The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), the organisation behind the Deadly Choices Healthy Lifestyle Program, welcomed today’s funding announcement by Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten which will resource Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) for critical health service responses for Indigenous Australians.
Deadly Choices partner organisation CEOs across Australia joined IUIH CEO Adrian Carson in congratulating Mr Shorten for his strong commitment to working with ACCHSs to improve health outcomes and with First Nations people to realise a renewed commitment to closing the gap.
As noted by Adrian Carson, CEO of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), the organisation behind the Deadly Choices campaign:
- This is a significant funding package and it will make a huge difference to our communities across the country.
- To reduce rates of preventable chronic disease that are impacting our community and to close the gap our people must be empowered to make healthy choices – to stop smoking, to eat good food, to exercise and to get regular health checks. But only our communities can make this happen.
- Since IUIH was established in South East Queensland in 2009 we have achieved a 340% increase in client numbers – from 8,000 in 2009 to 35,000 in 2017/18.
- We’ve also seen the number of people having a regular health check at their local community controlled health service increase by almost 4000%, from 550 in 2009 to more than 20,000 people in 2017/18.
- As a result, in South East Queensland our life expectancy gap is closing at a rate 2.3 times faster than predicted trajectories.
- We also know that people participating in Deadly Choices programs are twice as likely to engage with their local health clinic – so funding a national expansion to Deadly Choices will have an immediate and significant impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Deadly Choices is the perfect example of an initiative that has been designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- The solutions that we’re coming up with to improve health outcomes in our communities are actually solutions that can benefit the whole country.
- At a local level, we are seeing these significant improvements in a whole range of areas, particularly those being led by community controlled organisations.
- We can deliver these outcomes nationally, we just need the resources to do it. So we welcome this announcement – as it puts control in the hands of those who can make the biggest impact.
As noted by Joanne Grant, Acting CEO of Katungul Health in South Coast NSW:
- Katungul’s vision is for Aboriginal people to live healthy lives enriched by a strong living culture, dignity and justice.
- Following the introduction of Deadly Choices to our clinics we have seen a marked increase in the number of health checks performed.
- In the first year offering Deadly Choices we more than doubled the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients who had a health check. That’s more than double the number of people who are checking in with their health service regularly and being able to access the healthcare that they need, when they need it. In that first year we also attracted almost 400 new patients to our service.
- Expanding this program to community controlled health services nationally means that in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, more people will have access to health services when they need them.
Quotes by Olga Havnen, CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin:
- Funding the national expansion of Deadly Choices nationally will significantly impact the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Here in Darwin, Deadly Choices has been very successful in engaging and educating people of all ages, and particularly young people in our communities.
- Our Deadly Choices Ambassadors – Steven Motlop (Port Adelaide AFL Player), Kylie Duggan (Tracy Village Jets Basketballer), Patrick Johnson (Sprinter) and Sam Rioli (Basketballer) are all prominent members of the community and positive role models in the greater Darwin community. They attend community events and activities to promote healthy lifestyles and the benefits of getting regular health checks in maintaining and improving health.
As noted by Gail Wason, CEO of Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre in Far North Queensland:
- A significant area of impact we’ve seen is that kids enrolled in the Deadly Choices education program at school look forward to attending the program – and that means their school attendance rate is up.
- It also means that they’re engaging with us as their health service and getting their health checks on a regular basis
- The difference is in the way that we are able to deliver these programs and health messages to our community – it’s a better way. It’s done our way and it meets the needs of our people.
- Our ACCHS sector are delivering these key messages to our community in a culturally appropriate manner which makes it work for our mob.
As noted by Michael Graham, CEO of Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, Melbourne:
- We welcome today’s funding announcements and Labor’s commitment to work with Aboriginal Medical Services to close the health gap.
- VAHS looks forward to continuing to build on our current capacity to deliver sustainable improvements in health outcomes for First Nations people.
As noted by Julie Tongs, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, ACT:
- We are very excited to be launching the Deadly Choices Healthy Lifestyle Program in the ACT in the next few weeks.
- We strongly support Labor’s commitment to working with Aboriginal Medical Services to delivery culturally capable healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
As noted by Renee Blackman, CEO of Gidgee Healing, Mt Isa
- This additional funding commitment would mean that Gidgee Healing will be able to further extend our programs into the communities that we work with.
- There is just so much demand for these services and programs in these communities.