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Ochre Day celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health


Doug Hendrie


28/08/2018 4:38:06 PM

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health is too often framed in a negative light, according to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation.

Federal Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt said he believes transforming the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men is possible.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt said he believes transforming the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men is possible.

‘All too often Aboriginal male health is approached negatively, with programs only aimed at males as perpetrators,’ the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (NACCHO) website states.
 
By contrast, Ochre Day – which runs over 27–28 August – is intended to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander masculinities and resilience.
 
‘[We focus on] respect for our laws, respect for Elders, culture and traditions, responsibility as leaders and men, teachers of young males, holders of lore, providers, warriors and protectors of our families, women, old people, and children,’ the website states.
 
Ochre Day originated in 2012, when Cape York Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health worker Dan Fischer decided to focus on positive approaches to men’s health in his community, aiming to prevent a problem rather than try to solve it after the fact.
 
Many communities around Australia have since founded their own men’s groups.
 
The Ochre Day goal is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to live longer, healthier lives.
 
At the Ochre Day welcome ceremony, Federal Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt – who is of Noongar, Yamatji and Wongi descent – told the Ochre Day National Men’s Health Conference in Hobart that transforming health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men is possible.
 
‘If we are to truly transform the health status of our First Australians, we need every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man to take responsibility and be proud of themselves and their heritage – proud of the oldest continuous culture on Earth, and the traditions that kept us healthy, from the very beginning,’ he said.
 
‘[O]ur fathers, grandfathers and uncles — as well as our mothers, aunties and grandmothers — must play a key role in protecting our children. Our men, in particular, must be warriors for our children’s welfare and future, every day.’
 
In the speech, Minister Wyatt also announced the beginning of a 10 year National Male Health Strategy, beginning in 2020.



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