Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health sector braces for first Australia Day post-Voice referendum
Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia and its members are bracing for an increase in racism, bigotry, and discriminatory rhetoric as the first Australia Day post-Voice to Parliament Referendum looms.
Gayaa Dhuwi is the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention. Its members are not-for-profit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and mental health peak bodies who collectively represent more than 200 organisations and 2,500 individuals.
“As Australia Day is nearing, we are concerned about the impact an increase in racism and reignition of the debate about the Voice to Parliament Referendum will have on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”, said Gayaa Dhuwi CEO Rachel Fishlock.
“Racism is a significant cause of distress for our people and for their hesitation to interact with health services”, Ms Fishlock continued. “We know that the lack of cultural safety in mainstream organisations leads to increased distress, which is particularly concerning during times of heightened distress, such as the Australia Day period”.
To help support the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Gayaa Dhuwi has released a series of supporting resources:
- Tips for practicing self-care
- Tips for staying healthy and looking after yourself
- A webinar on social and emotional wellbeing in the post-referendum landscape
“It’s important that mob are mindful of how they’re feeling and reach out to friends, family, or professional, culturally safe support services if they’re feeling distressed during the Australia Day period”, said Professor Helen Milroy, Gayaa Dhuwi Chairperson.
“We’ve previously expressed our concern about the impact of the referendum on the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and we want to make sure – as debate is no doubt reignited around Australia Day – mob are aware of the increased risk of distress.
“We encourage mob to seek support and connection during this time – particularly through embracing cultural healing practices. We support a focus on self-care activities and being mindful of media use, particularly the use of social media platforms that can exacerbate anxiety and stress”.
Media are reminded of the importance of abiding by the Good Yarn Guidelines when reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander matters, including the provision of 24/7 crisis helpline services: 13 YARN (139276); Brother to Brother crisis line (1800 435 799); Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).
Media contact: Clare Butterfield, Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org or 0450 095 822