indigenist

Advocating for Indigenous Genius, Indigeneity and Wellbeing


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#SuicidePrevention My meeting with @GerryGeorgatos as he spent time across the Kimberely to engage and to preliminarily listen to what people had to say.

An excerpt from “Kimberley suicide rate, one of the world’s highest – Yiriman is the way to go” by Gerry Georgatos

LGBTI

I met with Broome-based LGBTI advocate, Dameyon Bonson. Mr Bonson is a well-respected researcher and consultant in the field of LGBTI. LGBTI First Peoples face various pressures that can only be relieved by public discussions. Mr Bonson said that in general, 3 to 4 per cent of any population identifies as LGBTI, and therefore it is likely that 3 to 4 per cent of First Peoples identify as LGBTI.

Determining the size of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender population is difficult. However, recent studies by Gates and Newport (2012) in the United States estimated the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBTI at approximately 3.4 per cent.

According to the ABS, “Within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population there were an estimated 294,000 children and young people, representing 4.2 per cent of the total Australian population aged 0 to 24 years.” Mr Bonson said that in using the American figure of 3.4 per cent, there are approximately 10,000 First Peoples who are LGTBI “and whose needs are yet to be identified.”

“They cannot be forgotten.”

Mr Bonson suggested that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are LGTBI “are at four times the risk of suicide than Indigenous Australians whom are not LGTBI, whose suicide risk is already higher than the general Australian population.”

“LGBTI people have the highest rates of suicidality of any population in Australia (LGBTI Health 2013), and my placing this overall data in the context of suicide makes a compelling argument that a response is required. Conversely, for Indigenous Australians the rate of suicide is ‘more than 4.2 per cent, or one in every 24 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders (The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2013).”

“Health promotional programs for Indigenous, particularly those that are Government – State or Federal – have no actual Indigenous evaluation tools or methodology,” said Mr Bonson.

“Recently, at the Australasian Evaluation Society Conference in Darwin, I participated with 30 other Indigenous Australians to workshop what Indigenous evaluations should look like for Indigenous evaluators.”

“Therefore, current Government Indigenous programs are not meeting standards that we need to develop.”

“Mr Bonson is promoting the development of a Black Rainbow organisation, with more to be announced at a later time. However such a concentrated organisation should be able to generate educative discussions.”

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Reconciliation and Decolonisation in Suicide Prevention

QUITE tragically, as you are reading these first few words there is a high probability somebody will attempt to end their life by suicide. There is even a higher probability that that somebody is part of the LGBTI community, particularly if they are at the point of self-realisation and disclosure. If that person is an Indigenous Australian, the probability amplifies yet again.

How do I know this? Because that’s what the evidence suggests. LGBTI people are said to have the highest rates of self-harm and suicide of any population in Australia. Same-sex attracted Australians are said to exhibit up to 14-times-higher rates of suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers. Yet, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 996 suicides reported across Australia between 2001 and 2010 among Indigenous peoples. We are told that 1.6 per cent of all Australians die by suicide but for Indigenous peoples, this rate is more than 4.2 per cent, or one in every 24.

As mentioned, the evidence only suggests this because we are coalescing the data from two different groups and hypothesising the math. In other words we aren’t really sure.

However, when we aggregate the data for the Kimberley region and take one particular town during 2012, there were 40 young people who died by suicide. That’s nearly 100 times the national average. Now, I’m not suggesting that these young people were members of the LGBTI community. However, when the social determinants affecting Aboriginal people are seen as a causation of suicidality, the question does have to be asked, what is the amplified risk if they are LGBTI?

To explore what happens when the Indigenous and LGBTI world comes together, intersectionality theory is a way of understanding and uncovering any potential health inequalities. It is also a great way to highlight those previously unknown, caused by a kaleidoscope of social inequalities, whether it be race, gender, class, and/or sexuality.

For the LGBTI community, homophobia, either perceived or actual, is a precursor to one’s level of psychological distress. And if, as suggested, same-sex attracted Australians are up to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, then homophobia, transphobia, cisgenderism, biphobia, sexism, and hetereosexist behaviours play a big part in how well someone lives, and someone dying.

For Indigenous Australians, other factors are at play and overlaid. These include racism, social location, socioeconomic disparities and intergenerational trauma. The psychological distress caused by these determinants can lead to complex mental health and drug and alcohol issues, such as manifestations of violence toward oneself (self-harm) or others: domestic, family and lateral violence.

So I have raised and discussed the issues and attempted to converse about the tragedy of suicide in the least sensational or emotive way. So where to from here? I’d like to know, because I don’t have the answers. However, I do have some starting points. First, I’m going go start by sharing with you a quote. A quote that is often referred to as the Lilla Watson quote: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Participating with the view of being part of the liberation of Indigenous people is the single most overlooked and fundamental principle of genuinely inclusive work. Being part of the liberation is also knowing when you are required and a good indication of that is when you have been asked. Don’t let an over-zealous sense of entitlement to charity or benevolence be your motivation. Also pay attention to the research. Cultural continuity is a protective factor to suicide.

The great Writing Themselves In series, Growing Up Queer report and the current research by Dr Delaney Skerritt provides opportunity for us, as Indigenous researchers and members of the Indigenous LGBTI community, to come up with strengthening solutions. The time is ripe for those who are willing to come on this journey with us, to support us and share your resources with us. I personally believe that the issues facing the Indigenous LGBTI community, once identified and workshopped to discover actions to respond, can be added as an amendment or appendant to national strategies and health plans. Structures already exist for us to coexist within. And if the collaborative work is underpinned by liberation, an enhanced sense of reconciliation can truly happen within the LGBTI community.

