NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino on the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino on the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Dr Jason Agostino is a GP and an epidemiologist who has worked mainly in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. He joins 102.7FM, 3RRR Digital – Mission host Daniel James to talk about the plans underway on the vaccine rollout to First Nation communities across the country.

To listen to to the interview click here.

NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino

World Hearing Day March 3 2021: New 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines available

March 3, 2021 is World Hearing Day, and the Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children have launched the new 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children (“2020 OM Guidelines”).

You can view the OM Guidelines via the website and mobile app, which is free to download via the Apple App Store or Google Play. These guidelines provide interactive, engaging and culturally appropriate best practice up to date information on the prevention, diagnosis and management of otitis media.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience some of the highest rates of otitis media (OM) in the world. If left without appropriate care, OM can cause conductive and/or permanent hearing loss and is associated with language delay, speech problems, high vulnerability on entering school, social isolation, poor school attendance, and low education and employment opportunities. Hearing loss and otitis media rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are well above the level considered a ‘public health crisis’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The 2020 OM Guidelines mobile app and website have been designed to build on the Guidelines themselves and act as a multimedia tool for primary health care providers, with:

  • step by step guide to assist with diagnosis
  • user-friendly algorithms to assist with clinical decision making based on diagnosis
  • audio recordings in top end Aboriginal languages to assist with communication
  • educational videos for health workers, families and children
  • otitis media otoscopy image gallery and quiz
  • condensed Otitis Media Guidelines with graded evidence and links to publications

The Centre of Research Excellence’s mission is to ‘close the gap’ in educational and social disadvantage associated with the high prevalence of OM and conductive hearing loss in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The 2020 OM Guidelines have been prepared by a group of experts in the field of ear and hearing health* and bring up-to-date the Department of Health’s “2010 Recommendations for Clinical Care Guidelines on the Management of Otitis Media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations”.

The release of the 2020 OM Guidelines for World Hearing Day (3 March 2021) will be accompanied by the publication of an article in the Medical Journal of Australia Leach AJ, Morris P, Coates HLC, et al. Otitis media guidelines for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: summary of recommendations.

Please help share the 2020 OM Guidelines as well as putting them into practice.

Use their social media tag #earhealthforlife or tag them on Twitter @cre_ichear or Facebook @CREICHEAR. If you would like more information or to provide us with feedback please contact CRE_ICHEAR@menzies.edu.au or Joanne Howes on 08 89 468 661.

Production and dissemination of the 2020 OM Guidelines is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children.

health professional checking a small Aboriginal child's ear

Image source: the social photographer website.

Digital tool to dial back COVID-19 Anxiety, Depression and Alcohol Use

With more than a third of Australians now drinking alcohol daily, compared to 6 per cent pre-COVID-19, researchers are developing a digital tool to help communities manage the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

A team of researchers from the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has been awarded one of 10 NSW Ministry of Health COVID-19 Research Grants, designed to fund research in priority areas to directly support the NSW Health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the mental health consequences of COVID-19 are still emerging, it is estimated depressive and anxious symptoms are two to three times higher than before the pandemic hit, placing more pressure on an already overloaded mental health support system.

Read the full media release here.

both hands over a face

Image source: UNSW Newsroom – UNSW Sydney.

Long-awaited Cashless Debit Card evaluation made public

The National Indigenous Times story featured on the $2.5 million report by the University of Adelaide into the Cashless Debit Card scheme has been released to the public, almost five months after it was made available to the Morrison Government.

The report, commissioned by the Federal Government, was submitted to the Government on October 27.

The report stated that 25 per cent of participants had reported less alcohol consumption and 21 per cent reported less gambling activity.

“These findings are consistent with the more than 10 other evaluations that the CDC leads to people consuming less alcohol, gambling less and feeling safer in their communities,” said Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston.

“This report will help the Government improve the program and we are already addressing issues such as stigma through our commitment to improving the technology to ensure the CDC works in the exact same way as any other bank card.”

To read the full article click here

Aboriginal hands holding the cashless debit card

Image source: The Morning Bulletin.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is recruiting over 300 Census remote area team roles

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is recruiting over 300 Census remote area team roles across Australia for the 2021 Census. The teams will comprise of Remote Area Management Team Leaders and Remote Area Management Team Members.

