NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key

feature tile 11.11.20 COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key, image of needle going into an arm

COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key

Early results of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial are promising, and highlight the unprecedented levels of cooperation around the world to defeat the virus, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today. Releasing a new AMA policy statement, Dr Khorshid that winning the trust of the public will be key to the successful rollout of any COVID-19 vaccine in Australia. “Regulators are working hard to streamline approval processes so that any successful vaccines can be distributed as quickly as possible,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Australia has a strong record on vaccine safety, due in great part to the rigour of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in assessing all medications before they are released to the Australian public. While we support the TGA’s efforts to speed up its approval processes in this case, given the scale of the pandemic, it must still apply its usual criteria to assess the safety, quality and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. This is critical to winning public confidence. Instead of making any COVID-19 vaccine compulsory, extensive efforts should be made to foster trust in the community and encourage its voluntary uptake.”

To view the AMA’s statement on vaccination for COVID-19 click here and to view the AMA’s media release relating to the new COVID-19 vaccine click here.

Right Tracks program promotes health

In Central Australia, the Right Tracks program is helping local young people in Alice Springs and surrounding areas to keep their health in check and create positive change. The Aboriginal-led program, originally founded by Ian McAdam and Rob Clarke, and now run in partnership between Central Australian Football League, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress), Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) Goodsports Program is designed to support young people through a targeted intensive support environment using sport as a key hook.

“There’s two parts to our program: one is sport and the other side is about health. During the day, we concentrate on getting our football teams that are lined up with our program to start thinking about doing a lot of health programs with our participants,” says Ian. As part of the program, participants complete a 715 health check with Congress, the local Aboriginal community controlled health service, or their local health clinic in some remote cases.

The annual health check is designed to support the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is free at Aboriginal Medical Services and bulk billing clinics nationally.

For further information click here.

Aboriginal man with Right Tracks Program shirt holding football, standing on football field

Ian McAdam, RIght Tracks Program coordinator. Image source: 33 Creative.

Doing things ‘the Aboriginal way’ crucial

Dr Finlay has taken heart from the “great successes” in the fight to restrict the spread of COVID-19. “The theme of NAIDOC Week is Always Was, Always Will Be … but this is not just about land, it is about doing things in an Aboriginal way,” she said. “We’ve seen particularly with the COVID virus, when things have been done in an Aboriginal way that have been led by Indigenous people, we’ve had massive success.

To view the full article click here.

portrait shot of Dr Summer May Finlay, vice-president for Public Health Association of Australia's ATSI Health

portrait shot of Dr Summer May Finlay, vice-president for Public Health Association of Australia’s ATSI Health. Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Lifeline supports suicide monitoring system

John Brogden, Chairman, Lifeline Australia, has welcomed the launch of the NSW Government’s state-wide monitoring system as a significant step toward saving lives. “The introduction of a suicide and self-harm monitoring system will greatly improve the way suicide prevention services can respond to suicide risk. Quite simply, access to this information will help us save lives.” Mr Brogden said. “This is a hopeful step, especially for communities who are grappling with rising loss of life. It will give us greater insight into where the immediate and heightened risk is occurring, enabling us to put in place preventative measures that will reduce the risk of harm as soon as it is identified.”

Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray has also welcomed the monitoring system “this is a significant moment in suicide prevention for NSW. Organisations working directly with people in crisis will benefit from the NSW Suicide Monitoring and Data Management System as they will better understand why suicides occur and how to prevent them.”

To view Lifeline’s media release click here and to view the Suicide Prevention Australia’s media release click here.

Aboriginal woman sitting on wooden bench in garden, head in hands

Image source: SBS website.

NT liquor legislations ill-conceived

The NT Government has introduced legislation that gives Woolworths the power to circumvent the independent Liquor Commission and build one of the largest bottle shops in the country within walking distance of three dry Aboriginal communities, Bagot, Kulaluk and Minmarama. The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) has expressed deep concerns that landmark NT alcohol reforms will be undermined by ill-conceived liquor legislation.

To view AMSANT’s media release click here.

Aboriginal hands holding can of Bundaberg Rum & cigarette

Image source: ABC News website.

Health sector employee pandemic entitlements extended

On 8 April 2020 the Fair Work Commission issued a decision on pandemic leave for Health Sector Awards, inserting additional measures (known as “Schedule X”) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schedule X was incorporated into the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Award 2020. Unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave at half pay has been extended under this Awardsuntil further order of the Fair Work Commission.

For further information click here.

Sunrise Health Service worker checking heart of patient

Barunga Healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Image Source: ABC News website.

Medical research priorities 2020–2022

Legislation has been passed detailing the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities for the period 2020-2022. Included among the priorities is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, specifically Indigenous leadership and Indigenous-led priority setting to drive health-related research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and to close the gap on health mortality and morbidity. To view the legislation click here.

image from a clip about the role of Lowitja Institute, words 'good decisions grow from great research' Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: Lowitja Institute website.

