NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine rollout starts today

feature tile Mon 22.2.21 text 'Australia's keenly awated COVID-19 vaccine rollout has officially begun', gloved hand with syringe in vial

COVID-19 vaccine rollout starts today

Australia’s keenly awaited COVID vaccine rollout has officially begun, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison among a select group to receive the first jabs in a televised event yesterday. Most of us will be waiting a while yet — the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine to front-line health and quarantine workers and aged-care staff officially begins today. The government has set a deadline of October to vaccinate all adults in Australia, mostly with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

To view Coronavirus updates LIVE: COVID vaccine rollout begins throughout Australia as Scott Morrison, CMO Paul Kelly receive shot click here.

NSW frontline health workers receives COVID-19 Vaccination aa the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Vaccination Hub

NSW frontline health and emergency workers are amongst the first in NSW to get the Covid-19 vaccination at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Vaccination Hub. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Birthing on country can reduce stillbirth

In Australia, there are six stillbirths to every 1000 births per year. Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, the death toll is more than twice as high, with 13 in every 1000. Allowing women to give birth within their communities could help reduce the stillbirth rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, but even culturally safe pregnancy care can help.

For 30 years, the Waminda’s Minga and Gudjara (mother and child) clinic on the South Coast of NSW has provided just that. It’s a busy clinic, according to midwife Mel Briggs. The Gumbanyngirr and Dharawl woman says it helps provide vital continuity of care for mothers throughout their pregnancy, birth, and through the child’s infancy. “It creates really good outcomes for the women, their babies and their families,” she said.

To view the article in full click here.

portrait of Mel Briggs, Waminda midwife against Aboriginal painting of silhouette of hands in a circle surrounded by Aboriginal circles in dots

Mel Briggs said supporting birthing on country practices would lead to better outcomes for mothers and babies. Image source: Brisbane Times.

Long overdue decriminalisation of public drunkenness 

The Victorian Parliament has joined almost every other Australian state in decriminalising public drunkenness. The move comes decades after it was first recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and will allow for public drunkenness to be treated as a health issue rather than a crime in Victoria. The family of  Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day who in 2017 died in police custody after being arrested for public drunkenness, have called it an historic day that was “tinged with much heartache and sadness”.

In a statement released through the Human Rights Law Centre, the Day family praised the move but said the work isn’t finished. The Day family said “It has been a long road for us to get to this point and it is devastating to know that if these racist laws were abolished 30 years ago, our Mum and others would still be with us today. Our lives will never be the same, but we move forward together to continue to seek justice for our mother. While this reform is a step in the right direction, the Andrews Government must now back their words with action and work with Aboriginal communities to implement a culturally safe and best practice public health response ahead of their deadline. This includes outreach services, more training for first responders and the implementation of sobering up services.”

To access the National Indigenous Times article in full click here and to view the Victorian State Government’s media release regarding the new legislation click here.

Tanya Day's family & supporters taking part in a smoking ceremony ahead of the 2019 inquest into her death in custody, 3 men & a woman holding portrait photo of Tanya Day

Tanya Day’s family and supporters taking part in a smoking ceremony ahead of the 2019 inquest into her death. Image source: The Age.

Ochre Ribbon keeps spotlight on family violence

February 12 marked the beginning of Ochre Ribbon Week, a week dedicated to ending domestic and family violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. Now in its sixth year, Ochre Ribbon Week was established in Melbourne as an initiative of the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service, which comprised of 14 Aboriginal family violence services across Australia.

One of the leading voices in the Ochre Ribbon Week campaign is Djirra CEO Antionette Baybrook. Djirra works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children in Victoria to prevent and eliminate domestic and family violence. “It’s always important to keep in the front and centre of people’s minds, that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised because of family violence and we are 10 times more likely to die [from family violence],” said Braybrook. “Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is a national emergency.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article in full click here.

banner I support Ochre Ribbon Week End family violence against Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women & children. don't silence the violence, portrait of Djirra CEO Antionette Braybrook

Djirra CEO Antionette Braybrook. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Psychiatrists essential in suicide prevention

At a time of increasing public interest and government focus on the reduction of suicide, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) taskforce on suicide prevention has released a new position statement. The new statement, Suicide prevention – the role of psychiatry, acknowledges suicide is complex but there is substantial evidence regarding clinical and social measures which can help to prevent suicide. RANZCP President, Associate Professor, John Allan, explained that the taskforce has brought together leading psychiatrists across Australia and NZ in the field of suicide prevention, along with people with lived experience. “Suicide is one of the most troubling and difficult aspects of the work we do as psychiatrists. There is no simple answer to why someone has taken or wishes to take their life.”

To view the RANZCP’s media release click here.

Aboriginal man with head in hands

Image source: ABC News website.

Safe effective free vaccines for all

Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton, said the Australian Government is committed to providing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines free to everyone in Australia – no matter where they live. “We are ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines with hundreds of distribution points nationwide,” Minister Coulton said. “Further sites will be finalised in the coming weeks and will include rural, regional and remote based GP-led Respiratory Clinics, GPs, community pharmacies, state and territory vaccination clinics and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Health Organisation clinics. The Government’s call out to GPs and community pharmacies will strengthen the rollout and will allow people living in regional, rural and remote communities to access COVID-19 vaccinations side by side with the rest of the nation.”

