NACCHO #VoteACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention debate @TracyWesterman Suicide risk factors are being incorrectly stated as suicide causes : and Comments from Harley Thompson @TheAHCWA Youth Co-ordinator

” First, we need to recognise the significant societal contributors to escalating rates of child suicides.

And we need to start with changing the narrative on indigenous suicides.

The core driver is that indigenous suicide is badly understood and myths about so-called causes of suicide are portrayed as if they exist as a direct linear relationship.

Suicide risk factors are being incorrectly stated as suicide causes and this is critical to this whole issue. Alcohol, poverty, abuse, colonialisation — these are not causes. They are risk factors, not causes. It is vital we understand this distinction to ensure adequate prevention efforts.

So, what separates Person A, who has been abused and becomes suicidal, from Person B, who has been abused and does not?

While this is an essential question, we do not have clear evidence of these critical causal pathways ” 

Adjunct professor Tracy Westerman is a clinical psychologist and proud Njamal woman from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. She was named Western Australia’s Australian of the Year last year for working to reduce the burden of mental ill health and suicide in Aboriginal communities. See full article from The Australian below Part 1

 ” Labor’s response to rising rates of indigenous youth suicide is a vote of confidence in Aboriginal health organisations such as the one Ms Thompson works for. A Shorten Labor government would make an “urgent investment” of $29.6 million in those Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations that already treat 350,000 indigenous people a year.

The money would be used to create regionally based multi­disciplinary teams of paediatricians, child psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and ­Aboriginal health practitioners tasked with suicide prevention in vulnerable communities. “

What Ms Harley Thompson has learned in her role as a youth ­program co-ordinator at the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia has been seized upon by politicians scrambling to respond to Australia’s indigenous youth suicide crisis. See Full Story part 2 below 

Read all NACCHO 130+ Aboriginal Health and Suicide Articles Here 

#VoteACCHO Recommendation 4 of 10.

Address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide rates

  • Provide $50 million over four years to ACCHOs to address the national crisis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide in vulnerable communities
  • Fund new Aboriginal support staff to provide immediate assistance to children and young people at risk of self-harm and improved case management
  • Fund regionally based multi-disciplinary teams, comprising paediatricians, child psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners who are culturally safe and respectful, to ensure ready access to professional assistance; and
  • Provide accredited training to ACCHOs to upskill in areas of mental health, childhood development, youth services, environment health, health and wellbeing screening and service delivery.

See all 10 #VoteACCHO recommendations HERE

Part 1

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has allocated $134 million for indigenous suicide prevention. This crudely translates to $248,000 per death based on the suicide mortality rate — without adding state funding into the mix.

From the Australian April 20

Despite this, and as a country facing a growing tragedy of generational indigenous child suicides, we still have no nationally accepted evidence-based programs across the spectrum of early intervention and prevention activities.

Staggeringly, funded programs are not required to demonstrate evidence of impact, nor are they required to demonstrate a measurable reduction in suicide and mental health risk factors.

So, given this, can governments truly claim they are funding suicide prevention? You cannot claim prevention if you aren’t measuring risk. It’s that simple.

In an area as complex as indigenous suicide, it is crucial that funding decisions unsupported by clinical and cultural expertise are challenged and redirected in the best way possible: towards the evidence. Report after report has pointed to the need for “evidence-based approaches”, but has anyone questioned why this continues to remain elusive?

Perhaps we need to start with what constitutes evidence.

It doesn’t mean attendance. This is not evidence of impact. It means measurable, outcome-based evidence — a reduction in suicide risk factors attributable to the intervention provided.

Without measurability there is no accountability. Without measurability we are failing to gather crucial evidence of what works to better inform current and future practitioners struggling to halt the intergenerational transmission of suicide risk.

Clinicians terrified

Up to 30 per cent of clinicians will experience the suicide death of a client in our clinical lifetime. It is complex, it is scary, and very few of us understand what it is like to feel as though you are holding someone’s life in your hands.

I can tell you that, despite extensive training, suicide prevention challenges you at every level.

