01 Dec Housing for Health
Australia’s First Peoples lived for tens of thousands of years in good health before European settlement, supported by highly sophisticated and sustainable systems of food production, agriculture, estate management and trade.
Today, rates of diabetes in the Indigenous population is between three and four times higher than the rest of the population Dr Neale Cohen http://www.gisymbol.com/food-for-thought-8/ of Baker IDI warns “there’s a tsunami of kidney failure and other complications heading our way with many people having signs of early kidney damage, eye damage and heart disease. All these are associated with very poor control of their diabetes. Complication rates in the indigenous population are among the highest in the world and about 10 times non-indigenous rates.”
Writing an Op Ed in the Sydney Morning Herald on 10 February 2016, Prof Steve Simpson http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australia-must-commit-to-closing-the-nutrition-gap-20160209-gmq3eb.html pointed out that: “Diet is the single most important factor in the chronic disease epidemic facing Aboriginal communities. In remote and regional areas particularly they face significant challenges to food quality and access. Food staples are highly refined and of poor nutritional quality, with a proliferation of cheap, highly processed unhealthy foods. There are infrequent deliveries of fresh foods, which are extremely expensive, and their high cost is amplified by low employment rates and low income … There are ways to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nutrition that we already know will work. We have evidence for the success of community-based and led programs to improve food supply and cost, promote healthy food options and improve food storage facilities. Solutions can be as simple as providing refrigerators for fresh food, offering healthy takeaway choices, subsidising freight on fresh fruit and vegetables and increasing the variety of healthy foods available.”
But there’s no point in shipping in subsidised fresh foods without improving the housing and the third world conditions in which many Aboriginal communities in remote areas currently live. And that’s what Deciding to Make a Difference will do. The new housing for the Jilkminggan aboriginal community in the Northern Territory that is home to 185 adults and 115 children will help transform lives and health with culturally appropriate houses with kitchens and with clean running water for drinking and cooking and a regular and reliable supply of electricity to run the refrigerator to store fresh food and a stove to cook it on. Houses where kitchens will indeed be the heart of the home.
We know this pilot project is just a beginning. But decide to make a difference with us. Join us and make the commitment to improve poor quality housing in Aboriginal communities across Australia. Working in partnership with the elders and community leaders of Jilkminggan, every cent raised will go directly to fund housing for the community. Kelly Wright, founder and director of Deciding to Make a Difference has also put in place a program that will see community men and women upskilled and trained as plumbers, electricians and builders, so that they can play a major role in creating their homes, creating a sense of pride and ownership in the process.