Calls for environmental health research

Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities) recently used the occasion of International One Health Day (4 November) to call for further research and understanding into the complex and interconnected relationships between human, animal, and environmental health. One Health is both an international movement and approach to designing and implementing programs, policies, legislation and research in which multiple disciplines collaborate to achieve better health outcomes for humans, animals and the environment. 

Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which is believed to have originated as a virus carried by bats, have highlighted the important role that changing interactions between people, animals and the environment can play in the occurrence of new diseases, and the vital need for improved understanding of these relationships.

To view the full article click here.

vet operating on dog, two additional medical staff and 4 Aboriginal children looking on

Image source: Vet Practice website.

Web-app to combat ICE use

The South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) has developed a web-app designed to combat harmful methamphetamine (ice) use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is asking for help to promote the web-app. The web-app, called We Can Do This is part of a study entitled Novel Interventions to Address Methamphetamine Use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (NIMAC). To view the study click here and to view SAHMRI’s media release about the web-app click here.

shadow of person smoking drug ICE

Image source: SBS website.

Midwife program incorporates smoking ceremony

Thirty babies have taken part in an Indigenous smoking ceremony on the Gold Coast — the first time the traditional event has been held for infants in the city. The ceremony is part of a new program at Gold Coast University Hospital that aims to dismantle institutional racism and help First Nations families connect with their culture.

It is also leading to better health outcomes for newborns. Bundjalung woman Purdey Cox and her husband David, who are proud parents of six-month-old son Boston, said the smoking ceremony was a special moment for them. “It’s really important for us because you don’t always get to connect with community,” Mrs Cox said.

To view the full article click here.

smiling face of Aboriginal baby being held by mother

Six-month-old Boston Cox at the Gold Coast’s first smoking ceremony for Indigenous babies. Image source: ABC News website.

Healing Our Way podcast for youth

The Healing Foundation has  launched a new podcast series on intergenerational trauma from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective to tell the story of the healing needed for all Australian communities. The podcast touches on sensitive and confronting themes around trauma and gives young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a chance to share their thoughts about intergenerational healing and the concept of truth telling.

In launching the first episode, The Healing Foundation Chairman Professor Steve Larkin said it would provide listeners a chance to hear the real stories and lived experience of Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants as they discuss their journeys and thoughts about how we can continue to heal our communities. “Historical injustice is still a source of intergenerational trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and we see it playing out in families and communities across the country,” Professor Larkin said. “Truth telling has an impact on every aspect of the lives of our Stolen Generations survivors, their families and communities and this podcast will help people to understand the stories and experiences, the real stories of our people.

To view the full article click here.

painting of 10 Aboriginal figures with outline of red heart on chests against landscape

Image source: ABC Education website.

2021 Indigenous Medical Scholarships

Applications are now open for the 2021 AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship, a program that has supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study medicine since 1994. Previous recipients of the $10,000 a year scholarship have gone on to become prominent leaders in health and medicine, including Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon. “This Scholarship is a tangible step towards growing the Indigenous medical workforce,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today. “At the end of 2019, there were just over 600 Indigenous doctors in the medical workforce, which is about 0.5 per cent of the workforce. This is a slight improvement on previous years, but to reach population parity of 3 per cent, the number should be closer to 3600.”

To view the AMA’s media release, including details of how to apply for the scholarships click here.AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship banner, Aboriginal dot painting top right of image

NSW – Newcastle – The University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle is seeking to recruit for the following roles within the School of Nursing and Midwifery teaching team:

FT Senior Lecturer in Nursing

FT Lecturer in Nursing

FT Lecturer in Midwifery

For job descriptions click on the title of the role above and for applications click here.  Applications for all three positions close Wednesday 25 November 2020.University of Newcastle logo white on black vector of horse head and external image of the uni

ACT – Canberra – Tjillari Justice Aboriginal Corporation

Family Support Case Worker

Tjillaria Justice Aboriginal is recruiting a Family Support Case Worker (FSCW) to deliver services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through an intensive case management process. The FSCW will provide information and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to develop strong family relationships through engagement with community service providers and arrange trauma counselling in the community.

For more information about the position  click here. Applications close COB 25 November 2020.Tjillari Justice Aboriginal Corporation logo, vector image of pick lollipo surrounding by coloured dots yellow, red, blue, orange, purpleAustralia-wide – CRANAplus

On-call (after hours) Psychologist – flexible, work from home opportunity

CRANAplus is currently seeking psychologists to join its ‘pool’ of contractors to support on-call rosters available with CRANAplus’ Bush Support Line. The Bush Support Line is a flagship service provided by CRANAplus and offers phone counselling (psychological services) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to Health Professionals and their families across Australia, working in remote or rural communities.

The CRANAplus Bush Support Line service structure allows its on-call psychologists to be located anywhere in Australia. Rosters are forecasted for three-month periods that offers advanced notice and flexibility regarding shifts engaged. There are no minimum or maximum requirements and employees can nominate shifts as they suit.

CRANAplus advocates for, and serves, a diverse Australia, and genuinely encourages applications from CALD backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. To discuss this opportunity or provide your resume contact Katherine Leary via the CRANAplus website. CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback