2010-11, or 3.7 per cent of total health spending.

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NACCHO SEWB News: NACCHO CEO appointed to new Aboriginal Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group

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Pictured above NACCHO CEO Ms Lisa Briggs appointed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group.

Please note: Official Goverment release is included below

NACCHO as a member The Close the Gap Campaign today welcomed a significant mental health milestone:  the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group.

The new ministerial advisory body, co-chaired by Dr Tom Calma AO and Professor Pat Dudgeon, is the first of its kind in Australia.

The other members of the new Group are (alphabetically): Mr Tom Brideson, Ms Lisa Briggs, Mr Ashley Couzens, Ms Adele Cox, Ms Katherine Hams, Ms Victoria Hovane, Professor Ernest Hunter, Mr Rod Little, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Mr Charles Passi, Ms Valda Shannon and Dr Marshall Watson.

It will provide expert advice to government on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention.

Close the Gap co-chair and Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, said the group will help drive reform in mental health and suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Improving mental health and suicide prevention is fundamental to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health overall, and to closing the health and life expectancy gap with other Australians,” Mr Gooda said.

Mr Gooda said the advisory body would help ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people benefit from national mental health reforms and the significant investment in mental health in recent years.

He said the advisory body would also improve strategic responses to suicide and mental health by enabling partnerships between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts in social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are experiencing mental health problems at almost double the rate of other Australians.

“Addressing difficult and entrenched challenges like this mental health gap requires long term and sustained commitment and a truly bipartisan approach.

“It is particularly important as we move into a Federal election that closing the gap remains a national project that is supported and sustained beyond electoral cycles,” Mr Gooda said.

 Commonwealth Coat of Arms

THE HON MARK BUTLER MP ,THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP, JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

NEW HIGH-LEVEL GROUP ADVISE ON TACKLING INDIGENOUS SUICIDE

A new expert group has been set up to advise the Federal Government on improving mental health and suicide prevention programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group will be chaired by two eminent Aboriginal experts in the field, Prof Pat Dudgeon, recognised as Australia’s first Indigenous psychologist, and human rights campaigner Dr Tom Calma AO, the new chancellor of the University of Canberra.

The new Group will advise on practical and strategic ways to improve Indigenous mental health and social and emotional wellbeing.

The Group met for the first time in Canberra today to discuss its priorities, including implementation of the recently released National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Also on the agenda for the inaugural meeting are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan and the renewed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing Framework.

Professor Dudgeon is from the Bardi people of the Kimberley and is known for her passionate work in psychology and Indigenous issues, including her leadership in higher education.  Currently she is a research fellow and an associate professor at the University of Western Australia.

Dr Calma is an elder of the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group in the Northern Territory. He was appointed National Coordinator of Tackling Indigenous Smoking three years ago.

Previously, he was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2004 to 2010 and served as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009.

The other members of the new Group are (alphabetically): Mr Tom Brideson, Ms Lisa Briggs, Mr Ashley Couzens, Ms Adele Cox, Ms Katherine Hams, Ms Victoria Hovane, Professor Ernest Hunter, Mr Rod Little, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Mr Charles Passi, Ms Valda Shannon and Dr Marshall Watson.

The Federal Labor Government’s commitment to reducing high levels of suicide within Indigenous communities was highlighted by its development and recent release of Australia’s first National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

The Strategy is supported by $17.8 million over four years in new funding to reduce the incidence of suicidal and self-harming behaviour among Indigenous people.

This builds on the Labor Government’s broad strategic investment in suicide prevention, as outlined in the Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package and the National Suicide Prevention Program which, together, include $304.2 million in vital programs and services across Australia.

Funding already allocated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs under these two national suicide programs, includes:

  • $4.6 million for community-led suicide prevention initiatives.
  • $150,000 for enhanced psychological services for Indigenous communities in the Kimberley Region, through the Access to Allied Psychological Services program.
  • $6 million for targeted suicide prevention interventions.

Media contact: Tim O’Halloran (Butler) – 0409 059 617/Marcus Butler (Snowdon) – 0417 917 796