NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs best placed to lead suicide prevention efforts

ACCHOs best placed to lead suicide prevention efforts

Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with suicide rates twice as high as that for other Australians. To mark Wold Suicide Prevention Day NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills has released a media statement acknowledging the innovate work of NACCHO’s members to lead suicide prevention efforts. 

Ms Mills said “Over-incarceration, lack of access to affordable housing, exposure to violence and lack of access to mental health services, are common factors that lead to suicides. We must take action to address all social determinants and have a comprehensive policy that tackles the underlying causes to the issue.

“It is essential to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander control at the centre of programs and interventions and to draw on elements of our culture that give us strength and identity.” 

There are a couple of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) such as the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) in WA, Wuchopperen Health Service in Qld, Pika Wiya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in SA, who have done significant work in this area and have specialised programs to curb suicide rates in their communities.

“KAMS’ focus has been to support the community in designing and delivering Kimberley-specific services and programs. Improved data availability is essential to enable this. Actions and investment must be placed-based to deliver results on the ground and focus on not just short-term outcomes, but long-term impacts. The success of these programs requires an ongoing commitment to sustainable funding and a whole of system approach,” said Rob McPhee, KAMS Chief Operating Officer.

Empowered Young Leaders Forum 2019 in Broome WA

To read the full media statement click here.

Hear how asking “Are you OK?” and really listening can help someone through tough times. This video was created as part of the Stronger Together campaign. Get behind the campaign at 

Click on the link in the picture below to watch the video.


crayon & pencil drawing of transparent figure walking on country

Image source: Al Jazeera feature article What’s behind high Aboriginal youth suicide.

Senator Lidia Thorpe takes on First Nations portfolio

Lidia Thorpe, Victoria’s first Aboriginal senator who will attended her first Greens party room meeting today and is set to be named as its First Nations and justice spokesperson, said Australia’s failures were not just the result of a few bad policy decisions.

“If we’re to right these wrongs we need to fix the system,” said Thorpe, who has entered the Senate after the retirement of the former Greens leader Richard Di Natale.

“That means ending deaths in custody and the mass incarceration of First Nations peoples, righting the wrongs of the past and moving forward through Treaty, and reversing the entrenched economic inequality that this pandemic has highlighted.”

Read the full story here.

Source: The Guardian. New Greens senator for Victoria, Lidia Thorpe.

Very high levels of institutional racism in SA Local Health Networks

A Health Performance Council audit has found very high evidence of ‘institutional racism’ in all of SA’s Local Health Networks, bar the Women’s and Children’s network which was ranked as ‘moderate’.

SA Aboriginal Affairs Shadow Minister Kyam Maher said it was ‘inexcusable’ that a modern health system could be plagued with institutional racism. “How can the Government expect to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people if the systems meant to treat and support them are inherently racist?” he said.

For more details of the audit report click here.

No Room for Racism words inside yellow map of Australia in centre of Aboriginal flag

Image source: NITV website.

Increased COVID-19 protection for healthcare workers

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, says the Australian Government is implementing three new measures to help provide increased protection to help reduce the number of healthcare workers being infected with COVID-19. The new measures are based on learnings from what has occurred in Victoria and new information from around the world.

A new partnership has been established between the Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG) and the National COVID-19 Evidence Taskforce led by the Living Guidelines Consortium. This partnership will bring together Australia’s leading infection control practitioners, many of whom are frontline clinicians, with other senior healthcare workers, to review the latest evidence on infection prevention and control during COVID-19. 

To read the Minister for Health and AMA President’s joint media statement click here.

face with mask, hat & face shield

Image source: Health Affairs website.

COVID-19 Vaccine Development

Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy supports early access to, and delivery of, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, as soon as they become available.

The Australian Government is pursuing a diversified COVID-19 vaccine strategy, ensuring that Australia is well placed to access a successful vaccine.

To date our Government has announced advance purchasing agreements for the University of Queensland and University of Oxford vaccines, and that Australia will participate in the international COVAX facility.

To read the full media release from the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health click here.

Syringe drawing from a vial

Source credit: AMA Website.

#RUOKDay #theresmoretosay

Today is #RUOKDay, a reminder that a conversation could change a life. This year’s message is ‘There’s more to say after #RUOK’ Learn what to say next so you can keep the conversation going when someone says they’re not OK. #theresmoretosay

The message focuses on building confidence and increased skills for people so they know how to navigate a conversation with someone in their life who might be struggling.

Steven Satour, Stronger Together Campaign Manager, R U OK? says looking out for your mob is more important than ever in 2020, as it has been a challenging year for everyone and circumstances have made it even more important for us to stay connected.

“The additional pressure COVID-19 has placed on our communities, the isolation, the load on our health workers means this message and looking out for one another is critical and so relevant in the lead up to R U OK? Day 2020,” said Steven Satour. To read the full media release click here.

For more information and resources visit