MEDIA RELEASE – 07 July 2020
Lowitja Institute welcomes independent mental health report for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
The Lowitja Institute welcomes the release of an independent report addressing the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed was among 30 Indigenous leaders in mental health and wellbeing who contributed to the report, A National COVID-19 Pandemic Issues Paper on Mental Health and Wellbeing For Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples, produced by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 working party and convened through the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing Project at the University of Western Australia.
Dr Mohamed said the report acknowledges the remarkable success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations at keeping COVID-19 rates low in the pandemic, which demonstrated the importance and impact of self-determination in promoting the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples in Australia.
But it also sounds a warning of “devastating and ongoing” impacts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing over the longer term unless culturally safe services are accessible and sufficiently resourced to support the psychosocial recovery from lockdown, restricted practices, and the inevitable economic recession to follow, she said.
“It notes that the Federal Government has provided extra investment in mental health support yet, despite known risks, this has been largely directed to mainstream services that will not meet the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities alone,” she said.
“It warns that culturally safe, trauma-informed, lived-experience solutions that respond to the health and wellbeing needs and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities remain chronically under-resourced,” she said.
The report details five key recommendations focused on: right to self-determination, the health and mental health workforce, social and cultural determinants of health, digital and telehealth inclusion with immediate attention to an Indigenous helpline, evaluation that includes Indigenous data sovereignty.
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