NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Landmark mental health report welcomed

silhouette of hand holding white sketch of brain against landscape with sunset

Landmark mental health report welcomed

Beyond Blue today welcomed the release by the Prime Minister of the Final Report of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health and the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s Interim Advice. Beyond Blue Chair the Hon Julia Gillard AC said: “These are seminal reports that will shape the future of the mental health and suicide prevention systems in this country. Importantly, they put people at the centre of what we hope will be landmark reforms. Beyond Blue looks forward to working with governments, sector colleagues and, crucially, people affected by mental health issues and suicide, to remake these systems so they provide the right support at the right time for all people in Australia.”

The country’s leading provider of suicide prevention training says the release of the Productivity Commission’s Report into Mental Health is a reminder that co-ordination is a key to saving many more Australian lives. LivingWorks Australia CEO Shayne Connell said the Commission’s call for structural changes to the delivery of suicide intervention deserved widespread acceptance by the sector. “We echo the call for a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention across different levels of government and portfolios,” Mr Connell said. “We continue to work with primary health networks supporting communities, priority populations, first responders, workplaces, financial touchpoints, veterans , health staff and in schools.”

Mental Health Australia has today welcomed the release of the Final Report from the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, and the interim report from the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, and sees the government response to these reports as a crucial next step in the future of mental health reform and service delivery in Australia. Mental Health Australia CEO Dr Leanne Beagley said the Final Report from the Productivity Commission is a culmination of nearly two years of extensive consultation and consideration, and could not come at a more important and critical time. “Today’s release of the Final Report from the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health is a moment many of us have been waiting for. This is not just a vital report for our mental health sector, but for every Australian,” said Dr Beagley.

To access the Productivity Commission’s report click here, and click on the following organisation names to view their media releases: Beyond Blue, LivingWorks, Mental Health Australia, Carers Australia,     

COVID-19 sparks plague of health care ideas

Australians’ experience with COVID-19 has stimulated more active consumer and community involvement in health care decision-making, the Consumer Health Forum (CHF) says.

Authors writing in CHF’s ejournal, Health Voices, have reported on a range of developments spurred by COVID where consumers are having an influence. A standout has been Health Consumers Queensland which during COVID has formed working links with the State’s Health Department to develop consumer-effective policies, promoting online engagement with consumers to alert government on a range of areas including delayed access to health care, advice on testing and face masks.

The CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said a feature of the many of the 20 articles in this edition was the diversity of ways in which COVID had generated changes in thinking and services to meet the crisis. “The rush of the authorities to respond in the early stages of COVID-19 meant the value of consumer and community knowledge was often overlooked,” Ms Wells said. “But what followed that initial response was a greater realisation of the importance of community and consumer input in shaping more thoughtful and effective ways to counter COVID.

To view the CHF’s media release click here.

gloved hand holding COVID-19 test with blood vial in background

Image source: Community Care website.

Joint Council on CTG meets

Yesterday the Joint Council on Closing the Gap (CTG) convened for the first time since the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect on 27 July 2020 with a review of the parties collective responsibilities for the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and Joint Council Co-Chair said the meeting focussed on making sure strong partnerships are being established and strengthened to support the implementation of the National Agreement in each state and territory. Pat Turner said “The National Agreement commits governments to a new way of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, based on negotiation and shared decision-making, to address the inequality too many of our people still face.”

Consistent with the National Agreement, funding will initially be invested in the early childhood care and development, housing, health and disability sectors, with the Joint Council on CTG agreeing yesterday to investment in community-controlled early childhood and housing.

To view the Joint Council on CTG communique click here and read the NACCHO and Coalition of Peaks joint media release click here.tiles: Housing to Close the Gap! and Looking after our kids to Close the Gap with cartoon characters of two carpenters and two children with building blocks

WHO strategy to eliminate cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is one cancer the world can actually eliminate: it’s time to do it. The world already has the necessary tools; they just need to be made accessible. Following a Call to Action in May 2018 from the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros, 194 countries collectively resolved to end needless suffering from a cancer that is both preventable and curable.

In August 2020, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution calling for the elimination of cervical cancer and adopting a strategy to make it happen. It is a testament to the enthusiasm for this important goal that, even in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world have affirmed their support for this important priority. On 17 November, following the close of the 73rd World Health Assembly, WHO officially launched its cervical cancer elimination strategy.

