The peak body representing more than twenty thousand mental health professionals in Australia says any future policies developed by Government for Aboriginal and Torres strait Islanders... must be underpinned by evidence, community engagement and self determination.
Outgoing Australian Psychological Society President Michael Kyrios was commenting following last weeks landmark apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with the APS becoming the first national health body to admit that it had failed Aboriginal patients in the past.
Professor Kyrios also acknowledged the impact of the Howard Governments intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
Statement from Australian Indigenous Psychologist's Association :
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with mental health problems were historically subject to the dominance of imposed non-Indigenous mental health paradigms, a lack of cultural competence of mainstream mental health professionals, and a lack of cultural safety in services and programs. Such professionals, services and programs were often ineffective.
The Australian mental health system is yet to universally accept the important role of cultural healers and healing methods in helping to achieve the highest attainable standard of mental health and suicide prevention outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are under-represented in the mental health professions, services and programs that should be accountable and responsive to them. Historically, these professions, services and programs have excluded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples require healing and restoration to wellbeing and mental health both individually and on collective levels.
Human rights, including the rights in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples health problems and suicide are a social justice and human rights issue in this context.
Listen to the full interview here :