It challenges your core values about the right of people to choose death over life; it stretches you therapeutically despite your training in best practice; and it terrifies you that you have missed something long after you have left your at-risk client.

The nature of suicide risk is that it changes. Being able to predict and monitor it takes years of clinical expertise and well-honed clinical insight and judgment.

Throw culture into the mix and this becomes a rare set of skills held by few in this country. Indeed, back-to-back coronial inquiries, a 2016 parliamentary inquiry and 2018 Senate inquiry all concluded that not only are ser­vices lacking in remote and rural areas of Australia but culturally appropriate services were often non-existent.

Prevention focus

First, we need to recognise the significant societal contributors to escalating rates of child suicides.

And we need to start with changing the narrative on indigenous suicides.

The core driver is that indigenous suicide is badly understood and myths about so-called causes of suicide are portrayed as if they exist as a direct linear relationship.

Suicide risk factors are being incorrectly stated as suicide causes and this is critical to this whole issue. Alcohol, poverty, abuse, colonialisation — these are not causes. They are risk factors, not causes. It is vital we understand this distinction to ensure adequate prevention efforts.

So, what separates Person A, who has been abused and becomes suicidal, from Person B, who has been abused and does not? While this is an essential question, we do not have clear evidence of these critical causal pathways.

Once we establish a causal pathway, we can then focus on determining treatments of best practice to ensure that clinicians are focused in the best possible way to eliminate the established cause.

This can be done only through rigorous assessment of individual risk factors. Some of these risk factors will be static and historical, meaning they cannot be changed: you cannot change someone’s date or place of birth, for example.

Other risk factors will be dynamic and changeable: we can work on changing anxiety and responses to trauma.

Once we have a comprehensive picture of an individual’s risk factors, treatment is then determined as being effective based on a reduction in the symptoms attributable to the clinical intervention. Presenting poverty and colonialisation as causes offers little to clinicians, who need to focus therapeutic interventions on what is alterative and treatable.

It distracts us from the true causes of indigenous suicide that enable a genuine opportunity for prevention. Our people are not killing themselves because they are poor. They are killing themselves because of racism, trauma, most likely co-morbid with depression and alcohol and drug use, isolation and a lack of access to culturally competent clinicians and evidence-based programs.

A further danger in confusing causes with risk factors is that it also informs government approaches to this issue.

So, taking this example of alcohol, the government decided to solve suicides through establishing dry communities and restricting alcohol. There has not been a decrease in suicide in alcohol-restricted communities; in fact, the opposite is true. Suicide is so multidimensional and multifaceted that, unless you can undertake rigorous assessment, there is going to be an endless cycle of risk that is “predicted” only once a child dies by suicide.

The most distressing outcome of failing to understand suicide causes is it further stigmatises bereaved Aboriginal parents, inferring that most, if not all, are perpetrators or alcoholics.

Perpetuating such stereotypes contributes to a general lack of empathy for Aboriginal people bereaved by suicide. It is a “they did it to themselves” mentality that is not only inaccurate but also unhelpful and unkind.

When non-indigenous children die by suicide, we rightly look for deficits in society or systems and how we need to “do better” as a society.

When indigenous children die by suicide, we look for deficits in their families, in their culture. Why don’t we have a more empathetic view of indigenous child suicides and for indigenous families bereaved by suicide?

Finding answers

Unfortunately the gaps are obvious and have been for decades.

First, universities need to set minimum standards of cultural competence as prerequisites in the degrees undertaken by those in the “helping professions”.

Most would be lucky to have an hour of cultural training in their degrees and then are sent out to remote indigenous communities where cultural barriers are so significant they render the most gifted clinicians into paralysis.

I have developed a normed Aboriginal Mental Health Cultural Competency Profile, which has demonstrated the capacity to measure, support and improve cultural competency development. This is objective and measurable, and provides a useful method for educational institutions to set minimum standards.

Second, we need to assess and screen for early risk. My PhD resulted in the development of the Westerman Aboriginal Symptom Checklist, a culturally validated psychometric test to screen youth at risk.