While elimination is possible, we still need concerted efforts to address persistent inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Compared to non-Indigenous women, Indigenous women are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and are 3.8 times more likely to die of cervical cancer.

To view further details about the launch of the WHO’s Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical click here.

vector image of microscope over female reproductive organs

Image source: MedPage Today website.

Kamilaroi woman wins highest honour

A world-leading researcher and advocate for Indigenous health was among the University of Newcastle the 2020 University of Newcastle Alumni Excellence recipients. The Awards recognise innovation, creativity, and the exceptional leadership of alumni who have inspired others through their local, national and international achievements.

Professor Gail Garvey was awarded the Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence, the highest honour of the University of Newcastle’s Alumni Awards. A proud Kamilaroi woman, Professor Garvey is Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Menzies School of Health and Deputy Division Leader for the Wellbeing and Preventable Chronic Diseases Division.

Professor Garvey’s research career has focused on investigating cancer experiences and outcomes of Indigenous Australians. She has publicly advocated for better prevention and treatment of cancer in remote areas in Australia. Her work in cancer has illuminated critical shortcomings in health system performance for Indigenous Australians affected by cancer and has identified pathways to improve equity of access and outcomes.

To view the University of Newcastle’s article click here.

portrait image of Professor Gail Garvey

Professor Gail Garvey. Image source: Charles Darwin University Australia website.

Be You mental health education program extended

Be You – the national mental health in education initiative – will continue for two more years. Developed by Beyond Blue and delivered in partnership with Early Childhood Australia (ECA) and headspace, Be You provides every Australian educator with free online training, practical resources and guidance so they can confidently support the mental health of children and young people and look after their own mental health and wellbeing. In addition, early learning services and schools are supported by expert staff to implement and tailor Be You to match the specific needs of their learning community. Almost 11,000 schools and early learning services have adopted Be You since its launch in November 2018 – 70% of all Australian schools and a quarter of all early learning services. Educators have turned to Be You in record numbers in 2020.

ECA has welcomed this extension of Be You for another two years.  General Manager of the ECA Be You initiative, Judy Kynaston says ‘the extension will allow Be You to increase the number of participating early learning services and develop the capacity of educators to build foundations of lifelong mental health and wellbeing in children and young people.’

To view the Beyond Blue media release click here and ECA’s media release click here.be you and Beyond Blue logos

Australian Institute of Infectious Disease to be established

An Australian Institute for Infectious Disease in the heart of Melbourne’s renowned Parkville biomedical precinct to lead the fight against future pandemics. “The Victorian Budget 2020/21 will include an investment of $155 million towards the $550 million institute, with the University of Melbourne and its partners contributing a further $150 million and the remaining funds to be sought from the Commonwealth Government. Our contribution includes an immediate allocation of $5 million to complete a business case for the facility, which will combine the strengths of some of the world’s leading research institutes. The business case is due for completion in mid-2021 and construction of the Institute would create 350 jobs. Once operational, the Institute will provide a massive boost to the biomedical sector and could support up to 5,000 jobs, including up to 850 jobs at the Institute itself.”

The Victorian Chapter of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (VicAAMRI) applauds Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement today of a $155 million investment to establish the new Australian Institutes for Infectious Diseases and Global Health. This significant investment will build on Victoria’s place as a world leader in medical research, while creating new high-skilled jobs and economic opportunities for Victorians. “The Victorian Government has a long history of investing in medical research, and that support is a key reason that our medical research sector is the world leader that it is today,” said Professor Brendan Crabb AC, Chair of VicAAMRI and Director and CEO of the Burnet Institute.

To view the Victorian Government’s media release click here. and to view VicAAMRI’s media release click here.

two gowned masked researchers in a laboratory one looking through a microscope

Image source: Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Little support for GP role in mental health care

A proposal to scrap GP mental health treatment plans and replace them with an online assessment tool would undermine the holistic approach needed to care for patients with mental health concerns, according to AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid. The proposal is among the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s long-awaited Mental Health Inquiry Report, which calls for a $2.6 billion overhaul of the system, estimating the total cost of poor mental health and suicide to be as much as $70 billion per year.

Dr Khorshid said the report recognises the crucial role that GPs play in delivering frontline mental health care, but then delivers proposals that result in diminished support for this role. “The AMA welcomes the report’s aspirations for a person-centred mental health care system, focusing on prevention and early help – both early in life and early in illness,” Dr Khorshid said. “But we cannot accept recommendations that take away support for GPs at a time when the burden of mental illness is growing.

