Ochre Day

National Ochre Day - Melbourne 2019 - Men's Health, Our Way. Let's Own It!

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) held its seventh annual Ochre Day Men’s Health Conference which was hosted by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) over August 29-30 at Pullman On the Park, Melbourne.

The NACCHO Ochre Day Conference celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health and wellbeing. It upholds traditional values of respect for the law, elders, culture and traditions, responsibility as leaders and men, holders of lore, providers, warriors and protectors of families. The enduring theme for the conference is – Men’s Health, Our Way. Let’s Own It!

Mr John Paterson, CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) in his inspiring opening address said, “NACCHO Ochre Day is an important event that reflects on the social and emotional issues our men face and are less likely to seek help for themselves. It is a great platform to hear stories of hope and empowerment and to learn what is working in our communities – of strategies that are successful for our men to take better care of their health and wellbeing.

“This year’s conference saw great participation from all 200 delegates who embraced the three focus areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men being in control, innovative and influential. Problems were met with solutions, with many delegates taking home new skills and knowledge to face the challenges in improving the health of men in their communities.”

Mr Paterson added, “NACCHO’s commitment is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to live longer, healthier lives and reduce the rate of preventable hospitalisations, which is almost three times higher than for other Australian men.”
The comprehensive program had an eminent line-up of speakers cover diverse topics, such as behavioural change and using data to tell stories about health. Lomas Amini and Ernie Dingo spoke about their successful men’s health remote community program – Camping on Country, where culture is an integral part of health. While Delroy Bergsma and Robert Binismar of Youth Focus shared their success stories in using art and music to help young people in rural areas deal with mental health.

Former NRL star and community leader Preston Campbell moved delegates, speaking about what it means to be a leader and an Elder. He drove home the message that “Leaders aren’t the ones proclaiming to be leaders. Leaders put their hand up and take accountability”. Preston shared how his NRL career taught him the value of self-reflection and honesty in articulating a vision for his community.

Every year, during the Ochre Day conference, NACCHO hosts a memorial dinner in honour of Jaydon Adams, a young leader whose contribution to youth participation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health lives on. The winner of the 2019 Jaydon Adams Memorial Award was Nathan Taylor from Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-operative Ltd. Nathan was recognised for his exemplary work as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth worker. This year’s dinner featured an oration from Diana David, CEO of Reconciliation Victoria, on the Victorian Treaty negotiations.

Mr John Paterson continued to close the NACCHO Ochre Day Men’s Health Conference for 2019 and had expressed the aspiration that delegates use the knowledge and networks gained throughout the conference to progress male health initiatives within their communities.

NACCHO Ochre Day interview videos can be found under ‘Resources’ of the Ochre Day webpage.

Ochre Day Conference photos can be found on our NACCHO Facebook page.

For more information regarding Ochre Day 2019, please contact us at ochreday@naccho.org.au

National Ochre Day - Hobart 2018 - Men’s Health, Our Way. Let’s Own It!

Ochre Day is an important Aboriginal male health initiative to help draw attention to Aboriginal male health in a holistic way. The delegates from the 2018 Ochre Day conference fully embraced the conference theme – Men’s Health, Our Way. Let’s Own It!, and many spoke about their own journeys in the male health sector and all enjoyed participation in conference sessions, activities and workshops.

More than 200 delegates attended and heard from an impressive line-up of speakers and this year was no exception. Delegates responded positively to The Hon. Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health funding of an Aboriginal Television network. Mr John Paterson CEO of AMSANT spoke about the importance of women as partners in men’s health and Mr Rod Little from National Congress delivered a brief history on the progress of a Treaty in Australia as a keynote address for the Jaydon Adams Oration Memorial Dinner. The winner of the Jaydon Adams award 2018 was Mr Aaron Everett.

A comprehensive quality program involving presentations from clinicians, researches, academics, medical experts and Aboriginal Health Practitioners were delivered. Delegates listened to passionate speakers like Dr Mick Adams, Dr Mark Wenitong, Patrick Johnson, Joe Williams, Deon Bird, Kim Mulholland and Karl Briscoe. Topics included those on suicide, Deadly Choices, cardiovascular and other chronic diseases as well as family violence impacting Aboriginal Communities. Initiatives to address these problems were explored in workshops that were held to discuss how to make men’s health a priority and how to support the reaffirmation of cultural identity.