Despite this, we do not have a widely accepted methodology to assess for suicide risk in indigenous people.

While the youth version (WASCY) and adult version (WASCA) have existed for two decades, and more than 25,000 clinicians have chosen to be accredited in it, access into high-risk areas is limited by the lack of wide-scale government rollout of the tool.

Third, we need to understand the causes of indigenous suicide. The priority needs to be to analyse the suicide death data to firmly establish causal pathways to suicide. If the suicide data were analysed in a way that determined “causal” pathways it would quite simply change the paradigm of this area.

The big-picture thinking is to use continuous suicide data (suicide risk factors that move and change) gathered by the WASCY and WASCA to determine causal pathways and co-variates (that is, impulsivity, depression and suicide risk) and determine whether a reduction in these factors reduces the overall suicide death rate.

This is complex but these two data sets will enable us to determine what risk factors are reducing the suicide death rate in more of an immediate, measurable and responsive way.

Access to this data is likely to take many more months to pass through several ethics committees, but we will self-fund this analysis to fast-track this vital information and to speed up crucial gaps in our knowledge in this area.

Fourth, we need to determine whether indigenous suicide is different. The WASCY has determined a different set of risk factors for indigenous suicide, finding among other things that up to 60 per cent of suicide risk is accounted for by impulsivity.

Those with impulse-control issues are likelier to have limited coping mechanisms that enable self-soothing specific to interpersonal conflict. This pattern often occurs with those who have trauma and attachment-related issues — the origins of which for Aboriginal families often lie in the forcible removal from primary attachment figures.

With the increasing evidence of the impacts of race-based trauma there is a need to address societal contributors to indigenous suicides. Thema Bryant-Davis and Carlota Ocampo, among others, have noted similar courses of mental illness between victims of violent crime and victims of racism.

In Australia, Yin Paradies has found that racism explains 30 per cent of depression and reduces Aboriginal life expectancy more than smoking.

Just as trauma frequently becomes a central organising principle in the psychological structure of the individual, trauma has become a central organising principle in the psychological structure of whole communities. This is known as “repetition compulsion”, meaning individuals who have had a previous traumatic event are at increased risk for future trauma experiences.

Suicide “clusters” are an obvious and common consequence of trauma repetition compulsion.

From a suicide prevention perspective, racism manifests as a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, which has consistently been implicated in suicide risk. When the origin of this lies in rac­ial identity it seems inherently “untreatable” as a core risk factor and unchallengeable as a core driver when a suicidal individual develops thought processes based on a belief they don’t matter.

When those within the “system” and broader community show no visible sign of caring, this cognition then becomes increasingly ingrained through daily reinforcement.

The best I can do as a clinician is to assist my clients to develop healthy and robust cultural identity and develop the skills and resilience to manage racist events.

The WASCY provides a cultural resilience assessment that enables clinicians to “treat” factors that have been demonstrated to moderate or buffer suicide risk. This is crucial to prevention.

We are also about to publish on the impacts of a whole-of-community suicide intervention response to indigenous deaths.

This is the first evidence-based program to demonstrate a measurable reduction in suicide risk factors. It is crucial that these programs are widely available in high-risk communities.

Epigenetics tells us that racism impacts on Aboriginal people in the same way as a traumatic event. The fact most of our suicides are so impulsive makes absolute sense from a trauma perspective.

Finally, we turn to our political leadership. We look for guidance in what resonates in the conscience of our nation.

I wrote recently about the silence of our political leaders during the Fogliani coronial inquiry into the 13 deaths of indigenous children in the Kimberley.

Not a single question in the lower house of the West Australian parliament has been asked about the coroner’s report, nor what was going to be done about it.

The ABC reported only nine of the 95 members of parliament have brought up the inquest in any way, in either chamber, this year.

Studies support that a “hierarchy of newsworthiness” exists in which “cultural proximity” to the audience plays a crucial role in the extent of empathy generated for victims. The more the audience relates to victims, the greater the newsworthiness.

