Invitation: Working the past: Aboriginal Australia and psychiatry

A Sydney Ideas forum at the University of Sydney, Wednesday 7 March 2018

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have historically been subject to much more misdiagnosis, mistreatment, incarceration and coercion than other Australians in the hands of psychiatric institutions, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. The ramifications of psychiatry’s sometimes unwitting, indifferent or knowing complicity in past harmful practices and beliefs have been far-reaching. They extend from the health and well-being of the individual patient, to human rights and social justice concerns that prevail in contemporary Australian society.
How do we come to grips with the past, and how do we do so in just ways? What are the responsibilities of psychiatry to ensure a contribution to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional health and well-being? What can apology and other forms of recognition achieve? What can we learn from other projects of apology and recognition? These questions will be the basis of our discussion by a panel of distinguished speakers, including Professor Steven Larkin, Professor Alan Rosen, Professor Frank Schneider, Ms Joanne Selfe, and Dr Robyn Shields.

Wednesday 7 March
6 – 7.30pm
Law School Foyer
Level 2 Sydney Law School
Eastern Avenue
The University of Sydney, Camperdown 2006

Find more information and register for the event here. Note the event is free and open to all, but online registration is essential.

The case for an Indigenous Bioethics

Global Bioethics Blog, 25 June 2017
Author: Stuart Rennie
“Indigenous communities in the Americas experience a disproportionate incidence of illness and disease compared to the general population. They also possess sophisticated ethical traditions which diverge and not infrequently conflict with Western-oriented bioethics. This culture gap between patient, provider and ethicist is no small public health concern—it can foster feelings of alienation and distrust which compromise the relationship between those in need of care and those able to offer it. Research ethicists have already made considerable efforts to bring sensitivity for aboriginal cultural mores into their discipline, but bioethicists have been slower out of the gate.”
Find article here.

Stronger Indigenous culture would cut suicide rates, health congress told

The Guardian, 5 April 2017
Author: Calla Wahlquist
“The solution to reducing the staggering rates of suicide among indigenous communities worldwide lies in strengthening culture rather than just focusing on issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, experts at a global conference have said. Suicide is a leading cause of death among young indigenous people worldwide and efforts to solve the problem using methods developed in non-indigenous communities have not reversed the trend.”
Find article here.

Indigenous elders develop app in bid to reduce youth suicide rate

The Guardian, 6 April 2017
Source: Australian Associated Press
“Self-harm is the leading killer of young Indigenous people but elders from one remote Northern Territory community bucking that trend hope to save lives by bringing their traditional wisdom into the digital age. Warlpiri elders from Lajamanu have partnered with the Black Dog Institute to develop Australia’s first Indigenous community-led suicide prevention app. Young Aboriginal people die from suicide at five times the national rate.”
Find article here.

Global systematic review of Indigenous community-led legal interventions to control alcohol

BMJ Open 2017; 7:e013932.
Authors: Muhunthan J, Angell B, Hackett ML, et al
“The national and subnational governments of most developed nations have adopted cost-effective regulatory and legislative controls over alcohol supply and consumption with great success. However, there has been a lack of scrutiny of the effectiveness and appropriateness of these laws in shaping the health-related behaviours of Indigenous communities, who disproportionately experience alcohol-related harm. Further, such controls imposed unilaterally without Indigenous consultation have often been discriminatory and harmful in practice.”
Find article here.

Northern Territory must respect women’s judgment on abortion, advocates say

The Guardian, 19 January 2017
Author: Helen Davidson
“The Northern Territory must give more respect to women as competent decision-makers and stop using criminal law to restrict access to abortion, the Human Rights Law Centre has urged. Outside of limited allowable circumstances, abortion is a criminal offence under the NT criminal code, and the territory is currently the only Australian jurisdiction where women must be in a hospital for any abortion. The availability of medical terminations – using the drug known as RU486 – lags far behind the rest of the country.”
Find article here.

Most of 260,000 young Australians with chlamydia STI don’t know

SMH, 14 November 2016
Author: Rania Spooner
“Hundreds of thousands of young Australians are living with a sexually transmitted infection and researchers warn most don’t know they’ve got it. According to the Australian Annual Surveillance Report into sexually transmissible infections and blood-borne viruses, there were an estimated 260,000 new cases of chlamydia in 15 to 29-year-olds by the end of 2015. The report also reveals that despite HIV levels stabilising overall, new infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations have continued to rise.”
Find article here.

Plan to reduce Indigenous suicides finally acknowledges lack of evidence and need for hope

The Conversation, 14 November 2016
Author: Anthony Dillon
“Last week the government released the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project report, which gave recommendations to reduce the high rate of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There are many factors contributing to Indigenous suicide, occurring in a wide variety of contexts. No document can answer every question on Indigenous suicide. The report does recognise that no two Indigenous suicides are identical.”
Find article here.

Seeking consent for research with indigenous communities: a systematic review

BMC Medical Ethics 2016 17:65
Authors: Emily F. M. Fitzpatrick, Alexandra L. C. Martiniuk, Heather D’Antoine, June Oscar, Maureen Carter, Elizabeth J. Elliott
“When conducting research with Indigenous populations consent should be sought from both individual participants and the local community. We aimed to search and summarise the literature about methods for seeking consent for research with Indigenous populations.”
Find article here.