“The report highlights the fact that GPs are the first port of call for Australians seeking mental health support, with one in five Australians having a mental health consultation with their GP every year, and a satisfaction rate of more than 80 per cent. “Yet it offers little in the way of extra support, other than the introduction of a Medicare item for GPs to get advice from a psychiatrist about a patient in their care. While this is sensible policy that recognises the expertise of psychiatrists and encourages collaboration, it falls short of the support GPs need.

“The report also proposes abolishing Medicare-funded GP mental health treatment plans, which are fundamental to providing well-coordinated care and engaging with a patient about their care needs.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.black and white image of a head bowed

Youth sexual health status revealed

The results are in for the latest Australia-wide sexual health survey of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The GOANNA Survey was led by SAHMRI researchers in partnership with Aboriginal community organizations and included more than 1,300 participants aged 16-29 from urban, regional and remote parts of mainland Australia. The survey focused on relationships, sexual behaviours, use of health services and knowledge about sexually transmissible infections (STIs), HIV and hepatitis C.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research leader, Professor James Ward of the University of Queensland (formerly of SAHMRI) led the GOANNA survey for the second time. Professor Ward said rates of STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis as well as HIV and hepatitis C, remain unacceptably high in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in remote Australia. “These survey findings provide a snapshot on a range of factors that might contribute to risk for these infections” Professor Ward said.

To view the full article click here.

the Pill, the morning after pill, a condom, diaphram & IUD on blue surface

Image source: Medical Xpress.

Professor Kong receives prestigious award

Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon, the highly acclaimed ear, nose and throat surgeon, Associate Professor Kelvin Kong has been awarded the prestigious Menzies Medallion. The medal recognises Associate Professor Kong’s leadership in Aboriginal health service delivery, advocacy and research, in particular his work to improve ear health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The Menzies Medallion is the highest award offered by Menzies School of Health Research, one of Australia’s leading medical research institutes dedicated to improving Indigenous, global and tropical health.

A proud Worimi man from Port Stephens, the breadth and depth of Associate Professor Kong’s work is far reaching and includes his role as chief investigator for the Menzies-led Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children. Currently practising in Newcastle as a surgeon, he specialises in paediatric and adult otolaryngology, head and neck surgery (ear, nose and throat surgery), and lectures in allied health at the University.

To view the full article click here.

Professor Kelvin Kong receiving Menzies Medallion

Professor Kelvin Kong with Menzies Medallion. Image source: The University of Newcastle website.

Woorabinda optical care funding in doubt

For years Gunggari woman and Woorabinda resident Florence Brown saw the world as if she were looking through a foggy window. But her vision is now clearer and brighter after free cataract surgery. “Everything’s changed for me,” Ms Brown said. “Hopefully I won’t suffer anymore after this.”

Ms Brown is one of 40 people from across central Queensland who have undergone eye surgery through Queensland-based charity Doctors for All, which has been servicing the area over the last year. But there are fears for the program’s future as funding dries up.

To view the full article click here.

image of Florence Brown with eye patch sitting in passenger side of a car with red Aboriginal dot patterned shirt

Florence Brown. Image source: ABC News website.

Australia-wide remote locations – Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

2021 Census Operations Manager (Remote) Locations x 50

50 Census operations roles are available now across Australia for the 2021 Census. Census Operation teams will help ensure people in regional and remote areas in NSW, NT, SA, Queensland and WA are counted in the Census. Census Operations teams will be responsible for collecting Census data from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people living or working away from home. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people living in regional and remote areas such as pastoralists.

In this role, they won’t just be helping the Census to collect and make statistics. They will be helping to inform how Census data contributes to service delivery for your community. For example, Census data is used to understand housing needs and priorities to plan affordable and culturally appropriate community housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Census data also helps organisations, like the Bodhi Bus, provide affordable transport to remote communities allowing people to connect with family or local health clinics. The Wheatbelt Business Network uses Census data to help guide how they support women in rural business. These services help develop enterprise, support towns and contribute to the economic growth of the region.

To view the Census Operations Manager recruitment brochure click here; to view the list of remote locations click here and to access the applicant information kits and to apply click here.

Applications close Friday 27 November 2020.become an ABC Census Operations Manager Help tell your community's story 10-month contract $53.21 phr

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