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ICYMI: progressing Indigenous rights, global trends, an apology – and a great, big research round-up

At a time when many trends, nationally and globally, are harmful for public health, the column this week showcases individuals and organisations who are raising their voices loudly to protect and promote the health of people and planet.

We also bring news of recent awards and appointments, as well as Conference Watch and upcoming events.

The quotable?

Now is the time to develop better strategies for communication between scientists and the public, both to improve the baseline of understanding and to be prepared for the next emergency.”


National truth telling process is needed

Australia should progress a national process of truth telling and human rights awareness as “of utmost importance” in order to pursue implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), according to a Parliamentary inquiry.

The inquiry also recommends that a National Action Plan be developed to guide Australia’s implementation of UNDRIP and that the decision whether to adopt a legislative or non-legislative approach should be made in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs inquiry’s report recommends the Commonwealth Government ensure its approach to developing legislation and policy on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people be consistent with the UNDRIP.

The Committee recommends the Commonwealth Government establish an independent process of truth telling and agreement making, as requested by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as a mechanism to support healing and assist implementation of the UNDRIP.

The report examines what Australia can learn from implementation of the UNDRIP in other countries, including Canada, Finland and Norway.

It also examines how industry and non-government organisations are taking increased interest in UNDRIP as a way to improve their sector practices and community engagement. For example, the Fred Hollows Foundation and Terri Janke and Company, an Indigenous owned and operated law firm, gave examples of how UNDRIP informs their work.

In his foreword to the report, released ahead of his announced retirement from politics, committee chair Senator Pat Dodson wrote that in the wake of the referendum result, “Australia appears at a crossroad with respect to how to navigate Indigenous issues”.

“I believe that the enhanced application of UNDRIP and the general acceptance of these rights as a fundamental component of our democracy is where we must start,” he wrote.

On 13 September 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted UNDRIP by 143 votes to four. Australia, Canada, Aotearoa (New Zealand), and the United States opposed the resolution. All four countries have since endorsed UNDRIP – in 2009, 2010, 2010 and 2011 respectively.


Global trends

Recent developments have highlighted global trends that are harmful for public health: alongside the rise of the far-right are moves to suppress protest and dissent.

Health Policy Watch: ‘Use Your Voice’ to Keep Policymakers Accountable, Former WHO Head Margaret Chan Tells Public Health Students 


#AusPol

According to a statement by Health Minister Mark Butler:

“The Albanese Government and the Australian Parliament, on behalf of the people of Australia has today offered a full, unreserved and overdue apology to all thalidomide survivors, their families, loved ones and carers.

The Government’s Australian Thalidomide Survivors Support Program will be re-opened to ensure that anyone who may have missed the previous opportunity to apply for support does not miss out on the support they need and deserve. The Program is a lifetime support package which includes a one-off lump sum payment in recognition of pain and suffering, as well as ongoing annual payments. From now on, rather than those payments being locked at a particular level, the Government will support increases through indexation, for all current and future applicants who qualify.”

On 30 November, Minister Butler will unveil a national memorial to survivors of the thalidomide tragedy and their families, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. The location and design of the National Site of Recognition were chosen in collaboration with Australian thalidomide survivors.


First Nations health

Read: Apunipima trials new holistic service model in Napranum

Apunipima Cape York Health Council is trialling a new model of care in its Napranum clinic near Weipa, focusing on a holistic approach to healthcare which encompasses the social determinants of health and wellbeing.

The Coordinated Case Care trial will work with five families and focus on social aspects of community life, from food security and fitness right through to home life, employment and financial health.

The trial is based on successful overseas ‘social prescribing’ trials, which focus on a full holistic assessment of individual and family need. The healthcare approach looks at a patient’s non-medical needs as well as their physical health to improve individual and family wellbeing.


Public health

Read: Protecting children from unhealthy food marketing: a comparative policy analysis in Australia, Fiji and Thailand Read: Chocolate unicorns and smiling teddy biscuits: analysis of the use of child-directed marketing on the packages of Australian foods Read: Estimated impact of the UK soft drinks industry levy on childhood hospital admissions for carious tooth extractions: interrupted time series analysis Read: A fair shot: How to close the vaccination gap. Recommendations include that Primary Health Networks should be responsible for
increasing vaccination in their area.  Read: Communicating science effectively in times of crisis: time for reflection. The author recommends: public engagement by scientific societies; supporting a community of spokespeople; and encouraging local public engagement. He also highlights the importance of transparency, openness and availability, and humility. He concludes:

“Although we all hope that it will be a long time before we face the next global pandemic, now is a great opportunity to reflect on how the scientists interfaced with the public as we faced the challenge of COVID-19. There is much for which we can be proud.

“Even so, hundreds of thousands of individuals needlessly lost their lives due to misinformation and disinformation. Now is the time to develop better strategies for communication between scientists and the public, both to improve the baseline of understanding and to be prepared for the next emergency.”Read: Walking speed and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis Read: Fall Prevention in NSW White Paper 2023 Read: Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Public statement: combatting racism in psychiatryRead: A new, national voice for people with experience of mental ill health and potential for allyship Read: Q fever awareness in Australia: A scoping review Read: Describing the Primary Care Journey for People with Musculoskeletal Pain


COVID


Vale


Media matters


Conference Watch


Awards and appointments


Opportunities and events


See previous editions of ICYMI

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