feature tile: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders triumph over COVID-19

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations health leaders triumph over COVID-19

feature tile: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders triumph over COVID-19

First Nations health leaders COVID-19 triumph

Aboriginal health leaders have triumphed over Covid, but we are not hearing much about this success story. Professor Fiona Stanley, celebrates that achievement, in a wide-ranging interview about ideas for a healthier and better society, and about her life’s work. Professor Stanley is an epidemiologist and pioneering researcher who has focussed on the health of children and young people, and Aboriginal people in particular. She was the founding director, and is now the patron, of the Telethon Kids Institute, a multi-disciplinary research centre.

To listen to Fiona Stanley’s interview on ABC Radio National click here.

portrait image of Professor Fiona Stanley, short grey curly hair, Aboriginal coloured beads

Professor Fiona Stanley. Image source: ABC News.

A must watch today

A must watch today from 1.30 pm onwards is the Senate hearings relating to:

  • National Indigenous Australian Agency Department of Health
  • Cross-portfolio Indigenous Matters – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Download the schedule for the Senate hearings here.

To watch the Senate hearings live click here. senate estimates logo vector image parliament house

Fears kids in care losing connection to culture

Indigenous groups are concerned by new research that shows an increasing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care (OOHC) are being placed away from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and carers. A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found the rate of Indigenous kids in OOHC living with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers has fallen over the past two years, from 47.9% to 43.4%.  The overall number of Indigenous children in OOHC has increased from 15,500 to 18,000, while the OOHC rate per 1,000 Indigenous children has also risen from 48 to 54.

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) CEO Richard Weston said this was a major concern. “It is worrying that more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are living without an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carer. These children are at high risk of losing connections to culture, family and community that are vital to their safety and wellbeing.”

To view the PRObono Australia article click here.

Can Australian close the gap?

In a recent episode of the Democracy Sausage Extra podcast Indigenous experts Professor Ian Anderson AO and Dr Virginia Marshall talk about about the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the importance of shared decision-making, and whether Australia is taking meaningful steps towards genuine reconciliation. They discuss whether the commitment of governments to sharing decision-making with Indigenous Australians through the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap will be a turning point for Indigenous health and wellbeing, what the agreement means for the broader reconciliation agenda, and whether, with little for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the recent Federal Budget, governments will ensure progress is supported financially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. 

To listen to the discussion click here.Democratic Sausage podcase Can Australia close the gap podcase banner

Vision issues remain

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced poorer eye health than non-Indigenous Australians for many years. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Indigenous eye health measures 2018 report, the three main causes of vision loss for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are refractive error, cataract and diabetic retinopathy. Furthermore, according to a report from Vision 2020 Australia  last year, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are six times more likely to go blind and 12 times more likely to have cataracts than non-Indigenous Australians.

Ophthalmologist Dr Bill Glasson is co-Chair of the Indigenous and Remote Eye Health Service (IRIS) said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have three times the level of eye disease that the non-Indigenous population has, but have at least three times the wait to get any sort of service. He said ‘the sad thing is that for a lot of these people it’s a preventable or treatable loss of vision, in terms of cataracts, particularly,’ he said. Despite these figures, Dr Glasson says there has been a ‘significant improvement’ in rates of diabetic retinopathy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – and he credits GPs for that change.

To view the full article in newsGP click here.

Aboriginal artist Peter Datjin with eye patch in outdoor setting

Indigenous artist Peter Datjin. Image source: The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness website.

Addressing CPR hesitation during COVID-19

The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce (the Taskforce) brings together 32 peak health professional bodies across Australia whose members are providing clinical care to people with COVID-19. The Taskforce has developed a suite of CPR Flowcharts in response to feedback from hospital and community representatives citing a hesitation to commence resuscitation of people in cardiac arrest during the COVID-19  pandemic, stemming from concerns about infection risk for responders. There was a clear need to provide healthcare providers, healthcare workers and members of the community with clear, national consensus guidance on resuscitation principles during the COVID-19 pandemic and key changes in the management of cardiac arrest.