If the broader community can’t connect in a “this could happen to me or my family” manner, then there is less community outcry, and significantly less pressure on politicians to respond because, ­ultimately, they are very aware there will be little to no backlash about it.

When those who are mandated to care fail to respond your trauma becomes magnified.

The silence of our political leaders has served to magnify the trauma of these families and in effect has become systemically perpetuated by them.

Part 2

Hayley Thompson has been listening as Indigenous teenagers tell her what makes them happy as well as what troubles them, and she says the answers might surprise adults who believe social media makes young people miserable and even suicidal.

From The Australian April 20

“The young people don’t talk about social media as a problem,” Ms Thompson said. “The good thing about listening to the young people is you hear what they think is important, and that can be quite different to what older generations think is important.”

What Ms Thompson has learned in her role as a youth ­program co-ordinator at the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia has been seized upon by politicians scrambling to respond to Australia’s indigenous youth suicide crisis.

Indigenous Australians die by suicide at twice the rate of other Australians and this rate is even higher for youth. So far this year, 12 indigenous boys aged 12 to 18 have taken their own lives.

The tragedies have prompted questions about what works and what should happen next. In Inquirer today, clinical psychologist Tracy Westerman writes: “Suicide risk factors are being incorrectly stated as suicide causes and this is critical to this whole issue.”

Labor’s response to rising rates of indigenous youth suicide is a vote of confidence in Aboriginal health organisations such as the one Ms Thompson works for. A Shorten Labor government would make an “urgent investment” of $29.6 million in those Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations that already treat 350,000 indigenous people a year.

The money would be used to create regionally based multi­disciplinary teams of paediatricians, child psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and ­Aboriginal health practitioners tasked with suicide prevention in vulnerable communities.

The Coalition’s mental health and suicide prevention plan includes $34.1m to “support indigenous leadership that delivers culturally appropriate, trauma-informed care” as well as “services that recognise the value of community, cultural artistic traditions and protective social factors”.

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt earlier gave just over $1m to the youth strategy Ms Thompson is part of. She says young indigenous people in cities and remote areas all tell her they want to feel closer to their culture.

NACCHO #VoteACCHO Aboriginal Health #Election2019 @billshortenmp and @SenatorDodson set to unveil a $115 million #Labor plan to tackle the Indigenous health crisis today in Darwin : Including $ for @DeadlyChoices #SuicidePrevention  #MentalHealth #RHD #SexualHealth #EyeHealth

“Labor believes innovative and culturally appropriate health care models are central to improving the health outcomes of First Australians and closing the gap, noting that improving Indigenous health was “critical to our journey towards reconciliation. Labor would be funding programs “co-designed with and led by First Nations peoples – driven by the Aboriginal health workforce “

The Opposition Leader, who is also Labor’s spokesman for Indigenous affairs, will unveil the commitment while on the campaign trail with his assistant spokesman Senator Pat Dodson in the Northern Territory today;

Summary of the Labor Party $115 million commitments against NACCHO #VoteACCHO Recommendations

See all 10 NACCHO #VoteACCHO Recommendations Here

Refer NACCHO Recommendation 4

$29.6 million to improve mental health and prevent youth suicide : to administer the mental health funds through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services

See our NACCHO Chair Press Release yesterday

Refer NACCHO Recommendation 6

Sexual health promotion would get a $20 million boost

$13 million would be invested to tackle preventable eye diseases and blindness.

$3 million in seed funding provided to Aboriginal Medical Services to develop health and justice programs addressing the link between incarceration and poor health

Deadly Choices campaign would get $16.5 million for advertising to raise awareness of health and lifestyle choices

Refer NACCHO Recommendation 3

$33 million to address rheumatic heart disease

Media report from

‘Critical to reconciliation’: Labor’s plan to close the gap on Indigenous health

Bill Shorten is set to unveil a $115 million plan to tackle the Indigenous health crisis, as he seeks to position Labor as the only party capable of closing the ten-year gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and their non-Indigenous peers.