Speeches by Ross Williams, Stan Stokes and Charlie Adams addressed the establishment of Men’s Clinics within the Anyinginiyi Aboriginal Health Service and Wuchopperen Aboriginal Health Service, which demonstrated the positive impact that these facilities have had on men’s health and their emotional wellbeing. These reports as well as the experiences related by delegates highlighted the urgent need for more Aboriginal Men’s Health Clinics to be established especially in regional, rural and remote areas.

As a result of interaction with a broad cross section of delegates the NACCHO Chairman Mr John Singer was able to put forward a range of priorities that he believed would go some way to addressing some of the concerns raised. These priorities were the acquisition of funds to enable the:

  • Establishment of 80 Men’s Health Clinics in urban, rural and remote locations and
  • The employment of both a Male Youth Health Policy Officer and Male (Adult) Health Policy Officer by NACCHO in Canberra.

Delegates also welcomed the funding of $3.4 million for the Aboriginal Health Television network provided that the programs were culturally appropriate and supported a strength-based approach to Men’s Health.

NACCHO Ochre Day videos are available online at the NACCHO YouTube Channel.

The Nipaluna (Hobart) Ochre day statement: that our timeless culture still endures can be read HERE.

National Ochre Day - Darwin 2017

Acknowledgment of country

The 2017 NACCHO Ochre Day was held on Larrakia Land. NACCHO pays its respects to the Elders past, present, and future and observes Larrakia custom during our time on Larrakia Land. The Larrakia are salt water people whose nation extends from the Cox Peninsula to the Adelaide River, and inland to the Manton Dam area.

In partnership with Danila Dilba Health Service (DDHS) and Aboriginal Medical Service Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), NACCHO hosted the 2017 Ochre Day in Darwin on the 4th and 5th of October. Ochre Day is an indigenous men’s health event targeting the needs and issues of one of Australia’s most disadvantaged demographics.

Day 1 saw a meaningful welcome to country performed by Larrakia Elder Tony Lee and Chair Richard Fejo. This was followed by a performance from the One Mob Dancers to commence the proceedings of Ochre Day. Notable speakers, including The Hon Ken Wyatt MP, Professor James Ward, and Charlie King, delivered stirring insight into issues of indigenous men’s health both in the NT and nationally. The evening of Day 1 saw the annual Jaydon Adams Memorial Oration Dinner, at which David Leha, a.k.a Radical Son, put his talent on display with performances of several songs. This year’s Jaydon Adams Memorial Award, in recognition of young indigenous males contributing to the health and wellbeing of their community, went to Danila Dilba health worker Nathan Jones-Cubillo for his outstanding community work both within and outside of his work.

Day 2 was an exciting day with plenty of insightful discussion led by Stuart McMinn from Interrelate, Dr Mick Adams, and former NRL player and boxer Joe Williams. With a cooperative effort, all delegates came together to perform group work on suicide prevention and men’s health strategies locally, regionally and nationally. The day was concluded by AMSANT CEO John Patterson with thanks to the events major sponsors; Danila Dilba Health Service, The Fred Hollows Foundation, PHN Northern Territory, and Northern Territory General Practice Education.

National Ochre Day - Perth 2016

Acknowledgement of Country

The 2016 NACCHO Ochre Day was held on the lands of the Noongar people. NACCHO also pays our respects to your Elders past, present and future and uphold your culture while we were visiting your beautiful Country.

The 2016 annual NACCHO Ochre Day activities were hosted in Perth on 15 & 16 September in partnership with the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) and Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Incorporated (DYHS).

Ochre Day is an important Aboriginal male health initiative to help raise awareness as well as provide an opportunity to draw national public awareness to Aboriginal male health, and social and emotional wellbeing. NACCHO would like to welcome you to all of the activities we are holding in Perth as part of this year’s Ochre Day. Ochre Day Hoodies presentation lunch was by Associate Professor James Ward and Ms Michelle Nelson Cox, the traditional male-only breakfast was also held and afterwards delegates walked to Langley Park – on the side of Derbarl Yerrigan (commonly known as the Swan River) – where speeches, presentations and a lunch were held.

