NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan released

feature tile text 'Australian Government releasesCOVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People', photo of purple gloved hands injecting person's arm

First Nations COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan released

The Australian Government has released its COVID-19 Vaccination Program – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Implementation Plan. This Implementation Plan is for the COVID-19 vaccination program for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over 18 years of age. This plan has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, and with state and territory governments.

To view the plan click here.cover of Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Sydney hospital goes from worst to best

It’s one of the busiest and most esteemed emergency rooms in the country, but for decades some of the most vulnerable have slipped through the cracks. Located in the heart of Sydney’s nightlife district, St Vincent’s Hospital has saved thousands of lives — but it was considered the worst in the state when it came to caring for certain patients. “A high number of Aboriginal people were coming in through our emergency department and were leaving us, not completing their treatment,” said Pauline Deweerd, director of Aboriginal health at the hospital.

Some months, as many as one in three patients left the hospital before receiving the vital care they needed. “It was because of past bad experiences, they didn’t like waiting, and they didn’t like the way we treated them,” Ms Deweerd said. It was a persistent, hard to address problem, even for a hospital that has a reputation for providing top-notch emergency medicine.

But in the middle of a global pandemic the hospital found a solution, and doctors are certain the rest of the country can learn from it. “It’s our attempt at closing the gap for our small part of the health world; we not only brought it to the level of the general population, we made it a little better,” Dr Preisz said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley in scrubs sitting on patient bed at St Vincent's Hospital

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. Photo: Brendan Esposito. Image source: ABC News website.

Former PM urges women to get COVID-19 vaccine

Julia Gillard has had her coronavirus jab, urging everyone – and particularly women – to get vaccinated. The former PM joined Health Minister Greg Hunt and Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy to be among the first to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination at a Melbourne clinic on Sunday 7 March 2021. “Me being here today is a visible representation that no matter what side of politics you barrack for, no matter whom you intend to vote for, there is a united message,” Ms Gillard told reporters. “Please get the vaccine. And particularly to Australian women, can I say, please get the vaccine.

She understands that people might feel a little bit anxious, but recommended they get their information from reliable sources, such as the Australian government or from their local health practitioner. “Whether it’s smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, influenza, and now COVID-19, vaccinations can save lives and protect lives,” Mr Hunt said.

AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses from overseas are being given to frontline health and hotel quarantine workers, as well as aged and disability care residents and staff, as part of phase 1a. The AMA said more than 130 respiratory clinics and over 300 Aboriginal community controlled health service sites will support the phase 1b rollout.

To view the full SBS News article click here and to listen to a Julie Gillard urging Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccine click here.

portrait photo of ex-PM Julia Gillard

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Image source: SBS News website.

Umoona Tjutagku frontline staff receive COVID-19 vaccine

“South Australia’s economic and health response to the COVID-19 threat has been world-leading, and we are focused on working with our health experts to deliver a safe and quick roll out of the vaccines,” SA Premier Marshall said. “This is the biggest peacetime operation in our state’s history, and a big plank in our plan to keep South Australia safe and strong. “The roll out is happening right across the State, with our three key hubs in the north, south and centre of Adelaide all operational, and our regional hubs also progressing .”

Minister Wade said the rollout continues to expand into regional areas with 240 doses of the vaccine arriving at Coober Pedy Hospital today.

“Frontline staff of the Coober Pedy Health Service, Umoona Tjutagku Aboriginal Health Service and Umoona Aged Care as well as aged care residents will receive their COVID-19 vaccine over the next four days.  It is an excellent example of cooperation across all sectors of Health and Aged Care in the Eyre and Far North Local Health Network, SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said.

To view the SA Premier’s media release in full click here.

two Aboriginal health workers at Umoona Tjutagku Health Service AC checking medicine box

Image source: Umoona Tjutagku Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website.

Over 55s in next phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

More GPs and health clinics will be involved in the vaccine rollout every week from March 22, as the mass COVID-19 vaccination program enters its next phase. Federal Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy says phase 1b of the vaccine rollout will include adults based on their vulnerability to getting COVID-19. “[It] will involve the over 80s who are most at risk as a general group, then the over 70s, and those who are immunocompromised. We will have our Indigenous Australians over 55 as well as frontline emergency service and defence workers.”

The staged commencement of general practices will be complemented by GP-led respiratory clinics and Aboriginal community controlled health services. The AMA said more than 130 respiratory clinics and over 300 Aboriginal community controlled health service sites will support the phase 1b rollout.

