From ABC Radio National. An Aboriginal led initiative is what is needed. Reading this in 2020 is almost like reading my exit report after my EH position was defunded in 2017 after which the Shire transferred me to youth work. With the same problems.
Sorry about the formatting. My iPad WordPress app is contrary.
A study in the Kimberley in Western Australia has found that the environment in Aboriginal communities explains a high percentage of hospital admissions and many millions of dollars in costs.
These same environmental factors increase the incidence and severity of over 40 diseases and are likely to explain a proportion of the gap in life expectancy and wellness between Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians.
The study was driven by Nirrumbuk, the Kimberley’s Aboriginal owned environmental health enterprise.
CEO, Nirrumbuk Environmental Health & Services
Field Support Officer, Nirrumbuk Environmental Health & Services
Dr Norman Swan
Norman Swan: A study in the Kimberley in Western Australia has found that the environment in Aboriginal communities explains a significant percentage of hospital admissions and many millions of dollars in costs. These same environmental factors increase the incidence and severity of over 40 diseases and are likely to explain a proportion of the gap in life expectancy and wellness between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The study was driven by Nirrumbuk, the Kimberley’s Aboriginal-owned environmental health enterprise. I spoke earlier to Chicky Clements who is an environmental field support officer, and Ray Christophers who is the CEO of Nirrumbuk.
Ray Christophers: The interest in where governments are coming from in closing the gap, it started getting us to look at what else can we see out there that could make a difference and coming up with data on hospitalisation, with Kimberley people going south to try and look at the environmental health attributable diseases out there that we could possibly do something with. And having a look at costings, if we can show that preventing some of this stuff, there could be a cost factor in it. So when we crunched the numbers and the money, hospitalisation for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley in one year alone we would come up with $19 million, directly in environmental health factors that could have been prevented.
Chicky Clements: The starting place is from within the environment, which impacts then to the clinic and then to those hospitalisations. That’s what we’re talking about across the Kimberley.
Norman Swan: And I think that, what, 30%-odd of the total spend can be directly attributed to the environment.
Chicky Clements: Yes, that was just hospitalisations, that’s not counting the PATS [Patient Assisted Travel Scheme] where you’ve got to fly the people in, the families, getting them from a remote community into town, to the city, it’s not counting that.
Norman Swan: The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, which looks over community-controlled groups such as Nirrumbuk and others, has said that you are really leading Australia in terms of this link between the environment and Aboriginal health and well-being. What are you doing and what’s different and why is it likely to have more of an impact on the gap than perhaps previous efforts?
Chicky Clements: Well, for here in the Kimberley that started off as the Kimberley Aboriginal Health Planning Forum, and that consists of the Aboriginal medical services, the WACHS, the government-controlled medical services, and environmental health, that is the committee across the Kimberley that has a pretty powerful voice. And just by having that as a powerful voice to make things happen, for us that’s where the biggest changes have come. I think that’s different to what’s happening anywhere else.
Norman Swan: Because Ray, I think the criticism you hear again and again is that government and others come in and do it to Aboriginal communities—new housing, new sanitation or what have you—but it’s not done with consultation or indeed local control, therefore it often goes wrong.
Ray Christophers: Yes, that’s what we’ve found. It’s a lot of ‘you need to do this’, ‘you need to do that’, instead of why. Out in the communities, you have to push for ‘wash your hands’ and you can go to the schools sometimes and find there’s not even…soap is not provided. And then in a lot of the remote communities it just goes amiss. And animal management that we do quite a lot of and they say you only need to have two dogs, but they don’t give the reasons why.
Chicky Clements: Our biggest change has been we have workers that live in the community and work for Nirrumbuk, it’s a proper structured organisation. It’s not just a matter of dogs, it’s historical stuff. People have got fresh in their minds about what happened in the ’50s and ’60s where police and rangers would go out and they’d just shoot dogs. The more remote, more traditional you go, the stronger that bond is with dogs, and that dog can pass these diseases onto you.
Norman Swan: So what has been the sort of things that you’ve done about dog health which will then translate to improved health in the community in a tangible way?