Both roles have responsibility for ensuring that people in remote and very remote areas are counted in the Census including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and people in national parks and pastoral stations. Andrew Henderson, Census Executive Director and National Spokesperson said, “remote area teams will manage the collection of Census data in the field by conducting interviews to ensure people from all cultures and communities are included in this important count. ”

To read the full release click here.

Call for Reconciliation Australia to pull Woolworths support over Darwin Dan Murphy’s

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and health leaders want Reconciliation Australia to revoke its support for Woolworths over the retail giant’s plans to build one of Australia’s largest alcohol stores in Darwin, near three dry Aboriginal communities.

A letter signed by health, legal, domestic violence and community group leaders draws comparison to Rio Tinto, which was dumped by Reconciliation Australia over the destruction of a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site in the Pilbara, which said Rio’s actions were a “breathtaking breach of a respectful relationship”.

Read the full story in The Guardian here.

shipping container with spray painted Aboriginal flag heart & word Bagot, superimposed with logos for Woolworths and Dan Murphy's

Image source: BlackBusiness.

Funding support for COVID-19 impacted Aboriginal communities (NSW)

Applications have opened for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to apply for funding to strengthen their support of Aboriginal communities impacted by COVID-19.

Grants of up to $50,000 are available from Aboriginal Affairs NSW for ACCOs to provide culturally appropriate, locally-based support to address community wellbeing, education and employment issues, as well as buy supplies for compliance with COVID-safe guidelines.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Don Harwin, said that the investment would support activity either as a response to the impacts of COVID-19, or provide additional support to enable scheduled events to take place safely. “COVID-19 has impacted life for Aboriginal communities in a range of unpredictable ways, and we want to ensure that Aboriginal community organisations can keep up their support, especially in regional and remote communities,” said Mr Harwin.

Read the full release here.

Two images: Aboriginal flag with stethoscope & Dr Vinka Barunga

Image sources: AMA, ABC News – Dr Vinka Barunga.

Growth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP numbers to continue

In 2020, there were a total of 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – 121 of whom were first year students – enrolled across Australia’s medical schools.

That represents 2.7% of all domestic students, and is a substantial increase from 265 in 2014, according to findings from the 2020 General Practice: Health of the Nation report.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor, believes it is the groundwork laid at a secondary education level to build awareness and encouragement that has helped lead to the increase.

Read the full story in the RACGP here.

Mortality and tobacco smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander adults

A study just published internationally has followed the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults for nearly 11 years to see the the impact of smoking and quitting. The results are dramatic and stark.

Guest: Prof Tom Calma, National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking

Host: Dr Norman Swan

To listen to the podcast click here.
two hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: The Conversation.

RACP welcomes landmark day for Australia’s COVID-19 protection response

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians says today is a landmark day for Australia’s successful COVID-19 strategy and that Australians should be confident in the Government’s rollout strategy.

RACP President, Professor John Wilson said “Today marks an incredible achievement in our battle against the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“Australia is in this position today thanks to the hard work of our frontline workers, State and Federal Governments, and the everyday Australians who have been doing the right thing and following the advice of health experts.

“The vaccines being rolled out have gone through rigorous approval processes by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is one of the best regulators of its kind in the world.

“Australians should be confident in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available to them according to the Government’s roll-out schedule.

Read the full media release here.

gloved hand holding bottle of vaccine, writing with ungloved hand

Image source: BBC News.

NSW – North Ryde – Macquarie University

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Macquarie University (North Ryde)

Macquarie University are seeking an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Postdoctoral Researcher with strong qualitative research skills and a background in health. The Postdoctoral Researcher will contribute to all qualitative aspects of the research, including developing focus group/interview templates, recruit expert stakeholders to focus groups, design and run semi-structured interviews, analyse the findings, develop evidence statements and write up the results for dissemination. They will work with communities to design and implement the focus groups and analyse the resulting data. They will also complete a qualitative evaluation of the new EHC approach at each study site.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here.

Applications close Monday 1 March 2021, at 11.55pm

21st International Symposium on Recent Advances in Otitis Media

Virtual meeting to be held on 11 – 12 June 2021.

Free registration! For more information on the symposium click here.