The package includes $29.6 million to improve mental health and prevent youth suicide, which has rocked communities in remote areas including the Kimberley where a spate of deaths has been linked to intergenerational trauma, violence and poverty.

The Opposition Leader, who is also Labor’s spokesman for Indigenous affairs, will unveil the commitment while on the campaign trail with his assistant spokesman Senator Pat Dodson in the Northern Territory on Thursday.

“Labor believes innovative and culturally appropriate health care models are central to improving the health outcomes of First Australians and closing the gap,” Mr Shorten said, noting that improving Indigenous health was “critical to our journey towards reconciliation”.

Labor’s package is $10 million more than the $19.6 million Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced for Indigenous suicide prevention on Saturday, after the suicide of an 18-year-old girl from the Kimberley last week.

Indigenous health advocates have previously raised concerns that the Coalition’s wider mental health package could be consumed by “mainstream” services like Headspace.

Mr Shorten highlighted Labor would be funding programs “co-designed with and led by First Nations peoples – driven by the Aboriginal health workforce”.

The Labor plan is to administer the mental health funds through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, which employ teams of paediatricians, child psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners in vulnerable communities.

Official statistics show a ten-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, with the rate of preventable hospital admissions and deaths three times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Labor’s Indigenous health plan, which would be delivered over four years, also includes $33 million to address rheumatic heart disease, a preventable cause of heart failure, death and disability which is common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Sexual health promotion would get a $20 million boost, while $13 million would be invested to tackle preventable eye diseases and blindness.

The Deadly Choices campaign would get $16.5 million for advertising to raise awareness of health and lifestyle choices and $3 million in seed funding provided to Aboriginal Medical Services to develop health and justice programs addressing the link between incarceration and poor health.

Mr Shorten said Labor would reinstate the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council, abolished by the Abbott Government in 2014.

Crisis support can be found at Lifeline: (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and suicidecallbackservice.org.au) and beyondblue (1300 224 636 and beyondblue.org.au) Or 1 of 302 ACCHO Clinics 

NACCHO #VoteACCHO Aboriginal Health #Election2019 #AusVotesHealth and #SuicidePrevention : @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills and other #health #justice leaders express concern that recent Indigenous #MentalHealth funding will go to mainstream services like @headspace_aus

What we know from the federal budget is a significant amount has been allocated towards Headspace and again, if it’s working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the call is for it to go back to our community health organisations.

Evidence shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people access services where they feel culturally safe… Aboriginal people engage with community controlled health organisations because of that trust.

We want to see the money go towards community-driven health organisations so they can each determine what mental health programs would look like in their own communities

Acting Chairperson for NACCHO Donnella Mills told NITV News it was “absolutely a worry” the funding would be put into the hands of services like Headspace. See Full Article below from NITV

Read over 130 Aboriginal health and Suicide Prevention articles written by NACCHO over past 7 years

The above photo from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project

“I would like to visit and sit down with the Indigenous Elders in the community and first of all share the sorrow.

Our first Australians need us, so their kids can see hope and not choose the darkest of all possible options.”

The PM Scott Morrison told reporters combating youth suicide was his big priority

See PM and Minister Ken Wyatt Press Release HERE

Visit our NACCHO #VoteACCHO Election Campaign page HERE 

Especially #VoteACCHO Recommendation 4.

The incoming Federal Government must invest in ACCHOs, so we can address youth suicide

Provide $50 million over four years to ACCHOs to address the national crisis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide in vulnerable communities.

  • Fund new Aboriginal support staff to provide immediate assistance to children and young people at risk of self-harm and improved case management.
  • Fund regionally based multi-disciplinary teams, comprising paediatricians, child psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners who are culturally safe and respectful, to ensure ready access to professional assistance.
  • Provide accredited training to ACCHOs to upskill in areas of mental health, childhood development, youth services, environment health, health and wellbeing screening and service delivery.

#VoteACCHO Recommendation 6.

The incoming Federal Government must allocate Indigenous specific health funding to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

● Transfer the funding for Indigenous specific programs from Primary Health Networks to ACCHOs.