To view the full SBS News article click here.

Aboriginal woman and man both 50+ years

Image source: AbSec – NSW Child, Family and Community Peak Aboriginal Corporation website.

Professor Langton talks about the COVID-19 vaccine 

Professor Marcia Langton AO has warned of the ongoing dangers of COVID-19, the effectiveness of available vaccines and the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

You can view the short video and transcript here.

snapshot of Professor Marica Langton AO The Uni of Melbourne video for DoH on COVID-19 importance, standing in park with trees in background

Professor Marcia Langton AO, The University of Melbourne.

Pain treatment and opioid use – have your say!

NACCHO is working on a project to create some support materials for pain management and the use of opioid medicines, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consumers and health professionals to take part in group discussion to understand the important issues so that the materials made can be useful.

If you are a health consumer and experience pain and use opioids or are interested in pain management as a practitioner in your ACCHO we invite you to contribute to this project. NACCHO will provide financial compensation for your participation.

To apply or learn more please contact Fran Vaughan at NACCHO medicines@naccho.org.au.

bottles of tablets & blister packs

Image source: NPS Medicinewise website.

System must be held accountable for deaths in custody

Responding to news that two Indigenous people died in custody in NSW in the past week, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead Nolan Hunter said: “We’re coming up to the 30 year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody (RCIADIC) and it feels as though very little has changed. For example, recommendation 165 called for the screening and removal of hanging points that could be used for self-harm; now nearly 30 years later, we hear of an Indigenous woman who used such a hanging point to tragically take her own life. Here we have two tragic deaths in custody and the Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin claims the system can be accountable, while not making these tragedies public.”

To view Amnesty International’s media quote in full click here. and a related article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

crosses in row on grass with Aboriginal flag painted on them & words Black Deaths In Custody Cross For Loss

Image source: ABC News website.

World Kidney Day

Kidney disease is a non-communicable disease (NCD) and currently affects around 850 million people worldwide. One in ten adults has chronic kidney disease (CKD). Being diagnosed with kidney disease can be a huge challenge, both for the patient and those people around them. Its diagnosis and management, particularly in advanced stages of kidney disease, impacts severely upon their lives by reducing their, and that of family and friends, ability to participate in everyday activities like work, travel and socialising whilst causing numerous problematic side effects  – e.g. fatigue, pain, depression, cognitive impairment, gastrointestinal problems and sleep problems.

This year World Kidney Day continues to raise awareness of the increasing burden of kidney diseases worldwide and to strive for kidney health for everyone, everywhere. Specifically, the World Kidney Day Steering Committee has declared 2021 the year of “Living Well with Kidney Disease”. This has been done in order to both increase education and awareness about effective symptom management and patient empowerment, with the ultimate goal of encouraging life participation.

When compared to non-Indigenous Australians, Indigenous Australians

  • Are more than twice as likely to live with biomedical markers of chronic kidney disease – representing 1 in 5 Indigenous Australian adults
  • Experience an increased prevalence of significant medical co-morbidities
  • Have a median onset of ESKD around 30 years younger
  • Are almost 4 times as likely to die with CKD as a cause of death
  • Have incidence rates of renal replacement therapy (RRT) 8 – 9 times greater
  • Are less likely to receive dialysis in a home setting (either peritoneal or haemodialysis)
  • Are less likely to receive a kidney transplantation
  • Have worse outcomes from transplantation
  • Are more likely to live in very remote or remote areas which is associated with poorer health outcomes
  • Experience a greater psycho-social impact of their disease

For further information on World Kidney Day Thursday 11 March 2021 click here.

Aboriginal painting titled My Kidney Journey by Inawinytji Williamson, a Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjara Woman and kidney patient

My Kidney Journey by Inawinytji Williamson, a Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjara woman and kidney patient. Image source: World Kidney Day website.

2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association (ANZMHA) has announced details of its new conference, the 2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference to take place in Cairns from 7–8 October 2021.

Its theme will be “Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap” and will showcase a high calibre of keynote speakers and presenters, covering four vital topics: (1) Promoting Wellness, (2) Social, Emotional & Cultural Determinants, (3) Community Care & Social Recovery and (4) Service Care & Recovery.

With a vision to “shine light on the key challenges in Indigenous communities and address the past and present issues contributing to inequities in mental health treatment and care,” the conference is set to enlighten, educate, and share the hard truths amongst keynote speakers, presenters and attendees.

For more information about the conference and to register click here.