Chicky Clements: Probably the biggest one around the Kimberley’s was the spraying dogs for internal worm treatment, worms going from dogs to people.
Ray Christophers: The desexing program.
Chicky Clements: The desexing program, we pay for it, two days desexing with our local vet. Then another community wanted to do the same. So having people live in the community, there is that constant message going out and it’s made a huge, huge difference and invariably leads onto people’s health improvements.
Ray Christophers: Prevention. There’s not enough done on that. When you talk about rheumatic heart or scabies, not enough is done in that prevention world.
Norman Swan: Let’s move onto housing because housing is a huge issue in every Aboriginal community, particularly remote communities. What has been your approach to housing?
Chicky Clements: The issue there is the time between getting maintenance and things fixed up, things like just having hot water and being able to wash on a regular basis. The time it takes to get leaks done, repairs done to housing, say, in your remote communities is just ridiculous. See, it took us maybe 10 or 12 years for our workers to be able to do plumbing repairs. We fought 10 years for that. The improvement that’s made, just people having taps fixed up, something as basic as that. The other big issue there is getting timely repair to leaking sceptics and sewerage and stuff like that.
Norman Swan: So you’ve been able to upskill the local community so they don’t have to wait on the Housing Department to arrive.
Chicky Clements: It’s our workforce that does it. See, we measure leaks on houses, and the worst leak we got was 10 litres a minute running through a tap…
Norman Swan: 10 litres a minute?
Chicky Clements: A minute, yes, so you do the maths on that.
Ray Christophers: And just adding on to what Chicky was saying, in remote communities, it is a harsh environment, and a lot of times the building materials that are put in aren’t of high quality. Within months of a new home you’ll find that the stuff that they’ve put in haven’t stood up to the environment. And when you’re talking about crowded homes, in a normal family of four or five you turn a tap on, you might do that in the shower twice a day for four people. When you’re in crowded conditions, you can understand that this is working nearly four times the amount of time. The stuff they put in does not hold up to the amount of use that it gets, and of course we get a stigma about they don’t know how to look after it or it’s just the way we treat things, and it’s not like that at all.
Norman Swan: You’re an Aboriginal owned enterprise, where does your money come from for your project?
Chicky Clements: We are funded through Perth Environmental Health Directorate in Perth.
Norman Swan: And do they give you freedom to operate in the communities so that you do what you know works? Is this a career-ending question I’m asking you two?
Ray Christophers: It is a changing world. They do with respect but it’s needing more and more partnerships to be able to make that difference.
Chicky Clements: It always comes back to who’s in power, state and federal, and the changes they make, and the communities have never had, say, a 10- or 15-year program to run with something, to try something, to better something, it has always changed every change of government.
Norman Swan: What you’re saying is that the investment on the ground is patchy and people are still ending up in hospital and in clinics, more sick than they need to be.
Chicky Clements: Yep.
Ray Christophers: When people go to the clinic, they get treated, but they go back to where they come from and that particular house, so nothing is looked at how that can be prevented. Kids are constantly in the clinics getting treatments for skin sores, sore throats, but they haven’t looked at the history of that person and how they have grown up in the community. And that’s what we are trying to get on top of.
Norman Swan: It’s ironic, and people will still say, well, why is the gap still there, and here is one big reason why it is. Thank you very much to you both for joining us on theHealth Report.
Chicky Clements: Thank you for giving us the opportunity.
Ray Christophers: Thank you.
Norman Swan: Ray Christophers and Chicky Clements of the Nirrumbuk Environmental Health Services in the Kimberley.
There is a word missing from English. I can’t believe we have managed without it until now.
We need a word for that joyously pleasant sensation you get when you bite into a service station meat pie expecting the contents to be so hot it will scald the roof of your mouth and destroy your taste buds so you won’t actually enjoy the pie at all BUT to your surprise and great pleasure the contents are exactly the right temperature to allow you to enjoy the life-doesn’t-get-any-better-than-this subtle gourmet umami and aromatics of the gravy to the fullest.