● Primary Health Networks assign ACCHOs as preferred providers for other Australian Government funded services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples unless it can be shown that alternative arrangements can produce better outcomes in quality of care and access to services.

With the federal election coming up next month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged additional funding towards combating youth and Aboriginal suicide, but Indigenous health advocates are concerned the money isn’t making it into the right places.

Edited from Brook Fryer NITV

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a boost towards mental health services on Saturday for young and Indigenous people, leaving Aboriginal health representatives concerned the funding will be put into the hands of conventional services.

If the Coalition is re-elected next month in the federal election, Mr Morrison has pledged to roll out an additional $42.1 million on top of the already committed $461 million that was announced as part of the federal budget earlier this month.

The promise includes $12.5 million towards making mental health services more effective for Indigenous people as well as $22.5 million to boost the governments Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention strategy.

The remainder will be put towards digital tools for mental health issues that are impacting young people including depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

Announced as part of the federal budget, the youth mental health organisation received $263.3 million to be rolled out over seven years.

In January, Headspace also received a $47 million boost from the Coalition, which was the third announcement of funding given to the youth mental health organisation since October last year.

Hannah McGlade, Senior Indigenous Research Fellow at Curtin University and a justice advocate, reiterated the need to have funding given to Indigenous initiatives.

“Cultural safety and cultural competency is critical for mental health care for Indigenous people and Indigenous youth and it’s simply too much of a challenge for non-Indigenous people,” she said.

Ms McGlade said there is a real concern the amount of funding won’t be enough to combat the First Nations suicide crisis.

The latest reported suicide was an 18-year-old female from the remote Western Australia community of Balgo, in the Kimberley region, on Thursday.

This year alone there have been 47 Aboriginal suicides with more than half under the age of 26 and around 12 under the age of 18, said Gerry Georgatos, the CEO of the National Critical Response Trauma Project.

“20 have been females,” he said.

“There have been four [First Nations] suicides across the country in the last week.”

Ms McGlade said she is expecting very little to come out of Mr Morrison’s visits to affected communities.

“Tony Abbott did the same thing and it lead to nothing, this is not a government that is at all committed to human rights… there is no indication that this government is at all interested in Aboriginal human rights,” she said.

The government is also pledging a further $19.6 million through the Indigenous Advancement strategy to prevent Indigenous youth suicide, with Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion saying the funding would be largely used in the Kimberley.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact: Lifeline on 13 11 14 or a local ACCHO Aboriginal Health Service 302 locations

 Indigenous Australian psychologist services can be found here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health launches its #VoteACCHO campaign for #Election2019 calling on all political parties to include these TOP 10 policy recommendations in their #AusVotesHealth election platforms

“ Welcome to the launch of our NACCHO #Election2019 #VoteACCHO campaign for Affiliates, ACCHO members, stakeholders and supporters.

 The health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is not a partisan political issue and cannot be sidelined any longer.

NACCHO has developed a set of 10 policy #Election2019 recommendations that if adopted, fully funded and implemented by the incoming Federal Government, will provide a pathway forward for improvements in our health outcomes.

We are calling on all political parties to include these recommendations in their election platforms and make a real commitment to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and help us Close the Gap.

With your action and support of our #VoteACCHO campaign we can make the incoming Federal Government accountable. ” 

Donnella Mills Acting Chair NACCHO

See NACCHO Press Release Aboriginal Health needs to be an Election Priority

For more information about our NACCHO #Election2019 goals and how to get involved, visit over the next five weeks our #VoteACCHO campaign website :

For campaign assistance or feedback contact Email Colin Cowell 

www.naccho.org.au/VoteACCHO

Contents of this NACCHO #VoteACCHO Campaign Communique

1.What can stakeholders and supporters do to support our #VoteACCHO campaign ?

2.What can NACCHO 8 Affiliates /145 Members do to support our #VoteACCHO campaign ?

3.What are the TOP 10 recommendations that all political parties must include in their election platforms and make a real commitment to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

4.Summary all major parties Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policies

1.What can stakeholders and supporters do to support our #VoteACCHO campaign ?

