C.21 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reporting

Early child development and growth (prenatal to age 3)

ACT Health continued to fund Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service to deliver the Aboriginal Midwifery Access Program (AMAP) to ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The program is funded as part of Element 3 of the Council of Australian Governments’ National Partnership Agreement on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Development.

Comprehensive antenatal, postnatal and maternal and child health support is provided to women and their families through: outreach clinical and non-clinical assessments at home; referral to, and support in accessing, mainstream and specialist services; and the provision of information on mainstream services. From 1 July to

30 December 2012, 39 women received antenatal care and 44 women received postnatal care. The proportion of women smoking in pregnancy from 1 July to 30 December 2012 was 50 per cent and for the same period the proportion of women using alcohol in pregnancy was 10 per cent. From 1 January to 30 June 2013, 44 women received antenatal care and 35 women received postnatal care, For the same period the proportion of women smoking in pregnancy was 45 per cent and the proportion of women using alcohol in pregnancy was 7 per cent.

ACT Health engaged with key stakeholders in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on the ‘Beyond Today ... it’s up to you’ social marketing campaign, which promotes tobacco cessation and healthy lifestyle behaviours, including providing information on the effects of smoking in pregnancy and in families.

Early school engagement and performance (preschool to Year 3)

ACT Health continued to fund Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service to deliver a Hearing Health Program for infants and children, which included provision of a comprehensive school-based screening service and the development and provision of appropriate education and treatment, including referral for surgical interventions. From 1 July to 30 December 2012, 514 infants and children (aged 0 to 14) were screened by an audiologist (some children were assessed more than once during the reporting period), 24 infants or children were seen by a GP for otitis media and seven were referred to other hearing specialist centres, and 28 schools were visited (including preschools), with 171 students receiving hearing assessments. Between 1 January and 30 June 2013, 246 infants and children were screened by the audiologist, 33 were seen by a GP for otitis media and four were referred to other hearing specialist centres. Thirteen schools were visited, with 116 students receiving hearing assessments.

Positive childhood and transition to adulthood

ACT Health provides funding to Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation to deliver: the Youth Outreach Network—Street Beat; alcohol and other drug treatment support services, a Healthy Future preventative health program; and a Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program.

From 1 July to 30 December 2012, the Youth Outreach Network—Street Beat conducted 27 night patrols and 460 clients accessed the network. Between 1 January and 30 June 2013 there were 38 night patrols, with 736 clients accessing the service. The network supports early diagnosis, treatment and advice for young people on a range of health problems that relate to at-risk behaviour.

ACT Health is responsible for Element 2 of the Early Childhood Development National Partnership Agreement.

The Antenatal Care, Pre-pregnancy and Teenage Sexual and Reproductive Health Project is progressing in line with agreed outcomes. An advisory group continues to meet bi-monthly to provide overall governance and project direction. A project working group meets as needed to provide input to strategies and resource development. Three key strategies were introduced to guide the project, including:

  • Strategy 1: Support was provided for a workforce training initiative for teenage sexual and reproductive health through Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT. Training was delivered to workers from Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service and Gugan Gulwan Aboriginal Youth Corporation. Following this training, consultation occurred with Canberra Sexual Health Centre to secure a project officer to deliver sexual health education, training and opportunistic testing for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Strategy 2: There was continued implementation of Core of Life (COL), a comprehensive life education program with a focus on the realities of pregnancy, birth and early parenting for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their peer groups. In 2012‑13, the program, which is facilitated by a midwife, was delivered in schools, community services, health services, refuges and youth detention centres. Over 460 young people participated, approximately 40 per cent of whom identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Three COL facilitator training workshops were held, where 58 people were trained to deliver the program in partnership with the midwife, and a facilitators’ network was established to provide professional support.
  • Strategy 3: Resources developed to support strategies 1 and 2 between July 2012 and June 2013 include: installation of a HitNet Kiosk at the Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation; investigations undertaken for another two kiosks for Bimberi Youth Justice Centre and the Junction Youth Health Service; development of an inclusive breastfeeding DVD for young people; and development of Health in Pregnancy and Sexual Health information booklets.

Substance use and misuse

ACT Health continued to fund Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service to deliver a range of alcohol- and drug-related programs, including: Dual Diagnosis; the Youth Detoxification Support Service; the Opiate Program; Tackle Smoking; and Mental Health Liaison. Funding is also provided for a dedicated tobacco control worker to address priority areas of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tobacco Control Strategy.

ACT Health has progressed with the development of the Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm, a residential rehabilitation service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the ACT, which seeks to address the complex issues related to drug and alcohol abuse. The service will provide culturally appropriate prevention, education, rehabilitation and outreach programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 18 years and over.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Board, whose membership includes the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body, United Ngunnawal Elders Council, community-organisations and ACT directorates, continued to provide advice and guide the development of the Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm.

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alcohol and Drug Liaison Officer is employed by ACT Health, providing support and education to alcohol and drug sector services and other services to assist in providing appropriate care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.

Functional and resilient families and communities

The ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Family Wellbeing Plan 2006–2011 was developed in response to the requirement in the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (NSFATSIH) for each jurisdiction to develop a local implementation plan.

A review of the plan was undertaken in 2012‑13 by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Forum, which includes membership from ACT Health, the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Services, ACT Medicare Local and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. Through this process, factors affecting its implementation were identified, most significantly the Closing the Gap Indigenous Reform Agenda, which was introduced halfway through the implementation of the plan in 2008.

Development of a new ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan has commenced. This will incorporate what was learnt in the review of the previous plan, as well as outstanding action items identified as ongoing strategies requiring implementation by the Health Forum. The new plan will also be informed by the National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes and will seek to form linkages with these other national health-related plans developed in 2013:

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan

  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing Plan
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood-Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Drug Strategy.

In July 2012, ACT Health launched its three-year Reconciliation Action Plan 2012–2015. The plan has a range of actions to bring about change and create a health environment that is culturally sensitive, where staff are aware that closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy is an important part of our organisation’s business.

ACT Health’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Coordination Group provided support and guidance on the development of the plan. Consultations were undertaken internally with ACT Health line areas and externally with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders.

Effective environment health systems

Infrastructure, water sanitation, fresh food and housing are of a consistently high standard in the ACT when compared to those of rural and remote environments. The ACT Government funds a range of Aboriginal and

Torres Strait Islander and mainstream programs which ensure access to and availability of appropriate healthy living environments.

Economic participation and development

ACT Health progressed the development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Action Plan 2013–2018 that responds directly to: the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2011–2015; and the ACT Public Service Employment Strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People—Building a culturally diverse workforce 2010. The plan is formally linked to ACT Health’s Workforce Plan 2013–2018 and was endorsed by ACT Health’s Executive Council in June 2013.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Support Network continued to provide support and advice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff employed in the health workforce and included members from ACT Health, ACT Medicare Local, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation and Calvary Health Care ACT.

An Employment Inclusion Officer continued to facilitate ACT Health’s involvement in the ACT Public Service Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traineeship Program. In the July 2012 intake for the program, ACT Health employed four trainees. All trainees were assigned ACT Government mentors.

ACT Health implemented an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Awareness and Skills Development Program in line with its Essential Education Policy. The training consists of three elements: staff orientation, an e-learning module and a skills development workshop.

In 2012‑13, 1,033 health staff participated in staff orientation sessions and 991 staff completed the e-learning module and quiz. An evaluation of the pilot workshops was completed to inform the content and delivery of future workshops.