By ERWIN CHLANDA
“You pick me up, you provide food, you care for my baby.”
It had taken six month for a young mother to speak these words, Jackie Bradshaw (at right) told delegates to the Public Health Association conference in Alice Springs today.
The NT Education Department staffer works for the Young Mothers are Strong Mothers pilot project in Palmerston.
In the chilling numbers language the young mother is one of the girls who make the NT Australia’s state with the highest per-capita number of teenage pregnancies.
But Ms Bradshaw got to know her as a frightened human being who described herself as “insecure, judged and too fearful to even to leave her home. Now I feel confident to do it every day.”
“This is one of our children and when I see this photo and I just want to go TaaTaa,” said Ms Bradshaw, showing on her powerpoint screen a smiling girl, making the gesture.
“She overcome huge barriers. It was very heart warming,” Ms Bradshaw says about the young mum who still needs counselling, but not quite so often, and now she’s taking her child to the early learning care for the very first time.
“Being flexible, supportive and safe” is the secret, says Ms Bradshaw, “not creating dependency.”
The pilot was started only in April this year with about 20 young women. There are 13 now. 95% of them are Aboriginal.
The government agreed in June to turn to pilot into a program but since then the CLP regime has been decimated – so who knows what’s next. The Health Department, the YWCA and Child Australia are the other partners in the initiative.
Ms Bradshaw says it’s early days. Questions whether the extended families are helping, and are the fathers on the scene, are still in the too hard basket.
“We are hoping they will be if the program moves beyond a pilot,” she says. “We’ll ask the young women how we can engage with their partners and extended families.”
Another conference room, another story in this tightly scheduled convention – and it pretty well sticks to it. Example: 3:56 – 4:16pm: “You wouldn’t eat 16 teaspoons of sugar – so why drink it?”
Limin Buchanan (at left) gives a snappy account of “Digital marketing of unhealthy food products – how do young adults respond?”
Keenly, is the short answer.
Digital platforms can be a tool for purchasing food anywhere, anytime.
Once you’re mobile phone has disclosed your location the nearest outlet of energy drinks (“high in caffein, sugar and stimulants, known to increase blood pressure, even cause heart attacks”) or pizzas or whatever can target you with their pitch.
And do the same, automatically, next time you’re in that area.
Social media ads are cheaper than TV.
And the ads are less regulated: Booze and tobacco commercials can fly under the regulations radar.
And they can get to children. They are always on Facebook, aren’t they?
The pitch for the one drink that gives you wings is that it’s also environmentally friendly: You can recycle the cans! And the makers sponsor a lot of sport! Wow!
Ms Buchanan invites her audience to imagine a young person moving into her or his own home, having spent very much of their young life on their mobile or some other “invasive” digital device and hardly any time at all learning to cook and shop for healthy stuff.
Bring ‘em on, say the junk food pushers.
Keynote speakers tomorrow are Donna Ah Chee, CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, and Justin Mohamed, the Chief Executive Officer of Reconciliation Australia, whose vision is “to create a more just, equitable and reconciled Australia through key programs and initiatives”.
By ERWIN CHLANDA