See your #VoteACCHO Page Here

  1. Make sure that you and all of your community members, family and friends are enrolled to voteby 8pm local time Thursday 18 April 2019.
  2. Follow NACCHO on Twitter Instagram Facebook.
  3. Sign up to the NACCHO Communiqueand receive all #VoteACCHO press releases and social media graphics that will be released throughout the campaign.
  4. Use the following hashtags on social media during the run-up to the election – #VoteACCHO|Plus #auspol | #NACCHOAustralia | #ACCHOS | #IndigenousHealth | #ClosingTheGap | #AusVotesHealth
  1. Share on Social Media NACCHO’s Recommendations for the Election 2019
  2. Call, write or tag on Social Media your local MP and all candidates in your electorate.

2.What can NACCHO 8 Affiliates and 145 Members do support our #VoteACCHO campaign

See your #VoteACCHO Page Here

Noting all Affiliate and Members will be sent by email additional resources

3.What are the TOP 10 recommendations that all political parties must  include in their election platforms and make a real commitment to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Download the NACCHO Press Release HERE

and PDF Copy of these recommendations HERE

The proposals are:

1. Increase base funding of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations

  • Increase the baseline funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to support the sustainable delivery of high quality, comprehensive primary health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.
  • Work together with NACCHO and its State Affiliates to agree to a new formula for the distribution of comprehensive primary health care funding that is relative to need.

2.Increase funding for capital works and infrastructure upgrades

  • Increase funding allocated through the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme for:
    • capital works and infrastructure upgrades, and
    • Telehealth services.
  • Around $500 million is likely to be needed to address unmet needs.

3.End rheumatic heart disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

  • Support END RHD’s proposal for $170 million over four years to integrate prevention and control levels within 15 rural and remote communities across the country.
  • END RHD is a national contingent of peak bodies committed to reducing the burden of RHD for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and NACCHO is a co-chair. Rheumatic heart disease is a preventable cause of heart failure, death and disability that is the single biggest cause of disparity in cardiovascular disease burden between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians

4.Address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide rates

  • Provide $50 million over four years to ACCHOs to address the national crisis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide in vulnerable communities:
    • New Aboriginal support staff to provide immediate assistance to children and young people at risk of self-harm and improved case management
    • Regionally based multi-disciplinary teams, comprising paediatricians, child psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners who are culturally safe and respectful, to ensure ready access to professional assistance; and
    • Accredited training to ACCHOs to upskill in areas of mental health, childhood development, youth services, environment health, health and wellbeing screening and service delivery.

5.Improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing and community infrastructure

  • Expand the funding and timeframe of the current National Partnership on Remote Housing to match at least that of the former National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing.
  • Establish and fund a program that supports low cost social housing and healthy living environments in urban, regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

6.Allocate Indigenous specific health funding to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations

  • Transfer the funding for Indigenous specific programs from Primary Health Networks to ACCHOs.
  • Primary Health Networks assign ACCHOs as preferred providers for other Australian Government funded services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples unless it can be shown that alternative arrangements can produce better outcomes in quality of care and access to services

7.Expand the range and number of MBS payments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce

  • Provide access to an increased range and number of Medicare items for Aboriginal health workers, Aboriginal health practitioners and allied health workers.

8. Improve the Indigenous Pharmacy Programs

  • Expand the authority to write Close the Gap scripts for all prescribers.
  • Simplify the Close the Gap registration process and expand who may register clients.
  • Link medicines subsidy to individual clients and not practices through a national identifier.
  • Improve how remote clients can receive fully subsidized medicines in non-remote areas.
  • Integrate the QUMAX and s100 Support programs into one unified program.

9.Fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations to deliver dental services

  • Establish a fund to support ACCHOs deliver culturally safe dental services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Allocate Indigenous dental health funding to cover costs associated with staffing and infrastructure requirements.