In 2015 NACCHO Ochre Day provided an opportunity to draw national public awareness to Aboriginal male health for over 100 participants. The Day showcased exemplars of best practice in Aboriginal male health service delivery within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, as well Q&A opportunities in workshops discussing issues of concern, relevance and encouraged increased participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males of all ages in health promotion and healthy lifestyle activities. An emphasis was also placed on encouraging individual health checks by delegates in accessing their local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation. Mr Kelvin Lawrence delivered the Jaydon Adams Memorial oration at the closing Day dinner. Finally to all the NACCHO Ochre Day delegates from prior year’s we thank you for your past and continuing support of NACCHO’s initiatives to Close the Gap in Male Health. NACCHO also acknowledged the assistance of the Jaydon Adams Memorial Foundation, South Australia Health Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Oxfam, Wathaurong Glass, Mercure Hotel and JB’S Fleecy Hoodies.

National Ochre Day - Adelaide 2015

Acknowledgment of Country

The opening of NACCHO Ochre Day included a “Welcome to Country” by Taikurtinna Palti who also delivered a “smoking ceremony & Ochre Day “dedication ceremony” at the end of Day one. NACCHO would like to again, here, respectfully acknowledge the NACCHO Ochre Day was held last year on the lands of the Kaurna Peoples of the Adelaide Plains. NACCHO also pays our respects to your Elders past, present and future and uphold your culture while we were visiting your beautiful Country.

NACCHO welcomed over 180 delegates to all of the activities held in Adelaide as part of last year’s Ochre Day. This included for the first time the registration and “Ochre Day hoodies” presentation night, the traditional NACCHO Ochre Day male-only breakfast, held last year at Adelaide Oval which was followed by a short walk to the South Australian Indigenous War Memorial to allow for all delegates to pay their respects. This was then followed by the walk under police escort through the main street of Adelaide (King William St) to Victoria Square – known as Tarndanyangga to the Kaurna people – where speeches, presentations and lunch were held. With the drug “ICE” being the focus of the male only workshop held on day two, the discussions at this workshop included how health workers have been trying to work with their communities in attempting to come up with what is the best approach in dealing with this issue. Delegates were also willing to share their personal stories in how “ICE” was becoming an issue within their own families.

There was a change to the program last year with the NACCHO Ochre Day Jaydon Adams Memorial Oration Dinner held on the last night at the Port Power Football Club in Alberton (Adelaide). Everyone was warmly “Welcomed to Country” by Uncle Lewis O’brien. There were two speakers, delivering last year’s Jaydon Adams Memorial Oration was Aaron Ken who spoke about his life journey. Following Aaron’s speech, Aaron was presented with a plaque by both Mark & Lizzy Adams the proud parents of Jaydon Adams. The speaker prior to Aaron was AFL legend Gavin Wanganeen. Gavin spoke for almost an hour about his spectacular football career as well as responding to questions from the audience.

Throughout the two days, delegates had the opportunity to also listen to some pretty impressive speakers including, Troy Combo: (Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, Casino Clinic). Mark & Lizzy Adams: (Jaydon Adams Memorial Foundation), Matthew Cooke: (NACCHO Chairperson), Frank Campbell & Patrick Johnson: (AMSANT), Mr John Singer (AHCSA Chair). Our NACCHO Ochre Day Patron Uncle Philip Matsumoto: Broome, Western Australia, Uncle Tauto Sansbury: National NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award 2015. Damian Rigney: Aboriginal Health Worker/Nurse, Dwayne Bannon-Harrison: (Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness), and Emrhan Sultan: (Oxfam).

As with previous year’s, information regarding speakers, venues and associated activities will be both posted onto the NACCHO website along with information on how to register for this event.

Finally to all the NACCHO Ochre Day Delegates from prior year’s we thank you for your past and continuing support of NACCHO’s initiatives to Close the Gap in Male Health.

National Ochre Day - Brisbane 2014

NACCHO’s position paper on Aboriginal male health (2010) describes the key policy areas and programmes NACCHO has documented that should be developed in male health. These include physical health, strong minds, brother care, healing and men’s business, as well as Aboriginal male health workforce development.

This Position Paper states Aboriginal male health should be a core primary health care service provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). NACCHO as a cultural organisation has always supported appropriate gender-based approaches to health service provision, which fits within the current approaches of primary health care service, quality and research and evaluation.

All too often Aboriginal male health is approached negatively, with programmes only aimed at males as perpetrators. Examples include alcohol, tobacco and other drug services, domestic violence, prison release, and child sexual abuse programs. These programmes are vital, but are essentially aimed at the effects of males behaving badly to others, not for promoting the value of males themselves as an essential and positive part of family and community life.

To address the real social and emotional needs of males in our communities, NACCHO proposes a positive approach to male health and wellbeing that celebrates Aboriginal masculinities, and uphold our traditional values of 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.

