NACCHO, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, has called on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to focus on their health after two months of COVID-19 enforced isolation.
Marking Men’s Health Week, NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said the commitment of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) was to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to live longer, healthier lives by providing a wide range of preventative men’s programs that address critical social and emotional issues that our men face.
“The overall aim is to reduce the rate of hospitalisations, which is almost three times higher than for other Australian men and to reduce the number of Aboriginal men in prison who are imprisoned at 11 times the rate of the general male population,” she said.
“I would urge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to focus on their overall health after these two-three months of isolation and get a comprehensive annual 715 health check at their nearest ACCHO. Annual health checks are crucial in picking up little things before they become worse, give peace of mind, and they are free.”
The Ingkintja Male Health Service, Alice Springs, was held up as leading the way in providing cultural activities and social and wellbeing services for male health.
The ACCHO delivers a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services with emphasis on preventative health with annual 715 health check, servicing over 1,000 men every year.
The Ingkintja ‘Men’s Shed’ male-only washing facilities (showers and laundry facilities) and gym enable males, both young and old, to come together and access fitness, camraderie and practical life skills. A psychologist and Aboriginal care management worker are available through Ingkintja, allowing therapeutic care on counselling, violence interventions, cultural and social support to men.
Ingkintja also delivers the Jaila Wanti prison to work program, which provides support to Aboriginal prisoners 90 days prior to release and post-release to reintegrate back into community through the coordination of health, wellbeing and social support services. Male prison transitional care coordinators work with clients and facilitate linkages with employment and training providers.
Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Mark Wenitong, has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to improve their overall health and mental health. His expertise and experience have led to his involvement in health reform with the Cape York Aboriginal communities with a dedicated team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male workers, who are getting great traction with their community men.
“The strength-based men’s programs delivered by Apunipima continue to see rise in participation rates and better outcomes for Cape York men. Though we still have a long way to go, more of the men are taking control and utilising our programs to support improving their mental health and overall wellbeing,” said Dr Wenitong.
Next week, the Men’s Health Connected online summit addresses Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health over two days.
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The theme for Day One is Leadership in Health
Day Two on 23 June looks at a variety of topics with leading practitioners in the field covering Drugs and Alcohol, Sport, Culture, Mentoring and its role in Mental Health and Wellbeing, fathering and growing up within a cultural framework, Young Aboriginal men’s health, and Healing in Cultural contexts.