To view the media release regarding the launch of the CPR flowcharts and to access the CPR Flowcharts Toolkit click here.text National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce words against background image of COVID-19 cells

National health strategy must include healing

The Healing Foundation is urging the Government to ensure healing is part of the National Preventive Health Strategy (NPHS) to address trauma and its accompanying health effects on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In its submission to the NPHS, The Healing Foundation highlights the absence of any support for Stolen Generations survivors, who experience alarming and disproportionate levels of adversity across key health areas. A comprehensive prevention strategy is needed to address the inevitable health effects of intergenerational trauma on the children and grandchildren of Stolen Generations survivors.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said supporting intergenerational healing is one of the most significant preventive activities that can be taken to mitigate the often compounding and overwhelming health impacts of trauma and must be included in the strategy, which is due for completion by March 2021. Stolen Generations survivors have significantly poorer physical and mental health and are more likely to report chronic health conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal women holding Aboriginal flag with words 'Don't be Sorry, Do Sorry'

Image source: ABC News website.

eScript token used

A GP at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) in Melbourne’s Fitzroy has become the first to write a fully conformant electronic prescription in Victoria, using her MMEx system to send the token to the patient’s mobile phone. MMEx has also become one of the first to roll out active ingredient prescribing in its cloud-based system.

MMEx was the first prescribing solution that is conformant with the full version of the electronic prescribing conformance profile to be added to the Australian Digital Health Agency’s conformance register. Previous exchanges have involved the fast track version of eScripts, which were rolled out quickly to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

VAHS is an urban Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service that operates a non-PBS in-house dispensary that has special approval to dispense, supply and compound medicines with the goal of providing low cost over the counter items and, in limited circumstances, prescriptions.

To read more click here.

Aboriginal person's hand holding mobile phone with screen showing electronic prescription details and QR code

Image source: RACGP Electronic prescribing Information for GPs fact sheet.

COVID-19 roadmap needs redirection

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is calling on National Cabinet to review its May 2020 COVID-19 Roadmap. AMA Federal President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said that with COVID-19 successfully eliminated in many parts of the country – something that was considered unlikely when the plan was first developed – it is time to assess whether the roadmap remains fit for purpose. “We have learnt a great deal about COVID-19 since May, with both local and overseas experience showing just how hard it is to keep infection numbers in check. We believe that a renewed roadmap is necessary to continue to support our health response, as well as guide a sustainable economic recovery. Countries that have crushed COVID-19 have done much better from both a health perspective, as well as an economic perspective. We also know that even when countries have the virus well under control, it can quickly re-emerge when complacency takes hold and governments dismantle many of the restrictions on day-to-day life that had kept the virus at bay.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

ute with COVID19 testing sign, including arrow

Image source: G21 Geelong Region Alliance.

Disaster Mental Health Hub seeks case studies

The Disaster Mental Health Hub is funded by the Australian Department of Health and provides resources and training to healthcare professionals, first responders and community services teams. They are looking for stories that highlight how a community came together before, during or after a disaster and responded in a way that brought about a positive impact/outcome for the community or individuals. We are looking at how mental health was affected by these responses. 

The aim of the story/case study is to show healthcare providers (GPs, mental health professionals, allied health, first responders, etc) the importance to people/communities of things they value such as community, environmental, social values. This awareness raising is to highlight the significance of these values in supporting community recovery.

An example may be how elders and health services worked to close communities to protect them from COVID-19 and how that outcome was achieved. They are seeking no more than 2-3 paragraphs and a few images (if available) that show aspects of the story.

For more information email Jo Wellington, Digital Content Producer, The University of Melbourne on 03 9035 5599.

painting by Camilla Perkins for Mosaic of 5 Aboriginal people yarning in a circle

Camilla Perkins for Mosaic. Image source: Mosaic.

VIC Labor’s first female Aboriginal MP champions ACCHOs

Ex NACCHO Political Advisor, Yorta Yorta woman Sheena Watt, takes on the mandate of Victorian Labor Party’s first female Aboriginal Member of Parliament.
We wish her all the success in her important role in making a difference to our people and raising the voices of community in Parliament!
 
“I really love Aboriginal community control … I believe in strong, civil society, I believe in strong organisations that are connected to and accountable to the Aboriginal community.
 
“I want to acknowledge the many generations of people before me that have stood up to make strong, proud and thriving Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations,” said Sheena Watts in an interview with the National Indigenous Times.
 
Read the full interview here.

Victorian Labor MP, Sheena Watts Image source: National Indigenous Times