NACCHO’s approach is to support Aboriginal males to live longer, healthier lives as males for themselves. The flow-on effects will hopefully address the key effects of poor male behaviour by expecting and encouraging Aboriginal males to be what they are meant to be.

In many communities, males have established and are maintaining men’s groups, and attempting to be actively involved in developing their own solutions to the well documented men’s health and wellbeing problems, though almost all are unfunded and lack administrative and financial support.

To assist NACCHO to strategically develop this area as part of an overarching gender/culture based approach to service provision, NACCHO decided it needed to raise awareness, gain support for and communicate to the wider Australian public issues that have an impact on the social, emotional health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Males. It was subsequently decided that NACCHO should stage a public event that would aim to achieve this and that this event be called “NACCHO Ochre Day”.

The NACCHO Board of Directors, under the leadership and advice of both Mr John Singer (NACCHO Board Member) along with the support of Mr Justin Mohamed (NACCHO Chairperson) and Ms Lisa Briggs (NACCHO CEO) the NACCHO Board of Directors endorsed the second “NACCHO Ochre Day” to be held in Brisbane over two days on the 21-22 August 2014.

NACCHO Ochre Day commenced with a Male only breakfast held in the Dining Room at the “Royal on the Park Hotel”. This breakfast began with MC Associate Prof James Ward introducing a “Welcome to Country” by Uncle Des Boyd followed by the traditional dancers “Kalu-Yurung” (Fast Rain). On behalf of NACCHO, Mr Justin Mohamad (NACCHO Chairperson) welcomed all 160 delegates to the second NACCHO Ochre Day. This was followed by a celebration of current Aboriginal Male Health programmes presented by Mr Bernard Kelly-Edwards, Galambila Aboriginal Health Service Inc., Mr Cameron Harris, Wuchopperen Health Service, and Mr Leaf Bennet, Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.

At the conclusion of the breakfast all Delegates gathered in the Botanic Gardens across the road from the hotel to prepare for the walk to Musgrave Park. The Walk proceeded through the Gardens and up onto the “Goodwill Bridge” and over the Brisbane River. The walk stopped for five minutes at the half way point of the bridge, during which there was a minute’s silence to remember our Brothers that are no longer with us. This was followed by the playing of a didgeridoo and clap-sticks. The walk then continued up into Musgrave Park.

NACCHO Ochre Day celebrations continued with lunch at Musgrave Park. Presentations were delivered by invited speakers, Mr Keiran Wiggins (Keiran is a graduate of the Gold Coast Titans Rugby League Club’s Young Ambassador Program), and Dr Ngiare Brown, this continued the Ochre Day tradition of inviting a Female speaker to speak during lunch. Rugby League legend Mr Preston Campbell gave delegates an insight into his football career; Preston also spoke about depression and the work that he is now involved in, raising awareness of this topic in Aboriginal Communities.

NACCHO Ochre Day Dinner was held for the first time this year and included the “Jaydon Adams Memorial Oration”. This first Oration was delivered by Mr Trent Adams, Jaydon’s younger brother. Trent spoke eloquently about his Brother Jaydon’s work in Aboriginal health. Trent also spoke about the importance of addressing Aboriginal Male health issues especially if we want to Close the Gap.

A highlight of the dinner was the handing over of the “NACCHO Ochre Day Shield” by Ms Lizzy Adams, the QAIHC Chairperson to Mr John Singer the AHCSA Chairperson. Mr Singer assured everyone that the AHCSA would hold the NACCHO Ochre Day Shield in safe keeping until NACCHO Ochre Day 2015 which will be held in Adelaide. Mr Singer also committed AHCSA to work with NACCHO to deliver a bigger and better NACCHO Ochre Day in Adelaide in 2015.

On the second day, at the Gabba Cricket Ground, delegates were asked to workshop the 10 points of the NACCHO Male Health “Blueprint” that will inform the development of the “Action/Implementation Plan” which will support the “Blueprint”.

Day Two also brought together some of the male workforce in ACCHOs. This provided an opportunity for networking, to share workforce experiences and activities and reinforce their value to one another, the ACCHO sector, their families and communities.

Finally, NACCHO would like to thank Mark Saunders, convenor, and acknowledge here that NACCHO Ochre Day held in Brisbane this year could not have been the success that it was if not for the commitment, both financial and in-kind, from QAIHC, IUIH and Oxfam.