I am the founder of LGBTI Indigenous Australian social network Black Rainbow and these are my thoughts on the lack of solid mental health data available among LGBTI Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

This first appeared in the Star Observer and can be found here : Reconciliation and Decolonisation in Suicide Prevention


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[NEW INVITATION] Society for Mental Health Research (SMHR) 2014 Conference

Society for Mental Health Research (SMHR) 2014 Conference being held from 3-5 December 2014 at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia.

“Using decolonisation as a framework to engage with gender variant and sexuality diverse (LGBQTI) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders”

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http://www.smhr2014.com.au

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There is very little Indigenous anthropological material regarding the historical place of LGBTI Sistergirl and Brotherboy Indigenous Australians.

 Black Rainbow

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There is very little Indigenous anthropological material regarding the historical place of LGBTI Sistergirl and Brotherboy Indigenous Australians. What has been accessible is predominately framed within sexual health or to be specific a HIV/AIDS context; not our histories or roles and functions. Black Rainbows aims to make visible Indigenous LGBQTI Sistergirl and Brotherboy peoples.

Here in Australia there is limited information/resources/stories accessible of Brotherboys in Men’s Health. There is also limited information in the general space of positive social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention.

The representation of other colonised nations’ multiple sexualities and genders has a place informing the discussion regarding Indigenous Australian LGBTI Sistergirls and Brotherboys. On the Black Rainbow facebook page, what is shared is what is available. Some reports are out of print and have had to be sourced from overseas (Did you meet any Malagas by Dr Dino Hodge was purchased from Amazon) or hunted down through archives (Malaga to Malaga by Gary Lee which was purchased as scanned PDF copies from a Canberra library).

I have been heartened by discovering The Postgrad Sista: A Blog about Indigenous Gender Diversity and become good friends with the author. In the Guest section of Indigenous Consultancy you will find a couple of blogs by The Postgrad Sista.

Cultural considerations that prohibit certain things being shared and conversations and sharing does also happen away from non-Indigenous spaces.

Black Rainbow is run from Broome, WA.

Please feel free to share anything you come across and you can either message directly on here or email BlkRnBow@gmail.com

Black Rainbow is part of a larger network and conversation and its primary function is about visibility and keeping the conversation going. In under three months it has managed to do just that. Last week Black Rainbow was the front page of the most circulated gay and read gay street press, the Star Observer.

Check it out here : http://www.starobserver.com.au/news/deadly-initiative-black-rainbow-flies-flag-proudly/11814

Black Rainbow exists primary as a resource of information sharing, conversation and visibility. It will no doubt grow as it too is organic and it is hoped that it will grow beautifully.

It is not the voice of Indigenous Australian LGBTI Sistergirls and Brotherboys but one of the many mechanisms for those voices.

Thank you for your interest in Black Rainbow, your membership is much appreciated.

The Black Rainbow Facebook Page

 Our Facebook page is here : www.facebook.com/BlackRainbowAustralia

Here are some posters Black Rainbow developed. 

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A paper on Indigenous LGBTI Suicide Prevention looking for publishers or journal

Voices from the Black Rainbow – Indigenous LGBQTI in Suicide Prevention

Abstract : The suicide rate for Aboriginal people can fluctuate between 4 to 12 times the national average. Similarly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer and Transgender Individual (LGBQTI) health literature note LGBQTI populations are also a high risk of suicidality. A review encompassing 15 years of Aboriginal and LGBQTI health literature was undertaken; including the current National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP) 2013-2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2013 (ATSISPS) and national LGBTI Health Strategies; Growing Up Queer (2014) and Writing Themselves In I, II, III (1998, 2004, 2010). The review noted a paucity of information on the causation of any potential suicidality at the intersection of Indigeneity, gender variance and diverse sexualities. This study captured voices of Aboriginal LGBQTI peoples through workshops called “Yarning Circles” (Bessarab and Ng’andu 2010); online surveys circulated via Aboriginal LGBQTI networks; and “tweet yarns” (Parker 2014). The online surveys and Yarning Circles established that overwhelmingly participants had not seen any health, wellbeing and suicide prevention strategies or activities for the Aboriginal LGBQTI community, and that this group would like to see some preventative measures in place.

These findings suggest the current Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Strategy and national LGBQTI Suicide Prevention Strategy need amending to reflect the unique needs and solutions for Aboriginal LGBQTI communities.

©Indigenist


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Please heed this message if you plan on working with Indigenous people or communities

If you’ve come here to help me…

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Participating with the view of being part of the liberation of Indigenous people is the single most overlooked and fundamental principle of genuinely inclusive work. Being part of the liberation is also knowing when you are required and a good indication of that is when you have been asked. Don’t let an over-zealous sense of entitlement to charity or benevolence be your motivation. Also pay attention to the research. Cultural continuity is a protective factor


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You are loved You are wanted…So live long and let’s keep culture strong

You are loved

You are loved
You are wanted
You are unique
You are beautiful
You are family
You are community
You are worth it
So live long
And let’s keep culture strong
Because you’re worth it.
We are all worth it.

©Indigenist