To view Minister Coulton’s media release click here.

safe effective free vaccines Department of Health banner orange tick in white circle, blue background, circles with vector image of different people's heads, text ' safe effective free

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

COVID-19 vaccinations to be registered

Amendments to the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015, make it mandatory for vaccination providers to report vaccinations administered to the Australian Immunisation Register and prescribe the relevant vaccines to be reported. The legislation details the data elements vaccination providers must report and the time period and manner data must be reported in. To view the legislation click here and to access the explanatory statement regarding the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015 – Australian Immunisation Register Amendment (Reporting) Rules 2021 click here.

gloved hand holding bottle of vaccine, writing with ungloved hand

Image source: BBC News.

Pharmacists respond to COVID-19 vaccine challenge

Australia’s pharmacists are responding to the Federal Government’s call to assist in the COVID-19 vaccination program, with 1,000 pharmacists registering and more than 700 attending a Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) webinar session in preparation for involvement in Phase 1 and 2 of the vaccination rollout. The webinar – which included senior government officials leading the COVID-19 vaccination plan joining PSA President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman – provided information on the Commonwealth program, the role of pharmacists in Phase 1, the final call for Phase 2 Expressions of Interest to administer the vaccine through community pharmacy, and training and education to deliver the vaccine.

Associate Professor Freeman said the response from pharmacists to the webinar session had shown the high levels of interest and support for the COVID vaccine rollout. “Pharmacists are well placed to assist in this program and the attendance at last night’s PSA webinar clearly demonstrates the commitment of our members and desire to ensure we understand the protocols and get the right training to deliver these vaccines safely.”

To the media statement in full click here.

vaccine bottle with text 'CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 Vaccine Injection only' on bench

Image source:

Health updates to keep your mob safe

The Australian Government Department of Health has released an update for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, communities and organisations regarding the COVID-19 vaccine roll out. To access the COVID-19 vaccines update click here and to view COVID-19 vaccination communication materials tailored to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples click here.

banner of pink, aqua, mustard, light blue coloured Aboriginal dot art, text 'February 2021, Health Updates, Health updates to keep your mob safe'

Image source: Australian Government.

Navajo Nation’s successful vaccine rollout

The Navajo Nation has been one of the hardest-hit populations in the U.S. when it comes to COVID-19 — at one point reporting the country’s highest number of cases per capita. To date, the Navajo Department of Health reports more than 1,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. But a bright spot has emerged: The COVID vaccine rollout in the Navajo Nation has been highly successful, already surpassing its original goal to have administered 100,000 shots by the end of February. It’s an impressive number, given that there are an estimated 175,000 people living in the Navajo Nation.

This is a far cry from the grim situation the Navajo Nation found itself in at the start of the pandemic last year. By May, CNN reported that the Navajo Nation — which spans 27,000 square miles and borders Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, making it the largest reservation in the country — had “surpassed New York state for the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the U.S.” In August, Dr. Robert Redfield, then the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that “American Indian and Alaska Native people have suffered a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 illness during the pandemic.”

To view the article in full click here.

female staff member of Northern Navajo Medical Centre receiving COVID-19 vaccine, 3 other staff in background, one taking a photo

Medical staff at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., were among the first in the Navajo Nation to receive their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations, on Dec. 15. Image source: yahoo!life website.

Incarceration leads to further disadvantage

Keenan Mundine grew up in the Aboriginal community social housing called The Block, infamous for poor living conditions, alcohol and drug use, and violence, in Sydney’s Redfern suburb. At the age of about seven, soon after losing his parents to drugs and suicide, he was separated from his siblings and placed in kinship care. “I felt robbed of my childhood. I didn’t feel safe and it made me struggle with my living conditions and mental health. I couldn’t concentrate at school and got into lot of trouble. I spent sleepless nights contemplating what my situation would be if my parents were still alive. At the age of 14, I ended up on the streets and tried to work my way around it.” 

To view the article in full click here.

Keenan Mundine in sleeveless t-shirt standing outside The Block

Keenan Mundine outside The Block, an Aboriginal community social housing area where he grew up. Image source: Neena Bhandari, Inter Press Service.

NSW – Dubbo – Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Service

CEO Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Service x 1 FT – Dubbo

A position is available as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with Bila Muuji Regional Aboriginal Health Service based in Dubbo. The CEO will plan, lead and direct the Bila Muuji Regional Aboriginal Health Service Inc to ensure the efficient and effective coordination and collaboration of provision of high quality health services to the Aboriginal communities within the region.

To view position description and to apply click here. Applications close 5:00 PM Friday 5 March 2021.Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Service logo, Aboriginal dot art, track centre circle, black, brown, green & purpose colours

International Family Drug Support Day – 24 February

After his son Damien died of a drug-related overdose, Tony Trimingham began community work in relation to alcohol and other drugs and founded the Australian charity Family Drug Support. Trimingham brought about International Family Drug Support Day which commenced in 2016 and is held on annually on 24 February, the date of his son’s death. The day has now become an annual international event to highlight the need for families to not only be recognised and heard but to be supported and encouraged to speak about their concerns and their needs. For further information click here.grey background with names of drugs, 3 couples, male & female e.g. dad & daughter with arms around the other, text 'support the family - improve the outcome, Family Drug Support Day. let's talk in speech bubble

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