10.Aboriginal health workforce

  • Increased support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and increased support for workforce for the ACCHO sector which includes the non-Indigenous health professionals on which ACCHOs rely
  • Develop an Aboriginal Employment Strategy for the ACCHS sector

For more information about our Election goals and how to get involved, visit: www.naccho.org.au/VoteACCHO

4.Summary all major parties Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policies

To be updated HERE daily throughout the Campaign 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NACCHO #VoteACCHO #Election2019 Aboriginal Health Workforce : Arresting declining Aboriginal Health Worker numbers essential to #ClosingtheGap says Karl Briscoe CEO @NATSIHWA

Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce will be central — indeed pivotal — to reducing Indigenous health inequities, but we appear to be falling short.

New research from the Australian National University shows that the training of new Aboriginal Health Workers is failing to keep up with population growth, and that this essential workforce is ageing.

In this piece for Croakey, study authors Karl Briscoe and Alyson Wright ask where we are going wrong, and what more can be done to address this vital question. “

Karl Briscoe, a proud Kuku Yalanji man, is CEO of NATSIHWA, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association

Alyson Wright is a Research Fellow at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health and National Centre of Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University.

NACCHO #VoteACCHO Recommendation  ” 10.Aboriginal health workforce ” to the incoming Federal Government 

  • Increased support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and increased support for workforce for the ACCHO sector which includes the non-Indigenous health professionals on which ACCHOs rely
  • Develop an Aboriginal Employment Strategy for the ACCHS sector

Noting our NACCHO Election #VoteACCHO Website page will be launched Monday April 15

Photo Above : First NATSIHWA Members Forum of 2019 happened yesterday in Nowra. The Team was excited to see members engage in our new forum format for the first time!

In the business of improving Indigenous health, successful models of care almost always require Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers.

It is timely therefore to ask what are the opportunities for this workforce?

The recently established Joint Council for Closing the Gap and budget announcementsregarding funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research are important wins for Indigenous health.

In the midst of these developments, we need continued and increased investment to build an Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander health workforce.

Our recent analysis, published in the Australian New Zealand Journal of Public Health, demonstrated that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers had only increased slightly over 10 years (2006-2016) from 1,009 Health Workers to 1,347 Health Workers.

This increase did not match population growth, with 221 Indigenous Health Workers per 100,000 Indigenous people in 2006 and 207 Indigenous Health Workers per 100,000 Indigenous people in 2016.

The workforce is also ageing, with increases only in age groups over 45 years. There were fewer younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers entering the workforce and there were declines in proportion of males compared to females.

Across the states, the largest increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers was in Queensland and New South Wales.

Looking at what is working in these states, particularly in terms of career progression, workforce policies and training pathways could provide useful insights to support growth in this workforce nationally, and in territories and states where the workforce growth has been declining or stagnant.

Growing our future

To improve this story, we need make real effort in addressing critical recommendations from the Australian Government’s 2011 Growing Our Future report.

We need to increase the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers. This could be done by increasing workforce opportunities and expanding the roles of Health Workers.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers should have roles across the spectrum of health care delivery from prevention (working with communities) through to acute care (emergency wards). We can start this today. Health sectors across Australia need to look towards developing pathways that build Aboriginal Health Workers in to their models of care and build the supports necessary to retain employees.

We need better data, at a national level, on both workforce and education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers. Workforce analysis using Census data is severely restricted, we cannot track people’s career progression and it does not tell the story from training through to employment outcomes.

Unfortunately, Census is the only data source that is nationally available to capture total numbers of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker workforce (including Health Practitioner and Health Worker professions). The other national data source, Health Workforce Data, captures only a partial workforce story on the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners.

Ultimately, improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes requires a cultural component workforce, which can be achieved and strengthened through an enhanced commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers.

In the whirl of big picture developments and a potential change of government, let us not lose sight of those working tirelessly at the coalface to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

For the latest Aboriginal Health Workers job opportunities check out every Wednesday

Alyson is currently based in Alice Springs, where she is working on the Mayi Kuwayu Study, and a national program evaluation of a legally assisted and culturally appropriate family meditation project.