In my opinion. Best SF Films of all Time A list. Not in any way to be considered definitive. The list is in no particular order. It would be impossible to objectively rank these movies. Chosen because they came immediately to mind and because aside from being well directed and performed they were well written and had great special effects for their time. Also they contributed to human philosophy and weren’t just cowboys and first nations in space. So you won’t see Star Wars here. Alien just squeaked in. I tried to choose ten, but settled for fifteen. Correction , eighteen Ok, twenty one two. There are more, no doubt, that should be on this list. The not-so-subtle racism of Planet of the Apes probably should keep it off. I’m open to debate. Either way, I just mentioned it.
Metropolis – the 1927 original
Blade Runner 2049
2001 A Space Odyssey
A Clockwork Orange
Ghost in the Shell (original animation)
Solaris (1976 version)
Back to the Future – all three
Alien – although it is really a gothic horror set in space
Aliens – maybe… after that the franchise went awry.
Gravity. Some far-fetched plot devices but otherwise almost perfect. Stunning soundtrack.
Forbidden Planet (1956)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
A Boy and His Dog
Oh, and one more. Special mention:
I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) – Because it is the first SF film I ever saw. I was probably ten years old. It stirred my imagination. When I saw it again years later, I realised it was remarkably underrated as a B Movie. In 2001 I noticed a distinct similarity to its plot in The Astronaut’s Wife, which, despite having Charlize Theron, does not make my list.
They are strange creatures. I have studied them for some time, and still find their behaviour inexplicable. Despite almost constantly killing each other in various Skirmishes, battles and wars, anywhere, and at any time, around their planet, they rarely eat each other, even after mating. They don’t even eat their own young, although they can catch them easily.
Their genetic code differs greatly from ours. I have been unable to learn anything from those I have eaten. Thus I must learn from studying their behaviour, a task that seems dauntingly difficult.
They have no claws or ovipositors, but have developed an astonishing
array of synthetic weapons with which to attack each other. So far
I have not determined the criteria on which they base their decision to attack,
nor on their choice of weapon, which ranges from sharpened objects of various
types and hand held projectile throwers, to extremely large mobile devices,
having cooperative crews of many individuals and capable of throwing projectiles and explosive devices over a great
This interesting social construct of cooperative communities is a most alien concept, difficult to grasp. It consists of numbers of individuals, from small groups to large area-wide populations, and of any gender working together to construct habitats and also to craft these various devices with which to attack each other. In some areas, these attacks are ritual in nature, and death rarely results. In other areas whole communities attack and slaughter other communities, with devices designed to make holes in vital organs, or to disintegrate them entirely.
How they learn the skills required without eating each other I have yet to discover.
How individuals decide to cooperate with some, yet attack and destroy other groups, I have been unable to determine. It may involve territoriality. There appears to be some form of genetically coded ritual involved. They may not be able to consciously choose, despite the appearance of rational behaviour on occasion.
A difficult ritual to understand, from my perspective, takes place on designated pathways where individuals or small cooperative groups enter various forms of mobile device and ritually pass each other at high speed, apparently seeking suitable prey. These pathways cover most of the land mass where terrain permits and cross territorial boundaries.
At seemingly random intervals, somewhere along these paths one device will crash into another, or into some feature of the environment. This may result in injury or death of some or all participants. For some reason, survivors rarely attempt to finish off and eat any others still alive. In fact they cooperate to ensure any injured or damaged individuals are taken away to places where they can be repaired.
It is this custom of repairing themselves that I find the most inexplicable of all. After doing their best to kill and maim each other, they then go to great lengths to to repair damaged individual survivors, rather than eat them. Without that, how do they learn from each other?
How the individuals who carry out the repairs are able to restrain themselves from eating those damaged ones needs to be studied further. Perhaps they use some form of inhibitor to suppress the natural cannibal instinct. They may be a separate sub-species genetically primed to repair rather than attack. If their genes have somehow combined with those of the general population, it may explain the strange dichotomy of behaviour planetwide. How it helps with the continuation of the species will take considerable further study. I may be witnessing some new evolution of the Survival Directive.
I shall not return to mate and be eaten until I have incorporated a satisfactory explanation of the above phenomena into my matrix.